- Buy online- The best way to take advantage of coupon codes and mileage/points portals is to shop online. Don't want to pay for shipping? Don't worry many retailers offer free shipping for spending over a certain amount and/or offer free in-store pickup. Shop online a lot? You may want to consider subscribing to a service like shoprunner.com* or Amazon prime**.
- Search for coupon codes- doing a quick google search (example: REI coupon codes) or using a site like retailmenot.com can save you extra cash!
- Use a shopping portal- Many popular mileage and points programs offer bonuses for using their referral links. You can typically find your program's shopping portal by doing a quick google search (example: MileagePlus shopping) or through your favorite program's website. Also, evreward.com is a great site that allows you to search by retailer to see which program's shopping portal is offering the best deal. Mileage/points portals on occasion also will offer holiday multiplier bonuses for certain retailers during some holidays.
- Use your favorite mileage or point earning credit card- This may seem like a no-brainer if you're looking to earn points and miles, but get to know your credit cards a little before choosing which one to use. Several cards out there offer category-based bonuses, for example, my Chase Select Mileage Plus Visa (sadly Chase no longer offers this card) offers 2x points at grocery and home improvement stores, and some of their other cards like Ink and Freedom offer up to 5x points at office supply stores, which leads me to my next point...
- Consider buying with a gift card- Why? Because you may be able to earn more miles that way. Many grocery stores like Safeway, and office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot, and home improvement warehouses like Lowe's sell gift cards for other popular merchants. If you have a credit card that gives you a bonus for spending at an office supply store, grocery store, home improvement store, etc. you can earn more miles for buying your gift card from them, then redeeming it where you will be doing your shopping. I personally like buying gift cards at Safeway, because it is a great way to earn gas reward points (right now they're giving 4x points for purchasing gift cards) on top of 2x bonus miles from my credit card.
So here's my Labor Day weekend shopping example- a new jogging stroller!
Yeah, I know, I never thought in a million years I'd be so excited about spending a couple hundred bucks on a piece of baby gear, but between the sand and saltwater on Maui's Baby Beach, and United's baggage handlers, our poor Graco travel system stroller is starting to show it has been abused and it now squeaks a little. Overall it has been a great stroller, and I intend to keep using it for general purpose stuff like travel and trips to the mall, but I figured taking it on 3-4 miles walks around the neighborhood several days a week was a little much, so this is what I picked out-
REI is selling this BOB stroller for $339 (normally $399) and includes about $50 worth of free accessories which seemed like a good deal as I saw some going for as much as $450 at other sites ($449 MSRP). The cheapest online deal I found was $309, but I decided to go with REI because of their 100% guarantee, the free cup holder and snack tray they are throwing in, and because there is a store near my house where I can easily go pick it up to avoid paying for shipping. Sadly there was no mention of whether or not this is eligible towards my 10% REI member dividend, so I'm guessing no, but if it is, that is worth about another $30 which will be a great surprise. The total came out to $363.67 after tax for the stroller, bonus snack tray and handlebar console (cup holder). No additional coupon codes this time. Oh well.
The next step was choosing a shopping portal. I went with United on this one for 2 miles/dollar. It wasn't listed on evreward, but after a quick google search and trip to mileageplusshopping.com I confirmed that I could in fact get United miles (evreward is good, but not perfect, so good reason to always double check with your favorite program).
I then decided I was going to use my Chase Select Mileage Plus Visa for the purchase, but instead of buying directly from REI, I made a quick visit to my local Safeway to stock up on $350 dollars worth of REI gift cards. Because Safeway is a grocery store I get 2x bonus miles for $350 worth of my purchase. So here's how it all broke down:
- Savings of anywhere between $60-$100 (depending on if you go by REI's non-sale price vs. MSRP)
- $55 worth of FREE accessories because it's Labor Day
- 727 United MileagePlus Miles for using mileageplusshopping.com
- 713 United MileagePlus Miles for using my Chase Select Mileage Plus Visa (2x on $350 = 700 spent @ Safeway plus 1x on the difference between $363-$350, or 13)
- 1400 Safeway gas rewards points. Each 100 points = $.10 off per gallon up to 25 gallons and they let you use up to $1 off per gallon worth or rewards at a time, so this could be worth up to $35 in savings on gas.
*full disclosure- I do receive a small referral bonus if you use my link to sign up for shoprunner. As always, I appreciate the support!
**additional tips- If you want to try Amazon Prime, they normally offer a free 1-month trial. If you use Amazon Mom to sign up, you can get it for free for 3 months. Just another reason that being a mom (or knowing a kid) is cool!