Now that Christmas has come and gone, the aftermath of the holiday season begins to set in. That means putting away the tree, kicking out the out-of-town relatives and, in many cases, returning those gifts you can’t quite live with.
Maybe the sweater from grandma is a size too small. Maybe that cell phone charger has the wrong type of adapter. Perhaps you received duplicate gifts from several family members thinking they were getting you just what you needed. Or, maybe you received one of those dreadful grin-and-bear-it gifts that’s perfectly wrong for you even though it was given with the best of intent.
Whatever the case may be, there’s no doubt that a Merry Christmas leads to happy returns for many. Did you know that it’s possible to actually earn points and miles on your gift returns?
These days, most returns are issued in the form of store credit, either on a gift card or special merchandise card. The trick is to leave the store without grabbing a replacement off the shelf on your way out. Using that gift card online instead of in-store will often allow you to take advantage of points and miles shopping portals.
As we mentioned in our guide to 7 Essential Tools for Every Points & Miles Traveler, sites like Evreward.com can help you identify which online shopping portal can net you the most cash back, miles or points. All you have to do is click through one of these shopping portals on the way to your store of choice in order to bank miles and points.
While not all purchases are eligible to earn these bonuses – the terms and conditions for each store vary and may include exclusions for certain products or for the use of outside promo codes or coupons – most of the time, you’ll find that shopping portals offer a gateway to free points and miles even if you’re not paying with a points or miles-earning credit card.
For example, let’s say someone gave you a Keurig coffee maker worth $100 from Kohl’s for Christmas, but you’d purchased a similar model for yourself already. By returning the Keurig to Kohl’s and taking home your merchandise credit, you can head to the Ultimate Rewards Mall and earn 10 points per dollar on your replacement gift!
Since Kohl’s offers free shipping on purchases of $75+ and often offers 15-30% off promotions and Kohl’s Cash back regularly, there’s no downside to this method save for the few days you’ll have to wait for your new purchase to arrive in the mail.
At minimum, this is a great way to book a free 1,000 points. At best, you could stack your store credit with a 30% off + Kohl’s Cash promotion and walk away with $142 in product, $20 toward a future purchase and 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points.
While the Ultimate Rewards Mall is only open to holders of Ultimate Rewards-earning Chase credit cards like Freedom and Sapphire Preferred, most shopping malls, like the AAdvantage eShopping Mall, are open to anyone regardless of payment method. Making sure to go through these kinds of shopping portals when making online purchases can be a fantastic way to earn free points and miles on your regular purchases as well as on Christmas returns, and are my central tool for earning points and miles throughout the year.
Let us know in the comments if you take advantage of this trick to earn free miles and points, and be sure to thank your gift-giver for the little extra cheer their present brought…assuming you’re not returning their gift in secret!