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Top 6 tips for maximizing miles & points earning on your holiday shopping Posted on Dec 17, 2014
Updated: Dec 1, 2020

 

There isn't much time to the big day for gift giving so the push is on to start your Christmas shopping for friends, family and maybe even yourself! Whether it is shopping for gifts or for food and drink to entertain there are many ways to maximize the miles and points you earn holiday shopping. Ultimately you can make those reward dreams come closer by following one or more of our tips.

1. Shop via online shopping malls to earn miles & points plus take advantage of their bonuses!

A few years ago a report from Loyalty Magazine states that  94% of all global consumers now shop online at some level and 35% of these online shoppers are making at least one purchase per week and our guess is a lot of those shoppers don't know they can be earning more miles and points on those online purchases! Now being in the thick of the pandemic those numbers are way higher - online shopping numbers are breaking records as people want to minimize their time shopping in person. And that's the great thing about shopping online, it is that you can double dip on so many of those purchases. You can earn miles or points on the credit card used for the purchase and many frequent flyer and frequent guest programs have online shopping portals whereby you can earn miles for shopping at hundreds of retailers online. For Canadians the best are Aeroplan's eStore, AIR MILES airmilesshops.ca, Rakuten and Great Canadian Rebates. That being said if you are planning on shopping at U.S. retailers online you can also add in programs like Alaska Airlines, United MileagePlus, American AAdvantage and many many more! To take be able to earn miles and points for shopping online be sure to visit your loyalty program of choice website and head to the online shopping mall, login and shop away!

Online virtual shopping malls to earn more miles, points or cash back:

Canadian U.S. International
Aeroplan
AIR MILES
CAA Rewards
Great Canadian Rebates
Rakuten
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
American Airlines AAdvantage
Choice Privileges
Delta SkyMiles Shopping
Hilton Honors
United Airlines MileagePlus
Wyndham Rewards
British Airways Executive Club
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Emirates Skywards
Norwegian Reward
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Many of the online malls run bonuses during the holiday season and you can find them all listed right here in this chart. (Be sure to check back here often as this is frequently updated during the holiday season)

Online Portal Offer End Date
Aeroplan eStore Earn various bonus Aeroplan Points when you shop online via the Aeroplan eStore. Full details Various end dates set by retailer
AIR MILES Shops 30 Bonus Miles when you spend $100 or more sitewide Full details.
Until Dec 28, 20
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Earn various Bonus Mileage Plan Miles when you shop online via the Mileage Plan Shopping portal. Full details U.S. BASED PORTAL
Various end dates set by retailer
American AAdvantage Earn various Bonus AAdvantage Miles when you shop online via the AAdvantage Shopping portal. Full details
Various end dates set by retailer
British Airways Executive Club 30% Bonus Avios on your first transaction when shop online via the British Airways eStore. Full details U.S. BASED PORTAL. Unknown end date
Delta SkyMiles Earn various Bonus SkyMiles when you shop online via the SkyMiles Shopping portal. Full details U.S. BASED PORTAL
Various end dates set by retailer
Emirate Skywards Double Skywards miles when you shop online via the Skywards Miles Mall. Full details. U.S. BASED PORTAL Until Dec 13, 20
Rakuten 2x Cash Back when you shop online at select retailers via the Rakuten portal. Full details Various end dates set by retailer
United MileagePlus Shopping Earn various Bonus MileagePlus Miles for Black Friday Cyber Monday when you shop online via the MileagePlus Shopping portal. Full details U.S. BASED PORTAL
Various end dates set by retailer
Wyndham Rewards Earn various Bonus Wyndham Rewards Points for shopping online via the Wyndham Rewards Shopping site. Full details. U.S. BASED PORTAL Various end dates set by retailer

A few years ago RBC Rewards had done away with their online shopping portal however they often run specials where you can earn more RBC Rewards points for shopping at select retailers. You can find that list of retailers hereNew Window

Want to find out what U.S. retailers are participating in an online points or miles mall? Check out evreward.com and search your favourite stores to see where you can earn points or miles. Then for shopping at online retailers from the U.S. or overseas you could and should utilize a credit that offers No Foreign Transaction fees like the HSBC World Elite Mastercard or the Scotia Passport Visa Infinite card

Recommended reading: No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards for CanadiansNew Window

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2. Use your mileage/point earning credit card & your loyalty cards to Double or Triple Dip

Double dipping is the term coined for earning miles twice in one purchase or transaction. This basically involves your rewards earning credit card being used for a purchase where you also earn miles in the same program as the credit card. Buying one of those funky Kuradori kitchen tools from Home Hardware as a gift? Using your TD Aeroplan Visa or American Express card and then swiping your Aeroplan card ensures you are double dipping.

Triple dipping involves the above but then adding in any bonuses available. Look for email, coupons or other promotions offering even more miles. With the above example, Aeroplan members can usually earn bonus miles on Home Hardware purchases during the holiday season. So the first dip is the base miles earned on the purchase, the second is the miles earned on your credit card and the third is the bonus miles from the promotion. When you shop online via one of the portals above you can push those purchases to quadruple or quintuple dips as you can also earn from the online merchant's loyalty program.

Double and Triple dipping does not have to involve the same program. You can always use a credit card that earns in one program while collecting the actual miles from another program for your flights, hotels, shopping or anything else you can earn miles on.

3. Giving gift cards? Buy gift cards at credit card multiplier locations

Are you a gift card giver at Christmas or you don’t know what presents to give this year so you’ve settled on a gift card? If you can, and it depends on the retailer, don’t buy the gift card straight from them as on most credit cards you'll only earn the base miles or points. Buy them at a place where you can take advantage of your credit card's category multiplier bonus. For example if I wanted to give my dad a Best Buy gift card I would only earn 1 Membership Rewards points on my American Express Cobalt Card if I bought the card at Best Buy but if I bought it at Sobeys, Safeway or any other grocery store I would earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar!

Here are examples some the credit cards and their category bonuses that you could use this for this tip (per dollar spent):

American Express Cobalt Card: 5x Points/$ on Dining/Food Purchases (Rewards Canada's #1 Pick for gift card buying/giving)
American Express Gold Rewards Card: 2x Points/$ at Grocery and Drug Stores, also at Gas Stations
American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card: 1 Mile/$5 at eligible gas and grocery
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard: 1 Mile/$10 on all spending
CIBC Aventura Visas: 1.5 Points/$ at grocery stores, gas stations or drug store
CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite: 4% Cash Back on grocery store or gas stations purchases
Scotiabank Gold American Express 5 Points/$ on grocery stores
Scotiabank Platinum American Express: 4 Points/$ on grocery stores
Scotia Momentum VISA Infinite card: 4% Cash Back on grocery store or gas stations purchases

TD Aeroplan Visas: 1.5 Points at grocery stores and gas stations

To learn more about these or other cards visit ourTravel Rewards Credit Card ComparisonNew Window

4. Buying gifts at retailers without credit card multipliers? Use the gift card trick to earn more miles!

This one is similar to above but involves a little more time and effort. This tip is for those of you who know what gifts you are buying for your kids, family, relatives and friends. The reason why it will take more time is that it requires multiple stops and purchases but if you have the time and want the extra miles and points then go for it! A good example of this is that you know that your child wants a new Nintendo Switch for Christmas. You could go buy it directly from Best Buy or Amazon and earn your base miles on your credit card but by going to a grocery store, drug store or even a gas station that sells gift cards you go buy yourself the Best Buy or Amazon gift cards, earn the 1.5x or 2x or 5x miles/points on the purchase and then use the gift cards when you get to Best Buy or shop online via Amazon. There is only one downside to this method other than the extra time required and that is you will not be able to take advantage of the purchase protection, price protection or extended warranty offered by many of the reward credit cards. (Maybe it would be better if I used Old Navy as an example instead of Best Buy since you don’t really require any of those benefits on Old Navy purchases?)

5. Use bonus offers to your advantage when buying groceries for the holiday season

This one ties into the Double or Triple Dip outlined in the first tip. Always check your emails for bonus coupons or offers or even when you first enter a store. Doing your grocery shopping and expecting to buy lots of food since your hosting Christmas and have a dozen people coming over? Always look at the flyer stand when you first enter Safeway, Sobeys or whatever grocery store as long as they are part of a loyalty program. We have found that Sobeys tends to be hit and miss at letting people know about bonus Air Miles offers via email so I always check the flyer stand to see if there is a bonus coupon and more times then not there is some sort of bonus. Safeway is better at letting people know by email and sometimes it is only via email that the best offers come. For example, the 2013 Christmas season had the biggest bonus we had ever seen for shopping at Safeway, 500 Bonus Air Miles for a $200 spend. Here's crossing our fingers that offer returns this year!

6. Always remember to swipe your Loyalty Card and/or use your miles/points earning credit card

Remember to always collect your points and miles when you shop. Always think ahead and bring your loyalty card to swipe/scan when you shop. Don't want to carry around that much plastic? Most programs now have smart phone apps that also double as your loyalty card. This is a good way to always have your card on hand, especially for forgetful people.

Special loyalty program offers for holiday shopping:

AIR MILES Shop the Block - Earn up to 1,200 Bonus Reward Miles for earning miles from multiple partners until December 28, 2020 New Window

Final say:

Whenever you can, use your miles/points earning credit card to pay for your purchases. As long as you are financially responsible there is no reason you should be using cash or debit for your purchases. It should always be on a rewards credit card so that you earn your coveted miles, points or cash back. It's doesn't matter if the purchase is $1.00 or $1,000, put it on your credit card. Not financially responsible? As in you only pay the minimum required amount each month on your card, then don't use your card. The interest you pay is not worth the extra miles or points.

Happy Holidays to all! May you earn a boatload of rewards this holiday season!

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Care to comment on the Top 6 tips for maximizing miles for holiday shopping? Which of these tips do you use yourself? Do you have any other tips for our readers? Share you views and experiences by commenting below or on Facebook and Twitter!



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