Earning sizeable credit cards points or cash back is a very refreshing feeling. You’re spending your hard-earned dollars in a strategic manner and seeing results.
However, there’s a way to earn even more from your spending with a strategy known as rewards stacking. Rewards stacking is the practice of using multiple credit cards, shopping portals, and other tactics to earn additional points or cash back on your purchases.
Rewards stacking often works best with major retailers or brand names that sell products online. Large retailers frequently offer digital discounts and are more likely to partner with shopping portals, which can increase your savings.
Big purchases can also help you rack up rewards quicker. If you’re making a small purchase, the needle won’t move all that much when stacking rewards. However, stacking rewards on a pricey purchase, such as a laptop or home appliance, can make a significant difference in the final price.
Here’s how you can start taking your credit cards rewards stacking to the next level.
How to start stacking rewards
Stacking rewards can be incredibly lucrative, but it does take some planning and time. If you’re ready to make a significant purchase, the returns you earn can be absolutely worth the effort.
1. Choose a credit card with rewards
The first step is to have a credit card that can earn you cash back or points redeemable for travel. Whether it’s better to earn cash back or points depends on your end goal. Do you simply want to lower your bottom line? Or do you want to travel for a significantly lower price?
Which option you select will be a personal decision. When I was financially stretched, I used cashback cards because I needed more liquid cash. Once my financial stability returned, I was able to start slowly shifting toward some of the best rewards credit cards that offered points and miles.
To increase the return on your spending, consider using a card that offers a spending category that’s reflective of where you’re making your purchase.
If you’re buying a refrigerator from Home Depot, use a card that will net you the most return. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ earns 5% cash back on rotating quarterly categories you activate (on up to $1,500 spent) and travel purchased through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants (including takeout and eligible delivery service); and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
If home improvement stores are a bonus category — as they have been in the past — that could net you a hefty return.
2. Pick a shopping portal
The next step is to select which shopping portal is best for you. These portals allow shoppers to earn points for shopping through their site. A few examples of shopping portals are Rakuten (formerly Ebates), Swagbucks, and Ibotta.
These sites list redirected links to partner retailers and earn a commission of the purchases you make there. They share a portion of their commission with you in the form of cash back or points. You’re still buying the same product from the same place for the same price — but you earn rewards by first visiting the shopping portal.
An easy way to start using shopping portals is to use an aggregator like CashbackMonitor. This site helps you compare what each portal and retailer offers, so you can see which one will give you the most cash back.
For example, let's say you wanted to purchase a $300 office chair from Staples. Here are the best offers from various portals at the time of writing.
If you wanted the best cashback deal, you could simply select Ebates, and you’d be on your way to saving an extra $12.
However, if you wanted to earn airline miles with your purchase instead, you’d select your preferred airline. If that’s United Airlines, you could earn an extra 900 United MileagePlus points in this instance. After your purchase, your miles will be added to your specific airline’s frequent-flyer account.
3. See if a store loyalty program can save you more
After you’ve maxed out the possible rewards you can earn on your credit card and through shopping portals, consider whether a store’s loyalty program can offer even more savings.
If you’re spending a large amount of money on office supplies at Office Depot, for example, consider enrolling in its rewards program. You can earn 2% cash back on purchases, plus get exclusive savings. If you spend over $500 within a year, you’ll become a VIP member and earn 5% off on ink, toner, paper, printing, and shipping services. You’ll get free two-day shipping as well.
Along with this, you can pair Office Depot purchase with a high-earning credit card, such as the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, which earns 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year; and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
To top it off, you can use a shopping portal to earn even more.
As an example, let’s say you’re buying $100 of printer ink at Office Depot. If you’re a part of its VIP rewards program, you can earn $5 in cash back. If you shop through the Alaska Mileage Plan shopping portal, you can also earn two miles per dollar spent at Office Depot. Lastly, if you use the Chase Ink Business Cash, you can earn another $5 in cash back.
Your $100 purchase now costs you just $90, plus you’ve earned 200 Alaska Airlines points. While this doesn’t sound like a large return, it could make a significant difference for a small- to medium-sized business owner over the course of a year.
4. Find other savings opportunities
Another unique way of stacking rewards is purchasing discounted gift cards. There are several marketplaces online where people sell gift cards for a discounted rate, including Raise, Gift Card Granny, and CardCash.
For example, let's say you want to buy $200 in Starbucks gift cards. Through Raise, you can get the cards for about 7% off the retail value. You can also add promo codes (when available) and save even more. I was able to get $200 worth of Starbucks gift cards for about $175 — a 12% savings from retail price.
Along with this, if I use the British Airways shopping portal to shop Raise, I can earn five Avios per dollar spent (at the time of writing). Lastly, if I use a high-earning cashback rewards card, like the Citi Double Cash® Card, I can earn up to 2% cash back, which will net me another $3.50 in cash back. In this scenario, I was able to earn roughly $30 in free Starbucks along with about 875 British Airways Avios.
We all want our dollars to stretch further. When used wisely, credit cards are useful financial tools that can help you save money. Stacking rewards only multiplies that power!
Rewards stacking leads to two final goals: saving more money or earning more miles to travel. All it takes is a small amount of time and effort to net large returns.
Up to 5% Cash Back
Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year; 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year; and 1% cash back on all other purchases