Gift card churning data collection thread

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by FrequentMiler, Dec 19, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    The idea behind gift card churning is to buy, upgrade, and ultimately liquidate gift cards: all for the purpose of earning points, miles, and elite status. This is not just about bank gift cards, but merchant gift cards as well. For a full explanation of gift card churning, see: The Art of Gift Card Churning.

    What I'd like to do with this thread is collect data about the types of gift card churns that are possible. Ideally we would categorize them into "Buy", "Upgrade", and "Liquidate". At the bottom of this post are a few examples. Please help by posting what you've learned!

    About "killing the deal": One fear some will have about this thread is that it will make opportunities public, vendors will suddenly see a rush of activity, they'll figure out what's going on, and they'll kill the deal. This has happened many times to various travel hacking opportunities, most famously to the Mint coins when it was killed after being aired on PBS. I can't promise that this won't happen here, but we'll do what we can to avoid it:
    • A built-in safeguard comes from the fact that gift card churning is complicated. Many people simply don't get it and won't take the time to try to figure it out. In contrast, the Mint opportunity was extremely easy to understand even though it was fairly difficult to actually do in large quantities. Because of its complexity, I have a hard time imagining a news show detailing gift card churning.
    • Bloggers: I would like to ask that we all follow the same rules. Only blog about a gift card churn opportunity if one of the following conditions are true:
      • It has already been widely blogged about
      • No one loses: I prefer for all churns to be this way. If all parties involved get at least a small cut in the action, then there is little reason for anyone to go out of their way to kill it. I know this sounds impossible, but if you think about Gift Card Harvesting, the only "loser" is the person purposely selling gift cards at a loss. Since they get their asking price anyway, they are really winners too.
      • It is a short term deal anyway: If a deal is only available for a day or a week, for example, then we might as well write about it to let people know. Reaction time for killing a deal is most likely measured in months not days or weeks.
    • Contributors: If you're worried about a contribution getting too widely known, feel free to use code words as is common in fuel dump threads. That will make people really work for it. I don't really believe that that is necessary here since gift card churning is already so complex, but it's certainly your right to do this.
    And now for the examples:

    Buy Gift Cards:
    • Magazines.com, 35X, UR Mall (verified)
    • Sears, 6X, UR Mall (verified)
    • Amex, 1.6% cash back, Big Crumbs (verified)
    • Kohl's, 10X, UR Mall (against T&C, but works most of the time anyway. Verified)
    • Various cards, 5X per dollar, in person using new Chase Ink Bold at Office Max, Office Depot, etc.
    Upgrade:
    • Walmart gift card --> Visa gift card, walmart.com (not verified)
    • Sears gift card --> EBay gift card, Sears & Kmart (in store only. verified. depends on cashier)
    • Sears gift card --> BP gift card, Kmart (in store only. verified. depends on cashier)
    Liquidate:
    • EBay. All merchant cards (no bank cards). 11.75% fees. Verified.
    • Plastic Jungle. Rate depends on merchant. Verified
    • Sears. Use store gift card for purchases 6X; UR Mall. Verified
    • Kohl's. Use store gift card for purchases 10X; UR Mall. Verified
    • etc.
    If you're interested in taking advantage of the info listed here, please do your part by contributing your findings. Thanks!
     
  2. al613
    Original Member

    al613 Silver Member

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    Great conversation! A question: If you buy an item at sears.com using a gift card and then return to the store, what will you get? New gift card, check or money will go to the old gift card? Also, what happens to Sears rewards earned on this purchase?
     
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  3. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    No idea. I'm not personally a proponent for schemes that involve returning merchandise. Sears pays for the UR points you get, but if you return whatever you buy, then they get nothing in return. With a regular double-dip where you buy something to keep or to re-sell, they get a smaller margin overall (due to the double dip), but at least they make a sale. Everyone has different views about this though, so it will be interesting to see what others think!
     
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  4. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    New data points:

    Buy gift cards:
    • Barnes and Noble, 8X, UR Mall (verified)
    • Barnes and Noble, 5% back using Amex business card with OPEN savings (not verified)
    Liquidate:
    • Does not work: Barnes and Noble purchases using gift card: Mr. Rebates, Big Crumbs, Ebates (verified that it does not work)
     
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  5. al613
    Original Member

    al613 Silver Member

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    I understand. One more data point - you do earn Sears Rewards for purchases made with gc, but not on purchases of gc. Seems like triple deep.
     
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  6. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    Yes, good point! Sears allows a triple dip that way. I keep forgetting about the Sears Shop Your Way Rewards. Just FYI for others, if you join the Shop Your Way program, most purchases at Sears give you points that are worth 1% of what you spent. As al613 mentioned, you don't get points from buying gift cards, but you do get them when using gift cards to buy other stuff. Also, they sometimes have promotions where you can get more than 1% back, especially if you buy a lot thru Sears and become an elite member of their program
     
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  7. 77W

    77W Silver Member

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    Omaha Steaks, 9x on UR Mall, double dip verified.
     
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  8. Scottrick
    Original Member

    Scottrick Gold Member

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    I am certain you won't be getting cash, a check, or some other cash-like currency. There is too much obvious potential for fraud, and most stores have a policy of returning credit to the original method of payment. For the sake of convenience, they will probably issue a new gift card rather than return credit to the old one.

    If you try to make a return without a receipt, some stores will make you sign a form and take down your personal information so they can track your history of returns and flag you if you are making a habit of it (again, they're looking for fraud). This applies even to merchandise that obviously came from that store, but it does seem to depend on the store. For example, Nordstrom was happy to issue a gift card for a returned $100 store-brand sweater, but I have gotten the third degree for returning a $10 store-brand hand towel to my local Fred Meyer without a receipt. I would bet Sears is in the latter category.
     
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  9. modernhaus

    modernhaus Active Member

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    Still super-intrigued to see if anyone can verify double dip of 70x on Magazines.com (buying gift card then redeeming). t&c says no, but some have tried...results?
     
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  10. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    Thanks for the reminder! I can verify this much: 35x on UR mall works for buying e-gift cards. I can also verify that you will not get points for the purchase of books (at least when using a gift card).
     
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  11. slotownmomma
    Original Member

    slotownmomma Silver Member

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    I can verify this works also. I would a $20 gift card for a gift (through UR) then went back through UR and purchased the magazine subscription and 700 points were posted quickly to my UR account. What a great gift holiday gift giving opportunity for friends & family that live far. So shipping quick transaction and big points for you the giver. Magazine.com sends them a nice e-Christmas card telling them their gift is coming.
     
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  12. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    It sounds like, like me, you got the 35X points for the gift card purchase, but not any points for the magazine subscription since $20 x 35 = 700. Is that right?
     
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  13. Tirerack.com, 3X thru UR mall. Double dip has posted.
     
  14. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

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    Double-dip with JCrew worked in UR. Earned points on GC purchase and points on redemption. Anyone who messes that one up for me will be punished severely! :mad: Enjoy.
     
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  15. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    What form of punishment would be involved? Time out? :D
     
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  16. mommypoints

    mommypoints Gold Member

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    Way worse. More like no Santa.
     
  17. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    Yikes!
     
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  18. fewtreezy

    fewtreezy Active Member

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    Not entirely related BUT for the giftchain promo I bought $350 worth of toys r us gift cards through southwest portal (3x's) and consolidated those cards into on $350 gc. So, I received 1050 sw miles. Then, I went to the store and bought $350 worth of amazon gift cards (technically kindle gift cards but they work all over amazon). Then, I went to endless.com. Fatwallet gives 8% cashback, so I logged in through their site. I bought my wife a $400 bag. So, in this round about way, I got a $400 bag (i realize not everyone will view this as a wise decision;)), $32 cash back and 1,050 southwest miles (valued at $17.50). That brings my total discount for the bag (on top of the original discount) to just under 12.5%. Instead of fatwallet you can get http://www.nerdwallet.com/discounts/store/Endless. That doesn't even include the giftchain promotions!

    Sorry if that's not related, but I guess to be related I could say toys'r'us --> Amazon
     
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  19. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    Wow, not only is this related, but it's awesome. If I understood this right, you've contributed all of the following data points:

    Buy GC: ToysRUS, 3X, Southwest portal
    Upgrade GC: ToysRUs gift card --> Amazon/Kindle gift card, ToysRUs (in store)
    Liquidate GC: Amazon/Kindle. Use store gift card for purchases at endless.com, 8% back; Fatwallet

    And: I've always used evreward.com to find cash/points back portals, but you've identified a new one (to me, anyway): http://www.nerdwallet.com/discounts/

    Awesome contribution! Thanks!
     
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  20. fewtreezy

    fewtreezy Active Member

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    Thanks for consolidating my post :). That is correct, that's what I did through the giftchain with amex.
     
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  21. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    Did your points post from buying the ToysRUs gcs?
     
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  22. fewtreezy

    fewtreezy Active Member

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    Yes, they posted within 5 days. The other part I forgot to mention is that I also got Toys'r'us rewards. They sent me a $25 gc.
     
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  23. skynerd

    skynerd Active Member

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    http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=12474 lists state laws requiring that gift cards be redeemable for cash under certain circumstances. If you live in one of these states, buying the covered gift cards in the smallest available denomination and cashing them out as soon as each card's value drops to the redemption threshold can result in an increase in the effective rebate that you got for buying the cards.
     
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  24. cotter77
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    cotter77 Silver Member

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    good stuff with sears GC at Kmart, buy Marriott GCs and use on travels.
    Why earn 5x on marriott chase CC when you can get 10x using URmall and kmart.
     
  25. FrequentMiler

    FrequentMiler Gold Member

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    Good point! I've also seen Southwest Airlines GCs at Kmart so if you got in on the 10 pt per dollar Sears gift cards (on Dec 9th), you can use them to buy Southwest Airlines GCs and get 10 pt per dollar for flying!
     
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