Editor’s note: At TPG, our top priority is providing our readers with the information needed to make educated decisions about travel and your rewards-earnings strategy. This is not the best time to travel, domestically or internationally, as airlines have cut major parts of their route network. But we are sharing this information to provide value for future travel once coronavirus concerns have subsided.
While now isn’t the time to travel, that doesn’t mean you can’t earn miles for trips down the line. One major misconception for points and miles newbies is that the only way to earn miles is to fly an airline regularly or carry their travel rewards credit card.
But did you know you can earn bonus miles from the comfort of your couch, without ever stepping foot outside? That’s right: One of the easiest ways to earn miles is to leverage airline online shopping portals. Just about every major airline has its own shopping portal, but today we’ll dive into Delta’s SkyMiles Shopping portal to learn about how to earn Delta miles on online purchases.
What is the SkyMiles Shopping portal?
Delta’s SkyMiles Shopping is a portal where you can earn bonus miles shopping with thousands of merchants. I’ve been a fan of using shopping portals for a while now, but I’ve been leveraging them more during the coronavirus pandemic as New York is under a stay-at-home order.
If you don’t already have an account, all you need to do is register using your SkyMiles number so the bonus miles will be credited to your frequent flyer account. Then you can use the search box to find your favorite stores or a product. You can also compare prices and mileage rates. Remember to look out for stores offering bonus miles (more on that later), featured deals and special bonus offers.
After you’ve selected your merchant, click on the store, product, or offer and you’ll be taken to the store’s website to shop and check out. The store you will alert the portal when you’ve made a purchase and the miles you earned will be added to your SkyMiles account. You’ll receive an email to confirm when your miles have posted, typically within 3 to 5 days. However, depending on the store, it can take up to 15 days for the miles to post to SkyMiles Shopping.
Speaking of stores, there are plenty. So much so, that you could make most of your daily, weekly, or monthly purchases just through the SkyMiles Shopping portal, without ever needing to visit a store in person. If you need to stock up on groceries or supplies, Costco is currently offering 2x miles on purchases for Gold Star and Gold Star Executive members. Sephora, one my favorites, is offering 3x miles on purchases, up from 2x. Additionally, you’ll get free shipping on orders over $50 — which, if you’ve spent any time in a Sephora store, you know that’s not difficult — plus three free samples and free returns.
If you frequently forget to check the portal before making a purchase — and don’t want to have to worry about remembering — there’s a workaround for that. You can simply download the Delta SkyMiles Shopping Chrome extension to remind you anytime you’re shopping on a website where you can earn bonus miles.
Earning rates on the Delta shopping portal
Before I make an online purchase, one of the first things I do is to check to see if there’s a bonus on that store in the SkyMiles Shopping portal and other portals.
The number of bonus miles you’ll earn depends on the retailer you’re shopping with as well as the shopping portal you use. For instance, you’ll see an offer for 25 miles per dollar spent on Xfinity purchases in the screengrab below. You’ll find this offer using the SkyMiles Shopping portal.
That’s a pretty good deal right? Especially if you’re thinking about opening an Xfinity account, or upgrading your internet service, given the time we’re all spending at home. But if you happened to be searching for the same offer on the United MileagePlus Shopping portal first, you’ll find another Xfinity deal but this time for only 20x miles per dollar, instead of 25x. So make sure you check across all portals to get the best offer. In this case, the SkyMiles Shopping portal has the best deal.
Bonuses tend to be awarded as a multiplier of how many dollars you spend, though some partners offer a set amount of rewards (usually in the thousands) when you click through the portal to sign up for a specific service.
Finally, there is a way to sort merchants by earning rate. On the right side of the page, you’ll see a drop-down window. Click that, and you’ll see a menu, and then click “stores.”
You will then see the option to sort merchants by name and by earn rate. While you can search by name, the SkyMiles Shopping portal has well over a thousand merchants so you’ll save time by simply sorting by earn rate.
As I mentioned above, there are several merchants that offer fixed miles. Vinesse Wines, for instance, is offering 5,000 miles when you join the American Cellars Wine Club. We value Delta SkyMiles at 1.2 cents each, making this offer worth $60. That certainly doesn’t sound like a lot, but the airline is known to sell domestic flights for as low as 5,000 SkyMiles round-trip. That means you could score a flight for the cost of a bottle of wine.
In addition to bonus miles, the portal also includes deals to save money, like this current 50% off deal at Banana Republic. Not only can you save a ton of money but you’ll also earn 2x miles per dollar spent.
Also, remember to sort by the earn rate. On Delta’s shopping portal, bonus earn rates are from 0.5x up to 6x miles. Delta miles are some of the least-valuable major airline miles, and Delta SkyMiles Shopping seems to have consistently lower rates than the other airline portals. So unless you need to top up your account before a redemption, you may want to check another airline’s shopping portal first.
Shopping portal promotions
Holidays and events like back to school, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are excellent opportunities to rack up rewards. We’re a few months out, but it’s not too early to think about your strategy for the fall. When shopping online for online Black Friday deals or Cyber Monday, make sure you’re going through the shopping portal in addition to using a great rewards credit card so that you’re double-dipping (or potentially even triple-dipping) on rewards. I typically start at a shopping portal aggregator to compare earning rates across these sites and then select the one that works best for me.
Best credit cards to use with Delta SkyMiles Shopping
If you’re making a high-value purchase, you’ll want to use a card like the American Express® Gold Card, which protects you if your purchase is damaged, lost or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
Otherwise, depending on the merchant, you’ll want to use one of the best credit cards for online shopping.
Whatever card you decide to use, make sure to check which Amex Offers and Chase Offers you are eligible for if you want to maximize your purchases even further. These programs provide cardholders with discounts and other bonuses for making purchases with specific merchants and you can potentially stack multiple offers. American Express’ program is available on virtually any American Express card, including personal cards and business cards. Chase’s program is currently only available for select consumer credit and debit cardholders.
Tips and tricks with the Delta shopping portal
Using the SkyMiles Shopping shopping portal is relatively straightforward, but there are a few important things to keep in mind:
- You must click through the link on the portal’s site and then make a purchase from the page that pops up. Don’t navigate away and come back later; you may miss out on the bonus.
- You must make sure that you have cookies enabled in your browser for the retailer’s site. This is what allows the portal to “track” your purchases and award bonuses accordingly.
- Only use promotions or promo codes found on the portal; if you use others, the purchase may become ineligible for bonus miles.
- Be sure to read the restrictions for each merchant. Many won’t count gift cards as eligible purchases for earning bonuses, and others will exclude certain products.
- Remember to use a travel rewards credit card that offers the best earning rate on your purchase. Most of these merchants don’t fall into the traditional bonus categories, so you’ll probably want to stick with a card that’s good for everyday purchases.
The Delta SkyMiles Shopping portal is a fantastic way to earn bonus miles for online purchases at a variety of your favorite merchants. From clothes, to shoes, to electronics, you can rack up miles for your everyday spending.
Even if you’re only earning an extra mile or two for every dollar you spend, these earnings can quickly add up and go a long way toward redemptions like Delta One Suites, when it’s safe to travel again.
Featured photo by Popartic/Getty Images.