1. Staples started offering fee free $200 Visa Gift Cards yesterday. The deal runs through Sunday, and is limit 5 per day (which really means per transaction). These are Metabank gift cards and they’re getting harder to liquidate, especially at Safeway, Albertsons, and related stores. Make sure you have a plan before going big on this one.

Use a card that bonuses at Office Supply stores like the Chase Ink Cash, US Bank Business Cash Rewards, or American Express Business Platinum with the 5x offer attached. I understand that some of you aren’t currently in a position to get a business card. In that case, check out the Huntington Voice Credit Card, which earns 3x on office supply purchases up to $2,000 per quarter. Bonus: This is a no-annual fee card that doesn’t pay anyone commissions, so it probably won’t be pushed on everyone only to devalue its benefits any time soon.

2. Yun let me know that the Rakuten Visible deal was up to $40 or 4,000 Membership Rewards back on service on Saturday, though as of this writing it’s back down to $20 or 2,000 Membership Rewards. Check the current rate at this link. Yes, this is manufactured spend even if it doesn’t seem like it at first blush: You’ll spend on cell phone service and earn miles and/or cash back and a $100 Mastercard after two months of service. I did a few of these this weekend and Rakuten auto-attached $15 off of the first month, making the deal even better (especially if you join any Party Pay group for free to knock $15 off of the monthly bill). This deal can scale.

3. Kroger has a coupon for $3 off of a fixed value Visa or Mastercard running between now and May 25. It can be used multiple times, just make sure you add the coupon to your Kroger account first in the mobile app or at the web site. These are US Bank issued gift cards, which in most cases will work better and at more places than Metabanks. Stack this deal with another coupon for 4x fuel points on fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards, though that one expires tomorrow.

A picture of a woman with red hair and a blue shirt walking into a pole at a playground.
Trying to liquidate Metabank gift cards at Safeway.

  • Visible Mobile is again offering $20 back or 2,000 Membership Rewards at Rakuten along with a $100 Mastercard after two months of BYOD service, which will cost you a total of $65 for the service. Chase has an offer floating around for $25 off of Visible Mobile service too, so bring that down to $40 for cell service, a $100 Mastercard, and some cash or points from Rakuten. This deal scales, I had a reader write in that they’ve done over 100 of these. For more, read Cell Phone Burners and Travel Hacking.
  • Yesterday’s 125,000 Delta Reserve card is now available with a referral link from another American Express card holder, like a friend or P2. This card is essentially buying about $1,400 of Delta travel for the $550 annual fee, or about 61% off. So, refer your P2 and you might be able to get 125,000 miles on the card and another 15,000 to 30,000 miles on the referrer’s end.
  • Doug R pointed out that there’s a 2x multiplier bonus that seems widely available for AA SimplyMiles, which you should see after logging in to your account. For the 2x to apply, you have to add the offers to your account between now and tomorrow night. I’d add them all on the off chance you’ll use one (BestBuy shows up as a decent option), then make sure that your credit cards are linked to the SimplyMiles platform. If you happen to trigger an offer by May 31, you’ll get double miles. Note that the offer says you have to use a co-branded card, but my guess is that any Mastercard will work.

    If you haven’t yet signed up for SimplyMiles, sign up here for 400 bonus AA miles.
  • The Bank of America Premium Rewards card is offering 2 points per dollar on grocery spend, uncapped. Meh, I say, except if you have Platinum Honors status with Bank of America. If so, you get a 75% extra in rewards, which makes this card a 3.5 points per dollar card, uncapped, on grocery spend. I still prefer the AmEx Personal Gold for grocery spend at 4x MR, but that’s capped at $25,000 in spend per year which can be knocked out in a couple of days. Uncapped is quite the flex on Bank of America’s part.
Friday flexing for miles

Delta SkyMiles are famously sucky in terms of overall value; for example, it’ll cost you 120,000 miles in business class each way between the US and Japan using SkyMiles (vs. say, 60,000 miles on Alaska). I don’t talk about SkyMiles much for that very reason, nor do I think you should hoard them. However, for domestic and short haul international travel they’re worth a floor of 1.127 cents per mile, and sometimes more when there are award sales. Delta lets you buy essentially any domestic or short haul international ticket with miles, so you’re not really fighting award availability in those cases either.

Take the above, and consider that currently it’s possible to get a Delta Reserve American Express card with a 125,000 mile bonus using this link (I stripped away any affiliate information so it’s completely clean, no one is going to get a commission with it.) Note: The link is subject to the American Express random number generator, so you may have to go incognito, try a different browser, and/or connect to a VPN. In my experiments, I was able to see it in Safari Private mode on the first try, and it didn’t come up in Brave’s Incognito mode in the first try. You can also try searching Google, Baidu, Bing, and Yahoo for “delta credit card” and clicking on a few of the resulting links.

Where am I going with all of this? The Delta Reserve card has a $550 annual fee, and you’ll earn 125,000 miles as a sign-up bonus after meeting minimum spend. That means you’re spending $550 for 125,000 miles * 1.16 cents per mile, or a total of $1,408 in Delta tickets for $550 out of pocket, which works out to a 61% discount on travel on Delta. As JustinV loves to say, America loves math.

Keep in mind that American Express has a 5-ish credit card limit (and a 10-ish charge card limit). Hint: The “ish” comes into play due to shenanigans.

Talking about skirting card limits.

I’ve already mentioned Debbit a time or two, but there’s a neat hack that it helps enable: Some credit card issuers will give you a monthly small balance waiver for balances under a buck or two, and often those issuers correspond with credit cards that you keep in your sock drawer anyway (Barclays, Discover, USAA, and US Bank are examples).

For those sock drawer cards, I suggest set up a recurring small charge in Debbit once a month as an Amazon balance reload, Xfinity bill payment, AT&T bill payment, or similar and you’ll earn a free $10-$20 / year for each card. You’ll also prevent them from being closed for non-use, which does happen.

Will you get rich like this? No, but at the end of the year you can buy a $10 Chipotle card with your Amazon balance. Is it worth your time? Maybe not just by itself, but multiplied by a few cards and convolved with having debbit set up for bonuses, it will pay off in due time. Also, at the end of the year through some advanced tom-foolery known as “paying with a gift card”, you can turn it into a burrito* to reap your rewards.

Woman eating a burrito.
Reaping the small balance waiver rewards

*For more on the origin of travel hacking and the burrito, I highly recommend visiting Milenomics and listening to their excellent, high quality podcast. I’m not a paid shill, just a big fan.

1. Avianca LifeMiles has a 15% transfer bonus when transferring from American Express Membership Rewards between now and May 31, 2021. The LifeMiles award chart has some sweet spots, and it’s a currency that you can game; in fact this was perhaps the most gameable airline mileage program after US Airways ceased to exist, though some of the best loop-holes have since closed. The current award chart has relatively decent prices to Europe at 63,000 miles for Business class or 87,000 miles in International First class, with lots of availability through Star Alliance partners. AwardWallet has a nice tabular LifeMiles Partner Award Chart, and Region Definition.

2. Make sure that you’ve added a Membership Rewards earning credit card to your Amazon account, then check here for a widely targeted offer of between 20 and 40% off at Amazon when using at least one membership rewards point. I would buy a BestBuy gift card, use exactly one point at checkout, and resell instantly for 96% (or higher with a consignment sale). Correction, I wouldn’t do that, I did do that.

A picture of a king chess piece laying down on a chess board, with lots of opposing chess pieces tying it down with string.
Avianca LifeMiles trying to hold down loop-holes.

I put together a short post on Gift Card reselling in April, so I thought I’d give it another round for May because reasons:

  • Bad news for Safeway, Albertsons, Vons, and other Just4U stores: Gene pointed me at a memo advising that BlackHawk Network cards (like those from Staples or Office Depot) don’t work any more for PIN purchases over $100 at the customer service desk. I’ve also heard that in several regions these cards aren’t working for PIN card transactions any more at Kroger either. Make sure your liquidation avenues can still support unloading these gift cards before you buy more.
  • To counteract the above, the Just4U stores rewards program has two worthwhile coupons this week. Just make sure you add them to your accounts: Buy two $100 Mastercard Gift Cards and get $15 off, and buy two $50 Mastercard Gift Cards and get $10 off. Both of these deals are below cost deals, so no brainers. They’re also Mastercard Gift Cards, which I famously prefer over the Visa variants.
  • BestBuy gift card reselling rates went as high as 97.5% this weekend. When you include some of the current grocery store rewards promotions in the mix, you could do better than break even, and that’s not considering credit card rewards. Historically, the these rates get as high as 99%-101% during Q4.
  • Target gift card rates have sprung back to life, they’re in the 90-92% range right now. If you bought gift cards during Target’s Manufactured Spend Gift Card Weekend and haven’t unloaded them yet, perhaps jump on that.
  • Mothers day gift card promotions have been pushing resale activity into its first major bull market of the year. There were dozens of great deals this weekend, and I expect that a bunch more will crop up over the coming week. A few examples: Happy cards at Target, Happy cards at Kroger, and Adidas gift cards.

My suggestion for you: get set up on a few gift card reselling markets and start experimenting until you get your feet wet and get the hang of it. We’re starting to enter one of the busy seasons of the year so it’s an easy time to cherry-pick your deals. Also, please remember that everything can go wrong (c.f., The Plastic Merchant), so never spend more than you’re willing to float or eat as a loss, and diversify your holdings and resale markets.

A broken swing set, which has largely fallen down, rusted, and is in major disrepair.
Behold, the majestic swinging gift card resale market!