One of the biggest advantage of keeping American Express Credit Cards is the various offers where it provides a statement credit for purchase at specific merchant (either in-store or online) or for travel related activity such as hotels or airlines purchase. American Express has a dedicated website for information regarding this offers which can be found here. While some of the "deals" would be directly related to you as you might be shopping at that merchant anyways, there will be times where there are offers which you would feel are not useful to you.
In reality some of these non-relevant or non-useful offers might have a potential to make some free money or earn free miles/points if you are willing to put little effort. Let's look at couple of these offers to see how can you walk away with either "free money" or earn miles/points for free using these AMEX offers!
Buca di Beppo - Get a one-time $15 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to make a single purchase of $50 or more in-restaurant at Buca di Beppo by 8/17/2014.
Buca di Beppo is an Italian dining restaurant chain which currently has an offer on Amex for earning $15 statement credit for spend of $50 or more. You could get this offer added by using the Twitter Tag #AmexBucadiBeppo on your Twitter Synced Amex Account. Now lets see how to make money on this offer!
1. Buy a gift card of $50 in the store with your synced amex card. You will get $15 back as statement credit. So, total out of pocket cost is $35
2. Sell this gift card to "cardpool" which pays 75% of the card value ($37.5).
3. Topcashback typically provides 4% cash back for sell transactions at cardpool website (The cash back is limited up to the purchase of $1k in buy/sell gift card). Thus you would earn $37.5 x 0.04 = $1.5 cashback!
Thus looking at above, you would earn a cool profit of $37.5 (from cardpool) + $1.5 (from Topcashback) + $15 (Amex statement credit) - $50 (purchase cost) = $4 profit while earning 50 points/miles for spend on your American Express card. If you have 4 American Express Cards with this offer loaded you could make $16 of profit while earning the points/miles at the same time.
Best Buy - Get a one-time $25 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $250 or more at Best Buy by 9/2/2014 (In store or Online).
Most of the folks would have something to be bought at BestBuy. But buying something of $250 or more might not be something they would have planned. You could get this offer added by using the Twitter Tag #AmexBestBuy on your Twitter Synced Amex Account. It should be noted that most BestBuy stores do sell generic visa gift cards which are pin-enabled in the denomination of $200 and has a purchase fee of $5.95. These Visa gift cards could be used in any other store and thus a potentially lucrative option. Let's see some math here.
1. Buy a $200 visa gift card and $45 BestBuy gift card. Your total cost would be $200 + $5.95 + $45 = $250.95. You will get back the statement credit of $25.
2. Sell the BestBuy gift card to "cardpool" if you do not have any use of it, which sells at 89% of the card value ($40.05).
3. Topcashback will provide 4% cash back for selling BestBuy gift card. $40.05 x 0.04 = $1.6
Doing the final tally we have $200 (visa gift card) + $40.05 (from cardpool) + $1.6 (from Topcashback) + $25 (Amex statement credit) - $250.95 (cost of purchase) = $15.7 profit while earning 250 points/miles on Amex Credit Card Spend.
Hopefully this will help you to look at the American Express offers from a different perspective going forward!
Well this post is not related to miles but more on how to make some profit by spending few minutes of your time. Although I am late to the party you could still got on this deal as it is valid till 02/28/2014 with limit of 1 per person. (They use your driving license to determine if you have already done this before or not). Currently Radio Shack is having a promotion where you can trade in electronic items (mostly portable electronics) for $5 in Radio Shack gift card value for each item with a maximum of $25 in Radio Shack gift card in lieu of 5 items. Do note that all of the trade in items should be in working condition. Below is the list of eligible trade in items:
So, now to the interesting part on how you can get $25 gift card for $5. If you do not have any of the above items to trade or you value them much higher than $5 a piece, there is more better or effective way to maximize on this. Here we go:
(HT - mrcouponer)
In a previous article on "Raising miles at Walmart" I had shown how you could you potentially reduce the fee portion of Visa/MasterCard to even less than "zero". In that article the focus was on "Raise" as that was one of the gift card site where you could easily find the Walmart gift card at 2 to 2.5 % discount. Since then I have seen similar discounts offered by Cardpool as well as Ebay although I prefer Cardpool because of ease of use. The important thing to note is if the "gift card resale" site you are about to use provides any cash-back rebates through any rebates portal. Cardpool is also one of the Gift Card Resale site which provides cash-back through bunch of portals, one of which is TopCashBack. You could also check out other rebate portals and a good place to start your search for best rebate portal would be to search for the merchant at "Cashbackholic". Make sure you read through the terms of the cash-back portal as each one of them operate differently and have some limits of minimum amount of rebate you need to accrue before it becomes payable.
Walmart gift card at Cardpool:
Cardpool consistently provides the Walmart gift card at 2.5% discount in addition to 2% cash-back rebate going through TopCashBack ( Note: The rebate is only available until you reach $1k in purchases so make sure you read the terms through). You can combine upto 4 walmart gift card to make a purchase of Visa/MasterCard. A purchase of $200 in Walmart gift card would cost $195 and provide a rebate of $3.9 (2% of $195). Thus you get a $200 Walmart gift card at a cost $191.1 out of pocket cost thus having a discount of $8.9. Considering that a $200 Visa/MasterCard gift card costs $6.88 in fees you would still be ahead by $2.02 on this one. So by going through this route you would have purchased 195 points/miles and made a small profit of $2.02 as well on your credit card spend.
Walmart gift card at Ebay:
Another approach is to purchase the Walmart gift card from Ebay. Generally you would be able to find "Buy it now" deals for 2.5% discount and on top of it you would get 2% back from Ebay bucks. As you can see that you would save almost similar amount of money as you do from Cardpool but there are few problems you should be award of as mentioned below:
So, go ahead and accumulate those miles without any fees and enjoy your award travel.
(Note: If you open your TopCashBack account using above mentioned links, I would get a small referral bonus. I do appreciate your support. Thanks.)
I wrote before on how easy it is to meet the minimum spend requirement using MoneyPak and AMEX Serve Card. Now of-course with the onset and availability of Pin based Visa/Mastercard we have new ways on meeting the minimum spend to get that new credit card sign-up bonus. Below are few possible ways on meeting your spend requirement with minimal cost to you.
Method 1: Using BlueBird AMEX Card:
Using BlueBird Debit is by far the best way to run-up the spend meet of up to $5k/month easily. The method involves buying Visa Gift Card at stores which allow you to buy using a credit card. You can also use credit cards which bonuses specific category of purchase like grocery (Blue Cash Preferred with 6x), grocery+drug store+gas (ThankYou Preferred for 1st year with 5x) or Office Stores (Ink Bold or Ink Plus with 5x), that would increase your earning potential tremendously . The method involves setting up the pin on your Visa gift card, going to your nearest Walmart and loading the BlueBird Debit Card with the Visa gift card at any of the Money-Center Kiosk or customer service counter. You can load $1k/day upto $5/month on the card. You cannot have more than one BlueBird Card, but of-course if you have spouse you can have a card on her name as well and thus increase the amount of available loading to $10k/month.
Method 2: Buying Money Orders at Walmart and other stores which accept Visa Gift Cards:
You can use Visa Gift Cards to buy Money Orders at lot of places including Walmart. Since most places which has this service requires a pin-based debit card you should be good to purchase Money Orders using Visa Gift Cards. You can make these money orders on your spouse name which can be deposited in his/her account or if you are renting a house you can make money order on your land-lord's name as well for your rental payment.
Method 3: Buying Green Dot MoneyPak:
You can still find MoneyPak with $0 fee at many pharmacy stores which will allow you to make the purchase using a Visa Gift Card with pin. This is of-course is YMMV but can help to liquidate the Visa Gift Card by eventually using MoneyPak to load to variety of prepaid cards including MyGreenDot which allows free MoneyPass ATM withdrawal's and a great way of meeting minimum spend. Of-course the incentive of using Visa Gift Card for buying MoneyPak is that Visa Gift Cards are available in wide variety of stores and thus you can use a credit card which bonuses your purchase of Visa Gift Card and thus multiply your points/cash-back earned.
P.S. You can of-course meet your minimum spend requirement with $0 cost or make even a profit by purchasing Visa Gift Card online from giftcardmall through cash back portals like BigCrumbs and TopCashBack. FrequentMiler has a wonderful article on this which would be of your interest.
Disclosure: I do not earn any commission on above credit card links but I do earn a referral bonus if you use my BigCrumbs or TopCashBack links.
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.
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.
Once you start collecting miles and money the next question is how to track them. Traditionally you could make a spreadsheet to track the miles and money on various programs and cards. But hold on, there are easier ways to track them and it will also help you not to lose those miles and money. On top of it these programs are free to join and you can access most of the desired features using the basic account itself. I have listed few of the tracking tools below.
Miles & Points Tracking Tools:
Award Wallet: This one is my favorite. This program not only tracks most of the airlines (Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are notable exceptions) and hotels but also various credit card loyalty programs, shopping, rental, dining, trains as well as surveys! Few of the notable features are listed below
1. Tracks miles and points balances for most of the reward program without any limit to number of programs you can add to the account.
2. Single account can track rewards for multiple family members and friends.
3. Option to store the passwords on your local computer so as to avoid any unfortunate compromising of account details.
4. Track all the upcoming trips.
5. Track miles & points expiration date so as to avoid losing your valuable miles.
UsingMiles: This program is very similar to Award Wallet. Some of the features are below:
1. It can keep track of miles and points as well as you can access bonus offers. 2. You can also track the miles and points for multiple family members and friends.
3. Dashboard feature allows toe see snapshot of all the programs you have miles and points on the front page.
4. Keep track of deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial.
MileTracker: This program is a USA Today product and has similar features for tracking all the miles & points and having one consolidated view of the same.
1. It can keep track of miles along with their expiry dates.
2. You can also track the miles and points for multiple family members and friends.
3. Check account history and recent transactions using miles and points.
4. Track any upcoming trips.
Money Tracking Tools:
GoWallet: If you are one of those who buys variety of gift cards to maximize earning cash-back or miles/points than this one is for you. GoWallet store all the gift card information at one place. You can access the information on the go using their Android or Iphone App as well. Below are some of the features:
1. Access your gift card information online or on the go.
2. It tracks gift card balances and thus you know when to throw away that gift card when it has run out of balance.
3. You could also use the information stored in the account to retrieve stolen or lost card information.
2. WildCard: This is a free Iphone App with rich features of using the App directly to buy stuff using the gift card at participating stores. The downside is not all stores are participating in the program.
3. GiftCard: This Iphone App is $0.99 in Itunes store but its week/pale compared to GoWallet.
How do you track your miles/points and gift card balances? Let me know in the comments below.
I love traveling / backpacking. This blog focuses on below 3 aspects of travel:
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