Many blogs and credit card points earning junkies like myself have business credit cards because of their lucrative bonus multiplier at certain vendors (office supply). For those that do not have access to a business card or have cards that only do 1x like SPG/SPG Business, here is a quick way on how you can be successful manufacturing spend.
You must have a card like the Chase Freedom for the rotating quarterly bonus cards
The Freedom bonus can earn you 7500 points per quarter and if you have two Freedoms like myself that’s 15000 points per quarter. If you have a partner that have two Freedom’s then that’s 30,000 points when maxed out.
With that out of the way, what else is possible?
Buy gift cards from your local grocery store when they offer rebates and resell on sites like Cardpool or PlasticJungle
Buy gift cards on eBay and resell
Free After Rebate offer items – this one is probably one of the easiest, but I’m not a fan of buying things without a use
Walking into stores you’d least expect to find gift cards/prepaid cards and they accept credit card for the payments
I quickly went through my spreadsheet and found that I made more points with the Freedom because of the rotating categories and the Chase Exclusives.That being said, and with the Difficulties of Manufacturing SPG Points, I mostly follow the step of using portal bonuses and gift card churning to make most of my SPG points.
This quarter for the Chase Freedom the categories are not great for gift card churning.
If you were to go to a chain restaurant or movie theater and purchase their gift cards to resell, you will likely lose more money than it is worth to buy the points directly from Chase.
Lowe’s, the home improvement company, is the only company in this quarter that would be worthy of churning gift cards. I ran through a few scenarios for Lowe’s and it is not good.
According to GiftCardGranny.com, Lowe’s is worth about 85% of the face value. If we used the route of Chase Freedom + Shop Discover’s portal for 5% cash back, it would boost Lowe’s to be worth 90% face value. In essence, it would be buying the points at $10 per 500 Ultimate Reward points (not factoring in the Chase Exclusives) which comes down to $.02/point. Not good at all. You could lower it if you do Ultimate Rewards Mall for an extra 5x. This changes the math slightly, it would be buying the points at $15 per 1000 Ultimate Reward points, for $.015/point. I purchased a $25 gift card from Lowe’s using the Freedom + UR Mall. The points from the mall has already posted to my account. I am waiting for the statement to close to see if ordering from their website would work. According to various reports online about Kohl’s, I’d expect Lowe’s to work the same way. I will post a follow up as soon as I find out.
If you need to top off your UR account and not buy through Chase this would be a better way since you’ll save a $.01/point.
I visited a Lowe’s store and they also stocked Shell, Gulf, and Hess gas cards. Of the three, Shell has the highest value and the math looks like this: $11 for 500 points which would be $.022/point also not good.
Since adding gift card churning into my tool bag of manufactured spending, I have found it to be fun to hunt around for a deal. As my friends say, some people make money through FOREX, foreign exchange, I make credit card points through gift card arbitrage.
Of all the mileage earning capabilities, this is probably the easiest thing to explain to everyone on accumulating points. No one seems to understand all the prepaid card routes I use on how or why I do what I do to the points collection.
That being said and before I even received the card, I find accumulating Starwood Preferred Guest points to be very difficult. They do not have any kind of earn extra points for spending in a category outside of staying at their properties. Some great prepaid products are run by American Express and I do not want to mix too much of my activity within their company.
In my last post on average cost, Cost of Chasing The Points, I wrote I was paying 1.07 cents per UR point. As my spreadsheet was expanding, and I was keeping gift card churning and prepaid cards separate it was artificially lowering my cost per point. So I have combined my sheets and now have accurate averages. Between now and then I have dropped it by 99%. Granted, that was when I made 6000 points, I have now manufactured five times that. The manufactured spend is through gift card/prepaid card churning.
The American Express SPG is a brand new card, and like when I originally posted the cost, it was slightly inflated. The SPG I still expect to be fairly high as the earnings are only 1x and no multiplier of any kind.
Make the Ultimate Rewards point cost lower
Find more creative ways to manufacture spend
Current method involves 2 steps
Find more cashback vendors, this would allow me to unload the Nationwide cash and continue to load the Nationwide Visa Buxx for cheap UR points at $.004/point
In the coming days, I have a series of posts on gift card churning for you to read. I was enlightened after funding my PayPal account with a My Cash and needed ways to remove the money from the account. I figured eBay was the best route to do that.
Previously, my gift card churning involved purchasing gift cards through point malls like Ultimate Rewards or TopCashBack (my referral) and then reselling on sites like Plastic Jungle or Cardpool to manufacture spending. Since the eBay gift card churning route began, I did not think some things would happen, like receiving gift cards not at the value they were supposed to be, why some folks wait 30 days to ship a gift card, among other interesting points.
The mini series posts are:
Gift Card Churning Snafu Gift Card Churning Advice Gift Card Churning Arbitrage Gift Card Churning Online Redemption
Gift card churning is not for the faint of heart. They involve some work to find deals, wait for the card to arrive in the mail, check to ensure the funds are there with the possibility of requiring to move said funds, among other things.
The last two times prior to my most recent visit to CVS to purchase a Vanilla Reload my transaction had to be limited at $500. Fortunately, the first time this happened, in Staten Island, the friendly cashier said she’d break my transaction into two.
The second time for the $500 limit, the shift supervisor had asked the manager and the manager said if by card, then $500 per person per day. I did not ask further, but my suspicions are any card purchase over $500 with a card is a loss prevention policy.
I also had the experience of self checkout where I purchased two different prepaid card on the self checkout and worked successfully. The screen states that any tender they accept were anything but CVS gift card and their money card. My most recent purchase at the self checkout, I decided to try and do two Vanilla Reloads, and would have worked. Except, my new Chase Freedom Mastercard declined the transaction and I wound up splitting it into two transactions using both my AMEX Hilton HHonors and Barclay’s US Airways card. Also to add, a CVS associate would need to be nearby to assist on the self check for two steps, once to confirm the value of the card at $500 and again to verify your identity with the credit card.
I have already maxed out my Chase Freedom Visa for this quarter at drug store purchase and will likely max out my new Freedom Mastercard.
Bottom line with CVS: Limitations is a store policy and not a POS determination. If you are able to find a cashier willing to do separate transactions then it would make the trip worthwhile.