Earning points and miles for online shopping is a no-brainer. It’s also an opportunity that many otherwise savvy loyalty-program participants routinely forsake.
If you weren’t paying attention, you might have missed the disappearance of Marriott’s Shop My Way shopping portal earlier this year. Never mind. This week, Marriott debuted a replacement portal, Marriott Rewards MORE.
MORE is not to be confused with the mileage malls hosted by many airlines and other hotels. For starters, they typically award miles or points for purchases at hundreds of online retailers. In stark contrast, MORE only awards points for purchases at 17 retailers (although Marriott’s news release claims there are “over two dozen top retailer sites”). It’s a solid list, to be sure, including the likes of Ann Taylor, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, and Macy’s. But compared to other travel suppliers’ portals, the shopping options are severely limited.
On the plus side, Marriott Rewards members may also use their points, or a combination of points and cash, to purchase merchandise from the MORE retailers—something that’s not possible at other mileage malls, which are earn-only.
MORE is also functionally different from the other mileage malls. Rather than shopping via participating merchants’ websites, MORE users must either download a dedicated mobile shopping app to their digital device or activate a special browser toolbar on their desktop or laptop.
Marriott Rewards members will earn a 1,000-point bonus for their first transaction totaling $25 or more, and there’s a 25 percent points bonus for all transactions completed using a Marriott credit card.
If you’re not earning miles by shopping at a travel supplier’s shopping portal, you should be. There’s no reason not to; the prices are the same. And by making your purchases through the portal, you’ll be earning points or miles—typically between one and 10 miles per $1—that you don’t get when dealing direct through the merchant.
Making a good deal even better are the periodic bonus promotions that amp up the mileage-earning. Such offers generally proliferate around Christmas and other heavy buying periods, although recently the airlines have used back-to-school shopping and other recurring events as the hook to hang their promotions on.
In short, shopping without earning points or miles is leaving value on the table.
Reader Reality Check
How does Marriott’s MORE compare to more traditional mileage malls?
After 20 years working in the travel industry, and almost that long writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.
This article first appeared on SmarterTravel.com, where Tim is Editor-at-Large.