How to Earn Airline Miles on Last Minute Holiday Purchases

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If you are like me and still have a couple purchases to make before Santa’s sleigh arrives, don’t forget to make the most of those purchases.  I know it can be easy to skip that step when the crunch before the holidays is in full effect, but here is what we are doing for those few remaining purchases to ensure we aren’t leaving any mile (or dollar) on the table.

Earn Miles by Ordering Online and Picking up In-Store:

I’ve written plenty this season about earning miles by shopping via shopping portals online such as the United MileagePlus Shopping portal and American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping, but at this late stage online shopping and shipping is iffy with many retailers, and would probably include a very hefty overnight shipping charge.  However, if your retailer of choice offers in-store pick-up with online orders, you could still place your online order via a shopping portal to earn some extra miles.  Then you would just head to the store to pick-up the item with no additional shipping fees or stress over whether the item will make it in time.

The main exception to this advice would be Amazon.com which says it still is honoring free two-day shipping today in time for Christmas for those with Amazon Prime, and you can pay with your Chase Freedom to earn 5x on the purchase.

Use the United MileagePlus X App for In-Store Purchases:

If you need to make an in-store purchase and want to earn a few extra miles, you can arm yourself with the MileagePlus X App that will give you extra miles for in-store purchases at select retailers.  For the most part these retailers will be your large chain stores, but I have found the app pretty easy to use so, it could be worth the extra hassle, especially if you are still buying pricier items.  The caveat to that advice is that you are essentially buying the item with a gift card via the app, so you won’t have the same protections as if you used many credit cards.  That isn’t a big deal if you are buying say chocolates or socks, but is worth flagging if you are buying electronics or similar.

Earn Category Bonuses on Gift Cards:

Most of the purchases we still have to make are of the gift card variety, and these are the easiest ones to maximize with little to no extra effort.  For example, I still need to get a Starbucks gift card as a gift, but instead of heading to Starbucks to make that purchase I will go to an office supply store to get it where I can earn 5x points on my Ink Plus® Business Card or to grocery store will I will get 4.5x points on my The Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card from American Express (3x at grocery stores + 50% bonus for 30 transactions in a billing cycle).  The points are nice, but buying the gift cards this way is also easier as I can pick up the several different cards that I need in one location rather than driving from retailer to retailer to buy their one specific gift card.

We have earned ten’s of thousands of miles this holiday season by buying larger priced items when retailers were offering 10x – 20x miles per dollar, using credit cards that offer category bonuses for the purchases we were making, and turning the mileage earning portion into a fun game on top of hunting for the best deal.

Happy Holidays to you and your family and may your Christmas Morning be magical regardless of what is or isn’t found under the tree.

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Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

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