Online Portal Rewards: The Action Is The Juice
Tom Sizemore whispered an outstanding line in one of my favorite movies about 27 years ago. In the epic Heat, he let viewers know that “the action is the juice.” While I’m in a much lower stakes situation than he was, I feel the same way about online portal rewards. I enjoy the process of earning online portal rewards just as much, if not more, than the rewards themselves. I’m earning portal rewards exclusively for two types of purchases: organic ones where I would’ve made the purchases, anyway, and “free spend” purchases – leveraging built-in benefits from various cards. Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite online portal rewards and why I like them.
iTunes via Amtrak
Despite recent subscription trends, I take pride in owning albums from my favorite artists, primarily compact discs and a bit of vinyl. Laugh all you want. In other instances, I’ll buy certain music on iTunes, generally because I can’t track down any physical media. Amtrak’s Points for Shopping portal offers 5x points for iTunes purchases. I enjoy combining two of my favorite things, music and Amtrak, into one transaction. Even better, I’ve gotten close to 3 cents per point on my long-haul sleeper Amtrak redemptions. Earning a 14-15% return on my iTunes spend, which I frequently discount further with gift card deals, has been a longtime fave.
Giftcards.com via American Airlines
The Giftcards.com heyday ended years ago, but I still enjoy easy wins here and there. Most recently, I liked earning 3x American Airlines miles for Mastercard Virtual Account purchases. It seems the elevated 3x rate has been around for months now, up from the normal 1x rate. Fees of up to $5.95 for a $250 card can’t be ignored, but one can discount, wipe out, or earn more than the fee in credit card rewards. In addition to the redeemable miles, Loyalty Points fans will be happy to know they’ll also earn those at 3x on these purchases. And currently, the portal’s offering up to 2k bonus redeemable miles through 14 Aug.
Dell/Microsoft via Rakuten Twice, On The Same Free Spend
I’ve long-loved earning Membership Rewards via Rakuten on my Dell free spend purchases thanks to the Amex Business Platinum Dell benefit. Over time, I’ve exhausted our needs with Dell and subsequently bought digital Xbox gift cards. These cards are now redeemable and useful for all Microsoft Store purchases. In the process of obtaining Microsoft credit for free, one can obtain Rakuten rewards twice! First, track through Rakuten to the Dell site to buy Xbox gift cards. Second, after redeeming the Xbox gift cards, go through Rakuten again to the Microsoft Store to make purchases. Dell portal rates vary, but I’ve often obtained 10x or better via Rakuten. And my purchases at the Microsoft Store have earned 3.5x for quite some time now.
Uber Eats via Marriott*
The asterisk relates to this as an Uber/Marriott partnership, not a portal, technically. Many of us have a ton of Uber credits thanks to Amex Gold and Platinum cards. Importantly, we’re forced to actively use these credits since they expire monthly! Marriott provides bonus points for a variety of Uber transactions, but my family and I particularly enjoy the Uber Eats angle the most. We earn 2x on all Uber Eats orders of at least $25 (excluding fees, taxes, and tips). This isn’t a jaw-dropping rate, but I’ll happily accept easily earning Marriott points on purchases we make anyway with free spend.
Lowe’s In-Store via JetBlue
Update: Since this article’s submission, some rates have changed. However, JetBlue’s card linked offers remain a solid rewards method.
JetBlue’s probably isn’t the first airline portal many think of, but their TrueBlue shopping portal has a relatively unique feature compared to their competitors – card linked offers. In addition to traditional online portal rewards, JetBlue fans can add their credit cards to their accounts and subsequently link offers to the cards. Next, they simply shop in-store as usual. The portal’s rate for Lowe’s was historically 3 points per dollar but now displays as 30 points per ten dollars spent. Given that this is a card linked offer, stacking opportunities exist with other online portals. Of course, stacking success may vary.
Wild Card – Rakuten In-Store Offers
Speaking of in-store offers, Rakuten offers a variety of rewards opportunities for shopping at brick and mortar locations. Naturally, these offers can highly vary based on one’s location. But occasionally, including a few days ago, Rakuten offers solid in-store earn rates at popular outlets, such as Walmart, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Macy’s, and Rite-Aid. I check here often and strike out, but it just takes one hit to make the effort worth it.
Many more exist, and of course, what online portal rewards are best highly depends on one’s specific situation and needs. While not the most lucrative play in our hobby, online portal rewards enrich our rewards balances in the pursuit of a variety of redemptions, big and small. Like many of you, I’ll keep enjoying the journey with online portal rewards. What are some of your favorites currently?