Beginner's Guide to Shopping Portals Beginner's Guide to Shopping Portals

Beginner's Guide to Shopping Portals

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Shopping online has become a staple of American life. Beyond allowing customers to shop around for that perfect deal, online stores relieve shoppers of the need to leave their homes. Now, simply click a few buttons and wait for your order to arrive.

Another, often-forgotten perk of shopping online is the ability to use a shopping portal to save even more. Unfortunately, knowing which portal to use (and when) can be daunting for those who may not be familiar. To make things easier, we've compiled this guide to shopping portals and some mini-reviews of our favorites.

What Is a Shopping Portal?

In a nutshell, shopping portals are a way to boost your savings or earnings when making online purchases.

When a shopper navigates to a store's website after clicking a shopping portal and makes a purchase, the store pays the shopping portal a commission. This commission is then shared in part with you, the shopper, in the form of cash back, points, or miles.

Depending on the store and the portal used, the shared commission can be as little as one bonus mile per dollar spent or as significant as several thousand bonus miles on a larger purchase. In either case, the earnings can add up quickly!

For this to work, however, you need to follow the correct process. Shopping portals rely on cookies/trackers in your web browser. When you click through the shopping portal, it will take you to the store you want to shop at (Best Buy or Sephora, for example) and use trackers to see if you make an eligible purchase. If you close your browser, navigate away from the page, or return several hours later to complete your purchase, you may not receive a payout from the shopping portal. You must follow the required link to be eligible for most portal bonuses, and some expire after an hour or two.

a woman at a coffee shop using a laptop
Credit: Andrew Neel/Unsplash

What Is Stacking?

“Stacking” is a beloved term in the points and miles community. It refers to the strategy of maximizing each purchase by layering multiple methods of earning and saving at once. Online shopping portals play a critical role in this strategy.

As noted above, shopping portals earn revenue by referring customers to online stores. As such, any strategies to earn rewards or get discounts that don’t interfere with using a referral link from a shopping portal to reach the merchant's website can generally be stacked for additional savings. Examples include:

  • Redeeming a coupon or discount code on the merchant’s website
  • Discounts, bonus points, or statement credits triggered by paying with a specific credit card, including Chase Offers or Amex Offers
  • Points or cash back earned by using a rewards credit card to pay for your purchase

Related: If You Don't Stack, You're Wasting Money

Pay With the Right Rewards Card

Perhaps the easiest way to get extra value from an online purchase is to pay with the right rewards card. There are two approaches to consider. The most common strategy is to maximize the points you earn on the purchase.

Optimizing your rewards earnings

If your goal is to maximize your overall value, these three factors should guide your choice:

  • Can you make progress toward earning a valuable reward by putting this spending on a specific card? For example, if you’re working on the spending requirement to earn a welcome bonus, other factors like the number of points you’ll earn per dollar spent are less important.
  • Do you have a card that earns extra points/cash back with this type of merchant? For example, there are great cards for earning extra points on specific categories like travel, dining, or groceries.
  • If you can’t earn extra points based on the category, the best option is to use a credit card that earns a solid return on all purchases. Two of our favorite cards in this category include the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (which earns 2X on everyday purchases) and the Chase Freedom Unlimited® (which earns 1.5% on everyday spending).

Related: Best Credit Cards for Everyday Purchases

When to pay with a card that earns fewer points

There are three situations where you might be better off ignoring the advice above:

  • If you need to earn a specific type of points for an upcoming trip. In this case, you might want to use a card that earns the points you need, even if you end up with fewer of them.
  • If you can earn a bonus or statement credit by paying with a specific card. For example, if you're targeted for an Amex Offer that awards a $15 statement credit on a purchase of $50 or more, you might want to use the card tied to that offer. You could save more money than the value of the lost rewards.
  • If you're making a large purchase that might require purchase protection and extended warranty benefits. When purchasing a laptop or other big-ticket item, it can be beneficial to pay with a card that includes some of these benefits in case your new purchase gets damaged or stolen.

How To Find the Most Rewarding Shopping Portal

Whenever you make an online purchase, one of your first steps should be to check an aggregator tool. These websites help online shoppers maximize their spending by collecting all of the shopping portal offers or coupons in one place.

Screenshot of Cashback Monitor offers for Walmart purchases
Cashback Monitor offers for Walmart purchases.

Two of the most popular websites for this purpose are:

  • CashbackMonitor: This website neatly displays the offerings of practically every shopping portal. This makes it easier to choose the portal to use.
  • Evreward: Similar to CashbackMonitor, Evreward collects shopping portal offers as well as online store coupons, cash-back programs, and gift card bonuses.

Tips for Shopping Portals

Using any shopping portal is a reasonably straightforward process, but things can still go wrong. Between purchases not tracking or payouts registering at the incorrect rate, getting your promised commission can be a headache. To ensure that things go smoothly, we recommend following these steps:

  • When using a shopping portal, always start with an empty cart. If there are already items in your cart from a previous visit, you risk not receiving the bonus miles for those items.
  • Once you're on the merchant website, don't leave the window before checking out. Your original shopping trip was tied to the shopping portal, but a return visit may not be.
  • Your web browser needs to have cookies enabled for portal bonuses to track.
  • Always read the full terms of each bonus to ensure that the purchase you intend to make will qualify. What products are/aren't included? Do you have to spend a minimum amount? Look for these details.
  • If possible, take screenshots throughout the buying process. That way, if things go sideways, you'll have proof of your purchase and portal use, as well as what you should earn.

Cash-Back Shopping Portals


Originally founded as “Ebates” in the late 1990s, Rakuten is one of the oldest — and best — shopping portals on the internet. As such, its platform is among the most reliable in terms of commission and customer service. Better still, it maintains one of the best selections of partnered merchants and regularly offers lucrative referral/welcome bonuses to new customers.

Screenshot of the Rakuten shopping portal with buttons for 10 different stores

Rakuten functions primarily as a cash-back portal. However, in early 2019, it launched a partnership with American Express. Now, Amex cardmembers can opt to earn Membership Rewards points instead of cash back on their purchases. Depending on how you value Membership Rewards points, this has the potential to drastically improve your returns.

Related: How to Redeem American Express Membership Rewards Points — And Which Options Are Best

It's also worth noting that you don't need to pay with an Amex card to earn Membership Rewards through Rakuten. You could pay with a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card, earn your normal points-per-dollar rate from Chase, and still receive Membership Rewards from Rakuten.

For a more in-depth look at one of our favorite shopping portals, check out our dedicated guide to using and maximizing Rakuten.


TopCashback is a site that has also been around for a while, originally launching in 2005. It offers lucrative cash-back rates that often match or beat competitors like Rakuten.

Screenshot of the Top Cashback shopping portal with a woman in a hat walking away

One important thing to keep in mind with TopCashback (or any shopping portal, really) is how long it takes to receive your payout. In the case of TopCashback, it typically takes a few months for your commission to become payable. The FAQ page points out that you may wait even longer for purchases early in the month, given that commissions are typically settled at the end of the month. While not a huge deal, this is certainly worth considering. TopCashback payouts come in the form of PayPal, direct deposit, or, for an extra bonus, a gift card to a handful of stores.

Mr. Rebates

screenshot of Mr. Rebates home page

Mr. Rebates is a shopping portal founded in 2002. While it doesn't offer bells and whistles like in-store cash back or alternative payout options, it compensates with one of the widest selections of partnered merchants. Otherwise, it operates similarly to Rakuten or TopCashback. Again, the key is to double-check an aggregator to see which portal offers the best return.

Bank Shopping Portals


Screenshot of the Barclays shopping portal showing a man and woman looking at a computer

Barclaycard Rewards Boost offers certain cardmembers the ability to earn even more points than what they already earn through spending on their card alone. Rewards are deposited directly into your Barclays account.

Capital One

Screenshot of the Capital One Shopping page showing HP and Adidas cash back rewards

Earn cash back on purchases made through Capital One Shopping. Unlike Barclays, Capital One Shopping rewards do not earn award miles. Instead, they come in the form of cash back that can be redeemed for e-gift cards of your choice. You will need to set up an account to start earning cash back through Capital One Shopping.

Capital One Shopping even has its own Google Chrome browser extension, making it easier to guarantee you're getting cash back with each purchase.


Chase Ultimate Rewards are one of the most popular flexible rewards currencies in existence. Besides offering several valuable transfer partners, point collectors also can redeem points toward other travel purchases for between 1–1.5¢ per point through the Chase Travel Portal or as straight cash back at 1¢ per point.

Most people earn their Chase Ultimate Rewards points by spending on several popular credit cards, including:

But if your goal is to rack up Chase Ultimate Rewards points in a hurry, you owe it to yourself to check out Shop Through Chase.

Screenshot of Shop Through Chase portal with stores listed for different cashback amounts

As Chase's dedicated shopping portal, users can collect Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent at over 400 online stores. If you stack this with your earnings from using a great everyday spending card like the Freedom Unlimited, it's possible to significantly increase your Ultimate Rewards balance after only a few purchases.

Airline Shopping Portals

Alaska Airlines

Screenshot of the Alaska Airlines page showing clouds and blue buttons

Alaska's Mileage Plan Shopping portal includes popular brands like Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, and Kohl's, typically offering between 0.5–5 miles per dollar spent.

Alaska also offers a handy Google Chrome Extension to automate the process. Moreover, the portal often features raised bonuses for meeting specific shopping criteria. Keep an eye on our current shopping portal bonus post so that you can time your purchases to coincide with new member bonuses or elevated earnings.

American Airlines

Screenshot of the American Airlines shopping portal showing Viator and other offers

American Airlines operates its shopping portal, called AAdvantage eShopping. It offers AAdvantage members a way to accelerate their AA earnings through normal online purchases.

As you might expect, it functions much like other shopping portals. However, instead of earning cash back, you'll earn AA miles. You'll need to create an eShopping account using your AAdvantage number, then you can scroll through the best bonuses by selecting “Explore Stores and More” and then “Big Deals”.

The portal regularly offers increased bonus opportunities, as well as the ability to automate your portal earnings with a Google Chrome Extension. You can even earn elite status purely from taking advantage of the shopping portal — no flying required — thanks to the ability to earn Loyalty Points on most purchases.

Related: Playing the American Airlines Loyalty Points Game

British Airways

Screenshot of British Airways shopping portal showing categories and six different stores.

We love British Airways Avios specifically for their flexibility and value towards domestic rewards on American Airlines. If you feel similarly, you can collect more Avios from your everyday purchases via the British Airways Executive Club eStore.

Delta Air Lines

screenshot of Delta's page

SkyMiles Shopping is Delta's shopping portal, offering lucrative earning rates and bonuses to SkyMiles collectors. Similar to other airline portals, you need to create a separate account to utilize it. On the plus side, it's possible to look through earning rates without signing in.


TrueBlue shopping portal screen shot showing the three step process for signing up to shop online

JetBlue's TrueBlue Shopping is a great way to rack up TrueBlue points with regular purchases.

The portal functions like any other airline shopping portal. However, it also offers one additional feature: card-linked offers.

In addition to online shopping, JetBlue offers a way to earn bonus points for in-store purchases. TrueBlue members can register an eligible card and receive bonus points for purchases made with partnered merchants.

Southwest Airlines

screenshot of the southwest portal saying that earning points has never been so easy

Southwest's shopping portal, Rapid Rewards Shopping, is virtually identical to portals of Alaska and American Airlines. It offers bonus Rapid Rewards points for purchases at 850+ merchants. It also offers a browser extension button for Google Chrome, ensuring you're getting points with each purchase.

The real selling point for Rapid Rewards Shopping is the fact that bonus points count toward Companion Pass qualification. This means that you're not just earning extra points; choosing Southwest's portal for your online shopping can help you achieve one of the most valuable perks in the airline industry.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Earning a Southwest Companion Pass

United Airlines

screenshot of the united page showing how to earn a 500 points bonus when you sign up

United MileagePlus Shopping is one of the better airline shopping portals available. Not only does it maintain lucrative bonuses at over 900 stores, but it also offers card-linked bonuses for in-store purchases and a Google Chrome Extension to automate your earnings. Plus, if you hold a United credit card, you can earn even more.

Additionally, United MileagePlus Shopping regularly offers a bonus for new users. Lastly, United MileagePlus Shopping regularly introduces limited-time offers for meeting certain purchase criteria, particularly around the holidays. Keep an eye on our post for shopping portal bonuses for all current offers.

Hotel Shopping Portals

Wyndham Rewards shopping portal

Previously, there were four hotel shopping portals. The Choice Privileges Mall, Hilton's Shop to Earn portal, and the Marriott Rewards shopping portal have all shut down. Currently, only the Wyndham Rewards shopping portal is still available to members. Just like the other portals, you can shop through hundreds of online retail stores and services. The main difference is you are earning Wyndham Rewards points on your purchases instead of airline miles. There also don't appear to be as many promotions as the airline shopping portals have, although there is the occasional offer to earn bonus points on your purchases in the shopping portal. New member bonuses also can help you earn extra points when signing up.

Final Thoughts

One of the pillars of award travel is to maximize every purchase you make. When making a purchase online, a shopping portal is one of the easiest ways to do that.

While the sheer number of shopping portals can understandably cause analysis paralysis, the key is to always have a plan. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What points or miles do you need for your next redemption?
  • Which points are the most difficult to collect otherwise?
  • What other stacking options are available for this transaction?

The answers to these questions will give you a good starting point for which portal you should consider. Then, use an aggregator (like CashBackMonitor) to see which portal offers the best return for your impending purchase. A couple more clicks, and you're well on your way to earning tons of points.

Ready for more? Check out our guide to dining rewards programs.

5 / 5 - (6 votes)
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  • So how did Joseph Petrovic save over $200 on a new pair of headphones? I’d love to see this example but the link looks like it is tied to an expired offer and does not have any visibility at this time!

    • Riffe: Apologies for that tease. We had to take that post down for compliance reasons. The Bose headphones retailed for $349, but Dell had them on sale for $299 ($320.68 after tax). He used an Amex Offer to get $32.07 cashback plus $200 back as a benefit of the Amex Business Platinum = $88.61 out-of-pocket cost. He used an Amex Offer to earn 1,603 Amex points on the purchase plus another 2,990 Amex points through Rakuten = 4,593 Amex points, worth around $90.

  • I use several shopping portals.
    Even though for the majority of my expenses I use Topcashback, American Aadvantage Shopping and Alaska Mileage Plus Shopping.

  • I’m going to bookmark this page since I wasn’t aware there were so many choices.

    I find myself using the airline portals occasionally to extend mileage expiration for family members by making small purchases. I have noticed that some attempts are successful while other are not even though I’ve used the same laptop and the same browser with ad-blocker turned off …

  • Rakesh Misra says:

    Thanks again for a wealth of knowledge. Loads of different options, which could get confusing; cashback is a no brainer win win. I’ll persevere with the different shopping portals to identify the most rewarding ones relating to my purchases.

  • Shopping portals are definitely part of a good points and miles earning strategy. I used to use the airline specific portals but I have since moved to the flexible points portals — Rakuten, earning membership rewards, is definitely my favorite. Absolutely one of the best uses is while booking hotels and rental cars as you earn but still get all the elite benefits. I think it is only Hyatt that doesn’t use any of these portals, but I’d love to be wrong about that — if anyone knows of a portal that does have Hyatt, please share that info!

  • I love my Rakuten! I am focusing on getting MR and using their site and the credit card has given me a great return on points. I didn’t find that the airline portals really helped me getting my miles up. I find it sometimes too much of a hassle to make sure I have the right items for the points/miles.

  • Great post. Portals are an absolute must for beginners and experts alike. Wasted points otherwise.

  • I tend to go with the cash back site since money is the easiest way to use compared to miles and hotel points which has a lot of restrictions on how to use it and who you can transfer it to. I only go with those sites if I am missing a bit more points to complete the miles needed to get my award or to extend the expiration of my miles.

  • Fun game to play, but remember you dont win every time. Its a hit or miss at best.

  • I would love to hear about shopping portals for those of us not based in the US.

  • Oh my gosh, I didn’t know about the Apple/IHG partnership! I just bought all new products too. So bummed. As for the cashback portals, however, I’d also recommend Dosh, especially for those who take advantage of the periodic VGC deals at OD/OM.

  • I start with Cashback Monitor for every online transaction, it is the best site! I definitely use it to set up alerts if I know I have an upcoming purchase as well.

  • My issue with shopping portal is that there are so many that it gets overwhelming trying to find the right one to use. For now, I like going to evreward to see which ones offer the highest and going from there.