Middle Age Miles

Our Step-by-Step Guide – How to Use a Shopping Portal to Earn Miles or Cash Back

Executive Summary

Using shopping portals is a great way to earn miles, points or cash back for your online shopping purchases.  Payouts can range from 1 mile per dollar of spend up to 10 miles per dollar or more, or from 2% as high as 15% or more cash back.  Our step-by-step guide will help you obtain these benefits with minimal effort and as reliably as possible.

Shopping Portals – An Overview

One of the best ways to earn miles, points or cash back is to go through a shopping portal for your online purchases.  It may take an extra minute to check which portal has the best deal, then log in and click through to your merchant, but the rewards can be substantial and well worth the minimal extra effort.

Personally, we at Middle Age Miles use three cashback shopping portals – Top Cashback, UPromise, and Ebates.  In general, we have found that Top Cashback most often has the best rates, Ebates is the most reliable in terms of tracking your purchases, and UPromise is somewhere in between on both.

If you are not already a member of these three cashback portals, please support Middle Age Miles by using our referral links to sign up:

In addition, several airlines have shopping portals where you can earn miles in their loyalty program.  These include Alaska Mileage Plan; American AAdvantage; British Airways Avios; Delta SkyMiles; JetBlue ShopTrue; Southwest Rapid Rewards; and United Mileage Plus.

We have compiled sign-up links for all of these major shopping portals, along with some other cash-back apps, which you can access under the Sign-Up Links item on our main menu.  In addition, here is a direct link to our page of sign-up links:

Sign-Up Links – Shopping Portals & Cash-Back Apps

Finally, Chase Ultimate Rewards has its own shopping portals.  To access the Ultimate Rewards shopping portals, you will need to log in to your Chase account, then click through to the “Ultimate Rewards” section, and then click through to the shopping portal (click on the shopping bag icon in the upper left that says “Earn Bonus Points” underneath).  The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal requires you to pay with a Chase credit card to earn shopping portal points, but for the other portals, you can pay with any credit card.

Our Step-by-Step Guide to Shopping Portals

Here is our step-by-step guide on how to go through a shopping portal:

(1)  You need to make sure your shopping cart on the store website is empty.  If you’ve been searching for the item to buy first, just write down enough information so you can find the item again after you access the store website via a portal.

(2)  Go to www.cashbackmonitor.com and search for the store/website you’re planning to buy from (e.g., JCPenney).  You’ll get results that look something like this:

Example of a Cashback Monitor results screen

(3)  Figure out which portal has the best deal.  In this example, Top Cashback is 6%, UPromise is 5%, Ebates is 3%, American AAdvantage is 3 miles per dollar, British Airways Avios is also 3 miles per dollar, and several other airlines are 2 miles per dollar.  We value AA miles at a baseline of 1.25 cents each and BA Avios at a baseline of 1.2 cents each, so those are effectively 3.75% and 3.6%, respectively, in this example.  So here, we would use Top Cashback as our portal since it has the best rate.

(4)  Completely close your browser.  (It is best to start the process with a completely fresh and clean browser session, to help the portal track everything correctly.)

(5)  Re-open your browser and go to the portal website.  In our example, that would be www.topcashback.com.  Here are links to some other portals that we use regularly:

(6)  Log in to the portal.  (This is an absolute must-do. Otherwise, your purchase will not track.)

(7)  Search by Store Name.  In our example using Top Cashback at JCPenney, the results look like this:

Example of Top Cashback search results for JCPenney

(8)  Click on the red “Get Cashback Now” button.  (Or the corresponding button on another portal that takes you to the store website.)  On Top Cashback, there may be an interim screen where you have to click a “Cashback” button for JCPenney (in our example), but most portals have only one click-through to get to the store website.

(9)  This should direct you to the store website.  Shop and check out as normal.  It is ok to sign in to your account on the store website.  The portal should track your purchase and add your cash back rebate (or your miles, as the case may be) to your account.

Some portals, stores, and purchases post more quickly than others.  Also, each cashback portal is a little different about how they pay you out; you can get the details from each cashback portal’s website.

We will have additional posts on Middle Age Miles to provide you with data points on our experiences with specific portals, merchants and purchases.  Happy shopping!!!


At Middle Age Miles, we’re always trying to help you maximize your points-and-miles earning, or get you more cash back if that’s a better alternative!  To make sure you continue to see all of our insights and recommendations, please Like and Follow us on social media at:

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