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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The ultimate guide to earning miles, points, and cash back for online shopping and food delivery services


Based on the current situation many find ourselves in right now online shopping and food delivery are at the forefront of our shopping habits so it seems only fitting to provide a more detailed guide about online shopping. We've done it in the past for holiday and back to school shopping so you'll find many of those elements in this guide albeit with more of a focus on everyday shopping.

There was a 2014 report from Loyalty Magazine that stated 94% of all global consumers now shop online at some level and 35% of these online shoppers are making at least one purchase per week. Fast forward to the COVID-19 pandemic and my guess is that 35% of one purchase per week has now shot up to at least double that with most people staying home and social distancing. However even if 70% or 80% or more are now shopping once per week online there are still a large percentage of those who don't know they can be earning more miles,  points or cash back on those online purchases!
Image via Great Canadian Rebates
 The great thing about shopping online is that there are multiple avenues to earn miles, points or cash back on so many of those purchases. First you can earn miles or points on the credit card used for the purchase, second many retailers have their own loyalty program where you can earn on those purchases and finally many stand alone loyalty programs have online shopping portals whereby you can earn miles for shopping at those retailers online.

For Canadians the best online shopping portals are Aeroplan's eStore, AIR MILES airmilesshops.ca, Rakuten and Great Canadian Rebates. That being said if you are planning on shopping at U.S. or International retailers who ship to Canada (or to your U.S. mail forwarder) you can also add in programs like Alaska Airlines, United MileagePlus, American AAdvantage and many others!

The process to earn miles, points or cash back is quite simple however here is a step by step guide to how to earn the most miles, points and cash back when shopping online:
    1. Surf to the online shopping portal you wish to use (we have links below)
    2. Log in with your credentials 
    3. Search the portal for the store you want to shop at (if it's not there, go back to Step 1 with the next shopping portal)
      Hint: Check multiple portals to see who is offering the best earn rate (ie a bonus) 
    4. Click on the 'Shop Now' or whatever button that portal uses 
    5. You are then taken to that retailer's website.
      Tip: Do not close that window before your complete your purchase. If you do, go back to Step 4 and start over 
    6. Before finalizing your order be sure to log in or supply your credentials for that retailer's loyalty program. For example, Indigo - by logging in you can earn your Plum points for the purchase as well. Or retailers like Lowe's you simply add your AIR MILES number during check out 
    7. Pay with a miles, points or cash back earning credit card

      Here are the links to most online rewards earning virtual shopping malls:

      Canadian Online Shopping Portals

      U.S. Online Shopping Portals

      International Online Shopping Portals
      If we are missing any please let us know below and we'll add them to the list!

      Current bonus offers for these portals:


      You'll also need to know that due to the COVID-19 situation Amazon.ca has become even more popular which has led them to no longer participate in these online portals. So you'll only earn points, miles or cashback with whatever credit card you use.

      If you want to find out what U.S. retailers are participating in an online points or miles mall? Check out evreward.com and search your favourite stores to see where you can earn points or miles. When you do shop at online retailers from the U.S. or overseas you could and should utilize a credit that offers No Foreign Transaction fees like the HSBC World Elite Mastercard or the  Scotia Passport Visa Infinite card

      Recommended reading: No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards for Canadians 

      Now these shopping portals are not the only places being flooded right now due to increased online shopping demand. There are services that people will be making more use of right now during this time of having to stay home and the biggie here are food delivery services. From Skip the Dishes to Instacart to Chef's Plate - you name it they have all seen a huge increase in demand. Some of these services like Hello Fresh are actually found on some of these portals so you can earn some miles, points or cash back when you first subscribe to them. However after that you'll want to maximize the miles or points you earn with the credit card you use for those purchases. The best card for the majority of these is by far the American Express Cobalt Card - it earns 5x points with Skip the Dishes, Hello Fresh, Instacart, DoorDash and so on. Without going into deep detail on the card those 5 points per dollar translates to the following returns 3.5% for cash back, 5% for any travel, up to 10% for Amex' Fixed Travel redemption and 6%-10+% for Marriott point conversions.  Before you say that Amex isn't accepted at some of the more popular grocery stores (looking at the Loblaw family of stores primarily) you can use Instacart as a workaround since they count as a 5x merchant and accept Amex.  For more details I recommend reading our article: "Use Instacart to circumvent Loblaw stores non-acceptance of Amex and to earn 5x points with the Cobalt Card"


      Here's a screenshot of just one purchase we personally made via Instacart to have groceries delivered from Real Canadian Superstore:


      As you can see we earned 5x points for using our Amex Cobalt card for the purchase. And we still earned our PC Optimum Points as you simply input your number on Instacart's website. This screenshot is from another purchase we made via Instacart:



      Another food delivery options to check out and maximize with a credit card is Ritual as it has an offer with Mastercard Canada. This offer is exclusive to World or World Elite Mastercards like the BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard, Tangerine World Mastercard, Rogers World Elite Mastercard and many others! The offer provides up to $20 in Ritual vouchers when you sign up for Ritual 


      Recommended reading: A look at the new benefits that have been added to all World & World Elite Mastercards in Canada

      And don't forget that  AIR MILES added Uber Eats and Door Dash as Cash Miles redemption options so you can save some cash by getting evouchers to use for those food delivery options.

      Finally many local restaurants are now offeriing delivery and take out service as they are closed for sit down service. For all these restaurants make sure you use a credit card that maximizes dining purhcases - there are quite a few that accelerate dining purchases from the Capital One Mastercard Exclusively for Costco members to the Scotiabank Gold American Express card and many more in between!
       
      There you have it - a nice little guide to making sure you maximize your miles, points and cash back earning for your online shopping, food delivery services and more. If there is something I missed please let me know and I'll add to this guide. And yes like many of our guides it could be twice as long as this but if you're like me there's only so much I can read at once!



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