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Contrary to what many think, earning air miles really couldn’t be easier. Whether it’s by using a rewards-earning credit card or by taking flights and crediting the miles to your loyalty programme, you should be well on your way to an amazing redemption in no time.
But, many don’t know there’s another way to earn those valuable points and miles. And you don’t need to step on a plane to do so. You can earn them just by making purchases online using airline shopping portals.
What Is an Online Shopping Portal?
Airline online shopping portals exist in order to award members with miles for making purchases with dozens — if not hundreds — of retailers. At the most basic level, you can be earning bonus points and miles for making purchases that you’d be making regardless. You’re still purchasing the exact same things directly from the same retailer. But instead of going directly to the retailer’s website, you’ll first go to the airline shopping portal, log in, click through to the retailer’s website and make your purchase directly through that window.
For example, say you want to make a purchase online with ASOS. If you’re in the market to collect Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles, the airline’s shopping portal is offering 4 miles per pound spent with ASOS (at time of publication). Once you click through the portal to the ASOS website and select the items you’re looking to purchase, your total comes to £205. Based on the bonus earning structure of 4 miles per pound, you’d walk away with 820 Flying Club miles. Based on TPG UK’s most recent valuations, those miles are worth nearly £10.
You can even double dip your earning made from these online purchases by making the purchase with a credit card that rewards you per pound spent. For example, if you use your Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card on the same purchase, you’ll earn additional Flying Club miles on top of those earned directly through the shopping portal. In the example above, that’s an additional 307.5 miles. In total, that brings your haul to 1,127.5 miles, worth nearly £14 based on TPG UK’s most recent valuations — not a bad return for a purchase you were already planning on making.
What Do I Need?
The only UK-based airlines that have shopping portals on which can earn you miles are British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.
In order to start earning on your online purchases, all you need to do — if you already haven’t — is sign up to the British Airways Executive Club and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club programmes. Then, the next time you’re thinking of doing some online shopping, make sure you check each of the shopping portals first to see if your retailer of choice is featured as one of the airline’s shopping partners.
If so, you’re in luck. Click through to book directly through the window that opens. Don’t navigate away from that window and come back later — you may miss out on the bonus.
The quickest way to get to the British Airways shopping portal is by clicking here and then logging in with your Executive Club credentials when you get to the page below:
Many major retailers including Apple, Gucci, Harrods and notonthehighstreet.com are current partners with British Airways, and shopping with them and others can earn you anywhere from 1 to 16 Avios per pound spent — and sometimes, even more. The amount of Avios you can earn at each of the retailers is subject to change, as are the retailers with which the airline is partnered.
Now, all you need to do is click on your desired retailer and then select the ‘shop now’ option, making sure that you make the purchase directly through the new tab that opens.
For example, say you’re looking to buy a new pair of Gucci loafers. The British Airways portal is currently offering 15 Avios per pound spent with Gucci.
If your total comes to £765, you’d walk away with 11,475 bonus Avios for making the purchase through the BA shopping portal. Based on TPG UK’s latest valuations, those points are worth a whopping £138. Plus, you can earn additional Avios on your purchase if you spend with a cobranded BA Amex credit card. Not a bad return at all!
You can get to the Virgin Atlantic Shops Away page by clicking here. Once there, click on ‘start shopping’, log in to your Flying Club account and you’ll arrive at the main Shops Away homepage.
Most of the shopping partners offer Flying Club miles by online shopping, in which case all you need to do is select the retailer of your choice and follow the instructions.
Some of Virgin Atlantic’s shopping partners also allow you to earn Flying Club miles when shopping in-store or even dining in certain restaurants. All you have to do is scroll to the bottom of the Shops Away homepage and register as many of your credit and debit cards as you wish — though TPG UK doesn’t generally recommend spending with a debit card. You will then be set up to start earning even more Flying Club miles at places like Barrhead Travel, Byron Burger, Forever 21, Jack Wills, Ted Baker, Waitrose and more.
Specific terms and conditions for each of the in-store partners are outlined on their individual pages on the ‘Shop Away’ section of Virgin Atlantic’s website. Most state that rewards cannot be earned by using any form of contactless payment method and that the physical card that was registered has to be used in order to qualify for the miles.
Things to Remember
The deals and amount of miles to be earned by your purchases are subject to change, as are the retailers with which the airlines are partnered. Be savvy with which airline’s online store you choose if the retailer has deals with both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as sometimes shopping with one can earn you more miles than with the other.
Make sure you have cookies enabled in your browser for the retailer’s site. This is what allows the portal to ‘track’ your purchases and award bonuses accordingly. Additionally, only use promotions or promo codes found on the portal; if you use others, the purchase may become ineligible for bonus miles.
Finally, be sure to read the terms for each merchant — often times, gift cards and certain other items won’t count toward earning bonuses.
Shopping through airline shopping portals alone is not going to get you flying in first class in the near future. However, as a complement to credit card spending, using your Tesco Clubcard and earning miles and miles from flying itself, it is a sure fire way of helping you on your way to your next redemption.
Featured photo by filadendron / Getty Images.
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