Airline shopping portals offer an easy way to earn “extra” miles for every dollar you spend, but too many people don’t even know they exist, let alone how to use them. Once you understand how to use airline shopping portals, you can earn hundreds or even thousands of airline miles each year — without even getting on an airplane.
While many airlines have their own shopping portals, the most popular ones include Delta SkyMiles Shopping, American AAdvantage Shopping, United MileagePlus Shopping, and Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping. Eager to learn more? Here’s how shopping portals work, and how you can cash in.
How airline shopping portals work
The first thing to note about airline shopping portals is that they’re entirely free to use. You don’t have to pay to become a member, nor do you have to pay to create an account.
You do, however, need to have an airline loyalty number to earn miles in any given program. Once again, signing up for frequent flyer accounts is free and you can complete the entire process online. Generally speaking, you only need to offer basic personal information to create a frequent flyer account, including your name, home address, phone number, and email address. From there, you’ll choose a username and password.
In terms of ease of use, shopping portals only require you to take one extra step before you make a purchase. If you planned to shop at Kohl’s, for example, and wanted to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points on your purchase, all you’d need to do is search for “Kohl’s” in the portal. Then you’d find several special promotions for Kohl’s, along with the number of points you’ll earn on your purchase, like two points for every dollar, for instance.
To earn extra miles on your purchases, all you’d need to do is click on “shop now” and wait until you’re transferred to the Kohl’s website. And any miles you earn by making a purchase will be automatically credited to your account. (See also: How to Maximize Rewards Through Credit Card Shopping Portals)
How to earn double miles and points
It’s fair to assume you need a credit card to earn points or miles through shopping portals, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. All you have to do is log into any portal and “click through” to participating stores before you shop. If you prefer to pay for your purchases with a debit card or gift cards, that’s totally up to you.
With that being said, there are many reasons you should consider using a credit card any time you shop online. First, keep in mind that the points you earn through shopping portals are doled out on top of the rewards you earn with a credit card. Using the example above, you could earn two points per dollar shopping at Kohl’s through the portal, but you could also earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points by using a co-branded Southwest credit card.
Credit cards also offer many consumer protections, including guaranteed returns, purchase protection, extended warranties, and more.
You can also “mix and match” your airline shopping portals and rewards programs, meaning you can shop through an airline portal and use any rewards credit card to pay, even if it’s not affiliated with that airline. This makes it easier to use your online purchases to meet a minimum spending requirement to earn a signup bonus, but it’s also helpful if you like to use different shopping portals but you only have one or two rewards credit cards.
Most portals feature dozens of popular stores
If you shop online often, you probably have a handful of go-to stores you shop regularly. You may be surprised to learn that airline and rewards shopping portals feature many of the top retailers available, including Kohl’s, Best Buy, Macy’s, Walmart.com, CVS.com, and eBags.com, but there are many, many more.
Also, some shopping portals let you earn points or miles for “services” you book online. For example, you can earn extra points with airline portals by setting up phone service with Verizon or AT&T. You could even earn extra points and miles for buying a mattress online or for ordering groceries through Peapod.com.
How to maximize rewards through airline shopping portals
There are several ways to ensure you’re maximizing these airline shopping portals to the hilt.
Check shopping portals every time you shop
Make sure to click through a portal any time you make an online purchase. If you don’t, you’re leaving miles on the table.
Compare portals to find the best earning rate
If your regular stores are on more than one shopping portal, make sure to compare portals to find the best earning rate. Where one portal might only offer two miles per dollar spent at a specific store, another portal may offer a better deal.
Keep an eye out for special promotions
Sometimes airline portals offer special deals where you can earn even more “bonus” miles if you reach a spending threshold. By waiting to shop until a promotion comes along, you can maximize your spending even more.