Join the gift card churning conversation

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the Art of Gift Card Churning.  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.

Unlike credit card offers that tend to be advertised everywhere, good gift card opportunities can be hard to find.  Deals often depend upon whether shopping portals will pay out for gift card purchases, whether stores will allow you to buy gift cards with other gift cards, and so on.  The only way to find out those things is to try them.  It would be impossible, though, for one person to try out every combination just to see what works.  Instead, let’s share our findings.  I’ve created a MilePoint thread for this purpose.  Please visit the thread here and please help by sharing what you’ve learned!

About “killing the deal”: One fear some will have about this 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).
  • 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: 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 my post on 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 codes 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.

What do you think?  Is this a good idea?  Will you join the conversation?


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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

    • Gary: 🙂 Yes, I see the circular reasoning here! Maybe bloggers from a parallel universe? But seriously, there is some possibility that there are some bloggers out there who won’t see this post. I know it seems improbable… Also, of course, there are many tricks that have already been widely published: Sears double dip, Big Crumbs Amex cards, etc.

  1. It is a good idea if the churner has the time and willingness to go through the effort.

    I have a different, less effort plan. When my Ink card arrives I’ll buy a $3K business class ticket to anywhere, then a cancel the flight. That will cost me a $150 change fee and give me a credit with United for a few flights.

    I’ll have 56K miles (bonus plus 2x on price) for 150 all in.

    I happen to have enough normal expenses to cover the 3K on my Sapphire, but even if I had to do this twice, $300 for the equivalent of a RT F to EU is a good deal considering that there is no effort involved.

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