Mileage Run Shopping Results

December 9th 2011 was a big day!  It was the day in which Sears brought back 10 points per dollar in the Ultimate Rewards Mall and it was the day in which I did my first true mileage run which resulted in Platinum status on Delta and 54,000 Delta miles!  Many of you followed along as I flew from city to city using Delta’s in-flight internet to buy gift cards and electronics at Sears.com.  I finished selling everything off on EBay and now have the results.

Purchases

I bought three DSLR cameras: the Canon T3, the Canon T3i, and the Nikon D5100.  I also bought a Canon lens (in order to qualify for a $100 off deal for buying both a camera and lens), and a Barnes and Noble Nook Color e-reader.

Sales

I listed all of the items on EBay, each with a starting price of only $.99, free shipping, and no reserve fee.  In other words, I gambled – all in.  Most items sold at close to the original price except for the T3i which sold for slightly higher.

Expenses

I had to pay sales tax on each item that I purchased from Sears.  I also had to pay EBay closing fees, PayPal transaction fees, and USPS shipping.

Net Loss

Before accounting for the value of the points gained, I lost a total of $391.43.  With purchases that totaled $2277, that comes to a loss of about 17%.  I had hoped for a loss of only about 10%, but I still came out ahead:

Gains

Not counting points earned from personal purchases, I gained over 49,600 Ultimate Rewards points from these purchases.  I also gained 1% in Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards (which can be used for future Sears’ purchases).  If I wanted to, I could completely cover my losses by trading in 39,100 points for cash and keep the rest as profit.  However, I value Ultimate Rewards points more than that!  At the fair trading price of 1.31 cents each, the points gained are worth $650 plus about $22 in Shop Your Way rewards.  Not bad!  Even better, I was able to put significant spend on my credit card towards meeting minimum spend requirements.

Buying Points and Miles

Since I don’t plan to trade in my points for cash, I prefer to think of this whole transaction as a complicated way to buy points.  Since I spent a total of $391.43 and gained over 49,600 points, my cost per point came to .79 cents each.  I consider anything less than the fair trading price of 1.31 cents to be a win, and anything less than 1 cent per point to be a big win.  So, yes, despite the $391 in losses, I think I won big!

How did you do?

I know that a number of you did your own version of this gift card churn.  How did you do?


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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

  1. Good work! January may not be the best time for selling things on EBay, but I’ll have to put some thought into how I would run this experiment myself.

  2. Chase did not let me double dip 🙁

    I only got points for what was actually charged to my card.

    I also bought clothing that was listed as a K-Mart purchase on my card and I did not get credit because it did not say Sears.

  3. Do you value your time at nothing? Seems to me you are spending lots of time doing all this hard work (buying stuff on Dec 9th, waiting for it to be delivered, unpacking it, taking pics for eBay, listing on eBay, answering all the inevitable stupid questions from eBay buyers, keeping track of everything, who it sold to, how much, etc, shipping the items to eBay auction winners, tallying up all your final details, writing this blog post, etc). And all this for only a paltry ~$275? And it’s not even like it’s $275 cash in your pocket, rather you bought UR pts. Just seems to me like a LOT of work for a very small return. JMHO.

  4. I agree with gregorygrady, plus how do you feel taking advantage of the system and react to Sears closing stores? Sure, you generated some sales but who knows if they made any *profit* after factoring in the miles they gave you.

  5. Are we really going to debate “taking advantage” here? Maybe these blogs are not the right place for you.

    Congrats on the score. All done with little time spent as you were on a plane anyways. Many of us have available time that we have to spend and earning miles is better than playing tetris at work any day!

  6. FWIW, I don’t have a problem with the blog author “taking advantage”. It just all seems to me to be a big waste of time. Contrary to what the poster above states, it was NOT all done while on a plane. Only the ordering was done on a plane, which constituted maybe 5% of the total time it took for this whole scheme.

  7. @gregprgrady

    Well, dont be so harsh on the blogger. I admire him for sharing with us.

    Dont forget, he also mentioned his transactions helped him meet ALL his credit card spend requirements.

    What is considered “meaningless” to you doesnt mean it’s not valuable to others.

  8. Keep in mind the cost of one’s time is relative to the amount of free time they have and the enjoyment they get out of it. For example, I invested a lot of time into the US Grand Slam, but it was also a lot of fun and a welcome distraction once cold and wet arrived here in SEA. Hunting for deals is a more fun to me than watching TV or other forms of entertainment. Others might value n alternative forms of entertainment higher. I view my free time similar to overhead. What did it cost me if I spend it on something I enjoy? That’s not to say it hasn’t put me in the dog house with Miss HikerT at times. I have found I can only use the excuse, “honey, I do this so you can fly first class” so many times. 🙂

  9. BTW, just liquidated my gift cards. Similar to Charles, no points for purchases made with my GCs, so no double dip (yet). I placed my order on Dec 26, so may not have given it enough time.

  10. i did a bunch of groupon getaways purchases and then returned them for refunds a few days later. the points earned were deducted promptly, sucks

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