This week I want to write about a very little known and yet incredibly easy way of earning airline miles. Airline miles that can be used for almost-free flights, hotels, rental cars, and more. It involves nothing more than what you most likely do already - shop online. It won't cost you anything, at least, nothing more than what you were planning to spend anyway and requires no special memberships of any kind. In other words, it's open to all.
I'm talking about airline shopping portals. The way they work is really simple. Airlines partner with retailers and when you shop through their (airline) portals, you earn bonus miles. And what are your retail options? No, not Amway. They're actually just about any store you might have shopped at in the past or will in the future - Macy's, Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl's, The Home Depot, Groupon, Target, Apple, well... you get the idea.
So how do I do this?
American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping mall
If this your first time visiting the portal, you'll have to enroll here as well. Having created an AAdvantage account, you're half way there - click on the 'Sign Up' button in the portal and complete your enrollment in the eShopping mall. You'll need your AAdvantage number. At this point, you will be able to login to the mall.
American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping mall
Once you're logged in, let the shopping begin! A lot of the mainstream stores will be featured on the welcome screen, but go ahead and search for the one(s) you wish to shop at in the search box. You'll see that I started typing 'mac' and stores matching that search are listed. Macy's just happens to be on the portal. Here's the really fun part - the earning rates are displayed next to the store name. In this case, shopping at Macy's.com will earn you 10 miles per dollar spent. So that $100 Carolina Herrera 212 gift set will fetch you an easy 1000 AAdvantage miles. Not too shabby at all. Of course, this is not to say that you should buy a $100 bottle of cologne just to get those miles, but hey, if you're going to treat yourself to a sensual, musky cologne, shouldn't you be on your way to a free ticket with some miles?
Now this is the critical part. In order to actually earn those miles through this mall, you'll need to click on the links that will take you to macys.com from here.
Macy's offers on the AAdvantage eShopping mall
Once you click on 'Shop now', you'll be redirected to Macys.com. This message will confirm your earning rate.
Redirecting to macys.com from the AAdvantage eShopping mall
Before you know it, you're at your trusted macys.com website. Shop to your heart's content and know that you're earning 10 American Airlines AAdvantage miles for each $1 spent. Yes, we took the scenic route to get to the same place, but look at the AAdvantage of doing so, ;-).
Wait, sometimes there's even more!
Periodically, especially during peak shopping seasons, the portals will offer additional bonuses for meeting certain spend thresholds. Currently, AA has the following promo going on.
Holiday Spending Bonus
My $412 purchase at Discount Tire not only earned me 1,236 miles (at a rate of 3 miles per $1), but I would earn an additional 500 bonus miles for having crossed the $150 spend mark. If continued my swiping for another $800, I would earn the full promotional 4,000 bonus miles. Note that this promo ends on 11/19/2017.
But what about my credit card rewards?
Here's where it gets better - you still get your credit card points, cash back, or what have you. You do not forfeit any rewards you get from your credit card for your purchase. So you're essentially double-dipping, and it's perfectly fine.
Do other airlines have this?
Yes! Just about every major airline has its own shopping mall. The process is fairly similar, if not identical, as far as creating a frequent flyer account, enrolling in the shopping portal, and the rest of the process goes. Here are a few others.
Alaska Airlines' shopping portal is called Mileage Plan Shopping. Visit https://www.alaskaair.com/ and navigate through the 'Mileage Plan' menu.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan shopping
Visit https://www.shopping.ba.com/ for the British Airways shopping mall.
British Airways shopping
Earn Singapore Airlines Krisflyer miles at https://www.krisflyerspree.com/
Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Spree
Earn United miles when you shop at MileagePlus Shopping - https://shopping.mileageplus.com/
United Airlines MileagePlus Shopping
A few extra clicks during your routine shopping can easily fetch you airline miles in addition to any credit card rewards you may already receive. I've listed a few of the programs here, but chances are, if it is a major international airline, it is likely to have its own shopping mall. You'd want to weigh which portal you should shop through, depending on which frequent flyer program(s) miles you're after. Even if the earning is not a lot (sometimes as low as 0.5 miles per $1), the resulting activity on your account could help defer the expiration date of your miles. So this can also serve as a way of preventing your miles from expiring. However, they won't post immediately. It typically takes a few weeks, so you'll need to keep that in mind.
Now comes the (even more) fun part. What's your reward at the end of all this? You can use those miles for anything from airline tickets, to hotels and even rental car bookings. Personally, the biggest value proposition to me is when I redeem them for premium cabins on international flights, like this one.
Business Class on a Japan Airlines (JAL) Boeing 787
You can look up your airline loyalty program of choice for the many ways you can redeem your miles and what they would cost. In keeping with the example in this post, here's American's redemption options.