Fortunately there’s still plenty going on with manufactured spend even though gift card resale prices still stuck in the sewers. Here are a few goodies:
1.Chase Merchant Offers has an offer for 10% back on up to $250 in spend at BestBuy now through March 3rd. Resale rates are at round 93% though, so I’d hold off until closer to March to get a higher rate.
2. There’s a better version of last week’s monster credit card offer for $3,000 back with Capital One: it’s $3,500 instead of $3,000 back if you apply through a business relationship manager (you can call a Capital One branch and ask to speak to their business relationship manager if you don’t already have one). Reportedly approval standards through a relationship manager are lower than if you applied for the public offer.
Side note: You can freeze one or two credit reports with Capital One and still get approved, just make sure you leave TransUnion unfrozen.
4. The most unsung of all the Unsung Hero credit cards, the no-annual fee Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card, is sending out targeted offers for 5% back on “online shopping” spend up to $100 as long as you spend $1,200, and the credit is once per month for three months, for a total of $300 cash back in addition to normal spending bonuses. Other variations have been reported too:
10x ThankYou Points per month for between $1,200 and $1,300 in spend (thanks to Katie)
5% back for spending at least $800 online, up to $90 cash back
I’m sure there are other offers too. Mine came in with the subject line: “Matthew, a limited-time offer just arrived. Activate now.”
5.Meijer MPerks is giving $50 back on $500 in third party gift cards in the form of a grocery credit for your next visit through February 12. Ok, technically it’s $5 back on $50 up to 10 times but you can knock it out with a single gift card.
Of course you should have multiple MPerks accounts to take advantage of this one, and double check that your gift card isn’t excluded (notably Apple is excluded, but BestBuy and Home Depot aren’t).
I finally got a kick in the pants to write this post after Rocky emailed and asked why I keep talking about the Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card but haven’t ever posted any real information about it. Why haven’t I posted anything when I clearly love the card? Well, I guarantee you don’t want to know what’s going on inside my head at any given moment, so let’s skip the why and jump into the what. The what:
This no-annual fee card will pay you $700 or more a year, seemingly in perpetuity.
I think it’s obvious to about everyone in the known universe that if you could choose to earn ThankYou Points or Shop Your Way Rewards, you’d choose ThankYou Points. Unfortunately, the only way to get the ThankYou Point version of the card is to call in and ask to convert your Shop Your Way Rewards earning to a ThankYou Point earning version, but I haven’t heard of anyone having any success doing that since 2020. So, if you’re like me, you’re probably going to be stuck with the Shop Your Way Rewards version.
What do you do with Shop Your Way Rewards? You can redeem ten of them for a penny toward merchandise like toilet paper, iPads, or neoprene dumbbells at shopyourway.com, or you can cash them out for a gift card to resell. I definitely do the latter.
Here’s why this card is really valuable: After you’ve had the card for two to three months and it’s been sock-drawered, you’ll start getting spending offers in your email inbox and those offers stack. And unlike everything else about Citi and Sears IT, they post automatically every-time. For example, I have the following spend offers all running concurrently and all from within the last 30 days:
$70 statement credit after spending $2,000 anywhere
10x points at Best Buy (lol) and home improvement stores up to $1,250 in spend
10% back in statement credits on utilities every month through January 2022 (min spend $400, max earn $50 per month)
All of these offers obviously pair really well together. For simplicity, I’ll buy 3x$500 BestBuy gift cards at BestBuy for resale and send a $500 “utility payment”. After those two transactions I’ll earn $120 in statement credits plus another $125 worth of Shop Your Way Rewards points, all from a no-annual fee card.
And while not all months have offers stack as nicely as this month, it happens a lot. A lot.
MS Hint: This card is like other Citi Mastercards in many ways, but it does a few things better than other Citi cards too so don’t forget to probe.
Circling back to the introduction: this no-annual fee card will pay you $700 or more a year through targeted spend offers. Why? The rumor I’ve heard is that the Sears Shop Your Way Rewards card is one of the most valuable cards in Citi’s portfolio because it’s typically held by older generations that grew up with Sears, and those cardholders typically carry a monthly balance which earns Citi plenty in interest and fees so they want to encourage more spending and bigger balances. The story sounds truthy, but I have no independent confirmation so let’s just call it a likely possibility.
How come you haven’t heard of this card before? Well I’m sure the main reason is Sears, though I don’t think it pays a commission to affiliates so there’s not a financial incentive to write about it. Finally, the Shop Your Way Rewards program isn’t exactly on-par with AAdvantage or Hyatt, so there’s that.
(Special thanks to Garth for introducing the card to me.)
It bonuses at 2x on department stores, restaurants, car rentals, and airfare
It has no annual fee
You can transfer to airline partners
You can cash out Membership Rewards to your Morgan Stanley account at one cent per point
The last bullet is the kicker, though the others are noteworthy too. This card may now be the best option for converting Membership Rewards to cash in an above-the-board sort of way. Yes, the Schwab Platinum gives you an extra 10% uplift on cash-out, but you also have to have a Schwab Platinum card and pay its $695 annual fee, which I guess you can offset slightly with Clear and a stupid gym membership.
Running the numbers quickly by moving the decimal, you’d have to cash-out more than 695,000 points with the Schwab Platinum at 1.1 cents per point to offset the annual fee of the Platinum card versus just cashing out at 1.0 cents per per point with the no fee Morgan Stanley Card; if you’re cashing out any number less than that over the period of a year, you should really be using the Morgan Stanley card and not the Schwab Platinum. As a really, really small incentive for getting the card, you’ll get 10,000 Membership Rewards as a sign up bonus after spending $1,000 within three months, and I’m guessing you’ve never gotten that signup bonus before. Right? It’s not exactly been high on my list.
1. Ready for another week of treadmill running with $200 Mastercard Gift Cards? Staples has your back with another fee free offer, limit five per transaction. I like it, but I don’t like it as much as the Office Depot/OfficeMax version which ends tomorrow because that one starts out as negative cost and gets even better with Dosh. The Staples one is “just” at-cost spend.
Related side note: Another card linked program, Ibotta, has worked with Staples online purchases in the past but seems to have died for anything useful (thanks to SideshowBob233).
2. The Citi Shop Your Way Mastercard has sent new targeted offers for the second half of August. I got one for $50 off of $750 in spend with the subject “Matthew, open now to unlock your special limited time offer! 🌟“, and there are reports of other offers for 15x on utility payments, which are honestly among the easiest categories of payments for manufacturing spend. Never heard of this card? That’s probably because as far as I know it doesn’t pay anyone a commission so you won’t find much written in the usual places.
Incidentally, the Citi Shop Your Way Mastercard is one of the next Miles Earn and Burn Unsung Hero cards thanks to its gameablity, monthly spending bonus offers that stack, and no-annual fee. This card is smoking hot.
Sam from Milenomics reminded me that the best sign-up bonus for this card is in-store at Sears and includes a free two-liter bottle of soda 🤣 in addition to the regular $40 bonus.
They combine hard pulls in the same calendar day, so you can apply for a card, get approved, then apply for another without a new hard pull
They’re great MS targets
They send targeted spend offers somewhat regularly
On that last note, check your email inbox for spend offers from Bank of America. (I’d search my email program for from:bankofamerica.com in:anywhere and look at the last couple of days worth of messages. Thanks to ukinny for the updated query which will also catch messages that wound up in spam.) People are seeing various offers including:
2% cash back on Alaska Airlines family of cards, up to $150 total cash back
1% additional cash back on the Cash Rewards family of cards, up to $150 total cash back
3% additional cash back on home improvement spend on the Cash Rewards family of cards, up to $75 total cash back
Remember that the cash rewards cards can have multipliers up to 1.75 with the Preferred Rewards program, which could mean up to 10.5% back (3% additional + 3% base) * 1.75. That’s bananas.
2. Delta sent me an offer for 2,500 Skymiles for changing an already booked flight via the website or mobile app. Thanks Delta, I’d love to do that, but literally every single itinerary I’ve booked says I need to contact Reservations to make the change. Thanks.
Hopefully, you’ll have more luck than I do. The T&C language says that you have to be targeted to get the bonus, but there are reports that it will work for anyone as long as your ticket was booked prior to March 2, 2021.
Look, I’m not here to push credit cards on you. When I’m recommending a card though, know two things: 1) I’m not getting a kickback, so that leaves me fiscally unbiased, and 2) if I’m bringing it up, it’s probably a good deal.
If you happen to have one of the excellent no-annual fee Bank of America Cash Rewards cards, either the personal or business, you might be surprised about what codes as 3% when you choose “Online Services” or “Business Services” as your bonus category. (Or kick that 3% up to 5.25% with preferred rewards for holding a balance at BoA in bank, brokerage, or retirement accounts.) For now, let’s say that several popular online or in-app money transfer or bill payment services will count. Get out there and try a few things!
Bet you thought I was going to write about the Rose Gold AmEx, right?
It’s rare to see anyone talk about the Rakuten Visa, likely because it doesn’t pay bloggers a commission for pushing it on you. If you don’t have this card though, seriously consider getting it. Here’s why:
It pays +3x for purchases when you start at the Rakuten shopping portal, above whatever the portal is paying
It’s from Synchrony bank, so it’s not taking up a Chase, AmEx, or Citi card slot
There is an asterisk or two to consider (giftcardmall.com and giftcards.com are excluded from the bonus 3x), but in general this card is a powerhouse for online spend. For example, yesterday the Rakuten portal was paying 10x for purchases at Sam’s Club. With the Rakuten card awarding an additional 3x by clicking through the portal, you were earning 13x for Sams. (And there were plenty of gift card deals at Sams that could be resold at or above cost, not including the insane MR earnings.)
If you don’t have a Rakuten account, get a referral from a friend. If you don’t have a friend with a Rakuten account, maybe use George’s at TravelBloggerBuzz. (He’s someone I respect and he won’t lead you astray.)