Frugal Living 

Check Credit Card Rewards Bonuses Before Shopping

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When it comes to credit cards, I like to keep things simple. I only have three credit cards and each one is used for a very specific purpose. One is for when we eat at restaurants, go to the movies, or purchase something on (Citi mtvU). One is for everything else (American Express Costco TrueEarnings Card). For those keeping score at home, my third card is a business credit card.

This makes purchases very simple since most of the time I grab my Costco AMEX and use that. When I shop online, I usually use the American Express card unless it’s and I don’t usually review my decision rubric all too often. It turns out, especially this holiday season, I probably should.

One of the new things that many credit card companies are offering is higher rewards when you shop at one of their partner stores online. Some credit card issuers have been doing it for years, offering extra points when you buy through their online portal, but only recently have they started juicing up the points they offer. It wasn’t uncommon for you to see double or triple points at some retailers but nowadays you can see double digit bonuses. For example, I recently learned that my Capital One card gets much higher rewards over Black Friday (Nov 26-29) weekend when I shop at Omaha Steaks (18X) and Body Shop (16X). If you’re going to make an online purchase, check your cards’ rewards so you’re buying with the right one.

So the next time you go shopping online, check your credit card’s website to see if they’re offering a little “extra” to use their card or go through their website. It won’t be a big difference but every little bit counts.

{ 20 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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20 Responses to “Check Credit Card Rewards Bonuses Before Shopping”

  1. Under the Weather says:

    JIM!!! Your big liar…

    Remember the American Express gold card post? In that post you claimed that you got the AMEX gold because of its promotion. Did you cancel the card? I don’t see it listed here.

    • Jim says:

      Feisty! I separate my personal life and my business life and so when I wrote this post I did so with my personal life in mind. I still have the American Express Gold Card and I use that solely for business purposes.

      That said, how is it a lie if I did cancel it? I don’t get it.

  2. cubiclegeoff says:

    I always check the credit card rewards program and AAdvantage Shopping system to decide which one I want to do. Sometimes one has a retailer that the other doesn’t.

  3. NateUVM says:

    I generally skip over which credit card rewards program will give me the “best” return and just shop through my Upromise account. Those rewards then eventually flow through to my kid’s 529 plan where, hopefully, returns over time will make up any difference in the original rewards percentage that I may have given up. Keeps things simple, too.

  4. Sun says:

    Chase ultimate rewards are giving back more in other categories like groceries.

    I also like my bofa Amex accelerated awards which gives back 1.25% hard cash.

    I also like my paypal debit which gives me 1.5% for being grandfathered in.

    I’ll get a perkstreet soon

    • Shirley says:

      I wish the Chase Ultimate rewards would let me credit my account (like Discover Card does) rather than sending me a check.

      • daenyll says:

        There is a way to directly credit rewards, but it has to replace a specific purchase on the Chase Ultimate Rewards

  5. zapeta says:

    I’ve always wondered how much I’m missing out on by not shopping through these programs. I took a look at Chase Ultimate Rewards for my cards and there is a 1% bonus at Newegg and 3% at Walmart so not much of a bonus but better than nothing.

  6. Eli says:

    I’m waiting for the Nov. 26 – 30 window when I can get 8% back from Apple shopping through Chase.

  7. govenar says:

    You might be able to get similar deals, not specific to a particular credit card, by using fatwallet’s cash back, ebates, etc. The credit card sites seem to just be a more restrictive version of those general sites.

    • Sun says:

      I bought a $1,000 AMEX Gift Card through FatWallet. I never got my 1% they stated even after 30 days. Because of this, I am somewhat hesistant to shop through their portal any more. I have had good luck with eBates and BigCrumbs. eBates is nice because they send you an e-mail right away if they can confirm a completed purchase started at their site.

      Remember credit card rewards aren’t the only ways to get a discount. Some businesses that sell gift cards offer in-house rewards. For example, Ralphs (Kroger, Cala, Bell) offer double points. Some Albertsons are offering $20 grocery coupon if you buy $100 in non-Albertsons gift card. If you were going to spend money on gas, coffee, or other specific stores, you can earn cash back and in-house rewards. If you use a credit card that gives 5% back on groceries, some credit card companies will code any purchase as groceries. So, the GC purchase ends up with 5% rewards. 🙂

      • govenar says:

        I haven’t had problems with fatwallet, except I think one time I had to send a message to get the cashback credited (which they did soon after). Did you send them a message about your missing cashback?

  8. Tim Chen says:

    Hey Jim, we actually built a tool to help people find the online rewards portal discounts that they qualify for:

    If you just put in the name of a store you want to shop at, it’ll spit out a list of rewards portals that pay extra bonuses (like 10% off at Best Buy).

    You should give it a look before you dive too deep into your online shopping!

  9. fairydust says:

    If you happen to be a fan of shopping through the more general cash-back portals like ebates and Upromise, try starting at
    Enter the online store you plan to shop (say,, and lists all the possible cashback portals available and what the % for each is. Then you can decide which one suits best. You will also see current coupon codes and other deals associated with the store you typed in.

    • ziglet19 says:

      Thanks fairydust, I just bookmarked that site! I had another site I used to look at for this, but it doesn’t seem to be around anymore. I just did a quick search for one store and got a VERY comprehensive list.

  10. eeduj says:

    ” Only “three” credit cards.

    I have only one and that all I will ever need. I only use when necessary. It time to stop making bailed out bankers rich off interest rates and the spending habits of human beings.

    • govenar says:

      I have at least 9 credit cards (though usually only use 3, except for Costco where I use an amex). If you’re paying interest though, you’re doing it wrong.

      • cubiclegeoff says:

        agreed. I have a number of credit cards and never pay interest, so don’t see it as a problem, nor do I see it as supporting the bankers.

        • elloo says:

          I agree. You’re doing it wrong if you’re paying interest on any card. But, banks do make a boatload of money on the transaction fees they charge merchants for each credit card purchase. (Ever wonder why some stores don’t accept AmEx? They have higher transaction fees than MC or Visa.)

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