Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
The holidays are some of the best times of the year to make amazing memories with your family, but they also happen to be one of the best times of the year to rack up a nice pile of miles and points in the process without sacrificing any time, or exerting very much additional effort. Earning 10,000, 20,000, or more airline miles during the holidays for no additional out-of-pocket-cost is totally doable even for busy parents.
If you are brand new to Mommy Points, and are just joining us via ABC Nightline, you can get a little more background info about this site and earning and using miles and points here. Welcome!
1. Do your online shopping via airline, credit card, and hotel shopping portals.
You can rack up massive numbers of airline miles and credit card points just by adding one easy step to your online shopping routine. You can earn 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x, and sometimes more miles per dollar spent through a shopping portal.
For example, if you buy something for $100 from a portal that is paying out at that retailer for 12x, then you will get 1200 extra miles or points for that purchase on top of the ones that you earn for using your rewards credit card. It can take a purchase that would have only earned a handful of points on a credit card to one that earns a significant number thanks to using an online portal. The payout rates can change regularly, so you can use www.cashbackmonitor.com or www.evreward.com to compare payouts in various portals (though I would do some manual checks for large purchases).
Sometimes you can even “double dip” where you buy a gift card through the portal to earn points, then use that gift card through the portal to earn even more points! This doesn’t work with every retailer, but it can be very rewarding when it does work.
You can often stack coupon codes, free shipping, or in-store pick-up on top of the points or miles earned for shopping through a portal, but that isn’t always the case. I recommend getting the best deal possible for an item first, and then worry about the miles and points second. Usually you can do both at the same time.
Here are a few links to some popular shopping portals that anyone can access along with some current payout rates at a few retailers (as of Thursday afternoon).
American Airlines eShopping Banana Republic 4x, Petco 8x
Alaska Airlines MileagePlan Shopping, Walmart 3x, Saks 8x
United MileagePlus Shopping Macys 4x, Blue Nile 4x, Kmart 4x
Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Kohl’s 4x, Puma 6x, Snapfish 20x, Target 3x
Delta SkyMiles Shopping JCPenney 8x, Anthropologie 5x, Famous Footwear 8x
Once you get in the habit of going through a portal before making an online purchase, it becomes second nature and is something you can do even beyond the holiday season.
2. Use the right rewards earning credit card to pay for purchases:
On top of the miles you can earn shopping online via portals, you can rack up miles on holiday purchases ranging from the turkey and dressing to your kid’s new bike by paying with a rewards earning credit card. There are hundreds of rewards credit cards out there, but they are not all created equally. Some earn points that would at best amount to a mid-range toaster, and some earn points that can take you around the world. I tend to prefer the latter.
The trick to making the rewards your cards earn add up (beyond being sure you are earning a type of mile or point that is valuable to you), is to be sure and have a card that pays a category bonus for the types or purchases you make the most. For example, The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card pays 3x at US grocery stores (up to $6,000) and 2x on US gas stations + a 50% points bonus if you use the card 30 times or more in a billing cycle. That is a great card for families that have grocery and gas expenses. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card pays 2x on travel and dining and the Chase Freedom® has no annual fee and earns 5x on rotating categories that currently include Amazon.com, select department stores, and Zappos.com through the end of the year.
Remember to think creatively, too, because if you want to give some gift cards to teachers or relatives for the holidays, you can potentially buy them some place like a grocery store with a rewards credit card that earns a bonus at that type of store. Sometimes to maximize earning miles and points takes a little creative thinking!
3. Don’t forget the “little stuff”.
Earning points on holiday shopping and meals may be the easy wins, but the ways to earn don’t end there. For example, you can currently get 20x Southwest Rapid Reward points when ordering holiday cards at Snapfish.com, you can earn when you buy your Christmas tree and decorations, when you go ice skating, when you make charitable donations, and when you ship your holiday packages. All you have to do is use a rewards earning credit card, preferably one that offers a bonus at the type of store you are frequenting.
Then, if you can implement some of these suggestions throughout the year, when the holidays roll around again next year you should have the miles to spend to get your family together without breaking the bank.
How is your family racking up miles during the holidays?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.