How I Ensure My Purchases Are Tracked By The Portals

There’s a lot of comments regarding online about improperly tracked purchases after clicking through the portal. Today, I want to explain how I do it with a high level of success without needing to file a missing claim. To date, I’ve had trouble with Hotels.com tracking on both the Ultimate Rewards mall and TopCashBack.

Let’s start off with the portals that I use the most in no particular order:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage E-Shopping Mall
  • Chase’s now rebranded Shop With Chase
  • TopCashBack
  • BigCrumbs
  • UPromise
  • Discover’s now rebranded DiscoverDeals


We all use various web browsers, my go to application is Google Chrome on both Windows and Mac OS and this post will walk through discussing Chrome, but other popular browsers like Firefox have it as well so you would need to check what their nomenclature is.

There’s a feature embedded into Google Chrome that allows you to login with your GMail account. I have four separate accounts logged in. One specially for the blog and the other three accounts for other purposes.  After watching the movie Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime,  seeing this article on Wall Street Journal, and this TV show Allegiance I’m going to use some “spook” language in this post as part of the theme. I do my “intelligence gathering” in my main account. This way, I “won’t be made” in the other browser accounts.  When I say I won’t be made, it means that I do not want the other accounts to know that I was on a retailer’s site which potentially causes havok on a tracked purchase.

After I spot an excellent deal, depending on where I am, I may do two options:

  • Use a different account in the aforementioned method
  • Use Incognito browsing

It’s easy to set up a new account on Google Chrome. Just go into your setting and add another person. Once you do that, on the menu bar at the top, it will allow you to quickly open a brand new browser with “clean” history. After that, you just log into any portal and click through to the destination website.

The Incognito browsing is my main method for Internet purchases using my main account. It’s insanely quick to open a new browser then go to the portal and click through to make the purchase.

Why Complicate Things?

I purposely use multiple accounts for Chrome because many financial institutions have enabled extra consumer protections where logging into a computer for the first time, they need to authenticate your identity. When I use portals that have that verification, I authenticate once and have it registered on a browser account. Then use that browser account without needing to do that every time in Incognito mode.

I use the Incognito method when no second step verification is needed.


It’s easy for your system getting “burned” where the portal won’t pay out because of previous browsing activity. So you need to make sure you take every precaution to protect your identity and “assets” (portals) to get paid out. I don’t have a 100% success rate for tracked purchases, but this has helped tremendously. Oftentimes, my purchases that don’t track because I’m trying to do some “techint.”

I had a lot of fun using the spy terms and you should read this list for a dictionary of terms.

11 comments… add one
  • Doesn’t incognito mode block cookies from being tracked properly? Might use Chrome if that’s the case. I think Firefox in private browsing mode blocks cookies so I never use it in case my purchases don’t get tracked properly.

    • @Kevin – not exactly. The private and incognito modes block cookies from being *saved* when you exit the private/incognito window. Session cookies still work, that is, they hang around as long as you keep the private/incognito window open. Without session cookies you wouldn’t even be able to log in to most sites.

      Several portals do their tracking with session cookies. For others that use longer-lived cookies, private/incognito mode effectively turns them into session cookies.

      Another good tip is to do your shopping in regular mode, then once you’ve decided what you’re going to buy do the whole transaction (portal, add to cart, and checkout) in the private window.

      My wife (and probably many people) sometimes adds things to her cart then resumes the cart after clicking through from a portal (common feature on clothing sites). This is a big no-no if you want the transaction to track. You have to click through and add everything to a fresh cart. This is because the portal referral often only gets linked to the cart at the time it is created (when you first add something to it).

      • I almost always do that… where add everything to my cart, and then click through the portal to the webpage and go into the cart in that new window. I then check out and haven’t had trouble with them not tracking.

      • Thanks for jumping in Russ! @Kevin basically, exactly what Russ said in regards to the private and incognito modes

  • This is a great option – thanks for disclosing this valuable piece of pointcraft!

    I’ve been using so many extensions to maintain privacy, nice to have this method on hand to avoid changing windows user accounts to ensure proper portal tracking.

    • You’re welcome! I love Google Chrome because I am split on so many devices and it’s handy to have everything all in place with full integration of GMail as well.

  • “Once you do that, on the menu bar at the top, it will allow you to quickly open a brand new browser with “clean” history.”
    Maybe you could clarify this for me: how do you get a new clean history? I also have 2 email accounts opened at all times in my main Chrome browser, but I haven’t found a way to get a clean browser without going incognito.
    I usually go incognito for portals, but it’s a pain because I have to sign in to the portal and sometimes enter the captcha.

  • Sure – I have my Chasing The Points account logged in and a personal email (primary). The personal email is where I do all my research. Once I’m ready to make any purchase, I switch into the Chasing the Points and log into any of the portals that require two step (specifically, Chase) on new computers. The Chasing The Points account is never used for any kind of retailer shopping to “keep it clean”

    I’m also using the Google Chrome 64-bit version. On the top right, you can change the users on both Mac and Windows. Google Chrome 32-bit version allows you to swap out new accounts if you right click on the task bar and you could switch out the user.

    Hope this helps? Let me know if I need to expand further

  • I use chrome for all my browsing activities. When I find a deal or decide on what to buy I open Firefox to do it. The other important thing is to make sure that adblockers are disabled. I have permanently disabled adblock on my Firefox.

    • Thanks for the feedback! I like that idea of using a completely different browser


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