Cartera’s Ultimate Rewards

Caution: for most readers this will be a “so what?”, or a “who cares?” post.  If you’ve never heard of Cartera Commerce, then you’ll probably want to skip this post.

Cartera Commerce is the company behind many miles-earning shopping portals including American Airline’s AAdvantage eShopping, Delta’s SkyMiles Shopping, United’s MileagePlus Shopping, and Southwest’s RapidRewards Shopping.

When shopping portals work well, they can be a fantastic way to build up your portfolio of points and miles.  Sometimes, though, things do not go well and shoppers are left without the points and miles they expected.  I’ve never had much trouble with Cartera, but others have.  In fact, one guy who goes by “Marathon Man” had so much trouble that he sued them.  You can read the background in this FlyerTalk blog post.  Ultimately Marathon Man lost the suit, but was (coincidentally?) given most of the miles due to him (details are buried deep in this FlyerTalk thread).

Ultimate Rewards Mall

While I can’t find specific references, I have seen people praise Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall and claim that it works well because it is not run by Cartera.  That may or may not be true, but they certainly use the same software that Cartera does.  Take a look at some screen shots of the Ultimate Rewards Mall compared to RapidRewards Shopping:

Search for Sears in the Ultimate Rewards Mall results in:

image

Search for Sears in RapidRewards Shopping results in:

image

Click to view Gift Cards in the Ultimate Rewards Mall results in:

image

Click to view Gift Cards in RapidRewards Shopping results in:

image

While not every screen is as near a perfect match as the examples shown above, it should be clear to everyone that the two shopping portals use the same software with just slightly different skins to make them unique.

Additional Evidence

I found this post on MilePoint which references this Cartera press release.  This is evidence that in 2009, at least, Cartera was involved in the Ultimate Rewards Mall.

Speculation

Unlike the other shopping portals, I can’t find any written proof when viewing the Ultimate Rewards Mall that Cartera is behind the scenes.  It’s clear to me that Chase private labeled the software to make it look like it is fully run by Chase.  And, it’s possible that Chase bought or licensed the software and does fully run the program.  My guess, though, is that Cartera runs the day to day operation, but that Chase owns the site and provides customer support.  I don’t have any proof of this, it’s just speculation.  I won’t be surprised if some readers know better and post the facts below.

So What?

Sorry, but I don’t have any great reason to give for this post.  There’s no wise conclusion that will show you how to exploit this finding.  Quite a while ago I simply noticed how similar the various web sites were and figured it was time to share. 

Happy e-shopping!

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. just goes to show ya … it’s always something.
    Spent an hour with Chase on the phone yesterday. Seems the link from Chase to UR to shopping mall portal won’t open to let me into the shopping mall. Chase seemed interested in that.

  2. They may use their software… heck even if they use Cartera to run the mall… the real key difference is Chase provides customer service support. So unlike AA or SouthWest or whomever, they don’t just say “not our problem, call Cartera”, Chase actually take ownership of any support issues, and this is the absolute key reason people like UR mall better than the Cartera ones

    • Phil: Good point

      James: If you have a Chase Ink card (or another card that gives you extra points or cash back at office supply stores) you may be able to use that card to buy EBay gift cards at stores like Office Depot or Staples. Note that OfficeMax seems to have withdrawn all EBay gift cards. I’m not sure if the same is true of the other office stores. A similar option is to use a card that gives extra points or cash back for grocery shopping and try to find EBay gift cards at your grocery store.

      Joe: Some bank portals (such as American Express) require that you use their card for purchases, but Chase does not. The funny thing is that if you ask a Chase rep, they will tell you that you must use a Chase card, but in practice that’s not true. See details here: http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2012/02/15/ultimate-question/

  3. With these shopping portals do I have to pay for the items I want with the credit card the rewards site is related to? I log into Chase, go to Ultimate Rewards, go to merchant site. Do I have to use Chase Saphire?

  4. Cartera runs the shopping mall with their software. Darn if I can find the information…but I did find it on Chase’s site before! There has been issues with the software for years, but it seems to be getting better. Or at least on the Southwest site. I have had all my orders post this year, which is amazing. I have had to call Chase for about 40% of my missing orders. And they are so wonderful about posting the missing miles. Sometimes they even give me a little more as a courtesy!!

  5. I’m with Phil and Kelly. I stopped using the airline malls because of all the problems with resolving missing orders. Chase is no problem at all.

  6. Catera has NO customer service, they have bots send you form letters….you have to complain many times before you get a slack third world country csr to do more than read a canned response. They screwed up aa and ua shopping with mistakes and failed to honor them. I refuse to do business with ANY shopping portal run by Catera. I only wish I could have sued them like MM did!!! I’m still waiting on 13k UA points from the months of miles promotion and ever since the ua co merge it seems like ua’s customer service is run by Catera….no response

  7. FrequentMiler- Thanks for sharing. I wasn’t 100% sure it was Cartera run, but your blog post now clears up my unsolved mystery. I find it interesting that Chase usually backs up customers in the event of points not posting, while it’s like pulling teeth with other companies that use Cartera, in the event that points/miles don’t post.

    Keep up the great work with your lab!

  8. Is there a phone number for Cartera? I have problems with unposted miles through United. When I click on the contact us link, email info comes up but no phone number.

    Thank you

  9. Over Labor Day I made 3 major purchases on the USAirways Dividend Miles Storefront which I found out is Cartera operated. I only received points for one purchase and I’m now owed over 9,000 miles. These people are downright crooks. Everything said above is true – including the “third world csr” comment. They claim it takes 8 weeks to “research.” I’m getting ready to return the merchandise. Maybe Sears will quit using them.

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