Comparing Top Online Rewards Malls
Editor’s note, Dec. 18, 2014: Since this post was written, ShopDiscover has become Discover Deals, which continues to offer Discover card customers special access to exclusive shopping deals.
Shopping online comes with the ease of your favorite sofa or chair but also with some remarkably good discounts. Rewards malls are sites that can give shoppers extra points and cash back for purchases made at participating online retailers, and if you’re not utilizing them you’re missing out on some valuable perks. These deals are not hard to come by, either. If you have a credit card, you are most likely eligible to join these programs and start saving money.
Types of Reward Malls
There are two main types of rewards malls that dominate the landscape. The first category is malls operated by leading points programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or Southwest Rapid Rewards. The second group is independent mall websites that have partnerships with retailers. In general, malls run by big-ticket rewards programs offer you points for your trouble, whereas independent mall sites give cash.
The best type of rewards mall for you varies with your spending patterns. If you find yourself shopping online fairly consistently, visiting similar stores, you’ll get good value with either leading rewards programs or cash back websites. More sporadic shopping, however, usually means you may benefit the most with cash back sites as you might not accumulate enough points to make the rewards programs worth it.
ShopDiscover Leading Pack
Most rewards malls will net you useful bonuses and at first glance all the programs seem very similar. This is not entirely the case, however, upon further inspection, so we selected 20 of the country’s largest retailers to see which rewards malls offered the most for purchases made at these stores. We previously analyzed the same 20 stores in a study almost 2 years ago, so we were also intrigued to see how the standings might have changed.
ShopDiscover is clearly the top points program, scoring the highest rewards rate at 11 of the 20 stores. Close behind, however, was Capital One Perk Central, giving the highest rate at 8 retailers and earning 5 second place finishes as well. Upromise.com was the first independent mall site to crack the top of the list with 4 first place awards and 5 for second place, and Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall was very solid with 4 first place finishes and 3 finishes good enough for second.
Two notes are important here: the standings don’t add up to exactly 20 because we include ties, and the findings are of July 2012, which is only significant because the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall features rotating month-long specials. So if you’re reading this in August, the standings might very well be a bit different. Also, ShopDiscover recently launched a back-to-school special that bumps JCPenney, Kmart, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears, and Target all up from 5% to 10%. This is a great promotion, but since it ends September 6th, 2012, we’re not going to update our rankings for the temporary increase. Another plus for ShopDiscover, though!
|Rewards Mall||# of 1st Place Deals from our Top 20 Stores List||# of 2nd Place Deals from our Top 20 Stores List|
|Capital One Perk Central||8||5|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall||4||3|
|Marriott ShopMyWay Mall||2||4|
|Amtrak Guest Rewards Shopping||1||5|
|Citi ThankYou Bonus Center||1||3|
|Citi Bonus Cash Center||1||3|
|Bank of America WorldPoints Mall||1||2|
|Choice Hotel Privileges Mall||1||1|
|Hawaiian Airlines eMarket||0||3|
|American Airlines AAdvantage Shopping||0||2|
|Wells Fargo Earn More Mall||0||2|
|Delta SkyMiles Shopping||0||1|
|Hilton HHonors Earnings Mall||0||0|
|jetBlue Shop True||0||0|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping||0||0|
|United Mileage Plus Shopping||0||0|
|US Airways Dividend Miles Shopping Mall||0||0|
Here’s the chart for the best mall(s) for the 20 retailers as mentioned above
|Retailer||Best Mall(s)||Rewards Rate|
|Aeropostale||Capital One Perk Central, ShopDiscover||5%|
|Barnes & Noble||Capital One Perk Central||5%|
|Bed Bath and Beyond||ShopDiscover||5%|
|Dick’s Sporting Goods||Capital One Perk Central||3%|
|Game Stop||Capital One Perk Central, ShopDiscover||5%|
|JCPenney||Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall||6%|
|Radio Shack||Capital One Perk Central||5%|
|Starbucks Store||Bank of America WorldPoints Mall, Citi Bonus Cash Center, Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, Marriott ShopMyWay Mall, Citi ThankYou||4%|
|Target||Capital One Perk Central, ShopDiscover||5%|
|Toys ‘R’ Us||Choice Hotel Privileges Mall, Amtrak Guest Rewards Shopping,Upromise.com, Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, eBates.com||1%|
|Urban Outfitters||Capital One Perk Central, ShopDiscover||5%|
|Victoria’s Secret||Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall, Capital One Perk Central, Marriott ShopMyWay Mall||3%|
Stack of Credit Cards image via Shutterstock