The 10 Best Rewards and Cash-Back Shopping Sites

How to earn miles and get money back when you shop online

If you shop online, there's a very good chance that you could be earning rewards for your purchases. And I'm not talking about credit cards; while you can earn points, miles or cash back by using certain cards, you can also get rewarded for clicking through online shopping portals before heading to your online retailer of choice.

These shopping portals work with a wide variety of stores — from Adidas.com to 1-800-Flowers to Macy's — to award customers cash back, points or miles when they click through the site in question rather than going directly to an online retailer. So for example, if you were interested in making a purchase at Saks Fifth Avenue online, instead of going straight to the store's website, you could first visit American Airlines' AAdvantage Shopping website and click through to Saks.com to earn miles for your purchase.

One important thing to note: You can "double-dip" with these online shopping portals to earn the points, miles or cash back you're entitled to by clicking through the site, and to earn additional rewards through your credit card as well. So if you make a purchase through United MileagePlus Shopping and pay with your United MileagePlus Explorer Credit Card, you'll earn miles through the portal plus 1 mile per dollar on your purchase through your card.

Of course, before you can start earning miles, points or cash back through one of these shopping portals, you need to have an account with the associated airline or bank. It's worth taking the time to set that up, though, since you could quickly be on your way to earning a free flight or putting money back in your wallet, depending on how much online shopping you do. And you'll need to have an account with a loyalty program to start earning points, miles or cash back through the various other avenues available, from completing paid flights or hotel stays to participating in brand promos to using a specific credit card affiliated with the retailer, airline or hotel.

Rewards type: Miles — awarded as part of American Airlines' AAdvantage frequent flyer program. While there's no concrete value tied to AAdvantage miles (or any other currency listed below in this article), you can typically get 1 to 2 cents per mile in value when you redeem miles for award flights on American or one of its airline partners.

So, if you use American’s AAdvantage eShopping for your shopping and spend $500 with a retailer offering 6 points per dollar, that will earn you 3,000 miles. You could use those miles toward a variety of redemptions, including a free American flight, which starts at 7,500 miles. And because you are (or could be) also getting airline miles at the same time, you could quickly earn enough miles for a more expensive award flight (such as round-trip from the US to Hawaii starting at 40,000 miles).

If you're a member of American Airlines' AAdvantage frequent flyer program, you should consider bookmarking the carrier's shopping portal and heading there before you complete any online purchases. 

AAdvantage eShopping partners with hundreds of online retailers, including Apple.com, Barneys New York, Gilt and Kohl's. You can look for a specific site via the search bar and see how many miles you'll earn per dollar spent (usually the rate ranges from 1 to 25). Some retailers, such as Sprint and The Wall Street Journal, offer a set amount of miles per purchase rather than a certain amount of miles per dollar. 

Like several other airline shopping portals, AAdvantage eShopping periodically runs special promotions where you can earn extra miles for meeting specific spending thresholds. One example is its back-to-school event, which has previously offered up to 2,000 bonus miles when you spend $500 on purchases made through the portal. More »

Rewards type: Cash back; Citi's portal is a great option for you if you don't have much need for collecting points or miles in a loyalty program, since instead of having to redeem rewards you just get cash back credited into your account. This can take the guess work out of the process, since you don't need to spend time researching how to get the most out of your rewards — if the Citi portal is offering 5% cash back, you're simply getting a 5% return on your spending.

If you have a card from Citibank that earns cash back, you can head to this site to find a list of stores offering bonus cash for making a purchase online.

As of publish time, the list of participating retailers topped 400, and the average cash-back rate was 5%. You'll find many of the same options available through other portals, such as Best Buy, Macy's and Sears.

Since this program is tied directly to your Citi account, the cash back you earn will be posted on the Recent Transactions page for your corresponding credit card. More »

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Rewards type: Cash back — but unlike with the Citi Bonus Cash Center, you don't get cash deposited directly into your bank account. Instead, you'll get it in the form of a mailed check or as a deposit to your PayPal account, as discussed below.

Ebates might just be the most popular site among those listed here, and it's not even affiliated with a big-name airline, bank or hotel. The reason why people love it? It gives you straight cash back on purchases, and you don't have to be a member of any specific loyalty program to reap the rewards.

You can sign up using your Facebook or Google log-in, and then you simply search for your desired retailer to see how much cash back you'll get for shopping there. Cash-back rates are typically 2% to 4%, though Ebates frequently doubles these rates for promotions. Top stores partnering with the site include Amazon, eBay, JCPenney and Sephora. You can also earn additional cash back by referring other users to the site.

It's important to note how you actually receive the cash back you earn through this site. It's not automatically deposited into a bank account of your choosing; rather, you'll get a "Big Fat Check" in the mail once every three months. If you've earned less than $5.01 in cash back in that period, though, you won't get a check until the next three-month period in which you do meet that minimum. Alternatively, you can get paid via PayPal, or you can elect to have your cash back donated to a charity, organization or family member of your choosing. More »

Rewards type: Points — awarded as part of Hilton's Honors loyalty program. While there's no concrete value for each Hilton Honors point, you can expect to get 0.5-1 cent in value per point when you redeem for a hotel award night.

So, if you use Hilton's Shop-to-Earn for your shopping and spend $850 with a retailer offering 2 points per dollar, that will earn you 1,700 points. You could use those points toward a variety of redemptions, including a free night at a Hilton hotel or a free upgrade to a nicer room. And because you are (or could be) also getting airline miles at the same time, your flight to the Hilton hotel could also cost you less.

Yes, you can earn hotel points for your online shopping as well as airline miles. Hilton is one of a handful of chains (others include Marriott) that run shopping portals, awarding members of its Hilton Honors program points when they click through before making a purchase.

There are a few features of the Hilton Shop-to-Earn site that stand out as being especially helpful. For one, next to each retailer, it lists when the current point-per-dollar offer will expire, so you know how long you have to shop and earn at that current rate. Additionally, you can narrow down the list of retailers to those that only ship to the US. More »

Rewards type: Points — awarded as part of JetBlue's TrueBlue frequent flyer program. While JetBlue calls its rewards currency "points" rather than "miles," they essentially work the same way as miles in that you can redeem them for award flights on JetBlue and/or its partners, at a rate of about 1-2 cents per point.

So, if you use JetBlue’s portal for your shopping and spend $100 with a retailer offering 3 points per dollar, that will earn you 300 points. You could use those points toward a free flight on JetBlue. And because you are (or could be) also getting JetBlue points through your credit card at the same time, you could have enough points for a flight — such as one-way within the US for 17,600 points in mid-August — in no time.

Are you a member of JetBlue's TrueBlue program? Then ShopTrue could be the online shopping portal for you. Earning rates tend to be on the low side compared to many other sites — as of publish time, one of the most appealing offers was 5 TrueBlue points per dollar for shopping at L'Occitane — but if this is your airline of choice it could be a nice opportunity to work toward your next free flight.

Top brands that partner with the site include Apple, Etsy, Target and The Home Depot. More »

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Rewards type: Cash back — awarded via check or a PayPal deposit.

Mr. Rebates is another site that offers cash back when you click through to shop at a wide variety of retailers, and it's quite similar to Ebates with only some slight differences. For one, you need a minimum of $10 in cash back earned to get a check or payment via PayPal — the site doesn't send you payments every three months.

The selection of stores is also slightly different, though it includes the same mainstays such as Amazon, Groupon and Walmart. If you want to make a purchase from a retailer and earn cash back in the process, it could be worth comparing the rates at Ebates and Mr. Rebates to see which offers a higher return. More »

Rewards type: Miles — awarded as part of United's MileagePlus frequent flyer program. You can redeem miles for flights on United or one of its airline partners, and you'll generally get about 1-2 cents per mile in value.

So, if you use United’s portal for your shopping and spend $400 with a retailer offering 5 points per dollar, that will earn you 2,000 miles. You could use those points toward a free flight or a seat upgrade on United or one of its airline partners (short-haul United flights start at 7,500 miles one-way). And because you are (or could be) also getting United miles through your credit card at the same time, you could have enough rewards for an award flight in a matter of months.

Here's another airline shopping portal — this time from United Airlines. If you have a MileagePlus frequent flyer account, you should definitely give this site a look, as, like AAdvantage eShopping, it partners with a wide variety of stores to offer you miles for completing purchases.

It works in much the same way as other sites listed here, though it stands out for featuring one of the easiest-to-navigate interfaces among all the shopping portals out there. You'll find a comparable selection of retailers as well, from Athleta and Old Navy to Overstock and Samsung.

Like most other airline shopping portals, MileagePlus Shopping frequently awards lump sums of bonus miles when you meet a certain spending threshold.  More »

Rewards type: Points — awarded as part of Chase's Ultimate Rewards program. You can redeem Ultimate Rewards points toward free travel, and you'll get about 1.25-2.5 cents per point in value depending on your redemption.

So, if you use Chase’s portal for your shopping and spend $700 with a retailer offering 3 points per dollar, that will earn you 2,100 points. You could use those points toward travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. And because you’ll also getting Chase points through your credit card at the same time, you’ll be “double-dipping” with your rewards.

If you have a credit card through the issuer Chase, you can log in to the Shop Through Chase website, search for the store you'd like to shop with and then earn points for your purchase.

One important thing to keep in mind: Unlike with airline shopping portals such as AAdvantage eShopping, to earn points with Shop Through Chase, you need to use the Chase credit card associated with your account to make your purchase. If you have multiple Chase cards, you'll need to select a particular one before clicking through to an individual online retailer.

The Shop Through Chase website is known to be a bit finnicky; you might need to try loading it in a few different browsers before you successfully get the full functionality and list of stores to show up. But it could definitely be worth the effort if you value Chase points and are hoping to use them to book a flight, a hotel stay or other travel. More »

Rewards type: Points — awarded as part of Southwest's Rapid Rewards program. You'll get 1-2 cents per point in value when you redeem for award flights.

So, if you use Southwest’s portal for your shopping and spend $100 with a retailer offering 2 points per dollar, that will earn you 200 points. You could use those points toward a Southwest award flight. And because could also earn Southwest points through your credit card at the same time, you could earn 3 points per dollar on the purchase and work toward an award flight quicker.

Members of Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards frequent flyer program can pile on the points earning by shopping through this particular portal. As with the other airline portals on this list, there are plenty of ways to search for retailers, including sorting by earn rate, typing in a particular brand or filtering by a specific category.

On average, you'll earn 1-4 points per dollar spent, with top options including Dell, Lord & Taylor and PetSmart. Remember to check and see if you're eligible to earn a points bonus for meeting a certain spending threshold — Rapid Rewards Shopping runs such promos on a somewhat regular basis. More »

Rewards type: Points — which you can redeem at a variety of brands listed below. Points are worth 1 cent apiece.

So, if you use the Plenti Online Marketplace for your shopping and spend $800 with a retailer offering 3 points per dollar, that will earn you 2,400 points. You could use those points toward a purchase at AT&T among other brands listed below. And because could also earn Plenti points through the Plenti credit card at the same time, you could earn an extra point per dollar on your purchase.

The Plenti Rewards program lets you earn points that can be redeemed at brands such as AT&T, Exxon, Macy's and Rite Aid, among others, and it offers a shopping portal of its own to help you earn extra rewards. 

The portal is organized much like the airline portals mentioned in this article — which is a good thing, since those tend to be the most straightforward. You can browse popular stores (Hotels.com, Macy's, QVC), search for a specific retailer or browse special offers. Earn rates range from 1-25 points per dollar, and as of publish time there were more than 800 retailers partnering with the site. More »