Dubai: If you’re new to the points and miles game, it’s easy to assume that the only way to earn points and increase your loyalty with an airline is to fly them frequently or carry their travel rewards credit card.
However, that’s a common misconception — there are plenty of alternative ways to earn points and miles, and one of the most effortless is through airline shopping portals.
Airline shopping portals offer an easy way to earn additional miles for every UAE dirham or US dollar you spend, but the use of them is still as rampant.
But once you understand how to use airline shopping portals, you can earn hundreds or even thousands of airline miles each year — without even getting on an airplane.
Not only is this an expert recommended way to boost your points on top of flying and earning through credit cards, but it’s also more importantly an opportunity to save.
There are shopping portals that offer cash back, flexible points and hotel points, and while many airlines have their own shopping portals, the most popular ones as per statistics include Emirates’ Skywards Miles Mall, British Airways’ and Qatar Airways’ Avios and Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer, among others.
How airline shopping portals work
The first thing to note about airline shopping portals is that they're entirely free to use. You don't have to pay to become a member, nor do you have to pay to create an account.
You do, however, need to have an airline loyalty number to earn miles in any given program, and signing up for frequent flyer accounts is free and you can complete the entire process online.
In terms of ease of use, shopping portals require you to take one extra step before you make a purchase. If you planned to shop at a global retail brand, for example, and wanted to earn rewards points on your purchase, all you'd need to do is search for the brand in the portal.
Then you would find several special promotions for the retailer, along with the number of points you'll earn on your purchase, like two points for every dirham or dollar, for instance.
To earn extra miles on your purchases, all you'd need to do is shop and wait until you're directed to the retailer's website. And any miles you earn by making a purchase will be automatically credited to your account
Look for cards that might offer bonus categories that correspond with shopping portal purchases. Also assess your selection of credit cards to find the one that gives you the most points and miles for your purchase.
Moreover, note that some credit card portals offer specific promotions from time to time, although this is mostly the case with airline shopping portals. While these deals can vary, they usually involve something like, spend X amount in cumulative purchases through the portal and earn X bonus miles.
If you discover a promotion that coincides with a purchase that needs to be made, you can ‘triple dip’ by earning regular portal rewards, promotional rewards, and points or miles with your rewards credit card.
How to earn double miles and points
Although it's commonly assumed that you need a credit card to earn points or miles through shopping portals, that’s not always true.
All you must do is log into any portal and click through to participating stores before you shop. If you prefer to pay for your purchases with a debit card or gift cards, that's your choice.
However, keep in mind that credit cards also offer many consumer protections, including guaranteed returns, purchase protection, extended warranties, and more.
You can also ‘mix and match’ your airline shopping portals and rewards programs, meaning you can shop through an airline portal and use any rewards credit card to pay, even if it's not affiliated with that airline.
This makes it easier to use your online purchases to meet a minimum spending requirement to earn a signup bonus, but it's also helpful if you like to use different shopping portals but you only have one or two rewards credit cards.
You may be surprised to learn that airline and rewards shopping portals feature many of the top retailers available.
How to maximise rewards through airline shopping portals
There are several ways to ensure you're maximising the use of these airline shopping portals.
• Check shopping portals every time you shop
Make sure to click through a portal any time you make an online purchase. If you don't, you're leaving miles on the table.
• Compare portals to find the best earning rate
If your regular stores are on more than one shopping portal, make sure to compare portals to find the best earning rate. Where one portal might only offer two miles per currency spent at a specific store, another portal may offer a better deal.
• Keep an eye out for special promotions
Sometimes airline portals offer special deals where you can earn even more bonus miles if you reach a spending threshold. By waiting to shop until a promotion comes along, you can maximise your spending even more.
Before you click through an airline shopping portal, it's important to compare the various ones you use.
While one might be offering one additional point for each dirham you spend, another might offer three points per Dh1 at the very same store.
Ideally, you use all the shopping portals that work with rewards programs you belong to. That way, you can take a few minutes to compare portal earnings before you shop.
Travel consultants remind that you don't forget that shopping portals can work for other purchases you make online outside of regular shopping. You can also earn more points and miles booking specific services through portals, although the promotions change all the time.
Keep in mind these kind of bonus offers change frequently, so you must check in with the portals you use before you pay for any service or book anything online.