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There's a few factors I use to determine which online shopping portal to use, but the most important factor is the portal payout. More often than not my decision is based on what portal is giving me the most back.
Here are the ones I've found have the highest returns usually:
3. Active Junky
To quickly see which portal has the best payout, go to Cashback Monitor and search for the store in which you plan to shop. You'll be able to quickly see what every portal is paying out.
Before you get too excited, Amazon doesn't really have portal payouts. They do have some, but they are category specific so keep that in mind.
So what if there are multiple portals with the same payout? Then I just go with one of the more popular ones that I use frequently like Ebates, TopCashBack or Active Junky.
Do I use a cashback portal or a points/miles portal? Does it matter what points portal I use? Are all airlines the same? It may seem confusing, but after a while it will seem like second nature.
I use The Points Guy Valuations as a benchmark for Cents Per Point (CPM). If you're new to this, you can use those valuations to get an idea of which points are more valuable than others and to see which portal actually pays out the most. Some portals that may seem like they are paying out a lot, aren't because one of their points is worth less than one point from a more valuable points program. For example, 1 Chase point is not equal to 1 Jet Blue mile. So just because Jet Blue is paying out 5 points per dollar and Chase is paying out 4, this doesn't necessarily mean Jet Blue is the better option. Adjusting for these point valuations will help adjust for these differences.
If you register with Cashback Monitor, you can set your point valuations however you like, so when you search for a store the points portals show their payout based on your valuation and not just the default, which is 1.
So you've done the math and figured out the best payout available. But there's a twist, there's two airlines and a cashback portal that are all paying out the same! If this is the case, then it's going to be a case by case basis. Points can often be redeemed for more than their minimum valuation, especially for first class flights and luxury hotel properties so they COULD be the better value. But you'll never hear me argue against cash if it's adjusted for the points value. Also, if you have a preferred airline or saving in a particular program it may be worth taking a slightly lower return to increase your balance in one program. So if the valuations are roughly equivalent, see what benefits you most before deciding on which portal.
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