Miles Shopping Strategy: Buy Online, Pick Up in Store

Seeing GameStop in the headlines today reminds me that this is one of the stores where I like to use a little hack to accrue miles even on local shopping. On GameStop and a number of other online retailers that have brick-and-mortar stores near me, I like to place an order online through the miles shopping portal, then choose in-store pickup to get the goods. I do this when I don’t want to wait for or pay for shipping.

For example, there is a GameStop a few miles from my house. On the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal, I can get 2 points for every dollar I spend there. (If you are accruing miles with another airline, check their shopping portal. They tend to be largely the same, although the number of points may differ.)

On the day before Christmas last year, I wanted to get some games for my son’s stocking. But there wasn’t enough time to wait for shipping. So I logged onto Gamestop.com through Southwest, bought the games, and then headed over to the retail store to pick them up. Cha-ching!

Of course, the fact that many stores are doing curbside pickup now due to Covid is a whole additional incentive to shop this way. But even if you have to go in, grabbing your package from the manager usually involves less time in the store than browsing and picking out your items.

Other stores where online order/store pickup helps me accrue miles:

Kohl’s (2 RR points per $1)

PETCO (1 RR point per $1)

Michaels (2 RR points per $1)

Office Depot (2 RR points per $1)

The Container Store (1 RR point per $1)

Ulta Beauty (2 RR points per $1)

Walgreens (2 RR points per $1) [They also have CVS and Rite Aid on the RR portal but I haven’t tried it there.]

And of course there are those grocery pick-ups from Safeway, which I wrote about previously. These are just the stores I have near me, where I tend to need things right away. Check out the full list of stores on the Rapid Rewards portal or the airline of your choice, and you may find other stores where you can use this technique as well.

How big a deal is retail when it comes to earning miles? It’s not nearly as big as credit card spending, but it helps. In 2020, I earned about 2,000 Southwest miles through the retail portal. That covers about a $50 flight, like Oakland to Santa Barbara on sale, but more importantly, it’s 2,000 more points towards the 125,000 needed to earn the Companion Fare.

Also last year, once we were both done earning our companion fares, I switched to shopping through the American AAdvantage shopping portal. Erik earned around 4,000 American AAdvantage miles. Since 2016, I’ve earned nearly 20,000 AAdvantage miles by shopping — enough for a discounted domestic round trip flight.

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