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Last week, I wrote about the various shopping portal bonuses being offered by airlines over the Thanksgiving holiday period.  Shopping portal bonuses can be a good way to diversify your mileage earning and rack up

(SEE ALSO: My experience with 19x points through shopping portals at Sears)

Reader Will wrote in with a comment:

I must be missing something. What’s all the “fuss” and “excitement” about these boring offers for spending (on real stuff, not ms) to get a modest boost in miles earning rates? How might this work from a “pure” ms angle? Can you actually buy gift and debit cards via these portals?

Sharing my example

As Will points out, the trick as always is figuring out what to buy!  Some online stores DO sell Visa or Mastercard gift cards, but you’re probably going to be able to find better luck with either gift card reselling or product reselling

(SEE ALSO: My recent experiences manufacturing spending through reselling)

(SEE ALSO: My first forays into trying to resell gift cards)

Unfortunately, most blogs and resellers don’t talk a lot about the things that they are buying – see this recent Oren’s Money Savers post for a reason why not.  I ended up buying things at Staples.  As I mentioned, Staples DOES sell $300 Visa gift cards  (though that’s not what I bought)


Step 1: Buying Staples gift cards at Amazon

I wrote last week about a great Amex Offer at Amazon – offering $15 off a purchase of $60 or more.  I synced it on to 5 of my cards (and should have had 2 more, but I screwed up by not opening up multiple tabs in my browser on my wife’s account)

So my first step was to buy 5 $75 Staples gift cards at Amazon.  Since there aren’t any cash back portals for Amazon, I used Oren’s link, since it was his post that reminded me to use my Amazon offer on Staples gift cards (and my own Amazon referral account got banned 🙁 ).

At least, that was my PLAN until I realized that the Staples gift cards sold on Amazon were physical gift cards and would take a few days to arrive.

Step 1 for REAL: going through the shopping portals

Reviewing the shopping portal bonuses, I found

  • United – 6000 bonus miles if you spend $1250
  • Southwest – 5500 bonus miles if you spend $1500
  • Delta – 1500 bonus miles if you spend $500
  • American – 5000 bonus miles if you spend $1200

First stop – the United Shopping Portal.  United is offering a base of 2 points per $ spent, and I bought $1440 of stuff.  I had $55 in courtesy coupons that I had from previous, so my total was $1385 – paid with my Ink card which earns 5x

Next up – American Shopping Portal.  United is also offering 2 points per $ spend, and this time I bought $1200 even.

At Southwest I bought $1520, and at Delta I bought $640.  The Alaska shopping portal bonus actually expired on the 20th so I missed out on that.

This is what it feels like a babysitter costs...

Total costs

My total costs:

  • $1385 through the United portal
  • $1200 through the American portal
  • $1520 through the Southwest portal
  • $640 through the Delta portal

Total costs – $4,745.  I have $6000 in product that I expect to be able to sell at around a 20% discount, so I should net out close to even.

Expected rewards

  • United
    • 5x from Ink purchase – 6925 Ultimate Rewards
    • 2x from United portal – 2770 United miles
    • United portal bonus – 6000 United miles
  • american planeAmerican
    • 5x from Ink purchase – 6000 Ultimate Rewards
    • 2x from American portal – 2400 American miles
    • American portal bonus – 5000 American miles
  • Southwest
    • 5x from Ink purchase – 7600 Ultimate Rewards
    • 2x from Southwest portal – 3040 Southwest Rapid Rewards
    • Southwest portal bonus – 5500 Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • Delta
    • 5x from Ink purchase – 3200 Ultimate Rewards
    • 2x from Delta portal – 1280 Delta Skymiles
    • Delta portal bonus – 1500 Delta Skymiles

Total rewards:

  • 23,725 Ultimate Rewards
  • 8,770 United MileagePlus miles
  • 7,400 American AAdvantage miles
  • 8,540 Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • 2,780 Delta Skymiles

A total of 51,215 miles (though I know you can’t really “add” miles in different currencies), after $4,745 in spending (10.8 miles/ $), and I hope to be able to resell my items for about what I paid for them, if not a slight profit.


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