Portal woes

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Readers are reporting that portals are failing to pay out for their recent Kohl’s and Amex gift card purchases.  What’s going on?

Online shopping portals can be a fantastic way to earn extra points, miles, or cash back.  Usually, the idea is to go through a shopping portal to buy things you would have bought anyway so as to get a nice extra rebate for that purchase.  Sometimes, though, shopping portal rewards are so lucrative that it can make sense to buy things you don’t really want with the goal of reselling the items or liquidating them in other ways to get most of your money back.  Regardless of your motivation for using shopping portals, there is always a risk that, for whatever reason, the portal will fail to pay you the miles, points, or cash back you were expecting.

There are many reasons that a portal transaction may fail.  Problems can come from your side: cookies not enabled, a browser toolbar stealing the click-through referral, etc.  Or, the problem can be on the merchant’s side: they fail to report the transaction to the portal, they report the wrong dollar amount for the transaction, they incorrectly believe the transaction is not valid for portal payouts, etc.  Or, the problem can be with the portal itself: technical issues between the portal and the merchant, tracking issues, etc.

Often, portals don’t fail, but they are slow.  I’ve increasingly seen a trend where large purchases ($500 and up, typically) can take many weeks to show up as tracked purchases in a portal.  And, sometimes this is a systematic issue where many people are effected.  Here are a couple of recent posts where I and others have had to wait many weeks to see if our purchases posted correctly:

Waiting and watching for points to post: Last year, Sears ran a fantastic promotion through the MileagePlus Shopping portal where they offered up to 16 miles per dollar.  Most people eventually received all of the miles they expected, but for many it took weeks for the miles to appear.

Waiting (and hoping) for Amex gift card 3X miles to post: In December of last year, both the Delta SkyMiles portal and the Alaska MileagePlan Shopping portal offered 3 miles per dollar for Amex gift cards purchased via their portals.  While some small transactions posted promptly, most of us had to wait a long time.  It took a full 4 weeks for my miles to post, for example.

Current Issue: Amex gift cards

When Barclaycard’s Arrival RewardsBoost portal offered 4 miles per dollar last month for Amex gift card purchases, many jumped on that deal.  Unfortunately, around mid-month, the portal seemed to have stopped paying out.  In my case, for example, purchases made February 11th and earlier, posted quickly to the portal.  Purchases made February 12th and later have yet to post at all.  Similarly, purchases I made in February via the Alaska MileagePlan Shopping portal have not yet posted at all.  People have reported similar experiences in the comments of this Quick Deal.

Current Issue: Kohl’s

Through the comments in the Frequent Miler Laboratory, and comments on this Quick Deal post, I’ve learned that Kohl’s seems to have stopped paying out portal rewards for most people as of early to mid-February.

Failure or delay?

With the recent Kohl’s and Amex gift card issues, my best guess is that portal payouts are simply delayed.  I’m used to portal payouts taking up to a month to post even with merchants that usually payout within days.  If you can’t wait, it doesn’t hurt to contact the portal’s customer support.  Sometimes people do get their payouts more quickly that way.  The trouble is if you didn’t comply exactly the the terms and conditions of the portal offer.  For example, the T&C for Amex gift cards usually says that you can’t use discount codes not found on that portal.  In practice, the portals usually payout anyway, but a little thing like that can make it hard to get help from the portal’s customer service team.

Of course, I could be wrong.  It’s possible that the portals won’t pay out at all for these transactions.  I’d suggest waiting at least a month from your transaction date before giving up on it.  If a month comes and goes without a payout, you might get help from the portal’s customer service team, or you might not.  Using a portal is always a bit of a gamble.

See also:

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45 Comments
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MichaelP

Transaction showed up on Arrival portal after a few days. MileagePlan took over a month to show up.

Aaron

Yay! Got all my points from kohls today from the February orders.
Very happy.
Never got an email about bonus points, just check your accounts.

[…] the beginning of the month, I posted “Portal woes” where I wrote about people waiting for portal points to post for Amex gift cards bought through […]

Brian

I can always just use them but would like to try and earn as many miles as possible.

FrequentMiler

We don’t know yet if it is permanent, but yes Kohls is currently gone from the UR mall

Brian

Yikes, im still sitting on a load of GCs. Whats the next best option to burn GCs? Thanks!

JONfromGR

Sell them to me!

marc

I will buy them from you as well.
tabascov@yahoo.com

Raghu

Kohls is Gone from UR mall permanently ?????

david

kohls is gone from ur mall

nick

is there any portals paying out for Kohls now that UR is no longer paying out?

aaron

I used ebates for this last round of sales on kohls a couple days ago and already got the pending cashback notices. I don’t think it’s a problem on Kohl’s end of things.

nick

has anyone tried going through UR portal and paying with a chase card? have they received their points?
I wonder if everyone is not getting the points or is it just certain accounts.

aaron

I did 2 purchases at the end of february going thru UR, using the discount codes on UR, and paying with my chase card. Still no points pending.
I know I can call chase and get the points, but trying to wait it out.
Don’t know if kohl’s is having technical issues on commission side, or if theyre just saying FU to certain people???

JustSaying

I use the Freedom with UR all the time and always get the bonus in about 15 days…….If I ever have any issue I use the Secure Message on my banking/charge card web page to email them and ask a question…..it takes about 24 hours to get a response…….That is a lot easier than waiting on hold on a customer service line and then not have anything in writing…….I also think they got slammed on EOY bonus as it took until February to get all my bonus points posted………Hope this helps you!

Pam

Using AA portal quite frequently and the miles almost always post, just takes awhile. I did have issues in the past with bonus spend promos never paying out. Does contacting customer service ever result in portals posting missing points?

FrequentMiler

Yes, it sometimes helps

Marc

Same here with Kohls. Thousands of points pending since mid Feb. Rep on phone told me could take up to 45 days.

Although, when checking the T&C it does state:
“Online Bonus Earn:
You earn bonus rewards for purchases made with your Chase Account (Chase credit card or debit card) through
the Ultimate Rewards Mall located at http://www.chase.com.”

And then it goes on to state:
“Providers reserve the right to reverse the posting of any bonus rewards in the event that a transaction is cancelled, returned or otherwise reversed, or in the event that a Merchant makes a determination that a transaction was ineligible, abusive, fraudulent or involved gaming behavior.”

So, that being said….I don’t use my Chase card to make the purchases. So, if they are enforcing (like some other portals have), then possibly we could see an end to this?

I hope not, although, I will switch portals until I see my points post.

justSaying

Why not just use the Freedom card and ensure the bonus plus a annual 10% bonus? Never had a problem with UR posting within 14 days if I use my Freedom there…….AA Shopping portal took 10 weeks………

marc

some coupons dont work with other than store CC.

aaron

I am also still waiting on a ton of points from Kohl’s. None of the purchases I have made after Feb. 8 have posted to UR. From Feb 8-14, I made several large purchases using the 30% code and my kohl’s card. This has always worked in the past.
At the end of february, I made a couple purchases using the 15% codes on UR, and used my sapphire card to pay, and even those aren’t showing.
Something is going on on the Kohls end. Either they are purposely changing the way they do things (and maybe limiting certain customers??) or just technical errors.
I’m fairly convinced i wont see the points from middle of february.
Hoping things get back to normal soon. (very soon!)

Nick

any news on the Kohls front? I still have not seen anything post as of yet.. its been almost 3 weeks.. I am surprised I havent heard much about it.

John K

@DeltaPoints I actually got burned by TopCash. I filed a claim, and 2 months later, they tell me that my claim is denied because some other portal took the credit… Now THAT’S a first… This is even though I went through the entire ritual of having to reset all cookies, and restarting the browser etc… I have all the ad blockers and add-ons turned off ….but BLEH!

YMMV

Doug

As an example of how quirky portals are I recently received over 500 points via AA just for going to JCrew through their portal, putting items in a cart to checkout, but never actually making the purchase. Verified that no charges to my CC were made but received the points none the less. This will help compensate for the numerous times that points haven’t posted in the past. Weird stuff. Still waiting for the February bonus point promo to post though.

Corky

Ken, there was about a month where purchases netted essentially random amounts that were a small fraction of the points due.

I only got $3k worth of points for $5k order from Barclays. Got 3x AS miles in December, but not in February. Topcashback and BigCrumbs have been working fine, but with the usual 2-3 month delay.

murtuza

Topcashback has below note which I have not seen it before. Would it limit the cashback amount?

Please note; there is a limit of $500 per gift card, anything higher will not be eligible for cashback.

FrequentMiler

That note has been there for a while, but in my experience it isn’t enforced.

heavenlyjane

I’ve given up on Shopping Portals, even though they torment me with their enticing offers. It’s rare that my points have come through like expected. Even when I call customer service and they claim they will give me a courtesy adjustment, the points still fail to post.

blanca

I mostly gave up too as I was getting burned by ultimate rewards on a regular basis. The one portal that I still use and have not been burned by is Southwest Airlines. I think I have 100% payout with them. I tried to shop through Discover the other night (late) and the whole website was down for maintenance, so they lost a sale.

Ken

Corky, What weird point amounts were posting in August?

Corky

I’m guessing Kohl’s has another bug, not a policy change. The reason I think that is after points started to not post I made a small, fully compliant with all T&C test purchase and no points showed up for that either. But I’m less sanguine about the idea that the points may eventually show up – there was no retro correction when all the weird point amounts started showing up for purchases in August. Caveat emptor.

JustSaying

I “almost” always use freedom card on Ultimate Rewards and almost always get the post in 2 weeks…….I used AA in the fall when they were giving away points and they were so slow they made me hate the process…..UR not so for me………

FrequentMiler

Yes, whenever shopping via the UR mall, logging in with your Freedom account is the way to go (as long as you have a checking account too), for 10% more rewards.

al

I bought 5K worth of Amex cards thru Barclays Arrival portal on Feb 18. Arrival points still haven’t posted. Just wondering if I will get an email when they post, or if I just have to keep checking the barclays account. Hopefully they send me an email so I don’t have to check every day.

Thanks!

FrequentMiler

I’d recommend that you keep checking. Its not clear to me whether all successful transactions result in an email or not.

adnan

I bought $3500 gc from kohls on $100 increments, Feb 4th posted in 4 days, used to gc on 17th, UR still didnt post, then again used kohls gc bought from Staples worth $1500 on 19, UR posted on 24th… so I have $3500 Purchase UR not posted… I guess its a gamble.

Byc

On a separate note I’m having problems with Kohls Rewards – all the purchases track but the payout is really low, and doesn’t seem to correspond to dollar purchases (either by GC or Kohls MC). The last two months, including one that came today, have just been $15 though they should have been much more. Has anyone else had this problem?

Delta Points

I have been burned by BigCrumbs and chose to switch to TopCashBack have never missed a single AMEX payout. Since they are back at 3% now it is an GREAT deal and simple to cash out buying VRs.

Trevor

Hmm – interesting. Will have to be on the lookout for this especially with #milesmadness. As another data point, I received points for purchases on Kohls on 2-13-14, and 2-19-14, and they came sort’ve quick, on the 27th… but that was going through the UR mall…

Khan

My 3x AS points posted without issue from February. I only did $5,000 cards, but it was a breeze.

Points With a Crew

It’s annoying for sure. I hate having to track all the portal miles / points I’m supposed to earn, but I feel like I have to because otherwise it’s likely that they will just “disappear” without me following up

hoglard1

Chase UR mall recently didn’t post points for a purchase. I charged purchase to an Amex, not a Chase card. Chase customer service would not credit points, stating that I had to use Chase card to get credit. First time that has happened.

Scott

Small purchases through Barclay posted right away for me. The large AMEX gift card purchases are yet to post. The customer service team hasn’t been of much hep so far. I guess Time will tell. I think from now on I will stick with Top Cash Back, they have worked well for me.

JBM

I have same prob with Amex GC’s via Barclay. Called them and they said they will post within 6-8 weeks