Ebates, the cash back online shopping portal, is celebrating its sixteenth birthday by offering sixteen percent cash back on purchases from over 150 online stores.
Most of the sales run all week, but the sixteen percent cash back on Priceline Express Deal hotel rooms is today only.
Not to be outdone, FatWallet, another cash back portal owned by the same company, is matching the sixteen percent offer at Priceline and is offering additional bonuses on travel purchases originating at their site, today only.
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I don’t really get the bloggers who claim to earn gazillions of frequent flyer miles by shopping via online shopping portals.
Sure I try to rack up a few extra points when shopping online, but more often than not I find that bonus offers are not honored, probably due to some fault of my own.
For instance, if you enter a coupon code found elsewhere your bonus points will not be credited. If you already have items waiting in your shopping cart, you might not earn the extra points. If sales post after the promotion closes, you may be out of luck.
CITIbank Apologizes for Shopping Portal Payout Error
The AAdvantage shopping portal was offering a holiday promo some months back. I never received the bonus points, but past experience has taught me that it might not be worth the effort to try to straighten it out.
Today I received a surprising email from Citibank. Here’s what it said:
We didn’t give you the correct incentive
You recently enrolled in an offer to earn 3X AAdvantage® miles for eligible online purchases through March 31, 2015. After reviewing your Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Visa® card account, we found we didn’t give you the correct bonus incentive for the qualifying purchases made during the offer period.
What we’re doing to fix this
We added 562 AAdvantage® miles to your card account. You’ll see this adjustment on your card statement within two billing periods.
The email is referring to this offer for 3x extra points for purchases made via the AAdvantage shopping portal:
Well CITIbank, apology accepted.
Many of the online shopping portals are run by a company called Cartera. You can read more about their business model here. There is a whole thread on Flyer Talk discussing the ins and outs of online shopping portals.
Do you ever find that you are not credited what you expect from your online purchases?
Our 40-year old townhouse is in desperate need of repairs.
What with the original bathrooms, and leaks springing left and right, it was past time to take action. Of course if you defer your home repairs like we did, you find yourself facing some major expenses all at once.
Luckily, I met Carlos the contractor when I was out walking the dog one day. Carlos can fix anything and is super nice and flexible. Our arrangement was that we would pay Carlos for the labor, and that we would purchase the materials.
Since I knew we would be racking up charges, I saw this as an easy way to meet the minimum spend requirements on some new travel rewards credit cards.
My Travel Rewards Credit Card Applications
It had been over six months since I had applied for a travel rewards credit card, and there were several cards with large sign-up bonuses on my wish list.
Purchasing materials for the home renovation would be an easy way to meet hefty initial spend requirements.
Warning — if you don’t pay your credit cards in full and on time every month, you should not be in this game!
Barclay’s U.S. Air Dividend Miles Card
The Barclay’s U.S. Air Dividend Miles credit card was offering 50K bonus miles after the first purchase and payment of the annual fee. This card was on the verge of retirement due to the US Air – American Airlines merger. I had applied once before, and was not approved, so this was my last ditch effort to rack up 50K miles before the merger. I applied, and was denied once again, for having too many recent credit card applications. Fortunately, the bank did not do a hard pull of my credit report, so no skin off my back. This card is no longer being offered.
Chase’s Sapphire Preferred Credit Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card offers 40K bonus points after completing a minimum spend requirement of $3,000 within the first three months. You can get an additional 5,000 Ultimate Reward Points by adding an authorized user. Ultimate Rewards points are great because they are easily transferred to a variety of frequent flyer programs. The card pays two times points on travel and restaurants. There is a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year. I wrote yesterday how I used 45,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points earned from opening the Sapphire Preferred credit card to finance our Amtrak Auto Train trip to Florida.
Capital One’s Venture Card
The Capital One Venture rewards card offers 40,000 bonus points to new applicants who meet a minimum spend of $3,000 within the first three months. The card pays two times points on all purchases, and carries a $59 annual fee which is waived the first year. After meeting the initial spend requirement, I had 46,000 points which could be used to offset $460 in travel expenses. The Venture card is not a favorite among travel bloggers — which I think is crazy because it has a decent sign-up bonus, earns a great rate on all spending, allows flexible redemptions for travel expenses (while still earning frequent flyer miles on your purchases.) I have read numerous reports of people having success in getting the annual fee waived, sometimes for two years in a row.
Gift Card Purchases for Home Improvement Stores
The last method I used to accrue free travel to Florida was to purchase gift cards for Home Depot and Lowes at an office supply store with my Chase Ink Bold business credit card. The Ink Bold card earns 5x Ultimate Reward Points for purchases at at office supply stores like Staples and Office Depot and Amazon. My contractor used these gift cards to purchase supplies for the renovation, and we used the cards to order plumbing parts, medicine cabinets, light fixtures and more. When possible, we shopped through an online shopping portal to earn extra points and miles for our purchases.
A “Free” Trip to Florida for Spring Break
My daughter is graduating from high school this year so this was our last chance to take a spring break trip together. She asked if she could invite a friend to come along, a request that was easy to accommodate thanks to miles and points.
Our trip was not completely free, of course. But through the strategies outlined above, and prior accrual of points, we were able to enjoy our round trip travel on the Auto Train and four out of five nights hotels in Florida for free.
Sound good? Tread carefully. Like the Amex ShopRunner program that also offers free shipping, participation in this MasterCard rebate program means that you will forgo any cash back or points payouts that you could have earned by going through an online shopping portal like FatWallet, Ebates, or the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.