It is the first few days of August and that means...back to school? Way too early in my opinion, but it's true. Here in metro Atlanta, several major school systems started this week and the balance return next week. With that comes the opportunity for bonus airline miles! Right now, the shopping portals for both American AAdvantage eShopping and Delta SkyMiles shopping are offering bonus miles for achieeving certain spend thresholds during the back-to-school shopping season.
Shopping portal basics
I have written about the value of web shopping portals. In a nutshell, these are sites where you click-through to major shopping sites. When you then make a purchase, you earn points or miles depending on the offer from the portal.
For example, the American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping portal offers 1 mile per dollar of spend at Fandango.com. First go to the portal's Fandango page and click on the "Shop Now" button, as shown above. You will be taken to the Fandango site where you can purchase movie tickets as normal (note, if you leave the site and return later, you will not earn the AAdvantage miles unless you return through the portal). For your purchase, you will earn one mile for every dollar spent (excluding taxes for most merchants). If you buy two tickets to the latest summer blockbuster at $17.50 each, 35 miles will be deposited to your AAdvantage account several days later.
By consistently using portals, it's really simple to rack up lots of extra points and miles. Last year I earned over 11,000 miles on the American Airlines portal alone! There is no fee or membership to use shopping sites - just setup your account and start earning rewards. There are many more portals than American and Delta. Find a list of portals - and click-through to the portals' merchant page - at CashBackMonitor.com or EVReward.com.
Back to School bonus mile promotions
(Note: American's promotion is good through August 18, while Delta's, unfortunately, ends tonight, so this comparison may be a moot point by the time you read it.)
The American and Delta back-to-school promotions are similar but American's is a little more lucrative. Both portals offer 500 bonus miles when you spend $150 during the promotional period. At the next threshold, American offers 1,000 AAdvantage miles for $300 of spending while Delta requires $350 for the same number of SkyMiles. Making the American promotion more attractive is its $500 threshold where you earn 2,000 miles, a threshold that Delta does not offer. These bonus miles are in addition to the standard points available for purchases. No sign-up is necessary - just start shopping!
Setting aside the slightly higher value of AAdvantage miles over SkyMiles, the American offer is clearly more efficient for earning 500 miles. However, if you happen to spend $500 or more, American is the obvious winner. Based on the promotion alone, I would focus on using the American AAdvantage eShopping portal. While I am generally a Delta flyer, the American site is one of my most commonly used portals, because I typically find the American portal to offer more merchants than does Delta's.
While the Delta promotion may have expired by the time you read this, the American AAdvantage eShopping back-to-school promotion is the more attractive option. The good news is that American offers similar bonus opportunities throughout the year, so if you do not have a significant number of purchases to make now, you may be able to earn bonus miles later. Keep an eye out and you could earn a large number of miles toward your next award ticket!