INSIDER SECRET: When employing this strategy it’s best to use a credit card with a good earning rate on non-bonus spending. I’ll explain why.

One of the best ways to earn more miles and points is to maximize your earnings on your everyday spending. Other than taking advantage of large welcome bonuses from some of the best credit cards for travel, the best way I’ve found to do this is using gift cards purchased through the United MileagePlus X app combined with online shopping portals. This triple dip strategy allows you to earn standard credit card points plus points from both the MileagePlus X app and an online portal.

I’ll show you how to use this strategy to earn tons of extra points for purchases that you are already making.

travel flier airport passenger rewards miles
Getty Images/iStockphoto

The triple dip strategy is a simple three-step process that allows you to earn way more points for most purchases. The general process is:

  1. Use a credit card to purchase an eGift card from the United MileagePlus X app
  2. Make an online purchase through any airline’s online shopping portals such as Southwest or United
  3. At checkout on the online shopping portal, use the eGift card that you purchased through the MileagePlus X app

This strategy earns rewards from:

  • Credit card points from purchasing the eGift card
  • United points from using the MileagePlus X app
  • Miles or points through the online shopping portal that you used

I’ll walk you through the process step by step:

Step 1: Purchase eGift cards from the United MileagePlus X app

The United MileagePlus X app is a free app that allows you to earn extra United miles for purchases. You can sign up for free; you simply need to enter your United frequent flyer number during registration so that miles can be credited to your United account.

Once you have the app downloaded and registered, you’ll need to enter in your credit card info to use for future purchases. You can use any credit card with the app, and you’ll get a 25% point bonus if you have a United card like the United℠ Explorer Card. (you don’t have to pay with the United card to get the 25% bonus).

The first step in the triple dip strategy is to determine if the store you’re looking to purchase from has gift cards in the MileagePlus X app. The app typically has over 100 stores at any time, so it’s likely you’ll find one that you normally frequent.

MileagePlus X App
You can purchase eGift cards from a long list of companies with the MileagePlus X App.
Million Mile Secrets and Getty Images

As you scroll through the list, you can see the earning rate that each store is currently offering.

Once you have found a store you want, you can purchase a gift card in any amount up to the specified limit. The gift card does not have to be a round dollar amount. In fact, I regularly purchase a gift card down to the exact cent for the purchase I am planning to make.

You can purchase the gift card with any credit card, but you’ll want to use one that maximizes your points. Choose a card that earns the most points for general spending, since the MileagePlus X doesn’t count for any bonus category (there have been some reports that the gift card purchases will code for the company you bought it from, but this does not appear to be happening consistently).

For example, you could choose the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, which earns 1.5% cash back (1.5X points per dollar on purchases).

Step 2: Navigate to your store’s website through an online shopping portal

The next step is to determine if your store is listed in an online shopping portal. Online shopping portals allow you to earn extra points on your purchases when you visit a store’s website through the portal. I strongly recommend using a site like Cashback Monitor to find out which portals are offering the best deals.

Here are some popular online shopping portals:

Airlines

Others

When you click on your store’s link within the shopping portal, you’ll be redirected to the store’s website. Be sure to complete your purchase through that page, because if you open a new window or tab, you may not get credit for the purchase through the portal.

Step 3: Use your eGift card at checkout

The final step is to use your eGift card that you bought through the United MileagePlus X app to pay for your purchase.

One important point to note is that the terms and conditions for some online shopping portals state that purchases made with gift cards are not eligible for bonus points through the portal. However, in my experience, as well as many other folks, shopping portals do give the bonus points even when you pay with a gift card. While this is something to keep in mind, even if you do not receive the points from the portal, you will still get the points from your credit card and from the MileagePlus X app.

An easy example

To show just how lucrative the triple dip strategy can be, here is a great example of how you can really maximize your points.

In looking through the United MileagePlus X app, I found that Columbia Sportswear was offering 5X points per dollar on gift cards. Since I also have the United Explorer Card, I earn 25% more points, for a total of 6.25X points per dollar.

MileagePlus X App
You can earn 5X points or more on many merchants through the United MileagePlus X App!
Million Mile Secrets and Getty Images

Next, I found that Columbia Sportswear was listed on the British Airways portal, offering 8X points per dollar. So I clicked through to the Columbia site from the portal and started browsing. In this case, I found a rain jacket that I wanted for $130. I added the item to my cart and went to check out. With shipping, the total came out to $136.

So I went back to the United MileagePlus X all and purchased an eGift card for exactly $136, utilizing my Chase Freedom Unlimited to earn 1.5X points. I received the eGift card within one minute via email, which I then entered in at the checkout page and completed the order.

All said and done, I earned:

  • 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the E-gift card purchase
  • 6.25X United miles from the United MileagePlus X app
  • 8X British Airways Avios points from the British Airways shopping portal

So for total spending of $136 I earned 2,142 total points: 204 Ultimate Rewards points, 850 United miles and 1,088 British Airways Avios points.

Bottom line

The triple dip strategy allows you to earn a ton of extra travel rewards over using a credit card alone. And because the United MileagePlus X app and online shopping portals have a wide variety of participating stores, you can likely take advantage of the strategy on purchases you were already planning to make.

This story was originally written on Million Mile Secrets. For the latest tips and tricks on traveling big without spending a fortune, subscribe to the Million Mile Secrets daily email newsletter.