Online shopping has become more rewarding than ever. Not only can you shop any time and anywhere you have Internet access, you can also earn frequent flyer miles for your purchases. America West, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways all have mileage malls, virtual spaces where you can find a large variety of online merchants all in one place.
Doing your shopping through these malls, rather than from each retailer’s website, can save you time with one-stop shopping, and earn you miles toward a future award trip. Now when you buy a new bathing suit from Lands’ End or a tent from REI, you’ll be that much closer to your next beach or national park vacation.
How to choose a mileage mall
If you focus all of your mileage earning on one or two airlines, it’s in your best interest to sign up for the mileage mall affiliated with that carrier. If you participate in several frequent flyer programs, the choice is more complicated, but here are some criteria to consider.
|Ready to start shopping? Click on your preferred airline to be taken to the home page of its mileage mall.|
Different airlines have varying numbers of merchants in their mall. The US Airways Dividend Miles Shopping Mall has over 70 partners, Northwest’s WorldPerks Mall and the United Mileage Plus Mall have over 50, and America West’s FlightFund Mall claims over 200. You should check out which airlines have the retailers you use, because you’ll never earn miles if you don’t shop with any of the partners. Choose the mall that has stores most suited to your tastes.
You’ll also want to maximize the bang for your buck, or in other words, the number of miles per dollar you’ll earn for your purchase. Many malls have the same stores, but offer different numbers of miles per dollar spent. If you shop at Barnes and Noble, you’ll earn one mile for every two dollars spent at the FlightFund mall, two miles per dollar at the WorldPerks Mall and United Mileage Plus Mall, and a whopping five miles per dollar with ShopOnePass. Similarly, a purchase at OfficeMax.com earns three miles per dollar with Continental’s and Northwest’s malls, but four miles per dollar with United’s. Do some comparison shopping before you start buying to maximize the miles you gain.
How it works
You don’t have to pay extra to do your shopping at a mileage mall, but you will have to register with your airline. America West, Delta, United, and US Airways require advance registration, while Continental and Northwest just ask for your frequent flyer member number in order to access merchant sites. If you don’t already have a loyalty program account, you can sign up for free on any of the six airlines.
Once you’ve logged in to the mall via the airline’s website, you need to make sure to start and finish shopping in the same window if you wish to collect miles. If you open another window to comparison shop, or go to another site and then come back, you may lose your connection with the mileage mall and forfeit your chance to earn miles. When in doubt, re-enter the online store through the airline’s site before adding items to your shopping cart, so you can be certain that your frequent flyer number was captured and you’ll be eligible for miles.
You should also know that online shopping is not a quick way to earn points in your frequent flyer account. Miles will usually post six to eight weeks after your credit card is charged, occasionally taking longer if the airline needs to verify the legitimacy of your purchase. Always print out the final screen that verifies your transaction, and save any invoices so you have proof of purchase in case your miles don’t post within a few months.
Special perks for online shoppers
|Looking for the latest mileage mall promotion? Visit SmarterTravel.com’s Mile Finder for bonus mile offers on your favorite airlines.|
Being a mileage mall member gives you more perks than normal online shoppers receive. Often, the airline or its partners will offer bonus miles in addition to regular earnings, and sometimes these offers are exclusive to members.
To enhance your shopping experience, several airlines allow you to customize your online mall. America West’s FlightFund Mall has a “My Mall” option, where you can personalize your mall with your favorite retailers so you have quicker access to the sites you use the most. US Airways’ Dividend Miles Shopping Mall gives you the option of using the “Dividend Miles Bonus Bar” to gain easy access to participating merchants without always having to go back to the Shopping Mall’s home page. This one-stop shopping will save you time as you eliminate the need to go from site to site, or to search through partners to find your preferred online store.
Online shopping is an easy way to increase your mileage balance while doing something that’s part of your everyday routine. Smart shoppers will not only get the best bargain, but earn the most miles as well. Take this advice and you’ll be well on your way to your next award trip, which of course will require another round of pre-vacation shopping.