Triple Dip Shopping at Barnes and Noble

Through a variety of tricks, it is possible to stack three discounts when shopping at Barnes and Noble! 

Last week I wrote about how I was going to attempt to “double dip” at Barnes and Noble by buying a B&N gift card through an online shopping portal (Ultimate Rewards) and then using the gift card through other portals (Big Crumbs, Mr. Rebates, and EBates).  You can read the full story here.  Well, the results are in!  And, despite the title of this post, it didn’t really work.  On the plus side, the Ultimate Rewards points posted almost immediately!  On the other hand, the cash back portals have listed my B&N purchases as “$0 dollars” which makes me confident that I won’t get cash back from them.  Don’t feel too bad for me, though: I did use 20% off coupons so I really came out well ahead anyway!

Due to the information above, I was going to title this post something like “No double dip at Barnes and Noble”.  But then I read Gary’s post “The Enduring Value of the Starwood American Express Card“.  That post reminded me about the American Express OPEN discounts that are available to people who hold the business version of certain Amex cards.  Most Amex cards have both a personal and a business version, and if you get the business version you will qualify for a special discount program that Amex runs called OPEN. When you use your Amex business card with certain merchants, you will automatically get a discount credited back to your card.  It so happens that Barnes and Noble is one of those merchants!  It only works when you buy online, though.

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If you happen to have the right mix of credit cards, here is how to triple dip at Barnes and Noble:

Step 1: Figure out how much you want to spend

Step 2: Buy a gift card

  • Go through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall to Barnes and Noble in order to buy an e-giftcard for the amount you want to spend.  You will get 8 points per dollar by buying the gift card this way.  If you do not have access to Ultimate Rewards, then go to EVReward.com to find the best alternative.
  • If you have one, make sure to use a business Amex card that is part of the OPEN program.  If so, you should get 5% back from your gift card purchase!

Step 3: Find the best coupon code

  • For online purchases, you can use code T3N9N3L until the end of the year to get 20% off your purchase.  Otherwise Google for the best promo code you can find.
  • If you want to make purchases in person, consider getting a B&N membership.  They’ll send you coupons that can be used in store.

Step 4: Buy what you want using your gift card

Savings Listed

  • From the Ultimate Rewards mall, you will get 8 points per dollar.  Since the fair trading price for Ultimate Rewards points is 1.31 cents, this amounts to a 10.48% rebate (on everything, including shipping and taxes).
  • From Amex OPEN, you will get another 5% rebate (NOTE: I haven’t tried this yet, so there is some risk that they won’t award this for gift card purchases, but I think the risk is very small).
  • From B&N promo codes or coupons you will hopefully get about 20% off.

Not bad!


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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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  1. You say your points posted almost immediately, I keep not seeing points and everytime I call Chase I get a different answer. The lastest one is no bonus points post until my statement closes. Also, with the idea posted above when you say buy what you want is it just all B&N products? Thanks for your help.

    • Rick: Great questions! When I said that points posted I meant that I went to the Ultimate Rewards Mall and clicked the dropdown menu on the far right called “Rewards Activity” and then clicked on “Ultimate Rewards Mall and Travel Earnings”. There you will see which purchases have been credited to your account. You are right that you won’t actually get those points until after your statement closes. And, yes, I meant that you would use B&N gift cards for buying anything through the B&N web site.

      By the way, when I said that points posted “almost immediately” it actually took about 3 days. That is very fast for the points/cash back portals. Other purchases thru the UR mall have taken as long as 16 days so your mileage may vary.

  2. So I checked the rewards activity link and it show no activity. I did the Dec 9th Sears promo, should I see something. Chase tells me I will get points at statement close, but they say they can see how many will post. I can return most of the items and unused cards if I have to and just wait for the next promo if I have to.

    • Rick: That’s not good. You should be able to see the points by now. I guess your best bet is to wait until after statement close (and a few days after that), then if you still don’t see any points either: 1) call Chase and try to resolve the issue; or 2) return items as you suggested.

  3. I also made purchases at Sears on Dec 9th through the UR shopping portal and have yet to see the bonus points appear under Reward Activity. The site does say, though, that “New transactions may take up to eight weeks to appear on your activity page after the transaction has been billed to your Chase card account”. Perhaps they are backed up?

  4. what do you gain on this one by starting off buying gc’s? you’d get the same triple tip if you just went into the ur portal and bought what you wanted from b&n using your coupon code and amex open.

    • a: Good point! Yes, you can triple dip directly too! The advantages of the gift card approach are that you can get points from Chase & dollars back from Amex even if you will ultimately buy in-store instead of online. Also, with the gift card approach you get points for money that will be used for sales tax. Usually that part is excluded.

  5. i hear ya, for in-store that’s definitely a good option. but for the points you gain on sales tax, i think you end up the losing side because when buying gift cards you lose all the protection that a cc offers you, ie, added warranty, damage/return protection etc. i guess if you’re just buying books and stuff it might not matter, but for a nook or something of high value it definitely has to be considered.
    anyway, i really enjoy your style of thought, keep up the great work.

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