Shopping Portal Strategy – Save the Most Money in the Least Amount of Time
If you have been around this space for any length of time, then there is no doubt that you have heard and probably used shopping portals. You may also know that there are dozens of portals to choose from which can be a little confusing.
In order to save the most money, I feel it is important to have a shopping portal strategy. While it sounds more complicated than it is, a strategy is actually designed to save you time.
Most people I have spoken with (including my wife) hate using portals because it requires a few extra steps to search, login and click through to the site they want to visit. While I haven’t figured out how to completely simplify the process, I have a system which works for me.
Searching for the Best Cashback Amounts
There are two main sites which compare the cashback amounts being paid across all of the portals. The two sites are Cashbackholic and Cashback Monitor. Lets quickly compare the two by looking at their listings for Staples.
As you can see Cashback Monitor does a good job of laying out most of the information on your screen without the need to scroll. By using four columns, they are also able to break up the type of portal between cashback, bank points, travel mile/points and other rewards.
Cashback Monitor also seems to update the payouts quicker than Cashbackholic. While I use both services, I prefer the layout and design of Cashback Monitor and use it more often.
Cashbackholic’s approach is less organized. They simply list all portals in descending order from highest payout to smallest. In doing this, they assume that airline miles are worth $.01, which may or may not be true. I much prefer Cashback Monitor’s approach to separating these different types of rebates out.
The one interesting feature Cashbackholic has is their review system. Unfortunately I have noticed that almost every portal gets poor reviews. This is because people fail to click through properly or otherwise have previous cookies which may override the portal.
Which Shopping Portal Is Best
An important part of a portal strategy is finding which are the best at customer service and payout amounts and sticking with them. I personally always go for cash back instead of miles/points unless a specific portal has a huge bonus. (Which happens quite often actually.) To track day to day portal payout changes, use FM’s Portal Alerts.
Keep in mind that some portals have minimum cashback amounts before they will send you your money. This means it can be easy to get stuck with small amounts spread across many portals. For this reason I don’t always use the highest paying portal.
For example, if I were buying something at Staples today, I would choose to use Discover instead of Saving Star, since I am involved in their ecosystem. This brings me to the heart of my portal strategy.
The Shopping Portals I Use
I have been shopping with portals for a very long time and only use a small handful today. This makes it simpler to track and quicker for me to complete my shopping. The portals I use are:
As mentioned above, if a bank or miles portal has a huge bonus, I will use them as well. Since I already have mileage/bank accounts with those institutions, transactions with them are easier to track.
The only cash back portal mentioned above which requires a credit card is Discover. I personally feel between the 5% cashback categories and their portal, having a Discover card is worth it. The best deal currently offers a $150 cashback bonus after $750 in spend. You can find the full details and the non-affiliate link here.
How My System Works
- I want to go shopping.
- I visit Cashback Monitor to search for the best rates.
- I then open an Incognito/Private window and login to my chosen shopping portal. This ensures no cookies override the cashback.
- I click through and order.
When I go to shop through a portal, the above system adds less than a minute of time to the process. I am willing to spend that minute to save additional money. As mentioned above, I think it is a good choice to use Incognito/Private browsing to ensure cookies don’t mess up the process.
Hopefully this primer helps provide a little focus to the cash back portal space. There are so many portals, so many deals and so much information that it can all get a little confusing. By maintaining accounts with the five portals above, you will be earning the highest cash back most of the time and simplifying your life.
Once you have the system figured out, don’t forget that most of the portals allow you to refer your friends and earn additional money. (The above links are referrals, but you can sign up directly as well.) I honestly believe that every time something is purchased online without a portal, an angel loses it wings! Don’t let that happen! If you have any questions about this or any post, feel free to leave or comment or contact me! Happy saving.