The best portal finders get better

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I write often about ways to use online shopping portals to earn extra points or cash back.  The basic idea is that when you plan to buy something online, you can earn extra points or cash back simply by starting your shopping in an online shopping portal.  From the portal, you find and click through to the store in which you want to shop.  Then, when you complete a purchase, you will earn points or cash back.

The hardest part in all this is finding the best portal to start with.  For example, let’s say you want to buy something from Sears.  Which portal offers the most points or cash back?  That’s were “portal finders” come in.  These are web sites that let you search for a merchant to find all of the best portal options for that merchant. 

The problem is that portal finders are often incomplete or wrong…

In previous posts (here and here) I detailed my experiments with multiple portal finders.  Every portal finder I tried sometimes returned incorrect and/or incomplete information.  However, in both tests one site was far better than the rest: Cashback Holics.  At the time, Cashback Holics didn’t include mile-earning portals, but it still usually returned the best results because it did include Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall which more often than not has better point earning opportunities than any other mile-earning portal.

Cashback Holics adds mile-earning portals!

I don’t know when they snuck in this feature, but in recent Cashback Holics searches, I noticed that mile-earning portals were now included in the results!  Here’s an example of the results when I searched for “Sears”:

image

As you can see above, the results include not just cash back sites, but also mile-earning sites such as AAdvantageeShopping.com, Southwest.com, etc.

NerdWallet Shopping adds multiple Chase views

Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall often has different payout amounts depending on whether you log in with your Sapphire, Freedom, or Ink account.  Until recently, all portal finders (that I knew of) reported the rate for just one of these cards (probably the Freedom card).  NerdWallet, though, has made a fantastic improvement by adding in rates for all three types of cards!  Here is an example of the results when searching for 123InkJets:

image

As you can see above, NerdWallet Shopping correctly lists 7X for “Ink+Bold” and 6X for “Chase Sapphire” and “Chase Freedom”.  If the past is any guide, the Ink Bold rates should be the same for Ink Plus, Ink Classic, and Ink Cash cardholders.  Similarly, the Sapphire rates should be the same for Sapphire Preferred cards.

I see this as a fantastic addition to NerdWallet’s portal finder.  And, I’d love to see them expand this even further.  I believe that both the United and AA shopping portals sometimes offer better rates for credit card holders.  How about showing that difference too?

A new experiment

Now that two of my favorite portal finders have improved, it’s time to face them off against each other.  I’ll also throw in Ev’Reward since it’s a popular portal finder as well.  Let’s take the merchants I mentioned yesterday and see how each portal finder does towards finding the best portals.  In each case below, I list the best cash options and best points options that each portal finder found.  I also throw in an airline and/or hotel result or two…

Kohl’s

  • Cashback Holics: Chase 10X, Ebates 6%, TopCashBack 6%, AA 2X
  • Ev’Reward: Chase 10X, Ebates 6%, Marriott 3X, AA 2x
  • Nerdwallet Shopping: Chase 10X, Ebates 6%, Marriott 3X, AA 2x

All three portal finders correctly identified Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall as the best points option.  All three correctly listed Ebates at 6% back and AAdvantageeShopping at 2 miles per dollar.  Only Cashback Holics found TopCashback at 6%.  On the other hand, Cashback Holics did not list any hotel offers such as Marriott at 3X, which both of the other sites found.

I’ll call this round a tie.

Sears

  • Cashback Holics: uPromise 8%, Chase 5X, AA 4X, United 6X
  • Ev’Reward: uPromise 8%, Chase 5X, AA 4X, United 2X
  • Nerdwallet Shopping: eBates 6%, Chase 5X, AA 4X, United 6X

In this round, Ev’Reward slipped up by not identifying that United’s portal is temporarily offering 6X at Sears.  Cashback Holics correctly identified United at 6X, but had it sorted near the bottom as if it were still 2X.  Nerdwallet had its sorting correct, but missed the best cash back back offer (uPromise 8%).

Winner of this round, by a nose: Cashback Holics

OfficeMax

  • Cashback Holics: TopCashBack 6%, Chase 5X, Delta 2X
  • Ev’Reward: uPromise & ShopDiscover 5%, Chase 5X, AA 3X
  • Nerdwallet Shopping: ShopDiscover 5%, Chase 5X, AA 3X

This round, CashBack Holics was the only one to find TopCashBack at 6%, but it failed to find American Airlines at 3X. 

Cashback Holics has a slight edge on this round for finding the best options: TopCashBack at 6% and Chase at 5X, but I’m really disappointed in the fact that it missed the AA 3X offer.  Let’s call this round a tie again.

Staples

  • Cashback Holics: TopCashBack 5.5%, Chase 2X, AA 2X
  • Ev’Reward: uPromise & ShopDiscover 5%, Chase 2X, AA 2X
  • Nerdwallet Shopping: ShopDiscover 5%, Chase 2X, AA 2X

The only significant difference between the portal finders in this round was that, again, only Cashback Holics found the best cash back offer, TopCashBack at 5.5%.

Winner of this round, by a nose: Cashback Holics

Lowes

  • Cashback Holics: TopCashBack 6%, Chase 5X, AA 3X
  • Ev’Reward: uPromise & ShopDiscover 5%, Chase 5X, AA 3X
  • Nerdwallet Shopping: ShopDiscover 5%, Chase 5X, AA 3X

Same story again.  The only significant difference between the portal finders in this round was that only Cashback Holics found TopCashBack at 6%.

Winner of this round, by a nose: Cashback Holics

OpenSky

  • Cashback Holics: BeFrugal & others 15%, AA 7X
  • Ev’Reward: Big Crumbs 10.5%, MyPoints 50X, Hilton 11X, AA 7X
  • Nerdwallet Shopping: Hilton 11X, AA 7X

In this round, Cashback Holics correctly identified the best cash back and airline mile options, but did not list the best hotel options.  Ev’Reward dropped the ball by listing a defunct MyPoints offer and by failing to list the best cash back options.  Nerdwallet Shopping also left out the best cash back options.

Winner of this round: Cashback Holics

Summary

As in my previous reviews of portal finders, Cashback Holics came out ahead. The difference this time, though, is much smaller than in previous tests. All of the portal finders seemed to have improved.  Cashback Holics now lists some airline mile options, but doesn’t do a great job of it.  Nerdwallet Shopping had accurate results, but left out some key cash back sites.  And, Ev’Reward had fewer inaccuracies than in past tests.

As things stand right now, I’ll continue to use Cashback Holics as my go-to portal finder.  However, if/when NerdWallet adds cash back sites like TopCashBack, uPromise, ShopAtHome, etc. I’ll switch to them.  That is, unless Cashback Holics improves their airline & hotel results…

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