Earning Miles and Saving Money on Textbooks

Buying textbooks is expensive. Really expensive. Looking at this semester, each of my Engineering textbooks costs about $200-$250. Multiply that by 4 and you are looking at a $1000 bill…which is cheaper than the bookstore still.  Looking at the plus side, I expect to earn at least 4,000 points with my textbook purchases this semester.

First off, I use online websites for textbooks, like most people these days. You do not have to pay for taxes in most cases (an ~8% savings in the state of Colorado), and the books are cheaper. Amazon is my go to, but other companies are worth shopping around at, but Amazon is the easiest.

Currently, Discover is offering 5% Cashback at gas stations, and Freedom is offering 5x points (or cash back if you want to use it for that instead) at grocery stores. You can easily go to King Soopers (our local brand of Kroger), and buy a couple hundred dollars worth of Amazon gift certificates and call it a day. If you do this, you will earn 5x points on every dollar that you spend, which can be redeemed for either point transfers (if you have the Chase Sapphire or equivalent Business cards) OR if you know someone that has one of these cards, you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards (Chase’s rewards points) to another person’s account with one of these upper end cards then carry on with a transfer to a Frequent Flier program. It is also worth mentioning that Kroger brands offers 2x fuel points on gift card purchases, so $500 in Amazon gift card purchases will earn you $1 off per gallon of fuel, which would mean you are spending $.71 a gallon here in Colorado currently. I digress.

On a side note, if you have to spend $500 on your Freedom card because you just applied for the $200 bonus, then you are really in luck with this concept!

If you use your Discover Card, you are doing a similar process, but going to the gas station instead (yes, they sell Amazon Gift Cards) and earning 5% off your already on sale textbooks. So, you are essentially taking 5% off of what you are spending, which is nearly $50 in my case, I think $50 is worth the effort, but you calculate your opportunity cost.

The problem with the above two solution is you have to already have these cards. If you do not have these cards, there is still a solution for you!

Airlines have online shopping portals where you earn miles through using the links on their websites. They get a commission from the seller and you earn points. Textbooks.com is an online retailer that awards points for purchasing through their online link.

Using Cachbackmonitor.com (a website that compares all the programs rewards in one place), you can see the different earning potentials with Textbooks.com:


Note: The above does not include Alaska Airlines, which is offering 3x points per dollar currently.

For bank points, you can look at this chart:


If you notice, you can earn the same amount of points through Chase Ultimate Rewards as going to the gas station or grocery store. At this point it is comparing prices between Amazon and Textbooks.com. Do your homework and you will save some money!

Another thing to consider, is Cash Back portals. I don’t really use these (only sometimes) but you can earn cash back in the form of a check or something if you use their links. This chart shows their earning potentials, which have more options for companies:


If you do not have a Freedom or Discover card (ask me for a link to Discover and we will both get $50 if you are approved!), then you are bound to the frequent flier programs (or other cash back portals). Hey, 3x points through American Airlines is pretty darn good. Better than nothing.

How to Purchase Through an Online Portal:

AA has the best deal (except Alaska, which is the same) at 3x points, so I will show an example from them, but every airline has a similar process.

Step #1: Go to the AA Shopping Portal

Click on this link, or Google ‘AA Shopping”


Step #2: Login with your mileage shopping account

Do this in the top right or the page from the link above. NOTE: If you have a mileage account, but not a shopping account with AA, you will need to sign up for the shopping division, located under the login window at the top right.

Step #3: Search “textbooks” in the search bar on the top right


Step #4: Click Textbooks.com


Step #5: The website will redirect to Textbooks.com

Wait for the page to load, then search for your books and place your order. BE SURE TO USE THE LINK THAT YOU OPENED THROUGH THE AA PORTAL, not one that you previously were using to browse prices or something. They look the EXACT same.

textbooks webpage


Step #6: Search and order your textbooks like you would normally

This works for purchasing or renting textbooks. So go at it!

Step #7: After you place your order, check to see your points are there

Your points will appear sometime in the next month. I take screenshots of my orders, just in case.

Your points will appear sometime in the next month. I take screenshots of my orders, just in case.

Sometimes there are mileage bonuses to be aware of as well. The other day, I earned 850 miles from Alaska Airlines by purchasing a $50 AA gift card, so look for bonuses as well.

These portals are great for earning miles, and I almost always use them for my online shopping. Tax free and earning extra miles, how can you complain? Yes it takes a bit of extra work, but hey, I just came back from a trip around the world…I think it is worth it.


3 thoughts on “Earning Miles and Saving Money on Textbooks

  1. Pingback: Why Alaska Airlines is the Best Frequent Flyer Program for College Students | Naked 'Round The World

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