A few months ago I realized one of the best ways to earn airline miles is through shopping portals. Each airline has their own website that you can click through to earn miles. Most, if not all, of these portals are run by the same company.
The way that portals work is that when you click to shop on a website it tracks how much you purchases and then gives you points based on the amount spent. For instance, the American Airlines (AA) portal gives 1 miles for every $1 spent on eBay. If I click on the link and spend $500, I will not only get the points on my credit card, but I will also get 500 AA miles. This is a great way to keep your points from expiring as well. It is a great way to earn extra points while shopping. Of course you have to have self control not to buy the newest gadget just so “you can get airline miles”.
One important thing to note when using shopping portals is that you can’t use any coupons that are not listed on the portal website. If you do use coupons that aren’t provided by the portal, you will most likely not get points for the purchase. It is also important to read the terms and conditions that are listed for each portal. Every website is different. For instance, on eBay purchases of the following are not eligible: eBay gift cards, eBay Vehicles, eBay Real Estate, Heavy Machinery, Buillion and Charity items. (see bottom of screenshot above). For other stores, such as Kohl’s, purchases of hot ticket items such as Nutribullets, JBL speakers, etc are not eligible.
Groupon – FAIL
After starting to use portals, I noticed that Groupon was 3miles/$1 for most airlines. I had used Groupon before and so I started using portals while purchasing these deals. Shortly there after, Groupon started offering trade-ins after 24 hours of buying a Groupon. This would allow you to return a Groupon for Groupon Bucks (credit). Then you could use this credit to buy another Groupon. All of this while using a portal meant points for respending the same dollar. It worked. I started doing this for a couple months until they shut down the trade in program. After they shut down the trade in program, I started just canceling my orders (within 24 hours) and receiving Groupon bucks. I had earned about 5,000+ miles on each of the various airline shopping portals all for about $100 that I kept cycling through. I thought I had found my golden ticket to free travel. However, around Thanksgiving the shopping portal caught on. All of sudden every single one of my transactions was reversed. The result was that they clawed back all of the miles. Sad day 🙁
This method obviously didn’t work, but part of this hobby is looking for new ways to earn miles/points. Now looking back I wonder if I significantly boosted Groupon’s sales numbers that quarter.
However, more recently I had a Groupon expire that I had every intention of using, but forgot about. Within 48 hours I received an email asking if I would like to trade in the Groupon for another Groupon. It looked identical to the original program that Groupon had started and then shut down. We will have to wait and see if I receive any clawback for the original Groupon’s points.