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Online shopping portals are websites that offer cash back, points or miles when you shop with the portal's online partners. That's in addition to the rewards you're already earning with your rewards credit card.
Understanding how these portals work and what you can earn with each can help you make the most of your online shopping and maximize your rewards along the way.
How Online Shopping Portals Work
Online shopping portals are websites that offer an incentive to shop with their partners, usually in the form of cash back, but it can also come in the form of points or miles with your favorite loyalty rewards program.
If you're planning to shop online for clothing, for instance, visit the shopping portal's website, search for clothing retailers and compare the rewards rates. In most cases, you get a percentage back in cash or a certain number of points or miles per dollar spent. However, some portals also offer a flat bonus.
In some cases, shopping portals also offer browser extensions, which notify you when you're on one of their partner websites and give you the offer details for that particular website. That way, you don't have to visit the shopping portal first.
Some of the more popular independent portals include:
- Capital One Shopping
Additionally, airlines like JetBlue, Southwest, Delta and American Airlines all have their own shopping portals, as do some hotel brands, including Wyndham and Choice Privileges.
Check Credit Card Shopping Portals for More Rewards
Some credit card issuers also have their own shopping portals that are only available to their credit card users. Examples include Shop through Chase and Barclaycard RewardsBoost. In contrast, you don't need a Capital One credit card to use the Capital One Shopping portal.
Other credit card companies offer similar programs, but they work a bit differently. For example, Amex Offers gives you cash back or points when you use your American Express credit card with select merchants, but all you need to do is add the offer to your card. Offers can be for online or in-store purchases. Similar programs include BankAmeriDeals, Chase Offers and My Wells Fargo Deals.
If you have a credit card with one of these, log in to your online account or your mobile app to see what's available.
How to Maximize Shopping Portals
Shopping portals offer the chance to maximize your rewards, but it's important to have the right strategy to make the most of them. Here are some tips to help:
- Compare rewards rates. Not all shopping portals are created equal, and some may have better rewards rates than others for a particular merchant. Rewards rates can also fluctuate, so one portal may not always give you the best rate. Consider using browser extensions to compare rates from different portals or use a website like Cashback Monitor if you have a specific retailer in mind.
- Compare prices across retailers. Depending on what you're shopping for, there may be several retailers from which you can choose. While it may be tempting to decide which one to buy from based on the rewards rate, always check the prices of the items you're purchasing. If one merchant offers 10% back on a $100 item, but you can get that same item for $90 and 5% back with another, you save more with the second option.
- Use the highest-earning rewards card. While most shopping portals don't require you to use a specific credit card—or even a credit card at all—you earn more rewards if you use a rewards card. More specifically, review the different cards you have and determine which gives you the highest earning rate on that particular purchase.
- Don't diversify too much. It may be tempting to always go with the portal with the best rewards rate, but if you spread out your earnings across too many portals, things can quickly get complicated. Instead, consider focusing on just a few portals to make things more manageable.
- Don't spend just to earn rewards. It can be tempting to spend more money to earn more rewards, especially if a shopping portal is running a promotion. But it's important to remember that you almost never get enough back in the form of cash back, points or miles to cover the full cost of your purchase, so spend only what you'd spend with or without the promise of rewards.
With these steps in mind, you can maximize your rewards with shopping portals without getting too overwhelmed.
Improve Your Credit to Make the Most of Rewards Credit Cards
There are rewards credit cards available for people across the credit spectrum, but the best ones are reserved for people with good or excellent credit. If your credit needs some work, start by checking your credit score and reviewing your credit report to get an idea of which areas you can address. From there, take steps to pay down debt, bring accounts current or other actions that can help you build and maintain good credit.
Once your credit is in good enough shape, compare credit card offers to determine the best one for you and your spending habits.