Posted by Chuck on October 27, 2017

Published on October 27th, 2017 | by Chuck


United MileagePlus Shopping Now Offers Miles for In-Store Purchases

United now offers bonus miles for in-store purchases by linking a Visa or Amex card and using it to shop in-store.

Direct Link to United in-store shopping

United MileagePlus Shopping is one of dozens of shopping portals who offer free bonus rewards for online shopping when you click through to your desired store from their website. Most shopping portals won’t give you any credit for purchases made in-store; Ebates is an exception and offers cash back at select stores.

United now rolled out rewards for in-store purchases as well. Currently there are 20 available merchants, I’m sure the list will evolve over time. The biggest name on this list is Macy’s at 2.5 miles per dollar. Check out the full list here.

  • You have to link a card first before the purchase, save the specific offer you want to use, and then use the linked card in-store
  • Only Visa and Amex cards work on this program
  • For debit cards, be sure not to use the PIN during store checkout, let it run like a credit card
  • “Offer not valid for gift card purchases”
  • You can link an offer to multiple credit cards
  • Once saved, you’ll typically have 30 or 45 days to use; check offer details (when initially linking your card, you’ll see a message about offers being valid for just 4 hours; this seems to be some sort of error – the offer details clearly show a longer timeframe of 30 or 45 days)

Similar to Ebates in-store cash back, United makes it a pain to earn rewards: you have to save each offer separately, and even then you have to save it again to use a second time. If you shop at the same store multiple times in the same 12-24 hour period, all those purchases will track without saving again. But after that, you have to save the offer again. It’s not like the set-and-forget dining programs.

I checked around other mileage shopping sites, like Southwest, Alaska, Delta, AAdvantage, and Jetblue, and the in-store option is not showing. It won’t be surprising if others follow United on this path. More importantly we’ll have to see if the list of available retailers expands; the options for in-store are always much less than the online options.

Interestingly, I would have pegged United to be the last to adapt in-store rewards since it sorta’ conflicts with their MPX shopping program. That program targets the in-store shopper (though online shoppers can use it too) and offers them bonus United miles for paying through the MPX app, essentially purchasing a gift card from United and using that to pay at store checkout. (See our full review of MPX here.) If you use MPX, you won’t get your card-link rewards since the charge is run through MPX, not directly at the store.

When comparing MPX rates versus card-link rates, usually the advantage goes to MPX. Macy’s, for example, gets 3x United miles when using the MPX app and only 2.5x when using the card-link program. Under Armour gets 5x on MPX and 4x with card-link. There are times card-link gets more, like Claim Jumper gets 5x on MPX and 10x with card-link.

Note, there’s a major difference between using MPX and using the card-link program: the card-link program goes on your regular credit card which gives both credit card protections, plus if you make a return the money comes straight back to your credit card, you’re not stuck with an unused gift card. I’d probably end up using the card-link program in most cases for those reasons, even if the earnings are a bit less.

According to the fine print, the United in-store rewards program is being run through Rakuten Card Link Offer Network, Inc. (RCLON) which is the same backend as Ebates In-Store cash back (Rakuten owns Ebates). Oddly, I was able to add the same card to Ebates and United, an anomaly among overlapping programs. That’s awesome since most of the United merchants are found on Ebates too, and it seems possible that users will get rewards for both. We’ll add this to our Complete List of Card-Linked Reward Programs.

Thanks to reader ChennaiSuperKing for letting us know about this.

15 Responses to United MileagePlus Shopping Now Offers Miles for In-Store Purchases

  1. Tyler says:

    Great find, this should be useful for some people.

    It’s interesting that there aren’t that many overlapping stores between the ebates in store app and united. I guess Rakuten doesn’t want competition on the stores they offer cash back for.

  2. Locum says:

    Not impressed by it so far. I linked Shoe Carnival to my Amex and I apparently only have until 2pm today to get the bonus. It would be great if they gave us more times to get the deal like the Amex offers.

    • Chuck says:

      I saw that message as well when first linking my card. However, when you go and actually link the subsequent offer and look at the offer details, it shows either 30 or 45 days.

      I don’t know what that message means, probably some error. I’ll add a note to the post.

  3. Matt says:

    Macy’s MPX is only valid online, not in store. It is clearly stated in the info when buying the gift card. Unfortunately, I only found that out after I bought a gift card for in-store use and was unable to use.

  4. Chuck says:

    This is weird: I was able to add the same card to Ebates and United, and link the same offer (Macy’s) at both. I assume I’d get both cash back from Ebates and miles from United for a Macy’s purchase.

    Updated post.

  5. Josh says:

    Hoping this starts to work with DL/AA but we’ll see.

  6. Drivesabrowntruck says:

    Do we have any information if purchases bought through the instore option will receive the 25% bonus we currently get through the MPX app by having a MPE card tied to the FF number? I’m sure most here know you don’t have to use it to get the bonus, I use my FU for example.

  7. NinjaX says:

    FYI. The reason you can link Ebates and UA with same card because they DO NOT use the same CC transaction link backend. UA uses Rakuten Card Link Offer Network, Inc. backed by FNBO. This is very new. Only a few years old. Yea, Rakuten owns Ebates, but they have not implemented RCON on Ebates yet. Ebates uses another 3rd party on the east coast which sucks dick. Too many issues with them.

    • Chuck says:

      I’m not sure you’re right; I suspect you’re assuming everything remained the same since you checked last.

      I’d also thought Ebates uses Mylinkables, but when I went to link a new card, it gave the EXACT same name RCLON as the administer. Further, it made me click on some new terms for an existing card previously linked.

      Based on this, my understanding is that Ebates is no longer on Mylinkables, and switched over to RCLON. I might be wrong.

      • NinjaX says:

        hey chuck. thanks for looking into that. you are CORRECT.

        Ebates no longer needs that stupid company MyLinkables because they have their own RCLON. Also, your point is further proven because all of my Ebates linked CC have been removed from MyLinkables and new terms have to be agreed upon with RCLON. So RCLON does in fact support BOTH Ebates and UA Shopping portals.

        However, its clear that the RCLON implementation is superior. I have LONG HATED the dining backend which does not allow duplicate CC. One CC PER program. fuk that. Sounds like RCLON has independent environments PER vendor which allows you to multi dip in all RCLON supported programs. If this is true, shit will get super crazy.

        Nice work.

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