How to ensure your portal points

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Since I started blogging last September I’ve been a heavy user of online shopping portals that give points or cash back when shopping online at certain merchants.  In all of that time, I can only remember two times where I should have received points but did not.  I frequently hear stories from readers, though, who have lost out on points many times.

One reader recently contacted Chase about her missing points from the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  Chase told her that her purchase was not captured via the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  To help with future purchases, they told her the following:

The following are the possibilities that prevent you from earning the bonus points.
1. The purchases could have been made directly from the
merchants website.
2. Please note that using Microsoft Windows 7 may not
receive bonus rewards for purchases made via the Ultimate
Rewards Mall website.
* Microsoft Windows 7 provides the ability to launch
multiple windows in Internet Explorer during the same
session.
* You may encounter this situation when shopping on highly
utilized websites.
* If you open the Shopping mall tab in the first window
and complete the ?checkout” process in a new window, then
the bonus points earned will not transfer from current
window to new window.
* You should use the same window/session while completing
the checkout process in order to receive the bonus points.

I don’t recommend that you dump Windows 7 based on the information from Chase (I use Windows 7), but there are some things that you can do to make earning points more likely.  The recommendations below are half based on my own superstition (but they work!) and half based on a helpful BigCrumbs page.

  • Use Google Chrome for portal shopping.  OK, really I have no reason to believe that Chrome is any better than any other browser for portal shopping, but it is the browser that I’ve used and I’ve had great luck with.
  • Comparison shop with a different browser.  After you click through from a shopping portal to an individual merchant it often makes sense to browse other sites to see if you’re really getting a good deal.  When you do this, you risk losing the magic tracking info that is needed for you to get portal credit.  Note: using a new tab or window of the same browser is not the same thing as using a different browser.  For example, if you used Chrome to go through the portal, use IE, Firefox, Safari, etc. to comparison shop.
  • Empty Shopping cart. Let’s say you click through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Sears.com and you find that there are already items in your shopping cart (from prior shopping you did).  I recommend that you start all over:  1) Empty the shopping cart; 2) Close all browser tabs and windows for the browser you are using (e.g. Chrome); and 3) Go back through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
  • Be Paranoid.  If I’m shopping through a portal and something happens before completing the purchase, I start all over from the beginning: 1) I empty the shopping cart; 2) I close all browser tabs and windows; and 3) I re-launch the portal and start again.  Is all of that really necessary?  I don’t know, but I do know that I don’t want to risk losing my points!  Typical things that will cause me to start over: I get interrupted for 10 minutes; I accidentally click on an ad that takes me to another site; or I visit other pages within the same browser (even though I go to a different tab or window).
  • Uninstall toolbars.  Shopping toolbars can “take over” credit for shopping such that you won’t get credit from the portal you started with.  If you want to use toolbars, install them in a different browser.
  • Enable Javascript and enable cookiesBigCrumbs says so.
  • Allow popups within your shopping portal.  Again, BigCrumbs says so.
  • Avoid ad blockers, spy ware, parasite ware, and BigCrumbs rivals (BigCrumbs says so).  BigCrumbs specifically says to beware of the following:

Norton products: The “Ad Blocker” feature of certain Norton products can interfere with the BigCrumbs.com purchase credit technology and should be turned of.

  • BargainBuddy
  • BearShare
  • BuyerSport
  • CommissionMaker
  • e2Give
  • eBates (MoeMoneyMaker)
  • Gator
  • GreenThumb
  • HuntBar
  • iGive
  • JambaFind
  • Kazaa
  • LimeWire
  • Morpheus
  • MyPoints
  • NowBox
  • SchoolCash
  • ShopAtHome
  • StreamCast
  • SupportShopping
  • Technology4Kids
  • TopMoxie
  • Upromise
  • WhenU
  • Wurld Media
  • Many people recommend taking a screenshots as records while you use portals.  I’ve mostly been too lazy to do that.  And, in the few situations where I didn’t get credit, I was neither asked for that information, nor would it have been helpful.  Usually a copy of the emailed store receipt is enough.  What I’ve started to do is file those receipts in a folder in my email program under a title like “waiting for portal points”.  That way I can go through the folder to check up on my purchases later on since it can sometimes take weeks for portal points to show up.  I should also record the number of points / amount of cash back I’m expecting, but honestly I haven’t done that either.

    What about you?  Do you have strategies that help ensure getting portal points?  Please share in the comments below.


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