If you have ever purchased something on the internet there is something you should know about – online shopping portals. These are tools which provide a rebate to your purchases. Portals can be used to earn cashback, airline miles, or reward points. The amount back from a purchase varies from 0.5% to as high as 15%. You may be thinking why this is possible. Well, all over the internet people are paid to drive traffic and sales to people’s websites. Instead of these people collecting commissions when you shop, you get to collect the commission and I’m sure a piece goes to the portal company too.
I like to get airline miles as a rebate on my purchases, but sometimes when the rates are low and I prefer cash. For cashback I use TopCashBack because it has been very reliable, and I can get my cashback through PayPal, direct deposit, or even get a 3% bonus if I get paid out in American Express or Amazon gift cards. Different portals offer different rates on the same store so you are free to make multiple accounts, but I’ve found it convenient to stick to one cashback and the rest airline miles.
When choosing which portal to use (if you use multiple) Cashback Monitor is an excellent site which shows the rates for different portals at various stores. As you can see from my picture, I have received cashback from all types of stores.
Credit card portals
If it wasn’t confusing enough, many credit cards also offer points/cashback on purchases. The value of credit card points is easy to determine, so when choosing between portal go for the one with the highest. The credit card portals which I use are Discover and Chase. Discover is great because its lowest cashback amount is 5% (which doubles to 10% in first year) and I like Chase because I can transfer the points to many different airlines. I will write more about credit cards in the future as those can get pretty detailed, but for now know that the Discover IT card is easy to use and easy to get money back with.
Earn miles or cash?
In order to determine whether to use a portal for miles or cash you need an apples to apples comparison. If you do not use airline miles, let them expire, or can not earn enough for a free flight then please stick to cashback. If you are one who understands the value of airline miles, then develop a monetary value for them. For instance, I could get a roundtrip flight to Asia on United for 70,000 miles or pay $1,050. Dividing the two I see that a United mile is worth 1.5 cents. Given the choice between a mile or 1% then I should get the mile. Let’s do an example with my favorite store Sears. Currently TopCashBack is offering 3%, Discover has 5%, American Airlines 2 miles/dollar and United 3 miles/dollar. In this case I should choose Discover because the United miles end up worth 4.5%, but if it was 4 miles/dollar then I’d go for the miles. And yes, Discover is going to destroy almost everything if you are in your first year as a cardmember due to the doubling.
I have earned over $650 and 40,000 airline miles through shopping portals. Anytime I am making an online purchase I try to make it as cheap as possible through points and cashback. Portals are great tools to get money that would have gone to another advertiser, so try and remember when you are shopping online. Finally, like other things, make sure to compare prices before choosing where to buy as this could make a bigger difference than the portal payout rate.
P.S. Today is tax day unless you are in Maine or Massachusetts, then lucky you, it is tomorrow.