Thursday, December 13, 2012

Free Miles and Points: MyPoints

Earlier this week I talked about how to easily earn over 1,000 free MileagePlus miles through a new program called BCKSTGR. As a follow-up, I wanted to start a Free Miles and Points series covering other programs I use. Since I'm done flying for 2012,  I figured now is the perfect time to share how to earn from home. These activities are also a good way to keep accounts active and keep your valuable miles and points from expiring. All you need to get started is a computer, or in some cases a smart phone. While none of the programs Ill be discussing are that new (you may have even heard of them), I'll be adding my own tips and analysis, while sharing my personal experiences along the way, so stay tuned.

First up is MyPoints, an online shopping portal and United Airlines partner.
  • How it Works- In theory it is a shopping portal, like any other, that gives you points for shopping online using their affiliate links. However, there's so much more to the site and numerous other ways you can earn points for free by doing stuff like reading emails, playing games, completing surveys, and searching the web. Learn more by clicking What is MyPoints?
  • The Currency and Rewards- MyPoints can be converted into giftcards, cash (PayPal), or MileagePlus miles. 10,100 MyPoints points = 5,000 United MileagePlus miles and 5,200 points = 2,500 miles. In comparison 9,000 points is worth a $50 Visa debit gift card or 8,900 points can be converted into a $50 deposit to your paypal. Gift cards from other merchants are a slightly better value than Visa cards/PayPal, but your best option for this program, in my opinion, is to save for the United miles. To view a complete listing of available awards click here.
  • Free Points- BonusMail and SurveyMail earn 5 and 10 points each, respectively. MyPoints will send you emails containing links from their sponsors, but before you mark it as spam, check them out. While not all emails will earn you points, many of them are worth 5 points if you click-thru the link, without further obligation. You may of course can get additional points from actually buying a product or service from the sponsor. MyPoints also sends invitations periodically to participate in surveys. They typically offer 10 points for not qualifying and 50 or 60 points if you do qualify and complete the survey. My personal advice is not to waste much time doing the surveys (there are better survey sites out there which I'll cover in the series). After almost a year of taking them seriously and a lot of wasted time, I think I only qualified for like 2 surveys, so now I just tell them I am 13 years old and make over $200,000 a year and quickly get redirected to a page that says I failed. It's an easy 10 points. You can expect to earn around 300-350 points per month between BonusMail and SurveyMail. You can also earn MyPoints for free by doing web searches and there are a few one-time earning opportunities for installing a search tool-bar and completing your profile on the site as well.
BonusMail example
SurveyMail example
  • Taking it to the Next Level- Pay special attention to any BonusMails having to do with Walmart. They often offer the most lucrative point earning opportunities for making a small purchase and faxing a copy of your receipt. In the past I've earned 1,000 and 1,750 points for printing a coupon and buying diapers, which is something I would have bought anyway. Other Walmart 1,000 point bonuses have been for Glade plug-in refills (not something I would normally buy) and toilet paper (something I normally buy elsewhere). If you figure 10,100 MyPoints can be redeemed for 5,000 United MileagePlus miles, take the bonus you're earning, divide it by half, and that's how many miles you'll get. So for as little as $3-4 in some cases, you're getting the equivalent of 500 MileagePlus miles. Great Deal! Another recent BonusMail was 1,000 points and 30% off at Famous Footwear. My husband needed new work shoes (for which he gets reimbursed) and we both submitted the receipt for points. Of course not all BonusMails bonuses are going to be that great. Expect about 1 a month that actually is. Another typical offering is 300 points for purchasing a $50 restaurant gift card. It's a good deal if you will use the gift card and were planning on eating out anyway, but with the exception being the aforementioned Walmart bonuses, I wouldn't advocate spending the money if you don't actually need the goods. If you're still unsure, there is a MyPoints thread of flyertalk that will usually start buzzing if something is too good of an offer to pass up. Usually a bonus of 1,000 or more gets my attention. You might also choose to use MyPoints as a shopping portal and earn points that way. Of course by doing so, you're giving up the opportunity to use another portal (like MileagePlus Shopping or any other airline/hotel/points/cashback portal) so it's wise to visit a site like evreward.com to compare your options. Right now, for example, the MyPoints website is offering 16 points per dollar (approx. 8 miles) and 30% off at Old Navy so that beats the 2 miles per dollar that United is currently offering.
Walmart BonusMail example
  • Overall Analysis and Other Stuff You Should Know- I like MyPoints. Since I've been a member (about 2 years) I've earned almost 30,000 points or 15,000 miles through a fairly conservative approach (i.e. not much money spent out of pocket). I typically handle the mind-numbing task of click-thrus and surveys on a smartphone while watching TV, so really no time lost there. Note- the email links and surveys do expire, so try to stay on top of things by clearing out your account at least twice a month. At first the sheer number of emails (typically a few per day) got a little annoying, but that is easily overcome by dedicating a separate email address to miles and points earning activities like this one. As for multiple MyPoints accounts- don't do it! It's against terms and conditions and they will shut you down. I tried. Maybe I wasn't clever enough with first initials and maiden names so the two other accounts I had under different emails got closed and I lost out on a lot of points. I got a warning after that but MyPoints let me keep the account with the highest balance.
To sign up and earn 750 United MileagePlus miles go here. The typical sign-up bonus is only 500 miles, so for whatever reason if that link one day stops working or expires, try MyPoints.com/united. There is also a refer-a-friend offer, but in the spirit of full-disclosure, it's not as good of a deal (You get 750 MyPoints points after making a $20 purchase through the site). If you would however still like to be my friend you can always sign up using my referral by clicking here. As always, thanks for reading and you can look forward to more Free Miles and Points posts coming soon.


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