Frequent flyers who want to maximize their points on back-to-school shopping can make it as simple as using their computer. Airline mileage malls, hotel points malls, cash-back shopping portals and even Amtrak Guest Rewards are offering limited-time points bonuses.
Although it requires shopping online, savers who use their favorite rewards credit cards online can gain major bonuses toward their next trip. Points bonuses can also stack as well, meaning travelers could earn even more points by aligning with credit card bonus categories, or using a preferred airline or hotel card.
Airline back-to-school bonuses
- Alaska Mileage Plan: When shopping through Mileage Plan Shopping, members can earn 300 bonus miles for spending $150, 750 bonus miles for spending $300, or 1,500 bonus miles for spending $500. The one-time bonus offer is valid through Aug. 10, and miles will be awarded after the bonus period.
- Delta SkyMiles: Instead of offering tiered bonuses, Delta is offering one bonus. Members who spend $150 through SkyMiles Shopping (through July 29) can earn a one-time bonus of 500 SkyMiles.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards: The low-cost airline is also one of the most generous when it comes to shopping bonuses. Through spending via Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping, frequent flyers can earn one-time rewards of 250 bonus points when they spend $125, 900 bonus points when they spend $300 and 2,000 bonus points when they spend $550. The “Semi Annual Bonus” is good for shopping through Aug. 19.
- United MileagePlus: Through Aug. 19, buying items through MileagePlus Shopping can qualify members for a one-time bonus of 500 miles after spending $150, 1,500 bonus miles after spending $350, or 3,000 bonus miles for spending $600. Points will be awarded when the bonus period ends.
» Learn more: Confused by frequent flyer programs? Start here.
Amtrak back-to-school bonuses
While Amtrak Guest Rewards is not offering a tiered bonus for shopping families, the Points for Shopping mall is offering select bonuses on back-to-school brands. Current bonus offers for using the shopping portal include:
- Apple: Two Guest Rewards points per $1 spent.
- Carhartt: Four Guest Rewards points per $1 spent.
- J. Crew and J. Crew Factory: Three Guest Rewards points per $1 spent.
- Macy’s: Five Guest Rewards points per $1 spent.
- Shoes.com: Six Guest Rewards points per $1 spent.
These bonuses are subject to change without notice. If you are hoping to get extra points, we suggest frugal travelers start shopping sooner rather than later.
» Learn more: Credit card bonus malls can help you get even closer to your next trip.
Hotel back-to-school bonuses
For those who would rather earn hotel points than airline miles, three hotels have shopping portals with bonus offers aligning with back-to-school shopping. Hotel points bonus offers are currently available at:
- Apple: Two points per $1 spent.
- American Eagle: Two points per $1 spent.
- Macy’s: Five points per $1 spent.
- Shoes.com: Six points per $1 spent.
- Nike: Two points per $1 spent — expires Dec. 31, 2018.
- New Balance: Seven points per $1 spent — expires Dec. 31, 2018.
- Earn a one-time 1,000 points for completing your first purchase of $25 or more through Marriott Rewards More.
- Converse: Four points per $1 spent.
- Dick’s Sporting Goods: Four points per $1 spent.
- Macy’s: Four points per $1 spent.
Bonus offers at the Choice Privileges Mall and Marriott Rewards More are subject to change without notice. Points should appear in accounts between 48 hours and five days after the purchase.
» Learn more: Which hotel credit card is right for your family? See our picks for the best hotel credit cards of 2018.
Cash-back back-to-school deals
Finally, for those who would rather earn cash back instead of points, Ebates is offering bonus cash on some of the stores students and parents love. The cash-back portal features 35 stores with bonus offers when using their links. The highlights include:
- Amazon.com: 2%-5% cash back in select categories.
- Dormify.com: 6% cash back.
- Finish Line: 8% cash back.
- Kohl’s: 6% cash back.
- Office Depot and OfficeMax: 6% cash back.
- Under Armour: 12% cash back.
Are these good deals?
When travelers get bonus points for shopping they would do anyway, it’s an easy win-win. More importantly, smart adventurers can stack these rewards with favorite airline and hotel credit cards, earning even more miles and get closer to a vacation.
But there are two concerns every traveler should keep in mind when they shop mileage malls:
- These deals are online only. Those who need back-to-school items now may not be able to take advantage of these bonuses due to estimated shipping windows.
- While the airline points bonuses have hard deadlines, deals at other points malls are always subject to change without notice.
Beware of stretching a budget with credit cards to earn extra points before promotions end. If you charge more than you can afford to pay off on your next statement, the interest you will end up paying could wipe out your potential savings.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2018, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).
- Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase).
- Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Get 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases).
- No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no annual fee).
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Get 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, plus get access to the Global Lounge Collection). Terms Apply.
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
This Strategy Is How I Started Earning Major Travel Rewards
Before You Shop, Drop Into Your Credit Card’s Bonus Mall
6 Ways to Optimize Your Credit Card’s Bonus Mall