Wealth and Wants

How to save money on holiday shopping

More of us are doing our gift buying online this year. Here’s how your credit cards can help you save


More of us will be doing our holiday shopping online this year, according to a new survey. Here’s how you can save using shopping portals and card-linked offers.

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For this holiday season, Santa’s trading in his sleigh for a delivery truck.

More than 7 in 10 holiday shoppers (71%) plan to make most of their purchases online, up from 51% last year, according to a new survey. The top explanations cited by respondents were convenience (69%), to avoid human interaction (52%) and better deals or prices (46%).

Here’s a big tip that will save you a lot of money on your e-commerce purchases: Never go directly to a retailer’s website. Instead, click through an online shopping portal. There are tons of these. Rakuten, Dosh, Ibotta and TopCashback are a few popular examples. Almost all of the major airlines have them too, as do certain credit card issuers (notably Chase and Wells Fargo).

The general premise is affiliate marketing. Retailers are willing to pay referral fees to these platforms when they bring in customers. It’s targeted advertising, basically, and it means free money for consumers.

Read more from our credit card experts.

Ask Ted a question.

Using a credit card issuer portal

I often use Shop Through Chase. This involves logging into my Chase Freedom Flex℠ account, navigating to the Ultimate Rewards section and then selecting Shop Through Chase. From there, you can click through to a retailer’s website and shop normally. You can enter store-specific coupon codes, as usual, for even more savings.

Some of Chase’s notable offers at the time of writing include 25 points per dollar spent at (essentially a 25% cash back bonus), 20 points per dollar at, 7 points per dollar at, 5 points per dollar at, 4 points per dollar at and many, many more. As long as you would have made these purchases anyway and pay them off before interest accrues, this is easy money.

See related: Use your credit card grace period to pay no interest

If you’re not sure which portal to use

Cashback Monitor is a great resource that helps you compare the earn rates of various platforms. Whichever one you choose, pay with a rewards credit card to stack your savings even higher.

It’s also worth considering the payout timing. Rakuten, for example, distributes users’ earnings every three months. And Ibotta requires you to accumulate $20 in cash back before withdrawing. I like the Chase portal because I already use my Freedom Flex card a lot and the Shop Through Chase bonuses usually post to my Ultimate Rewards account within a week or so.

(By the way, an added benefit of the airline portals is that those earnings reset the expiration clock on your entire frequent flyer account, so if you’re not traveling these days, that’s an easy way to preserve your stash of miles.)

See related: Best cash back, rebate apps

Another good tactic: Card-linked offers

Card-linked offers are a close relative to online shopping portals. They’re worth incorporating into your holiday shopping strategy as well.

They’re better known by credit card brand names such as Amex Offers, Chase Offers and the Wells Fargo Earn More Mall. Log into your account and select the relevant options. When you pay with the affiliated card, you’ll get money back. They’re basically digital coupons. Sometimes the deals are available in-person and sometimes they’re online-only.

  • For instance, I currently have a Wells Fargo deal for 10 bonus points per dollar spent at Starbucks (in-store), and I recently redeemed similar promotions at a restaurant and grocery store. Those essentially saved me 10% apiece.
  • I have an Amex Offer for $15 off a purchase of $75 or more at Bloomingdale’s and another for $25 off a $100-plus purchase (that one can be redeemed twice).
  • My Chase Offers include $35 back when I make two $15-plus transactions on AT&T wireless products or services and $10 off a Sam’s Club membership costing at least $45. These change regularly, so I recommend perusing the lists once a week or so.

Buyer protections

One final holiday shopping tip is to consider which credit cards offer the best extended warranty, purchase protection, price protection and guaranteed return benefits. Earlier this year, this free card perk helped me avoid a $299 Apple Watch repair fee.

All of this goes to show how credit cards can put a lot of value in your stocking this holiday season. Ho ho ho!

Have a question about credit cards? E-mail me at and I’d be happy to help.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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