This is the seventh post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Most major airline and credit card loyalty program have a shopping portal. For instance, google “United shopping” and the first link is to the United Mileage Plus shopping portal.

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Shopping portals allow you to earn huge amounts of miles by making your normal online purchases through your favorite online stores. Just by starting at the portal and using its link to your favorite online retailer, you can get extra miles for your purchases.

The process for earning miles from portals is simple.

  • How do portals work?
  • How can you earn miles by shopping online exactly as you already do?

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Huge Hat Tip to reader Daniel for emailing me about this deal. Email me your tips!

Today the AAdvantage eShopping portal tripled the earning rate on to 60 American Airlines miles per dollar through November 30, 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-11-24 at 10.42.19 AMStacked with the ongoing promotion that is awarding up to 2,500 miles for $250 in purchases through the portal (and fewer bonus miles for smaller purchases), you can buy up to 17,500 American Airlines miles for 1.43 cents each until the promotion ends. And you even get some magazines thrown in for free. ;)

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 11.49.01 PMIf you actually want a magazine subscription than the cost of “buying” miles through the AA portal is even lower.

What is the lowest price you can buy miles from the American Airlines portal for? Should you buy miles speculatively?

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American Airlines is offering 2,500 bonus AAdvantage miles if you spend $250 or more in its online portal between now and December 2, 2013.

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  • Spend $75 to $149 and get 750 miles
  • Spend $150 to $249 and get 1,500 miles
  • Spend $250 or more and get 2,500 miles

All spending from all stores in the portal before December 2, 2013 will be added up to determine your bonus amount.

If you can spend just over $75, $150, or $250, you will earn at least 12x miles per dollar on every purchase because you’d get 10x through this bonus, at least 1x for the normal portal payout, and 1x on your card.

I would consider a 12 American-Airlines-mile-per-dollar to be a 21.2% rebate, so there should be a lot of things worth buying with that rebate.

Link to Promotion

Terms and Conditions:

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American Airlines’ AAdvantage eShopping mall just sent me the following:

If I spend $35 of more, I get 2,000 bonus AAdvantage miles on top of the normal mileage earning from the mall. Since I value 2,000 bonus AAdvantage miles at $35.40, it’s like being rebated my $35 worth of shopping in miles. Basically free shopping.

What terms and conditions are there? Is it open to everyone?

This is the sixteenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Keeping Miles Active with Dining Programs.

I like to earn miles for things I already do. If I’m already planning to do something without the mileage incentive, the miles are free. And free miles are the best kind. One way to earn oodles of free miles is through online shopping portals.

Every major airline and credit card loyalty program–except American Express Membership Rewards–has a shopping portal. For instance, google “United shopping” and the first link is to the United Mileage Plus shopping portal. The process for earning miles from these portals is simple.

I’ll show you exactly how to use my favorite portal: the Ultimate Rewards portal. (Remember Ultimate Rewards? They are my favorite type of transferable points.)

Step 1: Sign in to your Chase online account.

You do have to have a Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, or other Ultimate-Rewards-earning card to get in. And each card has a slightly different portal with different payouts.

Portals are designed to get you to use the card related to the portal. But you don’t have to use those cards in the mall to earn points. I do try to use the appropriate card for the portal I’m using. Why? If there is a problem with my points posting, I don’t want the portal to have any excuse not to give me the points.

Step 2: Click the Go to Ultimate Rewards banner on the right side of your account.

Step 3: On the left side of the Ultimate Rewards page, click Earn Points, then Shop the Ultimate Rewards Mall.

Step 4: Click any store listed in the portal to earn the extra points listed.

The stores are listed in many ways inside the portal. There are the “Top Stores.” There are categories of goods you can search. You can also search by store name. Then there is a rectangle near the bottom of the page with several popular stores and their extra dollars per point listed.

Note that every listing tells the number of extra points for shopping at that store through the portal.

Buying things with a credit card from these online stores will naturally earn one point per dollar on your credit card–or more if you are shopping at a store where your card enjoys a category bonus for instance an office supply store with your Ink Bold.

The portal will earn extra points per dollar spent in addition to your normal credit card points.

Step 5: Shop at a store after being redirected from the portal.

When you do click a store, you’ll get an interstitial screen that gives more information on the store you are being sent to.

Be sure to read the Terms and Conditions on this page. Certain things like gift cards are often excluded from earning points. Taxes, shipping, and handling will almost always be excluded from earning points.

You will automatically be redirected to the online store that you selected from the portal. Now you should go about your shopping as you normally would. Cookies in your browser will make sure you get credit for your purchases from the portal.

To make sure you get your points, clear out your shopping cart before going to the portal. Click on a site, and go to work shopping. Take screen shots along the way and of the final purchase, so you can request your points in the unlikely event that they don’t post automatically.

I know there are some people reading this who have successfully completed hundreds of portal purchases, so if anyone has any tips on ensuring points post, let us know in the comments.

Making miles from portals is a simple process, but let me give some tips and cautions, so that you can properly use the shopping portals.

1. Do your research outside the portals. If you decide you want to buy a certain laptop from a certain website, that’s the point to go to a portal and click the link to the partner website that sells the laptop. Only buy things through portals that you’ve decided to buy already. Do not impulse shop. That’s why they set up the portals: to make money off your impulse shopping. Let’s turn the tables by only buying what we were getting anyway and banking the free miles.

2. Once you have an item picked out to buy from a certain website, go to If you type in the site you want to buy from, it lists how many miles and points dozens of portals are offering. Multiply the number of bonus points times your valuation of a single point in that program, and you’ll know which is offering the biggest rebate per dollar. (If you prefer a different portal comparison site, let us know in the comments.)

Example: The Southwest Rapid Rewards portal had a promotion to temporarily offer 6 Rapid Rewards point per dollar spent at I value a Southwest point at 1.69 cents, so buying through the portal netted 10.14 cents worth of additional points per dollar spent or a 10.1% rebate. During that promotion, that was the best rebate available at according to my point valuations and

3. Read the fine print of the portal. Oftentimes dollars spent on taxes and shipping don’t accrue bonus points. The fine print also often specifies that you must use a certain credit card like an airline’s co-branded card to earn the bonus through the portal. While many points lovers have found that you’ll actually earn the portals’ bonus points if you use any credit card, be aware of this fine print and that your mileage may vary.

4. Read the Frequent Miler. He’s the king of portals, especially the Ultimate Rewards portal. He doesn’t content himself with a mere 10x. He’ll double dip by buying gift cards at 10x through the portal, then using them at 10x through the portal for a 20x total. (I know I said sometimes buying gift cards doesn’t earn points, but sometimes buying gift cards does. And sometimes the portal says buying gift cards won’t earn miles, but in practice buying gift cards will earn miles. Confused yet?)

Or sometimes he’ll buy things he doesn’t need in order to resell them for a small loss that is swamped by the points he earns. He’s gotten the Southwest companion pass and tons Ultimate Rewards through portals.

5. Stay on top of limited time promotions. You probably just ignore your junk-mail emails from airlines, but often they are promoting excellent temporary deals through their portal. You may want to start reading them more closely. Alternatively, you can check back here daily, where I’ll be posting about the best portal deals.

Online shopping is a great way to earn tons of free miles. To fully exploit the portals, use and your valuation of each mileage currency. With these thousands of miles, you should have no trouble flying in first class for free next month.

Continue to You Can Earn Miles Doing Anything.

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According to this very active thread on FlyerTalk, Taca Airlines is offering 250 LifeMiles for each purchase made through its e-shopping portal through October 31st. (Hat Tip Mommy Points.) The most important part of this deal is, according to the terms and conditions, there are NO minimums on purchases. Conceivably, you could order many inexpensive items separately and rack up Taca miles quickly.

Many in the FlyerTalk forum are attempting to order multiple $1 items from various stores in the shopping portal. If everything goes as planned, they will receive 250 miles for each $1 purchase. Placing many separate $1 orders should allow the LifeMiles to rack up quickly.

Why should I care about a 250 mile deal from an airline I’ve never heard of?

Taca LifeMiles are a currency with legitimate value. Taca belongs to the extensive Star Alliance network, the biggest alliance. Here’s a list of the member airlines of the Star Alliance. Their award chart is roughly in line with other Star Alliance carriers, meaning to many places, it takes the same amount of LifeMiles to book an award as it would on other carriers like United.

Even better, Taca does not impose fuel surcharges on award tickets like many international carriers. They also allow members to book oneway award tickets at half the price of a roundtrip ticket. Some Star Alliance carriers, like US Airways, charge the same amount of miles for a oneway ticket as a roundtrip.

How to get the miles

To take part in this shopping portal bonanza, you will first need to register for a Taca LifeMiles frequent flyer account if you have not done so already. Go to this link to create an account and click Enroll.

Once you have filled out all pertinent information, including your passport number, you should receive your personal Taca LifeMiles frequent flyer number and PIN to log into your account. You will need to write these numbers down, as they are important to access the LifeMiles shopping portal.

With your LifeMiles number and PIN in hand, click to the Taca shopping portal via the Earn button at the top right of the site.

Enter your LifeMiles number and PIN in the top right corner of the screen. Shopping portals track purchases using this member-specific information. If you don’t enter your number and PIN, you will not be properly credited miles earned through purchases. (If you’ve never heard of a shopping portal, read this post from my beginners’ series: Exploiting Shopping Portals.)

If your log in was successful, you should be taken back to the exact same page. Instead of the blanks to input your information, there should be a greeting, “Welcome, <Your Name>.” If you see this message, you are logged in successfully and can begin searching for merchants that can be exploited for easy and inexpensive purchases.

I’ll give two examples of inexpensive purchases mentioned in the FlyerTalk thread.

The first is a $1 PetSmart donation. To access PetSmart from the shopping portal, search for the site on the Taca portal, and click on its logo. You should be taken to this page below.

Again, make sure you see the “Welcome, <Your Name>” message at the top to ensure you are logged in properly. If you see the message, click on the button at the bottom that says “Take me to PetSmart.”

You should be taken directly to the PetSmart site. From here, you can scan for small, inexpensive items that can be purchased multiple times. There is certainly no shortage of inexpensive items on the site, but we want to make sure each transaction is for as little as possible. To do so, put ANY PetSmart item in your shopping cart and proceed to checkout.

For purposes of demonstration, I chose a simple dog toy for $5.99.  At the checkout screen, you should see a button at the right side of the screen asking if you wish to donate to PetSmart charities. Any amount can be chosen from $1-$20.  Choose $1 and click the “Donate” button.

Clicking the “Donate” button will add $1 to your shopping cart total. You should see your estimated total along with an item labeled “PetSmart Charities Donation.”

At this point, you should remove your original item from your cart (in this case, the dog toy). By doing so, you will be able to “purchase” a charitable donation for only $1 with no shipping costs. If you did this step properly, your cart should look like the picture below.

The FlyerTalk thread on this deal also gives many examples of inexpensive, small purchases that can be made through, another partner of Taca’s shopping portal. By ordering shampoos and beauty products for less than $1, you should be able to rack up transactions quickly. To access from the shopping portal, search for the site on the Taca portal and click on its logo. You should be taken to this page below just like when you accessed PetSmart.

Again, make sure you see the “Welcome, <Your Name>” message at the top to ensure you are logged in properly. If you see the message, click on the button at the bottom that says “Take me to”

You should be taken directly to the site. From here, you can scan for small, inexpensive items that can be purchased multiple times. There is certainly no shortage on items around $1 on the site. For example, here is a cheap item I found after a few clicks.

Shipping, of course, tacks $5.99 to these orders and makes the deal far less lucrative (almost 3 cents/mile, not even worth it, in my opinion). However, many of the sites that can be accessed through Taca’s shopping portal (including also partner with ShopRunner, a frequent-online-shopper service.

Coincidentally, ShopRunner is currently offering a 30 day free trial which includes complimentary two day shipping at its partner sites. If you sign up for their free trial membership, you can order many separate small items and the shipping will be free. Just make sure to cancel your membership before your free trial ends; otherwise you will be billed the membership fee–$8.95 for the monthly plan or $75 for the annual plan.

I signed up for a ShopRunner account–making sure to note the cancellation phone number–and used it to purchase the Conair brushes above. According to Taca’s shopping portal site, these transactions should post in the next three days.

Is this a good deal?

It’s not a great deal for me. And it’s an uncertain deal because we don’t know how this will play out. Let me explain.

I’ll know in a few days whether my purchases post. They should only earn a few points, but if they post, that’s a good indication that I’ll get the 250 bonus points in the next few weeks.

There is no guarantee though. Taca might see the unusually high interest in this promotion and unilaterally change the bonus conditions. If they do that, I don’t think we’ll see our miles. I’ve found on many trips through Latin America that customer service is not a strong point. And American airlines are more than willing to change promotions with no notice–like United just did with the Mileage Plus Explorer card bonus–so I would think foreign airlines would be doubly likely.

There’s a lot that could go wrong. But even if everything goes right, how valuable is the promotion? Let’s use some simple assumptions to see how much this promo is worth for an average person.

  • Let’s value Taca miles at 1.5 cents each, which I think is appropriate but conservative.
  • Let’s value our time at $60 an hour. Ask yourself what someone would have to pay you to spend your time buying things online.
  • Let’s assume that it takes us three minutes per transaction. Make a purchase, sign out, sign back into the portal, click through to the site, make another purchase.
  • Let’s assume each item costs $1 and has no value to us.


That would mean in one hour, we could make 20 purchases costing $20. That would earn 5,000 miles worth $75. We would have spend $60 worth of time though. $75 in miles – $20 in cash -$60 in time equals -$5 (negative five dollars.) And that’s if everything goes right!

Now maybe you value your time less than I do, or you can make purchases more quickly. But it sure seems like a lot of work for not much upside to me. Plus I don’t expect everything to go smoothly. I think odds are good that Taca will limit the bonus miles earned, or maybe the donation to PetSmart won’t count as a purchase. Proceed with caution.


Taca is offering 250 bonus miles per purchase through its portal. Many people are attempting to earn a points windfall with many micro-purchases. I don’t advise it.

I don’t think it’s worth the time even if everything goes right, and I don’t expect everything to go right since this deal involves airlines, portals, and Latin American businesses–three things that have spotty customer service records.

Taca has run lucrative mile promotions before, such as when they sold LifeMiles with a 100% bonus. I wrote about that special promotion in detail in the post, Roundtrip Business Class to Europe for under $1,500 All In. With that 2-for-1 deal, you could conceivably book a roundtrip business class ticket between the USA and Europe for $1,500. I analyzed that deal to show what a great program Taca LifeMiles is and how valuable their miles could be.

This shopping portal bonus promotion could be very beneficial as well, but will require more work and diligent record keeping. Good luck if you try to get in on the deal, and I’ll be reporting whether I get the bonus miles.


It seemed too good to be true. But the terms and conditions that were included in the e-mail seemed to confirm the offer:

These terms and conditions state not once, but twice, that “bonus miles apply for each purchase you make during October 2012.”

Slow your roll
About 24 hours after the promotion was first offered, this tweet from The Wandering Aramean suggested that that everything was not as it seemed:

He was referring to the terms and conditions of Incentive Networks, the company that runs the LifeMiles e-store.  When you navigate to the e-store, at the bottom of the page is a link to the overall terms and conditions that govern the LifeMiles e-store. This is what pops up when you click that link:

It is likely that these particular terms and conditions–which limit the 250 bonus LifeMiles to the first e-store purchase of $50 or more—refer to the ongoing pg promotion, unrelated to the more lucrative deal that was emailed to LifeMiles members.  This line of thinking is supported by the lack of October-specific language and the fact that that the pg promotion is advertised elsewhere. In contrast, the terms and condition of the 250 LifeMiles per purchase promotion that was emailed specifically refers to purchases made in October.

Update Update:

The offer page still says 250 miles per order. I mistakenly said that was no longer on the website.

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