You never know quite what’s inside the PenFed enigma of a bank, but they can be an manufactured spender’s dream. If that weren’t enough, now they have a rather compelling credit card offer for $425 worth of points and $100 in travel credits, which can be double-dipped in 2020 and 2021 if you hurry (so, $625 total). There’s no annual fee for this card if you have an “Access America” checking account, which anyone can sign up for by paying $5 to join.

If you know someone who has a PenFed account of any type already, they can refer you to this credit card and earn $50. This works really well with a player two. If you don’t have a P2 with a PenFed account, find a friend who has one and ask them for a referral. They’ll appreciate the referral bonus I’m sure.

News headline with a pictured bottle of chocolate milk and headline: "Man goes to hospital after drinking unknown liquid from McDonald's chocolate milk container"
Just like with McDonald’s, you never know what’s inside with PenFed.

Now through 12/25/2020, you can get $500 Vanilla Visa eGift cards with no purchase fees using promo code EGIFT2020, limit of 10 per transaction. If you have a hard time getting orders approved, use guest checkout and PayPal Key. Also, remember PayPal Key is great for something like this for other reasons too (hint: coding).

Since these are eGift Cards, you’ll need to liquidate them online unless you’ve got an electronic credit card, or another way of getting the prepaid card info onto a physical card. There are a online few methods out there that work easily for eGift cards like this, do some research.

Vanilla “liquidation”, courtesy of Vanilla Ice

Do this now:

  1. Register your Discover IT cards for Q1 bonuses
  2. Register your Chase Freedom cards for Q1 bonuses
  3. Register your US Bank Cash+ cards for Q1 bonuses

Spend strategies:

  • Discover
    • Grocery Stores
      • Buy US Bank Visas and convert to a money order
      • Buy BestBuy gift cards and resell
      • Buy groceries, I guess?
    • CVS/Wallgreens
      • Buy 3rd party gift cards during periodic sales and resell
  • Chase Freedom
    • Wholesale Clubs
      • Buy MetaBank gift cards at Sam’s club if you can liquidate
      • Buy 3rd party gift cards during periodic sales and resell
    • Internet, Cable, and Phone
      • Pay (and pre-pay) your bills
    • Streaming services:
      • Load your Apple Wallet balance
      • Pay (and pre-pay) streaming (Netflix / Disney+ / etc)
  • US Bank Cash+
    • Electronic Stores
      • Buy BestBuy gift cards and resell
    • TV, Internet, and Streaming
      • Load your Apple Wallet balance
      • Pay (and pre-pay) streaming (Netflix / Disney+ / etc)
    • Cell phone providers
      • Pre-pay your bill

This was a long post, sorry — I made it as short as I felt reasonable. As a bonus hint for those who made it this far: You’ll be surprised at all the things that count as 3x “Online Spend” or “Business Services” with the BoA Cash Rewards family of cards. It’s really easy to knock those out too.

This caption is not TL;DR

OfficeDepot and OfficeMax (why are they different at all at this point? It’s the same company) are offering a few deals for holiday gifts manufactured spend:

  • Purchase $300 or more in MasterCard Gift Cards and get a $15 instant rebate between now and Saturday evening. The total cost will be $298.90 (1x$200 and 1x$100) for $300, or $398.90 for $400 (2x$200) worth of MasterCard gift cards.
  • Starting Sunday, purchase $300 or more in Visa Gift Cards and get another $15 rebate. This will last through the following Saturday evening. (Note: These numbers are correct today, but they may change the deal before Sunday. Double check.)

All of these deals are limited to one per transaction; friendly cashiers will let you do this multiple times spread across transactions. Of course, use a credit card like the Chase Ink Cash that bonuses at office supply stores to goose this deal. On the liquidation front, watch out for BHN issues purchasing money orders at Walmart.

What your Office Depot store will probably look like in the near future.

AAA, your favorite legacy roadside assistance company, has teamed up with your favorite legacy big box electronic store because… well, because reasons. The pairing is offering you BestBuy gift cards at 95% of face value at participating AAA locations. You can pay with a credit card, and purchase limits are high ($10k+), though your mileage may vary. The promotion runs until December 24. Reportedly at least one location is asking you to use a AAA credit card, but I think that’s also YMMV.

Be aware that there was a Black Friday BBY gift card secondary market liquidity crisis, though the market has recovered and you can again sell BBY gift cards at 98-100% of face value with reputable brokers, or above face value if you’ve nurtured a relationship with a buyer.

Next up, NYPD partners with BestBuy to sell discounted HDMI cables at NYPD precincts.

On Saturday and Sunday, Target Gift Cards are 10% off, limit $500. The limit is per account if buying e-gift cards, or per transaction for in-store physical gift cards. You can buy these at self checkout too, where the number of transactions is limited only by your level of self-consciousness and by how much you care about those waiting in line behind you. Unlike previous years though, you have to clip a one time use coupon in Target Circle. What does that mean? Burner account time.

The miles and points angle? You get credit card spend, and you can sell these for above break even for most of the year. Historically, rates have dipped in December and January as a glut of supply hits the market so plan on holding for a couple of months if that’s your game. Don’t forget that is a Discover 5% cash back category in Q4, bringing your total discount to 15%.

Levels of this deal:
0: Save on stuff you’re going to by anyway (use the card yourself)
1: Sell the card at 90% of face (break even + CC spend)
2: Sell the card at above 90% of face (profit + CC spend)
3: Buy a higher spot-rate gift card with your target gift card (more profit + CC spend)
4: Organize a hostile corporate takeover of Target using discounted gift cards (own a Fortune 500 company + CC spend)

A stand up circular target for bow & arrow practice, with arrows scattered on the ground and stand but none hitting the target surface.
Hitting the target deal perfectly

HSBC has been offering me $30/month for using my debit card and sending a few bill payments. It’s almost not worth my time other than I automated it through debbit (a free/OpenSource tool). If you’re slightly technical and can configure it, debbit lets you put recurring charges on a debit or credit card automatically, either fixed value or random within a range. I set it up months ago and use it for $0.50 Amazon reloads and $0.10 Xfinity payments. It works well for keeping dormant credit cards alive or for high interest bank accounts too.

I started using debbit for something else — SoFi has offered to “round up” transactions for a total of $50 between now and Christmas, and guess how you make that one almost trivial too? Yep.

My advice to you: Spend 15-30 minutes now and let the automation make you money now and going forward, but only if your technical level is at least at the writing excel formulas level.

Drinking bird in front of laptop
My automated spending setup on the beach.

For a more complete treatise, see this article at Independently Financed on Saverocity.