The MarketPlace is Not Unique, but Isn’t Bad Either

MasterCard has been heavily advertising its new MarketPlace online portal, and it in fact offers some valuable deals.

When it comes to online shopping, portals for discounts, cash, points, or miles already abound.  These are websites that, if you visit an online store through one of their links rather than by typing the store’s name directly, you can get a credit towards your account with the portal.  Even before the MasterCard MarketPlace, there were already many around, including Borders Rewards Perks, Fatwallet, ShopDiscover, Bank of America’s Add It Up, Amtrak’s Points for Shopping, and AAdvantage eShopping, to name just a few.  But one thing the portals have in common is that they all require payment by credit card at the online store, and the portal owners are paid a commission on the purchase their facilitated.  As a credit card company, MasterCard has launched MarketPlace as a way to cut out the middle-man and get a cut not only for the usage of its credit card, but also for the referral through its portal.

It is a strong move, with some hefty offers for consumers.  Access to the MarketPlace is free, and the website offers standard discounts (many of which match the Borders Rewards Perks offers), as well as in-store coupons, limited time offers, and “Overwhelming Offers.”  The last are a very small number of deeply discounted offers, which tend to go in less than 30 seconds.  According to the website, 100 iPod nanos were available through Overwhelming Offer recently for just $66.95 (half off the market price of $134.95), and were sold out in just 6 seconds, for instance.

One of the strongest features of the MarketPlace is that it offers discounts to concert, shows, and sports tickets, which are sometimes hard to find elsewhere.  Through Premium Seats USA, the MarketPlace is currently offering $35 off $350 and $50 off $500 for the John Mayer and U2 concerts, respectively, as well as 10% off the Wicked show and $35 off Minnesota Twins and Boston Celtics games.

The MasterCard MarketPlace is not unique as an online portal or for its discount offers.  However, as we mentioned in a previous post, you can pick and choose among portals, and which portal offers the best deal will in part depend on your preferences (e.g., do you prefer miles or cash back?) as well as on the store in which you are making your purchase.  Because of this, the MarketPlace might still be worth a visit when online shopping – and if you’re very lucky, you could even stumble across an Overwhelming Offer at just the right time.

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