The last time I wrote one of these shopping related posts, it was for JetBlue and their relationship with Amazon. About six months ago, both companies mutually terminated their relationship (unless you purchase on Amazon while flying on JetBlue plane) and everyone who shopped at Amazon frequently lost a pretty easy way to rack up TrueBlue miles. This wasn’t entirely a passive way to earn points since you still had to log-in to your JetBlue account and click on your personal Amazon link to get you to Amazon.com. However, United now offers a couple of truly passive ways to earn miles if you just link your credit card to the United Shopping Portal. One of them requires you to link your credit card with BP and fill up your gas there as you normally would. I made a post about this earlier and you can read about that here. The second is to link your credit card(s) with the United MileagePlus shopping portal. Remember, it costs nothing to have a United MileagePlus account so be sure to sign up if you haven’t already. I took screenshots on how add your credit card(s) to your United account and how to link your credit card to United’s shopping portal so just follow along.
How to Add Your Credit Card(s) to your United MileagePlus Account
Linking Your Account with Participating Retailers on MileagePlus Shopping
You will get a text message from United as soon as you make a purchase with any of your chosen retailers notifying you that the points will be added to your account in 3-5 days. Shopping alone likely won’t get you enough miles to land a business-class ticket (unless you’re a prodigious shopaholic) but it’s a nice way to bump up the United frequent flier miles balance and perhaps get you closer to an award ticket in economy.
Simply put, this really sucks. I have benefitted greatly from this partnership between JetBlue and Amazon over the last 18 months or so and I am sure many of you reading this have benefitted as well. Even though I’d still get points if I make an Amazon purchase while flying and being connected to JetBlue wifi, I don’t fly JetBlue enough where I’d be able to take advantage of this frequently. If you’re based in the Midwest or a smaller airport that doesn’t have a ton of JetBlue service, you’re probably in the same boat. It’s even harsher for those who utilize the free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime frequently. I have no idea whether it was Amazon or JetBlue that called off the partnership but you have until March 27th to accumulate TruBlue points via Amazon shopping.
Of all the apps I have downloaded on my phone, there isn’t a single one that’s as rewarding as Ibotta. If you already have it downloaded and regularly use it, you know how it works. If you’ve never heard of Ibotta, I’ll introduce it and show you how you can benefit from your routine shopping. It’s available for both Android and iOS.
Ibotta rewards you in two different ways. The first requires you to upload your receipt from one of their listed retailers. Among them are Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Jewel-Osco, Pathmark, Mariano’s, etc. For example, Walmart will have tons of different grocery or household items that will be eligible for cashback in a given week. If you purchase those items and unlock them on the Ibotta app, you get whatever the cashback is for that particular item. Here is example of some of the breakfast items listed this week at Walmart:
Clothing retailers work the same way. Until November 2nd, you can make a purchase at H&M, upload your receipt and you get 15% cash back. The purchase would have to be made in-store.
The other way Ibotta rewards you is by using their app to launch another app and then making a purchase. For example if you click on Uber via Ibotta, it will automatically launch the Uber app that’s already downloaded on your phone. For every ride you take, you get a dollar back:
The same goes for travel websites such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Hotwire.com, etc. For these websites, you typically get between 4-6% back on your total cost.
Make sure you have the apps for any of the above downloaded prior to making a booking. Ibotta will credit you the cashback once you have completed your hotel stay.
Once you have $20, you can cash out via Paypal or Venmo. You could also select gift cards to retailers such as Amazon or Target.
You could also double dip using this app. For example, Walmart sells Hotels.com gift cards. You could use your Chase Freedom credit card to buy the gift card from Walmart and that will get you 5 points per dollar (Walmart is a 5x quarterly category for Chase Freedom this quarter). You can then make your booking on Hotels.com by launching the app via Ibotta and get an additional 5% back. Regardless of where you shop or travel, Ibotta has something that can benefit just about everyone. If you don’t already have Ibotta and you use my link to sign up, you get $10 back after uploading your first receipt or making your first purchase using the app. —-> https://ibotta.com/r/xq3zkq
Chase just released their 4th quarter 5% cashback categories for the Chase Freedom and this includes Walmart and department stores. For the months of October, November, and December, you will get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $1,500 you spend on these categories. The inclusion of Walmart is a pretty big deal since many people shop there on a weekly basis for groceries, household goods, supplies, clothing, etc. It’s an added bonus that the inclusion of Walmart and department stores during the 4th quarter coincides with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas holiday season. If you already hold the Chase Freedom card, remember to log in to Chase and activate the 5% cashback bonus. If you also own the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this would have added value since you aren’t limited to redeeming the Ultimate Rewards Points for cashback or gift cards. You are able to unlock more value by transferring the points on a 1:1 basis to one of the many airline or hotel partners. I wrote a couple of detailed posts about that and you can read that here and here.
If you have driven past any mall or big box retailer over the past couple of weeks, you have seen the “back to school” signs plastered on storefront windows trying to grab your attention and inviting you to walk in. It’s the time of the year when parents will be restocking school supplies for kids and undergrad and grad students will be looking for the best deals on laptops and textbooks. This time of the year is pretty important for retailers and they know consumers have more choices than ever. In the realm of the points and miles world, this is also a time of the year where you can benefit greatly. If you plan on doing a majority of your shopping on Amazon, you can read in-depth how you can accumulate JetBlue miles by clicking here. For other retailers where you might consider shopping online, I highly recommend using www.cashbackmonitor.com
This website shows you how many airline miles or hotel points you will earn by routing yourself through that airline’s or hotel’s online mall. It’s pretty straight forward and you can find a detailed example below. I have posted some screenshots for the online Apple store as an example:
This is the homepage of http://www.cashbackmonitor.com. The most popular retailers are listed on the front page. If you don’t see yours, search for it on the search tab
If you wanted to purchase something online from the Apple Store, this is how many miles/points/cashback different airlines/hotels/cashback portals are offering if you route yourself to the Apple Store via their own shopping mall. Keep in mind, it doesn’t cost you a dime to sign up for these frequent flier programs. At this particular time, United is offering 6 miles per dollar if you make a purchase on Apple.com by clicking through their link. This is the highest among any of the shopping portals. Let’s use that as an example.
When you click on United’s link, this is the page you land on. But wait, not only would you get 6 United MileagePlus miles per dollar for your Apple purchase, United is also offering a back- to-school bonus depending on your level of spending. That $1,300 Macbook Pro would earn you 10,800 United MileagePlus Miles –> ($1,300 x 6 miles) + 3,000 bonus miles for getting the 3,000 mile back-to-school bonus offered by United for spending $600. 12.5k United MileagePlus miles gets you a saver award one way in economy. In addition to that, Apple is offering free Beats headphones if you purchase an iPad or Macbook Pro for college (presumably with a student ID).
If you were going to shop for school supplies online at Walmart.com, this is how much you would earn through each portal:
For you undergrad and grad students reading this, popular online textbook retailers such as Textbooks.com and Alibris.com are also listed on cashbackmonitor.com. If you’re purchasing from Amazon, remember to route yourself via JetBlue. You are simply walking away from an easy opportunity to earn miles if you don’t. And remember, you can use this website to help you earn miles for your routine online shopping no matter the time of the year.
SOME VERY IMPORTANT TIPS BEFORE USING ANY PORTALS TO MAKE A PURCHASE
Make sure your cookies are enabled. If they’re not, the airline or hotel rewards program can’t track your purchase and you might not get credited for them.
Sign up for that particular airline’s frequent flier program PRIOR to shopping (it’s free and takes a minute).
Make sure you are logged-in to the airline’s frequent flier program prior to clicking on the retailers website. Most portals will make you sign in prior to routing you to that retailer.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post the first step you should take prior to flying is enrolling in that airline’s frequent flier program (if you haven’t already). It only takes a few minutes and it’s free. And the best part about being part of a frequent flier program is you don’t necessarily have to travel to earn the miles. You can allow your routine spending habits do that for you. For this post I’ll go over the benefits of using JetBlue as a gateway to Amazon.com.
JetBlue – If you do any type of shopping on Amazon.com, JetBlue’s frequent flier program (TrueBlue) is one which you should absolutely sign up for. If you click on the Amazon.com link through JetBlue’s website and then make your purchase on Amazon, you get 3 points per dollar on your purchases. All it takes is a few clicks and I have posted screenshots below on how to get to the link. Just as an FYI, make sure your browser cookies are enabled so JetBlue can verify you shopped on Amazon using their link. Another important thing to remember is making sure you add items to your cart AFTER clicking on the JetBlue link. If something was already in your cart, JetBlue won’t track that as a purchase you made via their link and the points won’t be credited.
Step 1) Make a TrueBlue account with JetBlue if you don’t have one. When you log in, this is the home screen. Click on the blue rectangle.
Step 2) Click on “our partners” on the bottom left
Step 3) Click on “learn more”
Step 4) This is the last step. When you click on “shop and earn”, you are directed to Amazon.com.
Once you are on Amazon.com, everything you purchase except Amazon gift cards will earn you 3 points per dollar. Amazon sells gift cards to retailers such as Starbucks and Whole Foods. Those also earn 3 points per dollar. From my experience, points will usually post one month after you have made the purchase on Amazon.
For those of you near JetBlue’s main hub in New York City (JFK) as well as secondary hubs such as Boston, Los Angeles (Long Beach), and Fort Lauderdale, you would benefit the most since you have access to just about every non-stop route that JetBlue flies.
If you live in a city such as Minneapolis, Indianapolis, or St. Louis you might ask yourself if a few clicks are worth the trouble when JetBlue does not fly to your respective city. But let’s say you wanted to take a trip to California and you wanted to visit both San Francisco and Los Angeles. If time and fatigue were not an issue, you could make the 380 mile drive up or down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. But if you wanted to save time and fly, that is a route that JetBlue serves. It is also a route that does not require a ton of points for an award ticket. A random search for an August date shows that it takes 3,000 points to fly from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
For my Chicago friends and family, let’s say you wanted to visit South Florida via Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport. You could make this round trip happen in September for as low as 6,800 points or 3,400 points one way. If you use Amazon with any type of regularity, don’t miss out on your opportunity to earn JetBlue points. As far as I know, JetBlue is the only airline that has a partnership with Amazon which allows you to earn points.
In my opinion, JetBlue has the most family friendly frequent flier program of all the U.S. carriers. They allow 2 adults and 5 children to pool points into a single household account. The individuals do not have to be related so you can also make a combined account with a friend. This makes it much easier to accumulate and redeem for award travel. So while you’re signing yourself up for an account, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get your spouse and kids signed up as well.