Everything to know about maximising online shopping portals for bonus points and miles
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Contrary to what you might think, earning 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 of choice, 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 right from home 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.
That’s not all, as you can even earn miles through the shopping portals by switching your energy provider. Both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have partnerships with uSwitch, the U.K.’s leading energy comparison and switching service provider. Switching your energy with British Airways’ shopping portal could earn you up to 2,500 Avios. Based on TPG U.K.’s most recent valuations, those 2,500 Avios are worth £27.50.
If you’re more of a Flying Club and Virgin Points collector, then switching your energy provider through Virgin’s online shopping portal can earn you up to 2,000 miles. Based on TPG U.K.’s most recent valuations, those 2,000 Virgin Points are worth £24. (TPG is owned by Red Ventures, which is an investor in Uswitch.)
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 British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card From Amex U.K. or Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card on the same purchase, you’ll earn additional Avios or Virgin Points on top of those earned directly through the shopping portal.
What do I need?
The only U.K.-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 25 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 backpack from Harvey Nichols. The British Airways portal is currently offering 14 Avios per pound spent with Harvey Nichols.
If your total comes to £765, you’d walk away with 10,710 bonus Avios for making the purchase through the BA shopping portal. Based on TPG U.K.’s latest valuations, those points are worth a whopping £118. 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 Virgin Points 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 Virgin Points 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 U.K. doesn’t generally recommend spending with a debit card. You will then be set up to start earning even more Virgin Points 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, check both, 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 — oftentimes, 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 or Nectar card 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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