It’s a good-news, bad-news Thursday it seems. Let’s start with the bad so we can leave on a positive note:

The Bad

  1. Dell has stopped selling Xbox gift cards, which are a mainstay for cashing out American Express Dell Business Platinum credits after reselling the gift cards, or for loading a cash balance at Microsoft to buy an expensive laptop. It’s also been reported that orders placed Friday and later are either:

    – Not being charged, but being fulfilled
    – Being cancelled

    If you’re in the first camp expect Dell to come back in three to six months and ask you to pay up long after your AmEx Dell $200 credit expires.
  2. Stephen at GC Galore has been investigating Bitmo and reports that not only have they likely silently closed shop and aren’t redeeming card purchases any more, they’ve launched a new company called HungryFriend that seems to be a direct copy of the Bitmo code. So, prolly stay away from HungryFriend going forward.

The Good

  1. American Express has a 25% bonus for Membership Rewards transfers to AirFrance / KLM FlyingBlue. Sweet spots:

    Promo awards
    – Economy flights in Europe
    – Business class on SkyTeam to and from Europe
  2. H-E-B Grocery stores have a promotion for 20% off of several $100 third party gift cards, including a few popular brands for resale like Kohl’s, Adidas, and Macy’s with clipped digital coupon. There are reports that the discounts aren’t always coding correctly (in favor of the buyer), so try a few different combinations and see what you find.
  3. Kroger has another 4x fuel points promotion on third party gift cards running for the next couple of weeks through December 6. Fortunately, enterprising third party gift card resellers still have utility in the fuel points side of the game too.

Happy Thursday friends!

The Dell website with a gaping Xbox hole.

  1. American Express gift cards are fee free through the end of the year with promo code BUYMORE, which is useful when combined with the current American Express gift card offer (Thanks to reader Hamed)
  2. Now that yesterday’s super-secret Target gift card ship has sailed, let’s recap what happened so you have an example for future probing. There was a particular three pack of $20 Visa gift cards with an $8.50 load fee, but when you balance checked the gift cards, each actually had $60. So, you paid $68.50 and had $180 in Visa gift cards.

    Lesson: Always balance check gift cards after you buy them.
  3. Do this now (if you hold a Chase Sapphire Reserve): Register for two years of Lyft pink:

    – Open the mobile app
    – Set your default payment card to the Sapphire Reserve
    – Click “Lyft Pink” under the menu
    – Check “I agree” and click Activate Now

    Set a reminder in your phone to cancel the service on November 1, 2024 too to make sure that they don’t auto-bill you in two years.
  4. Check for an email from Capital One Shopping for a targeted offer of 24% back at Giftcards.com, up to $2,000 in spend.

The Capital One Shopping portal 24% back deal. (iykyk)

Tuesday Gift Cards

Apparently this is the week of open loop gift card deals, what a time to be alive! Here are a few more because yesterday wasn’t enough:

  1. Gift Card Granny has free shipping on Visa and Mastercard gift cards through November 24 with promo code NOV22. These are Sutton bank gift cards and typically easy to liquidate in person.
  2. American Express has several offers for a discount at amexgiftcard.com:

    – $50 back on $1,000 or more
    – $20 back on $300 or more
    – $10 back on $100 or more

    These are American Express gift cards so money order liquidation and other typical in-store techniques are out. Also, yes, it’s safe to buy these with an American Express. (Thanks to DoC)
  3. I heard from many of you that there’s a special blend of gift cards for sale in store at Target that are quite rewarding for manufactured spend. Always be probing.
  4. Starting tomorrow and running for a week, Hy-Vee stores will have $10 back on $150 or more in Visa gift cards, and likely that means $30 back on a $500 Visa gift card so go nuts.

    Remember that if your family lives in flyover country Hy-Vee territory and you’re visiting for Thanksgiving, this might be a good money-making escape.

Liquidation

Since those American Express cards in particular are hard to liquidate, let’s discuss a few strategies that effectively always work on gift cards from home:

  • BravoPay (high fee though, effectively 3.5%)
  • Kiva (can be zero fee, but there’s a risk of loss and a time component)
  • Services designed for corporate bill payment

There are other options too, and they’re almost always a FinTech that’s trying to transfer money from investor’s bank accounts to yours solve a problem that didn’t exactly need solving, so look around.

Another form of liquidation, FTX’s FTT coin. (Too soon?)

  1. Meijer MPerks has $50 back in rewards with a $500 third party gift card purchase through December 10. Notable exclusions include Apple, Amazon, Visas, and Mastercards, but other bulk brands like BestBuy, Nike, Home Depot, and ebay are eligible.

    The best use of MPerks rewards at scale is often buying electronics to ship to buyer’s groups.
  2. Giftcards.com has a sale for 5% off of the total purchase price of physical or virtual Mastercards through Thursday on up to $1,500 per order. There are currently three promo codes: VETERANSDAY, VETERANSDAYSALE, MASTERSALE, and as far as I know they’re interchangeable. You can repeat the order for physical gift cards every 24 hours, or for virtual gift cards every 48 hours per account.

    Don’t forget to go through a shopping portal, and also don’t forget about the “politician upset over loss” shopping portal bonuses which make this even more compelling.
  3. Staples has fee free $200 Mastercard gift cards, limit eight per transaction through Saturday. These are Metabanks, so have a liquidation plan in play. (It’s possible to do both from home and in-store. Always be probing.)
  4. Office Depot/OfficeMax has $15 back in $300 or more in Visa gift cards through Saturday. They’re also Metabanks. To scale:

    – Try for multiple transactions back-to-back to optimize your time
    – Link your credit cards to Dosh
    – Add a pen, paperclips, or some other item to your transaction for Dosh longevity
    – Buy the “Everywhere” cards for a lower fee and usually easier in-person liquidation

Happy Monday!

Alec Baldwin reminds us of an oldie, but a goodie — especially this time of year.

Introduction

Historically speaking the time between the second week of November and Christmas has been the biggest volume for manufactured spend in the year, at least during my career. That’s because:

  • Buying lots of Visa and Mastercard gift cards is temporarily normalized
  • Most stores run first-party holiday gift card promotions
  • Big gift card sellers run third-party holiday gift card promotions
  • Consumer electronics and other hot items for buyer’s groups are well stocked and often on sale
  • Nit-picky cashiers and customer service representatives are too busy to worry much about what you’re doing

If you want to participate in the gift card or buyer’s groups holiday manufactured spend cluster-hug, this weekend is a great time to get signed up with the major players so you have a liquidation channel and deal alert notification flow.

Gift Card Buyers and Resellers

In no particular order, most volume in third party gift cards flows through one of these buyers, all of which are considered generally reputable in the community, and I’ve checked with all of them and they’re ready to on-board for the holidays:

Buyers Groups

The following buyer’s groups are considered generally reputable in the community, and if you sign-up this weekend you should be on-boarded in time for black Friday:

Let me also offer some unsolicited advice: While you’re figuring out how buying groups work, stick with deals from Amazon and skip the other stores which can often require some voodoo to get working properly.

Good luck!

A manufactured spend prepper’s closet.

  1. Hy-Vee Grocery has Meijer style promotion running through November 15 for $10 back on each $150 or more in Mastercard gift cards. It’s Meijer style because a single $500 gift card earns 3x$10 back for a total cost including activation fee of $475.95.

    If you have an easy liquidation path, this is one of those deals that’s good enough that a trip to Hy-Vee territory may even make sense (and let’s face it, who hasn’t wanted to see Ashwaubenon, WI?). If you do it in the next three days, you can also stop at nearby Meijer stores for $10 in Meijer rewards for $150 or more in Visa gift cards. (Thanks to Justin via MEAB slack for pointing me to GC Galore and testing that the total cost was indeed $475.95)
  2. Kroger online is running a promotion for a $10 Kroger gift card and 4x fuel points with the purchase of a $100 Delta Air Lines gift card. As long as you can use the fuel points and the gift card this is somewhere between a 15% and 24% discount depending on your gas tank size. Unfortunately it’s limit one per order so it’s tedious to scale, but you can do it in-between Hy-Vee purchases I guess.
  3. Do this now (if you’re an American Express Hilton cardholder): Register for 1,000 bonus points for each $500 spent (targeted), up to $5,000 in spend.
  4. Barclay’s has added transfer partners for points earned on the Arrival Plus card, but unless you’re locked out of every other bank or have a major JAL award sweet spot, it’s not worth your time because the transfer ratios are frankly awful. Citi, American Express, Chase, and Capital One are all better options.

Some call this spot in Ashwaubenon the (-1)th wonder of the world.

Note: If you’re an email subscriber, you may have missed yesterday’s post because the plugin I’m using and daylight savings time changes don’t go well together. I believe it’s working properly now though.

Today’s items include a strange gem or two:

  1. Two US carriers are running fare sales, and it’s worth checking existing travel to see if you can get a partial refund:

    Alaska to and from ski resort cities, book by Friday
    Southwest on Tuesday and Wednesday flights, book by tomorrow evening

    The Alaska sale gets you free skiing at a few ski resorts too by showing your boarding pass. Of course in a world of refundable fares, someone didn’t think too hard about how gamers gonna game.
  2. Qatar Avios has a transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points and several other programs. This one is oddly tiered:

    – 20% bonus for transfers of 29,999 ThankYou Points or less
    – 30% bonus for transfers of 30,000 ThankYou Points or more

    Qatar Avios are great for business class to and from Europe, but for other cases you can transfer them to Iberia, Aer Lingus, or British Airways Avios at avios.com for other sweet spots.
  3. There’s a $100 sign-up bonus for opening a Q.ai brokerage account and funding with $100. Reportedly bonuses will post within a day typically, but take screenshots of the offer during sign-up in case they don’t. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. Office Depot has $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift card purchases through Saturday. Remember, these are Metabanks, and Visa and Mastercard aren’t the same. (Thanks to ChurningTatum)

Another strange gem.

  1. Discover bank has gameable savings account bonus promotion running through this evening. It’s interesting for three reasons:

    – The bonus posts within two or three business days
    – You can deposit and withdraw the same money multiple times but deposits are cumulative for the bonus
    – There’s no time requirement for holding the funds at the bank

    The downside? There’s once-per-lifetime language. The offers are $450 for $35,000 in deposits in 30 days, with code BONUS1022E, or $500 for $50,000 in deposits in 30 days with code BONUS1122D. (Thanks to DoC)
  2. There are multiple holiday shopping portal bonuses through November 21, though because today is election day let’s call them “politician upset over loss” shopping portal bonuses.

    5,000 United MileagePlus miles for spending $1,200 or more
    4,000 AA miles for spending $1,500 or more
    3,500 Southwest Rapid Rewards for spending $1,000 or more
    2,000 Delta SkyMiles for spending $800 or more
    1,500 Alaska MileagePlan miles for spending $650 or more

    These are somewhat gameable, one of several examples includes purchasing gift cards at GiftCards.com. On that note, Miles shared that the language in the terms and conditions at for GiftCards.com has changed on most portals from “Orders over $2,000 max per month per customer are not eligible” to “Orders over $2,000 are not eligible”. What does that mean? Great question, I’m so glad you asked. I have no idea what it means, but always be probing.
  3. Do this now (if you have an American Express Platinum card): Enroll for Hertz President’s Circle status.
  4. Chase finally increased the referral sign-up bonus on several cards to match the increased sign-up bonuses available on the public applications, so now’s a good time to refer P2 for a new card, or find a new friend and make their day by using their referral. You can generate referral links here. The cards:

    – Ink Cash: 90,000 Ultimate Rewards
    – Ink Unlimited: 90,000 Ultimate Rewards
    – Southwest Plus, Premier, Priority, and Business: 75,000 Rapid Rewards Points

    There’s also an increased sign-up bonus for the United Business card for 150,000 MileagePlus miles after spending $20,000 in three months. If this one is on your radar I’d wait a week or two to see if it also becomes available via referral before committing.

Have a quadruple decker slice of something in honor of politician upset over loss shopping portal bonus day.