As the summer comes to an end, it's time to start thinking about back-to-school shopping and all the expenses that come along with it. From school supplies to new clothes, the costs can quickly add up. However, there is a way to save money and make back-to-school shopping a breeze - by utilizing points and miles.
Points and miles are a form of currency that can be earned through various loyalty programs, such as credit card rewards programs, airline frequent flyer programs, and hotel loyalty programs. These points and miles can then be redeemed for a wide range of rewards, including travel, gift cards, and even cash back.
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Here are some tips on how to maximize your points and miles to save money on back-to-school shopping:
Sign up for a rewards credit card:
Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses that can earn you a significant amount of points or miles. Look for a card that offers bonus points for everyday spending categories, such as groceries or gas, as these are expenses you will likely incur while shopping for school supplies.
Use shopping portals:
Many loyalty programs have online shopping portals where you can earn additional points or miles for purchases made through their platform. Before making any online purchases, check if the retailer is affiliated with a loyalty program and go through their portal to earn extra rewards.
Online shopping portals are a valuable resource for maximizing your points and miles when shopping for back-to-school essentials. These portals are essentially dedicated websites provided by various loyalty programs, such as credit card rewards programs or airline frequent flyer programs. They allow you to earn extra rewards by directing your online purchases through their platform. Here's how it works:
Retailer Partnerships: Loyalty programs partner with a wide range of retailers, both big and small, to offer you the opportunity to earn bonus points or miles for each dollar you spend. These retailers can include everything from office supply stores and clothing retailers to electronics outlets and more.
Easy Navigation: Navigating these shopping portals is typically straightforward. You'll log into your loyalty program account and access the shopping portal from there. Once inside, you can search for the retailer you intend to shop with.
Click and Shop: Once you find the retailer on the portal, simply click on the link provided. This link acts as a tracking mechanism, ensuring that your purchase is attributed to your loyalty program account.
Earn Extra Rewards: By accessing the retailer's website through the shopping portal link, any purchases you make during that session will be eligible for additional rewards. The portal will usually specify the number of bonus points or miles you can earn per dollar spent.
Time Frame: It's important to note that you generally need to start your shopping session through the portal, and your purchases should be completed in the same browsing session. If you navigate away and return later, the tracking might be lost.
Payment and Shipping: Your payment and shipping details are handled directly by the retailer, just as they would be if you shopped directly through the retailer's website.
Wait for Points: After completing your purchase, it might take some time for the bonus points or miles to show up in your loyalty program account. This can vary depending on the retailer and the loyalty program.
Using shopping portals can significantly boost your rewards earnings without requiring any extra effort on your part. Remember to always compare the rewards offered by different loyalty programs for the same retailer, as they can vary. Additionally, keep in mind that shopping portals are an excellent complement to other strategies like stacking rewards with sales and discounts. By combining these tactics, you can make the most out of your points and miles when shopping for back-to-school items.
Take advantage of bonus offers:
Keep an eye out for bonus offers from your favorite loyalty programs. These offers can range from earning extra points or miles for specific purchases to receiving discounts or free shipping. By taking advantage of these offers, you can stretch your rewards even further.
Combine points and miles with sales and discounts:
Don't forget to stack your points and miles with sales and discounts. Look for back-to-school sales and promotions to get the best deals, and then use your rewards to further reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.
Consider using cash-back rewards:
If you have a cash-back credit card, consider using your cash-back rewards to offset your back-to-school expenses. This can be a simple way to save money without having to deal with points and miles.
Some popular cash-back credit cards you might consider for back-to-school shopping include:
Citi Double Cash Card: This card offers 2% cash back on all purchases – 1% when you make the purchase and an additional 1% when you pay it off.
Chase Freedom Unlimited: This card provides a flat cash-back rate on all purchases, and you can often find promotions that offer higher cash-back percentages during the initial months.
Discover it Cash Back: This card often features rotating categories with enhanced cash-back percentages, and they frequently include popular back-to-school shopping categories like office supplies and online shopping.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards: This card offers a flat cash-back rate on all purchases, and it's known for its straightforward rewards structure.
Using a cash-back credit card for your back-to-school shopping not only simplifies the redemption process but also offers a tangible way to save money on your expenses. Just be sure to review the terms and conditions of your specific cash-back credit card to understand how the rewards program works and how you can make the most of your earnings.
Plan for future trips:
If you have a travel rewards credit card, you can use your points and miles to book flights or hotels for upcoming trips. By planning, you can save money on travel expenses and use the extra cash for back-to-school shopping.
Remember, it's important to use your points and miles wisely and responsibly. Pay off your credit card balances in full each month to avoid interest charges, and don't overspend just to earn more rewards. With careful planning and smart shopping, you can make back-to-school savings easy with points and miles. And when considering which credit cards to use for back-to-school shopping, keep in mind that specific credit card rewards programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and others, often offer the flexibility to redeem points or miles for various types of purchases, including back-to-school supplies. Be sure to check the terms and conditions of your credit card's rewards program to maximize your savings.
How Do Credit Card Points Work?
Building a stash of credit card points is a way to get free stuff. You've probably heard of them advertised on TV or during your favorite podcast.