As I’ve said many times, going after sign-up bonuses is my bread and butter when it comes to earning large chunks of miles and points with minimum effort. Of course, it also pays to keep an eye on shopping portals, especially when making a large purchase. Every point counts.
Shopping portals are also great when it comes to topping up an account for a specific award or redemption threshold. A few months ago, my husband had to get a new iPad from Adorama.com (presumably for work, yeah right!) First I looked at Cashbackmonitor, a handy tool for checking this sort of thing. We went through RewardsBoost shopping portal, so I could earn 2,000 points on the purchase (2 points per $1). Did I ever mention my disgust with Apple and their overpriced products?
Anyway, I already had 8,000 points in my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard account (see my short review of the card) and this shiny new gadget helped me reach a minimum redemption level of $100. As a result, we got to enjoy overpriced hotel room service (codes as travel) during our recent trip to Melbourne. Normally, I would stick to cash back, but in this case, going through Barclay’s shopping portal has allowed me to efficiently use up my points balance. This is where you have to go to in your Arrival Plus profile:
But sometimes all you need is a few miles or just one, so you can prevent your existing stash from expiring. That’s what the story is about. Few weeks ago I wrote about getting mileage credit for my mom’s flights from last year. I also said that my dad currently has around 4,000 United miles. Wrong! When I checked his account, he actually had a little over 8,000 miles. Hmm, that’s the exact amount needed for a one-way flight from Auckland to Queenstown once new United chart kicks in on 11/1.
There was one problem, however. The miles were set to expire in September of this year. So, I had a little over a month to prevent it from happening. Naturally, I started looking at ways to do it as cheaply and painlessly as possible. After spending several agonizing hours online, I settled on buying something from United shopping portal. I know from experience that it can take as long as two months for some programs (Avios is one example) to finally track the miles. But United website claims that they usually post within few days. We’ll see.
But what to get? I hate buying stuff just for miles. I thought about getting some paper towels from Staples.com, but my son’s closet already looks like this:
Walmart was also listed (earning rate of 1 mile per dollar), so I decided to take a look. To my delight, they allow you to buy many grocery items online and pick them up in store for free. I saw a listing for butternut squash soup I enjoy, so I bought two cans. Because, well, getting one can is super obnoxious, right?
You can buy coffee and plethora of other everyday items, and get free 2-Day Shipping on orders of $35+. Clearly, they are going after Amazon. Few days later, 5 miles posted in dad’s account, which extended the expiration date. As long as you have some activity (earning or redeeming) in your United account every 18 months, you should be fine.
It was time to finally pick up my soup at Walmart. I proudly marched to the designated area and handed my printed order confirmation to the associate. To my surprise, she didn’t act as if I was a freak. She just brought me the package and asked me to sign for it. Done.
She then offered me complimentary cold bottle of water. Huh? Apparently, it’s a new policy for those who order online and pick up in store. Classy. There was a huge, clearly visible sign on the fridge: “Water is for customers only!” With exclamation point. Some things never change.
At first, I felt kind of bad taking the free water for ordering soup than can be bought inside the store. But then I remembered the motto of miles and points hobby: “Take, then take some more, whether you need it or not”. I still felt like a parasite, but the feeling of guilt dissapeared as soon as I took a refreshing sip of my cold complimentary water. I should have asked the associate to heat up my soup, so I could eat it there as well.
And so I came across the greatest hack of all time. Just buy a can of soup online, pick it up in store, and enjoy free cold bottled water each and every time. I’m sure nobody would notice or care. All kidding aside, I’m glad my dad’s United stash is safe. If things go according to the plan, those 8,000 miles will provide at least $80 in value towards a flight on Air New Zealand. It’s not a huge amount, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. I can buy a ton of soup with that money… one can at a time.
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.