DOING GIFT CARD SWAP AT STORES
There are many a times where you buy merchant gift cards for racking up miles or points. The problem most of the times is how to liquidate those gift cards once you have them? More often than not you would end up buying stuff which you do not need or selling your gift card at a discounted rate to recover your cost. There are couple of ways by which you can leverage better value for your gift cards:
One way of leveraging a better value is while buying you might want to check out which merchant gift cards have higher resell value. You can check the resell value at website's like GiftCardGranny to get a general idea. The other option is "Doing the Gift Card Swap".
So what is Gift Card Swap?
FrequentMiler does lot of experiment in this regard and one of the things you will see is exchanging (or in his words upgrading) your gift cards. What this means is that for example if you buy OfficeMax gift card you can then go to the store and buy another merchant gift card such as Shell gift card using OfficeMax gift card (which essentially means swapping). That means you can now use the gift card at a full value for something which you would be doing anyway, like filling up gas. The other reason you would do this is that OfficeMax gift card sells for lesser value than other merchant gift cards such as Shell on websites like GiftCardGranny so doing the gift card swap would give a better leverage in value. Of course your mileage may vary as not all OfficeMax store would allow gift card swap. One more thing you might want to note is some stores will only allow you to buy merchant gift card using "physical gift card" and not "e-gift" card. Below are some other merchant where folks have reported success in doing gift card "swap".
1. Sears - You can buy Ebay gift card at this store using your Sears gift card.
2. Kmart - You can buy Shell, BP and bunch of other gift cards using either Kmart or Sears gift card.
3. Staples - You can use Staples gift card in store to buy Shell or other merchant gift cards.
4. Officemax - You can use your Officemax gift card to buy Shell or other merchant gift cards.
Hope this would help you liquidate your gift cards at a leveraged value.
Lot of cash back websites like Ebates, Ultimate Rewards Mall or various airlines online shopping portal offer great promotion where you can earn anywhere from 2x to 20x miles/points per dollar spent (2% to 20% cashback) on purchase from various online stores. Some of these portals also provide opportunity to earn miles/points or cashback for buying merchant gift cards. Lot of the folks in miles world buy merchant gift cards to earn lucrative miles through these portals as gift cards tend to be most flexible and can be used for any future purchase from those stores. The side-effect of buying gift cards is sometimes you will end up having few dollars left over in the gift card which you have no idea of what to do with. But what if you could redeem those gift cards for cash?
Each state has its own rule concerning the gift card expiry as well as rules governing converting them to cash or check. One of the state with more consumer friendly law is California. The law states that under legal guide S-11 (more information can be found here) any store that sells its own branded gift card is required by law to allow customer to cash out the gift card if the value of the gift card is less than $10. What this means is that at any point your gift card balance falls below $10, the merchant is required to provide the provision to en-cash that gift card for its equivalent cash value (either by cash or check).
Although the law provides for this provision most of stores associate are not aware of this and would simply refuse to en-cash the gift card even if the dollar value of gift card is less than $10. Since this provision is provided by law, make sure you Insist for the cash back and if need be speak with the supervisor or the store manager who will be more than willing to consider it. This knowledge of cashing out the gift card is a great way of getting rid of gift cards with a value of less than $10. Below are couple of examples to leverage this:
Note: I do get referal bonus if you use Ebates link above to open your Ebates account. I do appreciate your using the link.
Most of the sign-up bonus on credit cards these days comes with addendum of minimum spend requirement. This requirements are generally of meeting an amount anywhere between $1k, to $10k in 3 to 6 months time frame. While some of the folks would easily be able to meet this spending with ease; most of the folks would balk at such a requirement. In addition American Express (AMEX) cards are not accepted all mom and pop stores.
What if we could spend money on buying Visa/MasterCard prepaid cards or any such branded re-loadable money packs using AMEX credit cards and get back that money by liquidating those cards with minimum or zero out of pocket expense? Still better what if AMEX itself helps us in doing that. That being said listed below is one method that will help you do the same with ease:
American Express Serve Prepaid Card: Opening a serve account is relatively easy, as although it requires the person to submit SSN it does not pull the credit report. The feature which we will utilize is the ability to load the funds using "credit card" and "debit card". The fees to load the funds using "credit card" and "debit card" has been waived till March 15th 2013.
Loading funds using credit card: You can add $100 per day with maximum of $250 per month. That's just $250 of spending per month. Not a great perk but still you are able to load $250 without any fees. (You could use any credit card to do this, but beware of Citi Cards, as they tend to charge cash advance fee for this).
Loading funds using debit card: This is where it gets really interesting. Since most VISA/MasterCard prepaid cards are treated as debit card you can use them to load the funds. There is a limit of $1k which you can add using "debit card" in a month, but since the VISA/MasterCard does not charge you any fee in the initial 12 months, you can easily stack up $12k ($1k per month) on this card over the period of time and thus this one really works in our favor. Below is how this works:
There are other additional methods using latest AMEX Blue Bird Card and Amazon Payments. More details about AMEX Blue Bird can be found on excellent articles by FrequentMiler here and here. For Amazon Payments you can get more details here.
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