Usually my favorite online shopping portal is the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall, both because the points earned are especially valuable (in large measure due to their flexibility and their lucrative transfer partners) and because the earning ratios tend to be really good.
There are some online shopping portals that consistently just offer bad deals, this is not one of them.
For most purchases I start at EV Reward, it’s a search engine where you look up the merchant you’re going to be buying from and it shows you the different deals that are on offer from the various mileage and cash back websites.
That’s points or cash rebates you can get for the purchases you’re going to make anyway, just for starting at a shopping portal ad using their link to get to the online store.
That’s because the online store will pay commissions to these sites to drive buyers to them, and those shopping portal sites rebate much of that commission to you in order to get you to go through their portal.
The shopping portal makes money, and makes more money by driving more transactions even though their per-transaction net is lower (since they’re rebating much of it to you).
That’s how the airline mileage malls work, like the Dividend Miles or AAdvantage shopping malls, and it’s how the cash back sites like Ebates and Fatwallet work.
Once in awhile there are big ‘special offers’ — more often with the cash back websites than with the mileage malls. And those specials come around more often than EV Reward updates. So you don’t always see the latest information there. So it can pay to check a few of the most lucrative sites yourself, sites in particular like TopCashBack which is often at the top end of rebates and runs regular specials, but also ShopAtHome.
DJP_707 posted on Milepoint this morning that Ebates was up to 13.5% cash back on Intercontinental Hotels Group (Priority Club) properties — Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, etc.
That’s great, it’s an off-the-top discount effectively. And really nice for business travelers making their own reservations, getting reimbursed.
But that’s not even the best current offer for Priority Club properties.
Through November 30, ShopAtHome.com is offering 20% back.
Note of course that you can go to the Holiday Inn booking site and book other Priority Club chain hotels.
The stunningly high rebate just underscores how worthwhile it is to check what sites will offer you for the reservations you’re going to make anyway, online purchases can be really lucrative just as I wrote about for airfare, in “Quintuple Dipping: Maximizing Your Earning When Purchasing Travel”.
Since these sites generally just take you to the hotel’s own website to make your booking, they’ll earn points. At a 20% rebate it’s entirely possible to be getting better than a 50% total return on your hotel stays when you add in points earned for the stay and points earned from credit card spend on the stay.
There are opportunities for big rebates (in points or cash) or hotel stays, airfare, car rentals even, not to mention purchases made at Amazon.com (Hawaiian miles) or Target.