Earning Miles By Downloading Shopping Portal Toolbars

No, I’m not writing about downloading the Priority Club toolbar over and over for hundreds of thousands of points. That didn’t work out for many folks who had their accounts closed, which I expected to happen and was why I didn’t write about the ‘glitch’ while it was live. Although some folks did cash out their points quickly on merchandise, and I haven’t heard of anything untoward occurring as a result. Wasn’t my cup of tea.

And I’ve written in the past that I’m not a fan of shopping portal toolbars. These are programs you can download to your computer so that when you are shopping on a website that earns points in the program whose toolbar you’ve downloaded, you’ll earn points for the purchase without having to start off by clicking through to the website through the mileage mall portal.

The reason I don’t like it, besides finding it a tad creepy to have this software tracking my internet activity, is that I prefer to proactively choose what points I earn for a given purchase. I’ll start at a website like EV Reward which will list available offers from different mileage programs and cash back sites for each online store I might shop at. Then I choose the one offering the best deal. A toolbar interferes with my ability to do that.

Some of the toolbars will give you points just for the download and then sometimes requiring earning any points at all with them.

Last year for the US Airways ‘Grand Slam’ promotion I downloaded the US Airways shopping toolbar and then earned a single mile for performing three internet searches with it in order to generate a ‘partner activity’. Then I uninstalled the toolbar.

Back in August I mentioned that since US Airways had changed vendors for their mileage shopping portal, there was a 500 mile bonus for downloading the new toolbar. Just Another Points Traveler notes that bonus is available only through October 31. One search with the toolbar will suffice to earn the bonus, you don’t actually need to make a purchase.

She also says there’s a 1000 mile bonus for downloading the United toolbar within that same time period and making a search or a purchase.

These toolbars will offer you a mile for every 3 internet searchas, but cap your earnings at 100 miles per month. Not worth it to me.

Interestingly, PointChaser says that the Hawaiian Airlines shopping toolbar will allow you to earn up to 5000 miles per month through searches. A lot of miles, that’s a lot of searches, and would take tons of time to complete — an average of 500 searches per day.

Back when I first got into this hobby there were plenty of lucrative opportunities to earn points for surveys and clicking on emails. Over time the survey and click for points model became less rewarding, awarding fewer miles (and the surveys often got longer, too). And at the same time I became much busier. I no longer mess with most surveys, although I had built my e-Rewards and e-Miles accounts up to a high enough level to be able to transfer points over to US Airways for the Grand Slam promotion, which apparently isn’t coming back in 2012.

So while I don’t have the sort of time to commit, in my youth I might have started doing tons of searches for the miles, with 60,000 miles per year as the prize. Hawaiian has great award availability on its own flights, and its award chart for redemptions on partner Virgin Atlantic is reasonable.

But it is a good bit of work even if there’s no cash outlay. Duplicate searches don’t count. And setting up scripts to automate this are likely to get an account locked.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. you try and find some sort of automated bot to run the 500 searches per day. many yrs ago mgm las vegas had a game where if you played for a while you got free buffets, roms etc. i found a mouse click program that helped me do it.

  2. @ Robert, I don’t recommend you do that at all. It will get the entire program shut down and you’ll lose any miles you acquired. In general, point-generating activities should beneficial for us and businesses alike. Otherwise it’s unfair and dishonest.

  3. Thanks for the reminder about toolbars. These are useful for keeping accounts alive. A lot better than emiles, which makes you wait until you’ve collected 500 points to allow a transfer to a FF account, and emiles points expire too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *