Capital One Shopping Portal Review
I recently took my first dive into the Capital Shopping Portal with their short lived $200 sign up bonus bonanza. I am not sure if that was an error ,or they didn't expect it to fully blow up, but it pretty much broke their referral system. They have since removed ALL refer a friends links. It did finally give me a nudge to get into their ecosystem, that was the goal after all wasn't it? After poking around some I figured I would share my Capital One shopping portal review. If you didn't catch it from the title, the TLDR summary is I am not a fan. Let me go over a few reasons on why this was a one and done for me.
The Online Portal Is Clunky
I am a self admitted old dinosaur, which means I like to use my shopping portals, and do most of my online shopping, on my laptop. The web based Capital One shopping portal is just not very good. It is kind of clunky looking and a decade or two behind where it should be. It is almost like Bank of America designed it honestly. I find Rakuten's site to be a much smoother, and more pleasant experience. Even Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal is far superior, including on payment options, but more on that later.
I will admit the the app on my phone seems to have a better design. Although, I will say the search function brings up some weird stuff at times. Instead of the search populating the biggest brand, or name, it sometimes gives me some really random options up top. All in all, I don't love the interface or the ease of use.
Rates Vary From App and Laptop
In a weird twist I noticed that the phone app and online portal show different cash back rates at times. I don't get why this would be and I don't think it is fair to their users. The last thing I want to do is have to check multiple spots to make sure I am getting the best deal with your service. I wonder how many people don't even realize this is a thing.
Tracking Is Slow At Times
Next up in my Capital One shopping portal review is the tracking of purchases. It usually takes a day or two to appear as pending on my account, which isn't great. It also takes a while for charges to fully settle. That depends on the vender, so not totally the Capital One shopping portal's fault.
This may be a bit unfair on my part too since other portals, like Rakuten, can take months to pay out since they do it quarterly. And, even charges other portals have that show as completed will sometimes drop off before payment day. It can be a bit like fool's gold there.
Them hiding when the charge should be completed behind the help button is kind of annoying and weird though. That plays more into their interface and usability I pointed out above though.
Capital One Shopping Portal Review: Payout Options Are Pretty, Pretty Bad
The biggest turning point in this Capital One shopping portal review is the pay out options. They are the worst I have seen anywhere. Why? Because there are no cash, or cash like options, available to you. The Capital One shopping portal only offers third party gift cards. Not only do they limit you to third party gift cards, but they are mid tier options at best. No Target, Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot etc.
While other shopping portals will list third party gift cards too, they also give you PayPal, ACH or Visa gift card options with them. Some, like Swagbucks, will even offer above 1 cent redemptions at times for third party gift cards.
Why does the Capital One shopping portal do this? Because they likely can purchase all of these gift cards at a nice discount. That keeps a nice chunk of change in their pockets versus what these companies are paying them. Especially if they can say their rates are the same, or better, than the competition
Sad thing is we can also buy the brands listed at 10% – 20% off most any time with do deal stacking. That degrades the value we are getting from the portal by at least that much. Throw in the pain of having currency tied up in one brand and it gets worse.
Which Gift Card Brands Are Offered?
To display how mid tier the options given are I will list all of the gift cards available for redemption at the time of writing:
- L.L. Bean
- Land's End
- Omaha Steaks
- Advanced Auto Parts
- Office Depot / Office Max
- Under Armour
- GAP / Athleta / Old Navy
- Stitch Fix
- 1-800 Flowers
- Expedia Group
- CDC Foundation
- Bass Pro Shops
- American Eagle
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- NFL Shop
- T J Maxx
- Bath & Body Works
- White Black
- CVS Pharmacy
- Barnes & Noble
- Johns Hopkins
- Nordstrom & Nordstrom Rack
- Sirius XM
The most valuable is likely the Safeway brands gift card, if you live in the area of a store at least. Unfortunately I do not. Next up would be Lowe's with a mid to high 80's resale rate (85% – 87% on the dollar).
Increased Rates On Some Stores & Targeted Offers
This Capital One shopping portal review wouldn't be fair if I didn't point out some things they do well. They do have some increased rates compared to the competition and some stores that others may not carry. I know that many users in this space like using the portal in combination with giftcards.com promos.
Capital One shopping will also sometimes target you for increased rates at certain stores. Some people will go as far as shopping through the portal, add something to their cart but not complete the purchase. Sometimes a day or two later they will get an email with a higher portal rate from Capital One. I have also been emailed limited time offers for stores on my next purchase etc.
Of course this ties into what is said above. Getting more of a bad thing doesn't all of a sudden make it better. If you have a gift card you value above, and consider it like cash value, then load up when the rates are the best. If not, then you will want to discount the Capital One shopping portal rates by 15% or more. Once you do that then you can decide if it is still the best option. That is because you can likely get the same gift cards at that level of discount with minimal effort.
Capital One Shopping Portal Review: ToP Thoughts
I hope you find my Capital One shopping portal review useful if you are considering using it. I don't think many people realize the only cash out options are third party gift cards and that the selection is limited. That will likely drive many away before you get into the other quirks. If there is something on the list above that is useful for you, then by all means go hog wild. The downside is they could pull one of these brands at any time, something they can't do with cash payouts.
I am still glad I gave them a try, especially during the massive $200 referral bonus mayhem. That was an easy $400 for me and it got me in the door at least. They likely should have used that money to improve their product instead though. At least if they want long term success.
Let me know your thoughts on the Capital One shopping portal over in the ToP Facebook Group.