Maximizing Shopping Miles on Cyber Monday and Beyond

Cyber Monday was the brainchild of Shop.org, "the world's leading membership community for digital retail," which invented the buy-it-online bargain day in 2005 to do for Web merchants what Black Friday did for brick-and-mortar stores.

According to the New York Times, this year's Cyber Monday is set to enter the record books as the biggest online shopping day ever, easily surpassing last year's $1 billion in sales.

While the widespread discounts will save consumers plenty, a significant number of the Cyber Monday purchases—and the rest of this year's Christmas and post-Christmas shopping—will be missing a key component of the overall value proposition: frequent flyer points.

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As I reiterate every year around this time, most online purchases can be made through merchants participating in one or more of the airline or hotel mileage malls. Since the price is the same whether the shopper earns miles or not, to forgo the miles amounts to leaving money on the table.

The problem with maximizing rewards is that there are just so many options to consider and compare.

The item itself may be available for sale from multiple merchants, all of whom have somewhat different prices. Further complicating the purchase decision, the same merchant may be offering different frequent flyer bonuses in different programs.

Where to Start

If you're committed to a specific airline or hotel program, the first step should always be the landing page of your preferred program's mileage mall. Compare prices and mileage offers among participating vendors and make your best deal.

If you're program-agnostic, and want a combination of the lowest price, cheapest shipping, and most loyalty points, there's no better place to begin shopping than evReward, a site that displays all the discounts and loyalty points offers available when shopping at a specified e-merchant.

To illustrate, let's assume you're shopping for shoes, for your own use or as gifts. Further assume you've found the shoes you want at Shoebuy.com. Clicking on the Shoebuy.com link on evReward displays a page showing the discounts currently available at Shoebuy, together with the promo codes needed to secure them, and the rebates, points, and miles on offer for Shoebuy purchases.

Under the "Frequent Flyer Miles & Hotel Rewards" heading, for example, you'll find that Shoebuy purchases made via American's eShopping mall earn four miles per $1 while purchases made through Hawaiian Airlines' program earn 9.5 miles per $1. Miles earned through the programs of Delta, United, and US Airways are in the middle.

As always, factor in prices and shipping incentives, choose the best combination of incentives, and you're done.

Repeat for all holiday purchases and enjoy the frequent flyer rewards as well as the best prices.

Miles-for-Shopping Tips

Things to keep in mind when earning shopping miles:

  • Be sure to begin shopping on the mileage mall landing page. In order to earn points, you must log in with your program membership number so the purchases can be tracked and credited.
  • To add an extra mile per $1 spent, be sure to charge mileage mall purchases to a travel rewards credit card.
  • To get the best deal, compare not just price but regular and bonus miles, and shipping costs.
  • Make a note of the order number (or take a screen shot of the order confirmation screen) for all mileage mall purchases. Points are normally credited within six to eight weeks from purchase date. Monitor your account to confirm that points are received. If not, you'll want evidence to support your retroactive credit request.

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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