We all want to maximize the % of cash back on our day to day shopping, specially at stores for which the gift cards are easily available. Assuming you can get one of the Cash Back Card which gives quarterly rotating category bonus of 5% such as Discover IT credit card or Chase Freedom credit card or American Express Blue Cash Preferred credit card which gives 6% cash-back on stand-alone super markets or grocery stores (limited to max $6k/year) you can easily get atleast 5% or 6% off of your gift card purchase from the stores included in above categories. The interesting twist here is if you can find a store which falls in 5% or 6% cash-back category and sells the Ebay/MasterCard/Visa gift card you can further stretch your dollars to easily get a total discount of anywhere from 7% to 20% on the final merchant gift card which you can eventually use for your actual purchase. Below are couple of ways on how to get this to work!
Buying merchant gift cards using Ebay gift cards:
Note: You will need to have a PayPal account or create one for this to work.
Purchase using MasterCard/Visa Prepaid card:
If Ebay seems to be too limited in scope or lot of hassle you have another option below.
Put above techniques to use to get great discount even before you hit your store, but before you go make sure you already have 5% or 6% cash-back credit card at your disposal.
Your Problem: Imagine the situation that you have earned miles for flying one of your less favorite airlines last summer and accumulated few thousand miles but have no use for them. Or you stayed in that wonderful and expensive hotel and earned some of their loyalty program points but do not know what to do of those?
If you have face one of the above situation and want to get some value out of otherwise "wasteful" miles and points than you have "points.com" at your rescue.
If you have never heard about points.com or have heard bad things about points.com than stay with me as I would take you through some hidden gems of this program while avoiding the popular mistakes. Below are few features listed:
1. The program is free to join.
2. It allows to exchange, buy or trade miles and points between various participating airline and hotel programs albeit at some cost.
3. You can redeem the unused miles or points for either Paypal cash or gift cards.
Analysis of Points.com: Since points.com is free to join and you can potentially exchange, buy or trade your miles/points, it has some great value to offer if you use it correctly. Remember airlines and hotels do not want you to exchange or trade your otherwise useless miles and points as they know exactly that they are "useless". Points.com comes to rescue by getting some value out of those "useless" miles/points. Below are few hypothetical but could be real scenarios which would give you great value out of this program.
Scenario A: You have 2000 Elevate miles accumulated in Virgin America from the last flight you took for which you have no use of. You are planning to just forget about those miles and move on...
Solution: Hold on.. below I have listed few of many options available using points.com. You can trade 2000 Elevate points for:
1. 1580 US Airways Dividend miles
2. 878 United Mileage plus miles or American Airlines AAdvantage miles
3. 1700 Cathay Pacific Asia miles
4. 1700 Priority club points
You can check the complete list of available options here.
Scenario B: You are short by 43 miles for United Airlines Mileage plus reward level of 12500 points. You want to book the reward within next few days but do not know the cheapest way of getting those 43 miles quickly. Ideally if you want to buy from United Airlines you will need to buy in multiples of 1000 points at a cost of $35/1000 points without any ongoing promotion.
Solution: You realize that you are member of US Airways Dividend miles and you have about 250 dividend miles accumulated from the new member promotion they had some time back. You quickly log-on to points.com and you find that you can get 43 United Mileage plus miles in exchange of 200 US Air Dividend miles. Although looks like a poor conversion ratio, but hey mind you are saving $35! The complete list of option's for US Airways can be found here.
Scenario C: You have accumulated 6500 points on your flight with Cathay Pacific Asia miles more than 2 years ago. These points are going to expire soon and you do not want to transfer to any other airline partner
Solution: You can redeem 6353 points for $27 in Amazon credits good towards any purchase on Amazon.com
You can also trade miles from one program to another, but these are generally based on availability and usually costs almost the same as buying points from the Airlines directly. Your specific situation might vary depending on trade available etc
As you can see from above scenarios, that points.com best value lies in exchange where you have few thousand "useless" miles and sometimes in redemption of soon to expire miles. Also programs like Frontier Airlines do not allow you to redeem their miles for anything except flight reward or magazines, so you could potentially extract more value by using points.com for Frontier Airline transaction.
Below is the list of few popular points.com participating airlines and hotels:
I love traveling / backpacking. This blog focuses on 3 aspects: