Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Earn Miles and Points for Holiday Shopping

It's that time of year again! Black Friday is this week, officially kicking off the holiday shopping season. Back in September I wrote about How to Make The Most of Your Labor Day Shopping, and provided a detailed example. I haven't really started my shopping yet, so I don't have any exploits to share yet, but I did want to pass along some tips and tricks to help you earn extra miles and points this holiday season. A lot of this stuff here isn't new, but I still wanted to offer a refresher course and share with any new readers how to maximize miles and points earning during this most festive time of year, so here's the holiday edition of helpful tips:
  • Shop Online- Don't put up with mall crowds and craziness. Shopping online is the best way to take advantage of valuable coupon codes and shopping portal bonuses.Worried about shipping costs? Don't be. Many retailers offer free shipping for minimum purchases or you may consider using a free trail or actually joining a subscription based service shipping service like shoprunner or amazon mom (which gives you 3 free months of amazon prime instead of 1).
  • Search for Coupon Codes- Do a quick Google search using the retailers name and "coupons" or "coupon codes" or try visiting a site like retailmenot.com.
  • Use a Shopping Portal- Many miles and points programs give you bonus miles for using their referral links (for example United's is mileageplusshopping.com) Don't know which program to choose. Try visiting evreward.com. There you can search by retailer and it will show a list of links to popular programs with how many miles and points they give. Also during the holidays portals offer valuable bonuses. Last year for example, MileagePlus Shopping gave out 8 miles/$ at Sephora instead of the usual 4. While evreward.com is a great tool, they aren't always up to date with holiday bonuses, so it's best to double check if you have a favorite program in mind.
United Mileage Plus Shopping is also giving bonuses to Mileage Plus Credit Card Holders
  • Use Your Favorite Miles and Points Earning Credit Cards- OK, so this might seem obvious, but get to know your cards a little better. Pay close attention to any category bonuses they may offer. For example my Chase Mileage Plus Select Visa offers double points for grocery and home improvement stores. Many small business credit cards (like Chase's Ink) often offer 5X category bonuses for office supply stores, which brings me to my next point...
  • Consider Shopping with Gift Cards- Gift cards just don't make good gifts; You can earn extra bonus miles and points for your own shopping. Buy your gift cards at places like Safeway, Office Depot, Lowes, etc. to take advantage of category bonuses and then use them to make your purchases elsewhere. Why settle for 1X points when you can get 2X-5X? I like Safeway's Gas Rewards Program. Typically $100 spend will get you a $.10 per gallon discount on gas, but right now they're giving a 4x bonus on gift card purchases, and typically do during major holidays. This means buying $25 gift card at Safeway will now get you that same $.10 per gallon gas reward. Save your rewards for up to $1 off/gallon ($2 in some states) at a time.
  • NEW- Don't Forget About Small Business Saturday- If you have an AMEX card, don't forget to register for Small Business Saturday and Shop Small at a participating business on November 24th. This isn't so much a miles and points earning opportunity as it is an outright freebie. AMEX will reimburse you up to $25 via a statement credit. Having multiple cards and authorized users count (as long as they have different numbers), meaning extra statement credits. My husband and I just registered all 9 of our AMEX cards yesterday. Our strategy is to buy a bunch $25 gift cards from our favorite local restaurant and use them enjoy free food throughout the rest of the year.
  • NEW- Pay Special Attention to Email Offers and Promos via Social Media- I don't know about you guys but my inbox is overflowing with junk mail right now, but it turns out a lot of it isn't junk. There are some good deals out there and retailers are all fighting for your attention, wanting to let you know about their deals. If you do plan on heading out the the mall check your inbox first; There may be a valuable coupon waiting for you. Also pay close attention to things posted on social media. Just today Amazon posted a $5 off $25 promo via Facebook for purchases over the next 3 days. Just remember that if you shop with them, Hawaiian Airlines eMarket is the only place where you can earn miles for purchases on amazon.com. Syncing your American Express card with social media is also a good way to find out about offers and deals. 
  • NEW- Earn Miles and Points for Eating Out- To busy to cook? Don't worry it happens to the best of us around this time of year. Rewardsnetwork.com lists all of their dining rewards programs (United, Alaska, PriorityClub, US Airways, American, Hilton, Southwest and more). Sign up for your favorite and start earning immediately. Most give you 1,000 miles for signing up after your first meal. Have multiple mileage accounts? Multiple credit cards? Multiple email addresses? You get the idea. Just write it all down so you don't forget. ;)
Do you have any tips or tricks that you think other readers may appreciate? Feel free to share them and any stories about your shopping exploits in the comments section below!

Just a note- the shoprunner link above is my referral/affiliate link from which I probably derive some sort of benefit (another free year of shoprunner I think? I'm not really sure) Anyway, I like to be up front about that kind of stuff and put it out there. Right now I don't offer any credit card affiliate links on this blog, but if you want my $.02 worth credit cards or would like a referral you can email me anytime! As always I appreciate the support and thanks for reading.

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