With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday behind us, you just can’t hide. It’s time to do your holiday shopping. For miles and points hounds, picking up stocking stuffers and more expensive gifts offers a lucrative opportunity to earn rewards.
Here are some general tips on using online shopping portals to maximize miles and points any time of year. But during the holidays, bonus offers and the number of miles/points per dollar awarded by each portal can change frequently. If you want to snag as many miles as possible, be sure to review all of your options before making a purchase. Check the shopping portal links at the airline or hotel chain of your choice, but also be sure to review any special, limited-time offers on the company’s loyalty program main page.
Here are some of the best offers to be had this month:
Flowers: Up to 30 Miles Per $1 Spent
All of the portals offer bonus miles for the purchase of plants, flowers, and gift baskets from a variety of delivery services. One of the best deals on offer right now is from FTD, where you’ll earn 30 American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, or United MileagePlus miles per dollar spent. Delta is also offering 30 SkyMiles per dollar spent at 1-800-Flowers and Teleflora.
Clothing: From 2 to 10 Miles Per $1
Chances are that your favorite department stores and apparel shops offer some sort of reward through these portals. Check the earning ratios at a site like EVReward.com or directly through the shopping portal of your choice. Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall generally has the best bonus offers at department stores like Kohls (10:$1), Neiman Marcus (7:$1), JCPenney (5:$1), Sears (5:$1), and Macys (5:$1).
Computers: Up to 6 Bonus Miles
The earning ratio for computer purchases is generally quite low but that’s no reason to leave miles or points on the table. For Apple products, the best you’ll do is 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 or 1.5 Hawaiian Airlines miles per $1 spent. Most other portals (American, Delta, Marriott, Southwest, US Airways, and United) offer 1 mile per $1.
Your options expand if you’re looking to purchase a PC or other computer accessories. For example, Dell offers 6 points per $1 from Choice Privileges, 3 points per $1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott, and 2 points per $1 from American, Hawaiian, and Southwest. Delta, Hilton HHonors, US Airways, and United all offer a 1:1 ratio.
The earning ratios for big box stores like Best Buy and Circuit City are generally also 1:1 around this time of year.
Magazines: Limited-Time Offers Can Be Terrific
If you plan to gift a magazine subscription to someone, it’s worth making the purchase through a shopping portal. Many, like Chases Ultimate Rewards Mall, are offering 30 points per $1 spent. (Previous offers have been as high as 60 points/$1 spent.) Magazine offers tend to change often so shop around to make sure you’re getting the best reward possible for your purchase. Also, make sure you understand any auto-renew options the subscription might come with.
Giving Miles, Points, and Travel Gift Cards
You can gift miles and points to those on your shopping list from programs like:
- American AAdvantage Gift Miles (limited 18,000-mile bonus through 12/31/13)
- American AAdvantage Share Miles
- Delta SkyMiles Gift Miles
- Delta SKyMiles Transfer Miles
- United MileagePlus Gift Miles
- United MileagePlus Transfer Miles
- US Airways Dividend Miles Gift Miles
- US Airways Dividend Miles Share Miles
It’s also easy to purchase gift cards for travel. When doing so, try to make the purchase through a rewards shopping portal or, at the very least, use a rewards-earning credit card to pay for the gift card.
If you shop wisely this year, you’ll be amazed at the number of bonus miles and points you’ll amass. Happy shopping!