How to get extra rewards from online shopping

Deals programBefore you click “purchase” on your online shopping cart, do you check your credit card’s portal or offers program?

If not, you could be missing out on extra rewards and discounts.

Despite the potential payoffs, utilizing a card’s retailer offers while shopping online can be more effort than most shoppers would like. We asked Ben Mackinnon, founder and CEO of Kard, a new rewards-maximization browser extension, for some time-saving tips.

Why cards’ online-shopping offers are worth a little effort

There are two main types of card-related “offers” you can take advantage of while shopping online:

  • Shopping portals: If you log in to your card account online, you may notice your card has a shopping portal (Barclaycard’s “RewardsBoost” portal, for example). Enter the portal, click through to a retailer and get extra rewards per dollar spent (points, miles or cash back, depending on what your card offers).
  • Card-linked offers/deals: Various issuers’ programs function differently, but, in general, you’ll find deals on your issuer’s website or social media pages, claim those deals and then buy the requisite item by the deadline with the card. While some deals get you extra rewards, you’re also likely to find discounts (buy a $75 item, get $25 back, for example). Discover Deals, BankAmeriDeals and Amex Offers from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) are examples of card-linked deals programs.

Portals and deals programs are frequently more generous than the regular category rewards offered by your card, because retailers often help foot the bill for them in exchange for the business, Mackinnon says.

“Card-linked offers are extremely valuable because as opposed to getting up to 5 or 6 percent back, they average about a 20 percent return,” Mackinnon says.

Problem is, many consumers don’t know about card-linked deals. And, even if they do know about them, “they’re just not really in their typical online shopping path,” according to Mackinnon.

Taking full advantage of your card’s deals program/portal

Kard, when it launches, will offer a browser extension that notifies you (while you’re shopping on a merchant’s site) which offers are available to you:

online shopping with kard

Not using Kard? You can make sure deals aren’t slipping through the cracks by doing the following:

  1. Check before making an expensive purchase: If there’s a luxury item you know you want, you’d probably comparison-shop for it, right? Add checking your cards’ offers and portals into that process. Mackinnon’s girlfriend had her eye on a jacket from a high-end retailer for some time before she was able to pull the trigger, thanks to an Amex Offer for $75 off a $300 purchase. Mackinnon once bought a TV through Chase’s shopping portal.
    “On that one purchase alone, we got $75 worth of cash back,” he says.
  2. Make it a part of your shopping habits: Comparison-shopping and visiting coupon sites before an expensive planned purchase is something many people do already, so checking your card’s portal or deals program is a natural extension of that. It’s less natural to incorporate this step into more mundane, unplanned purchases.“Most people land on a merchant’s website, and they don’t think, ‘Hey I’m going to check my card’s shopping portal or card-linked offers before I make this purchase,’” Mackinnon says.
  3. Know your program’s usual suspects: Certain retailers are practically a permanent fixture in certain programs, even though the specifics of the deals are likely to change. So if you shop frequently at, say, Lowe’s or Macy’s, know which of your cards frequently partner with these retailers.

“There are some merchants that are going to consistently be in the portal,” McKinnon says.

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