Over the weekend, CashBackMonitor unveiled a new feature called “Best Rate History”. Here’s why that’s awesome…
Online shopping portals are a great way to increase rewards for purchases you plan to make anyway. The idea is to log into a portal and, from there, click through to an online store to make your purchase. Portals generally offer either bonus points (or miles) or cash back. Usually the bonus is based on the purchase price and is listed as, for example, “5 miles per dollar”. That means the portal will give you 5 miles for every dollar spent, in addition to any points you get from your credit card automatically.
One of the tricks to maximizing portal rewards is finding the right portal. If you plan to shop at a particular store, how do you know which portal will offer the most rewards for that store? Enter – Portal Finders. A number of websites are available to help you find the best current portal rates, but many of these sites are incomplete or inaccurate. A few years ago I ran a number of experiments to try to find the best Portal Finder. In the end, CashBackMonitor proved to be the best (See: The best portal finder. A new king is crowned). Since then, I’ve used that site almost exclusively and have never looked back.
One big missing link, though, has been the lack of historical data. If a store currently offers 7 miles per dollar, for example, it was previously impossible to know whether 7X was an especially high rate. Maybe the same store has often offered 10X? If so, it would be good to wait until the 10X rate returns. Previously, we simply didn’t have that information. Now, with CashBackMonitor’s Best Rate History, we have a tool that gives us the information we need. It also makes Frequent Miler’s Portal Alerts more valuable…
Portal rates change regularly. Often a store will have a big promotion within a particular portal – usually for just a day or two. With typical Portal Finders, you would have to be very lucky to stumble upon those promotions. CashBackMonitor helps a bit by letting you setup alerts for particular stores. After setting up an alert, they’ll email you if a store’s portal rate shows up at or above a threshold you set. Sometimes, though, you may not have particular stores in mind and you simply want to know when any stores are offering outstanding bonuses. That’s where Frequent Miler’s Portal Alerts (powered by CashBackMonitor) come in.
Portal Alerts are daily posts showing all of the merchants in which the best available portal rate has either gone up or down from the day before. Numbers in green show rates that have improved. Numbers in red have declined. To see detailed portal information about each merchant, click on the merchant name to jump to the appropriate CashBackMonitor page.
One big missing link, in the past, has been the lack of historical data. If a store shows that it’s best rate has jumped from 4X to 7X, for example, it was previously impossible to know whether 7X was an especially high rate. Maybe the same store often offered 7 miles per dollar in the past, but only briefly dropped to 4. Or, maybe it has often offered much more than 7X. In that case, it would be good to wait until the rate goes even higher. Previously, we simply didn’t have that information. Now we do!
A quick walk-through
Let’s take a look at a portion of today’s Portal Alert:
Above is just a small image clip from the full Portal Alert (found here). In this clip, we see that Bloomingdale’s best Travel Mileage/Points rate jumped from 4X to 7X between yesterday and today. By clicking on the merchant name (Bloomingdale’s), we’re taken to the associated CashBackMonitor page, which looks like this:
Here we see that the AAdvantage portal is offering 7 miles per dollar and that the Discover Deals portal is offering 10% cash back. Those sound like great rates, but are they better than usual? Can we do better? If we next click on “Best Rate History”, we can find out…
First, the page shows the Cash Back History. We see that Bloomingdales recently offered 11% cash back. By hovering the mouse over that bar, we can see that the 11% rate was on March 17 via the ExtraBux portal. We can also see that 9% and 10% rates are common. In other words, 10% is a good rate for Bloomingdales but not particularly noteworthy.
Next, we see the Travel miles/points history. Here we see that 7 miles per dollar is the best recent rate, but that 6 miles per dollar was available for 11 days in March from the United portal. So, again, 7X is good, but not particularly amazing.
Given the above data, we now know that if we were thinking of making purchases from Bloomingdales we can do well today, but there’s no particular reason to hurry unless we’re eager to earn AAdvantage miles.
While I do informally partner with CashBackMonitor (they feed me the data for the daily Frequent Miler Portal Alerts), we have no financial relationship whatsoever. I have no ulterior motive for promoting their site. I’m simply a fan. And, I’m thrilled to see this new feature! Currently, data goes back only to March 7th, but as time goes by the feature will get increasingly valuable.
Please also see: Top 6 shopping portal myths