Rewards Mall FAQs

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We know that our introduction to rewards malls probably didn’t answer all the questions you have. We’ve answered a few common questions, so you can scan and find what matters to you. These FAQs are meant to be general, and not specific to any certain mall.

This is also a great place for you to drop any of your rewards mall concerns in the comment box below. We know we haven’t covered all the bases, so let us know what you think, and we’ll get back to you!

1. When are my rewards posted?
2. What happens if my points don’t post?
3. Can you use a different credit card through a credit card issuer’s portal? For example, pay with an American Express card through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal?
4. What is a gift card double dip?
5. Do I need to sign up for the credit card issuer portals, even if I already have the credit card?
6. I forgot to go through the rewards mall portal, but I made a purchase with an online retailer that partners with my mall. Is there any way to go back and get these points?
7. How do the rewards malls calculate the rewards rate they give? And I’ve noticed the rewards rates at certain retailers sometimes fluctuate – any way to predict when they go up or down?
8. Can I still utilize online coupons after going through a rewards portal? Will my points still post?
9. Can I transfer points and miles to other programs?
10. How should I redeem my points or miles?
11. When do my miles and points expire?


1. When are my rewards posted?

Between two days and a few months. Yeah, it’s a huge range of time, but the time it takes for points to post varies depending on the rewards mall. Rewards malls must wait on the retailer to report purchase data back to them, and every retailer has a different method of reporting, hence the broad range of time.

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2. What happens if my points don’t post?

Contact the rewards mall directly. State your case. Taking a screen shot of your purchases or having your order tracking number handy will help you get all your points.

If the points don’t post automatically, it’s likely a problem on the merchants’ end. But don’t call the retailer – it’s unlikely you’ll get someone who knows how to fix the problem. Call the portal directly.

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3. Can you use a different credit card through a credit card issuer’s portal? For example, pay with an American Express card through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal?

Yes, but proceed with caution. Credit card issuers encourage you to use your registered credit card at online checkout, but the portals are not advanced enough to cross-reference the card purchase data.

The problem occurs if your points do not post automatically. If you call the credit card issuer and argue for your points, you won’t have much success because the card company can check your card transaction data and easily determine that you didn’t use their card at checkout.

As a general rule, it’s more difficult to use a non-portal credit card on larger purchases and still earn points. This is simply because larger purchases draw more attention.

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4. What is a gift card double dip?

A gift card double dip is purchasing an online gift card through a rewards mall then returning to the portal to use the gift card. With this strategy, you’d earn double the rewards. This is because buying the gift card through the portal would net you the portal’s rewards for the retailer; shopping the second time through, using the gift card as your method of payment, would net you the rewards rate again.

Some rewards malls refuse to credit you with points or miles for gift card purchases to prevent this. Retailers, as well, sometimes note that you are not eligible for rewards on gift card purchases. Dip at your own risk!

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5. Do I need to sign up for the credit card issuer portals, even if I already have the credit card?

Yes. You must have the credit card issuer’s credit card to be eligible to sign up, but you need to sign up separately all the same.

This is because most online rewards malls are not run by the bank or loyalty program that sponsors them but by third-party e-commerce sites such as Cartera or FreeCause. When you sign up for a rewards mall, you’re signing up with this third-party site – hence the need for a separate sign up procedure.

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6. I forgot to go through the rewards mall portal, but I made a purchase with an online retailer that partners with my mall. Is there any way to go back and get these points?

Nope. You have to go through the rewards mall portal. However, if you keep forgetting to do so and keep kicking yourself afterwards, most programs have a toolbar you can download to alert you if you’re on a retailer page that offers rewards mall discounts. Make sure to read the toolbar’s privacy terms, though, before you download.

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7. How do the rewards malls calculate the rewards rate they give? And I’ve noticed the rewards rates at certain retailers sometimes fluctuate – any way to predict when they go up or down?

There is no reliable way to predict the exact numbers. Rewards malls change their rates for different reasons – Chase Ultimate Rewards, for example, bumps up certain store rates every month and downgrades others as a part of their rotating monthly specials. Other malls increase rewards rates for special events, such as back to school shopping.

It’s tough to predict exactly what rates will increase or decrease or when they will change. This differs mall to mall. Rewards rates are intimately tied to the percent commission a retailer awards the online mall, so certain stores will always be higher than others depending on their commission policies. Apple, for example, gives notoriously low commissions. Your rewards rate for shopping at Apple won’t be very high, no matter what rewards mall you use.

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8. Can I still utilize online coupons after going through a rewards portal? Will my points still post?

Many online rewards malls will feature coupons for the retailers on their portal page. These coupons are not ferried along with you when you click through to the retailer homepage, so make sure you have the code (if there is one) written down somewhere if the retailer homepage opens in the same window. If the retailer has its coupon codes listed on the portal website you can apply this coupon at checkout and still get your full points/miles.

Barring this, you might have to check the individual retailer’s terms and conditions- some retailers will state on the portal that the rewards mall bonus “cannot be combined with any other offer.” This means you will not receive points/miles/cash back if you use a coupon code at online checkout. This is because using a coupon code to get even more money off cuts into the retailer’s profit margin on a purchase.

Be especially careful to read merchant terms and conditions with electronics and travel purchases. ShopDiscover specifically noted that unique merchant terms are common on these high-ticket items and experiences.

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9. Can I transfer points and miles to other programs?

Yes – depending on your loyalty program. Some programs let you transfer points and miles while others do not. Some examples of programs that allow you to transfer points and miles are Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall and Amtrak Guest Rewards Shopping

Be smart when you’re transferring, though. Converting your points from one program to miles on an airline carrier’s program can vastly affect the relative worth of your rewards.

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10. How should I redeem my points or miles?

Be smart. Some redemption options will increase the relative worth of your points, while utilizing other redemption options may decrease what they’re worth. Basically, points and miles are valued differently depending on how you use them.

We’ve done some studies on this in the past, so if you’re curious check out our results with Bank of America WorldPoints and Hilton HHonors points.

In general, every points program has its strengths and weaknesses. If you’re out to rack up a lot of rewards, make sure you’ve looked in depth at the conditions of the program. Consider your future travel plans and spending habits as well!

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11. When do my miles and points expire?

Simply put, if your points expire, they’re more of a pain to deal with. Programs vary vastly here. Chase Ultimate Rewards points never expire, while Bank of America WorldPoints expire five years from the end of the month in which they were earned.

Frequent flyer miles can be tricky, too. United Mileage Plus miles, for example, expire after there has been no activity for 18 consecutive months. This is an all-or-nothing scenario: if you have any activity at all in your account, even in the 17th month, the lifespan of all of your miles will increase by another 18 months. In contrast, Delta SkyMiles never expire.

We’re hoping to create a comprehensive list on the mile expiration policies of different airlines in the future, so stay tuned.

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Any More Questions?

We hope this list of FAQs helped somewhat. Head over to our discounts tool if you’re ready to shop! We’re sure we may have missed some of your concerns, so feel free to post a comment, and we’ll get back to you right away!

 

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