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Get Black Friday Savings Year-Round Just by Using Your Credit Card

Nov. 29, 2011
Credit Cards
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The gist: Use credit cards’ online bonus malls to earn an additional 2, 10 or even 20% back in rewards.

A little-known but valuable feature of most credit cards is their issuers’ associated online bonus malls: you log onto the website and click through to another retailer’s online storefront. As long as you go through the card’s online mall, you’ll get an extra 2-20% rewards on top of what you’re already getting.

And these aren’t just no-name retailers, either: Chase, for example, offered 10% extra cash back at Best Buy on Black Friday, for example. Other big names range from Macy’s to Sears, from Williams-Sonoma to Crate & Barrel, from Expedia to Celebrity Cruises, and even Groupon. To find the best place to shop for, say, Apple products, or learn how to use your credit card get a discount on kids’ presents, check out our discount tool to find the best savings for the holiday season. Or, for a quick rundown, read on:

Leading the pack: Chase and Discover

Discover: ShopDiscover is available to all Discover credit card holders. They offer pretty good deals on clothing stores, as well as a wide selection: Macy’s, OshKosh, New York & Co. and Target all offer 10% back or more. You also get 15% back on Groupon deals and 20% back on 1-800-Flowers, also known as the last-minute gift site.

Chase: The Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall has a similar selection, though with rewards rates that differ slightly: you can get 10%+ back on Lucky Brand Jeans, Nike, Columbia, and others. The 20% back offers are similar to Discover’s, in that they’re pretty niche offerings desperate for new customers (flowers, magazines, etc). Despite the name, the mall is open to anyone with a Chase credit card, be it point-earning or cash back.

At least they’re trying: BofA, Citi and Wells Fargo

American Express: The Membership Rewards Center offers 5% on most of its featured stores (Apple, Macy’s, Target, and a few others) but in general can’t match the heavy-hitting Chase and Discover offers.

Bank of America: The WorldPoints Mall has slightly worse offerings on many major outlets: 4% on Macy’s, Target, and Old Navy; though this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, for mainstream retailers, you should probably look at other bonus malls. Plus, WorldPoints suck. They really do.

Citi Bonus Center: Like the WorldPoints Mall, you get slightly lower rewards on many typical retailers: 2% on Lucky jeans, 3% on Target, 4% on Macy’s, and 5% on Lucky jeans.  Their 20% back offers are more limited and target very specific demographics: the Wall Street Journal and…and that’s it. Citi has a bonus cash center, which gives cash back, and a ThankYou bonus center, which of course gives ThankYou Points. We value the latter as equivalent to cash.

Wells Fargo: The Wells Fargo Earn More Mall is on par with the Citi Bonus Center and BofA WorldPoints Mall: unimpressive rewards on the big ones. That’s 2% on Lucky jeans, 3% on Target, 4% on Macy’s, and 5% on Nike. And they offer 20% back on exactly one offering: Just another mark against Wells Fargo credit cards.

A quick note: the rewards rates listed here are by no means the only ones offered by these malls. We suggest you check out the discount tool to shop by store and/or rewards mall, and to make note of the stores that you frequent. Even if you’re not looking for new eyeliner right now, you can keep Chase’s 10% back on Sephora offer in mind for the next time you do.

Also, a number of loyalty programs have their own malls:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage Shopping
  • American Express Bonus Points Mall
  • Choice Hotels Privileges Mall
  • Delta SkyMiles Shopping
  • Marriott ShopMyWay Mall
  • United Mileage Plus Shopping
  • (from Sallie Mae, earns rewards to high-yield savings accounts, student loan payments, 529s or just a check)

While some sites offer discounts rather than cash or points back: