Holiday shopping season is upon us!

What would a regular person — someone who’s not into the points and miles — do when shopping during the holidays?

Probably just go online and order something on Amazon, or go to a store to pick up a few presents. And how would they pay? Probably with a credit card, or (gasp) a debit card, cash, or check. Do people still pay with checks?

However, points and miles enthusiasts, can do better! We won’t even make one purchase without thinking about how we can earn points and miles for future travel. If we are spending money, why not at least get a trip, or two, out of all the holiday spending? Am I right?

Let’s look at a few ways to optimize the money we spend during the holidays. And holiday spending doesn’t just mean buying gifts. If you’ve ever hosted Thanksgiving or Christmas, you know how much money is spent on buying food, decorations and, yes, alcohol.

In This Article

Holiday Shopping: Ultimate Guide to Earning Points and Miles
Holiday Shopping: Ultimate Guide to Earning Points and Miles

Apply for a New Credit Card

If you don’t normally spend a lot of money on a monthly basis, this is a great time of year to apply for new credit cards. Trying to earn a Southwest companion pass? Just trying to meet minimum spending requirements on a new card? Holidays are the perfect time to do that!

Most of us have increased spending at the end of the year. So instead of putting these expenses on an old card, consider opening a new credit card. The increased end of year expenses will help meet minimum spending requirements. Not sure which card to apply for? To take the guesswork out of this process, the team at 10X Travel compiled a list of the best credit card offers.

If you are a small business owner, consider paying estimated taxes with a new credit card. Yes, there’s a fee. But a sign-up bonus, and the points earned will help offset the fee. I love my Blue Business Plus Card from American Express and use it to pay taxes. The card has no annual fee and earns 2X on everything, so it’s definitely a long term keeper.

Holiday Shopping: Ultimate Guide to Earning Points and Miles

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Earn 2x points on eligible purchases up to $50,000 annually, 1x on all else. Terms apply.

Learn more

Maximize Shopping Portals

We also can’t forget about maximizing all the shopping portals! A shopping portal is a third-party site that you click through on the way to whatever store you were going to visit. The site will receive a small commission for any purchases you make and will reward you, the shopper, with miles, points or cash.

On top of regular earning rates, there are thousands of miles and points to be earned with the holiday bonuses. If you miss one bonus, don’t worry, there will be more.

For example, if you click through United’s shopping portal, you can earn up to 5,000 United Mileage Plus miles (promotion ends on November 21). You don’t have to spend the entire bonus amount on just one purchase. United’s shopping portal will track your shopping, and when you’ve reached a bonus threshold, you’ll be eligible for the bonus.

United Explorer Card

40,000 bonus miles after $2,000 spend in 3 months, another 25,000 miles after $10,000 total spend in 6 months.

Learn more

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Delta is also running a promotion right now. This is a great way to top off your frequent flyer account. If you take advantage of these offers, it’s like earning over 3 miles per dollar!

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American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are also running promotions during the holiday season.

If I have large purchases to make, I like to split and stagger them to take advantage of the increased shopping portals payouts.

And remember, you can buy a lot of everyday essentials and groceries online, often for less, and earn miles and points. I buy a lot of groceries on Vitacost. They often have some kind of sale going, which makes their already very reasonable priced pantry essentials even more affordable. So you’ll earn extra miles through the shopping portal and you don’t have to get up from the couch to do your grocery shopping. I call it a win-win!

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) even offers in-store cashback. You’ll have to link the offers to your card after each shopping trip, but the payout is well worth it. So don’t forget to login and add the in-store offers before you head out on Black Friday.

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Rakuten now has an option to earn Amex Membership Rewards points instead of cashback. You can change the payout option under your account’s setting options. I value Membership Rewards points a lot more than 1 cent a point, so I switched my account as soon as that option became available. To earn Membership Rewards points with Rakuten, you do need to have at least one Membership Rewards earning American Express card.

Best Cards to Use for Holiday Shopping

Thanks to all the increased shopping we do during this time of year, this is the perfect time to meet the minimum spending requirements on a new card. If you’ve been considering getting a new card, now is the time to apply.

If you aren’t working on meeting minimum spending requirements on a new card, then I’d pick a card with a bonus spending category. Cards with rotating bonus categories, such as Chase Freedom, are a great option. Right now you’ll earn 5X on all purchases up to $1,500 at department stores or on any purchases made with PayPal or ChasePay.

Almost every online store has a PayPal checkout option. Earning 5X Ultimate Rewards points on every purchase is a very sweet deal.

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When using the PayPal checkout option, make sure your preferred payment method is set to Chase Freedom. You can add, delete and set preferred payment methods under the Wallet tab. I also keep my PayPal balance at $0 to avoid accidentally using it instead of the Freedom card.

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Don’t forget to click through the shopping portal to really maximize all the available opportunities.

Another great card to use for holiday spending is Chase Freedom Unlimited. It earns 1.5X on all purchases.

Chase Freedom Unlimited

$150 cash bonus after $500 spend in 3 months. Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases thereafter.

Learn more

Citi Double Cash earns 2% back on everything. Thanks to the recent changes, you can now convert this cashback to Citi ThankYou points if you also have Citi Premier or Citi Prestige. This makes it an excellent card for everyday spending. If you’re under 5/24, I’d hold off on getting this card but it might be a great addition to your wallet later in your points journey.

Citi Premier

60,000 points after $4k spend in 3 months

Learn more by visiting our
credit cards page.

The Blue Business Plus credit card from American Express earns 2X on all purchases, up to $50,000 a year. It’s a great card for small business owners – it has no annual fee and doesn’t count toward Chase’s 5/24.

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Earn 2x points on eligible purchases up to $50,000 annually, 1x on all else. Terms apply.

Learn more

Amex and Chase Offers

This is an often overlooked aspect of holiday shopping. Amex and Chase offer some incredible deals at select retailers. You can earn statement credits or points when using a card with an offer attached to it. Stack this with a shopping portal for an even better deal.

Amex and Chase offers are valid only for a limited amount of time, and sometimes exclude gift cards, so it’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully. The offers change frequently, so check your accounts regularly to catch the best deals.

When you see an offer you might find useful, add it right away because it might disappear next time you log in. After you’ve added the offer, you can use it anytime until the offer’s expiration date. It’s very important to add the offer first, before shopping, or you won’t get the statement credit/extra points.

Amex offers are available on the web site and in the app.

Chase offers are also available in the app and on the site.

Here’s an example of Chase offers I found on my Chase Ink Preferred card. I am mostly excited about the BJ’s $25 back offer. I love my local BJ’s – besides great food and everything else you can ordinarily find at a warehouse club, it has a good selection of toys and clothes.

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Need some wine for the holidays? Check Amex offers! You might find lots of affordable options thanks to these offers. And don’t forget to use a shopping portal, some of them offer huge bonuses for wine clubs or online wine sellers.

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Need to buy a gift for a teenager or a college student? Amex offers got you covered. Both of these stores have lots of items that would appeal to young people.

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There are Amex offers for spa gift certificates, clothing, makeup and accessories in all price ranges, as well as food gifts. The offers aren’t the same on all cards, so if you have more than one Amex card, go through all of them to see what gems you might find.

Sometimes, the same offer will appear on more than one card, but you can only add it once. I often get the same offer on my Amex Platinum and on the Hilton Amex. I’d rather earn Membership Rewards than Hilton Honors points, so I will add that offer to my Amex Platinum.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Earn 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months. Terms apply.

Learn more

Hilton Honors American Express Card

75,000 Hilton Honors points after $1,000 spend in 3 months

Learn more

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a few ways to turn all the shopping we do during the holiday season into points and miles. Think strategically, apply for new credit cards and don’t forget to use the shopping portals, where the offers could be especially lucrative this time of year.

If you aren’t going to open new cards, use the card that earns the most points. I am loving all the Chase and Amex offers this time of year too, there are so many great deals for gifts or for little splurges for yourself!

Happy shopping,

Anna

Chase Sapphire Preferred

New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card to start with. With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months and 2x points on dining and travel, this card truly cannot be beat! 

Learn more

Disclosure: 10xTravel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. 10xTravel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.


About the Author

Anna is a freelance writer from Cleveland, OH who loves to travel and is a big miles and points geek. Anna’s favorite pastime (besides traveling) is planning trips and figuring out what kinds of points and miles she needs to make it happen. Thankfully, Anna’s husband is completely on board with all the free travel Anna earns and happily joins her on her adventures.

Learn More About Anna

2 Responses to “Holiday Shopping: Ultimate Guide to Earning Points and Miles”


joyce kaufmann

Hi!
I have been procrastinatinge mailing you in hopes of figuring this out myself but I can’t. My husband ( I think is just under 5/24). We both have all the usually cards already opened
My Question is this: I was lucky to get the Southwest Priority for $149 this past year that gave you the companion pass automatically. We loved it! If he can open one more card, should he take out a SW card, get the big welcome bonus – and then in 12/2021 (which is when he is again under the 5/24 rule again) take out the other SW card so that year we can get the rest of the point to make the 120,000 points?
.I made a mistake ( not being a member at the time, to be strategic in taking out cars). He opened
Citibank 3/19
IHG-Premier in 5/19.
INK 8/19,
Bonvoy 2/19,
Capital 1 (venture) 12/18,
IHG Club Reward 12/17,
What I thinking i’m saying the hard way , is there a way to get him enough welcome points to get a companion card and still be taking out other cards? WE like the travel points and have all the hotel ones that give us free nights.Gobble ! Gobble!
Thanks so much!!!
PS where will i find your reply? I hope you will send it directly to my email address. I have a hard time finding things on these threads people start . THANK YOU so much Grandma Joyce


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