Maximize points per dollar at Amazon.com

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You are probably aware that you can earn 1 extra mile per dollar spent at Amazon.com by going through Hawaiian Airlines online shopping portal.  That’s not bad, but here are a few ways to do much better:

Chase Freedom:

In the first quarter of 2012, gas stations and Amazon.com are the 5X bonus categories for the Chase Freedom card.  As long as you register for the promotion, until the end of March anything you buy at Amazon.com will be rewarded with 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, up to $1500 for the quarter.  After the first quarter, not all is lost.  Take a look at the Freedom’s bonus category chart:

  • Q1 (January – March): Gas stations and Amazon.com
  • Q2 (April – June): Groceries and movie theaters
  • Q3 (July – September): Gas stations and restaurants
  • Q4 (October – December): Hotels, airlines, Best Buy and Kohl’s

Q1 is already covered.  In Q2, note that groceries are on the list.  According to this Amazon.com page a number of grocery stores carry Amazon.com gift cards.  So, from April to June, rather than buying from Amazon.com directly, go to your grocery store to buy Amazon.com gift cards.  After you apply them to your Amazon account, all future purchases will default to using the gift card credit (this will work for regular purchases, download movie rentals, subscribe & save purchases, etc.)

In Q3, I think you’re out of luck (unless you saved up on gift cards from earlier), but in Q4 you can go to BestBuy to buy more Amazon gift cards!

Chase Ink Bold:

The new Chase Ink Bold offers 5 points per dollar for purchases at office supply stores.  Both Staples and Office Max carry Amazon gift cards according to this Amazon.com page.  So, using your Chase Ink Bold, visit one of those stores and load up on Amazon.com gift cards.

American Express Business cards

Most, if not all (?) American Express business cards give you American Express OPEN Savings.  This means that, for purchases at certain merchants, you get money credited back to your account.  One example is OfficeMax in which you receive 5% back for purchases of $100 or more.  By buying Amazon.com gift cards at OfficeMax using your Amex business card, you can save 5% on all Amazon purchases!

Citi Forward

The Citi Forward card offer 5 points per dollar for restaurants, books, movies and music.  Probably because of the “books” category, Amazon.com purchases receive 5 points per dollar!

Other Cards

If you hold a credit card that offers bonus points in certain categories such as groceries, drug stores, office supplies, etc., then check out the list of stores that carry Amazon.com gift cards.  Find a store that qualifies and use your card to load up!

Icing on the Cake

Once you have loaded up on Amazon.com gift cards, don’t forget that you can still earn Hawaiian Airlines miles for your purchases!  Make sure to sign up for their HawaiianMiles frequent flyer program and then visit Amazon.com on their online portal before making any purchases.


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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. Has anyone ever tested the OPEN savings with American Express Business Cards? This seems like a great way to stock up on my gas cards or even Visa cash cards to meet minimum spend, but sounds way to good to be true to work as nicely as they say.

  2. I’m new to Chase Ultimate Rewards (just got the Sapphire card). I’m not seeing Amazon.com as a merchant choice. What am I doing wrong?

    • Everett: I haven’t tried it yet, but I do expect it will work. Make sure to spend at least $100 each time at OfficeMax in order to qualify.

      Laura: You are correct, Amazon.com is not available for bonus points through the Ultimate Rewards mall. The only option I know of to get miles directly from Amazon is by going through the Hawaiian Airlines shopping portal. Otherwise, you will need one of the credit cards I listed in this post in order to get extra points. If you want to try something really crazy you could go through the Ultimate Rewards mall with your Chase Sapphire to buy Sears or Kmart gift cards, then use those gift cards in person at Sears or Kmart to buy EBay gift cards, and then use the EBay gift cards to buy Amazon gift cards. Not all Sears and Kmart stores carry EBay gift cards, though. Also, the availability of Amazon gift cards on EBay (at a reasonable price) comes and goes all the time.

  3. Also, I didn’t see this highlighted (disclaimer, I’m a speed reader) but it looks like Hawaiian’s mall restricts purchases with GCs:

    http://emarket.hawaiianair.com/mall/info/hawaiian/Amazon?afsrc=1

    So you can’t double dip and get more miles via Hawaiian’s mall (I haven’t tried).

    FrequentMiler’s post also highlights the fallacy that the subpar ~25K sign up bonus for Chase Freedom is offset by the ability to earn 7500 bonus points each quarter. Not that Freedom isn’t a great card but you can often do just as well with other cards, and there are better cards to get from Chase IMHO.

    • HikerT: Thanks for pointing out those things. Yes, months ago I tried buying Amazon gift cards by going through the Hawaiian Airlines portal, but never received points for that. It’s no big loss. Even if a double-dip worked through that portal, it wouldn’t be as good as 5 UR points per $.

  4. A few other tidbits to toss in, although not currently around/available… Toys R Us was also allowing purchases of Kindle gift cards with their gift cards back in December during the AMEX gift promotion – gifts for purchasing $25 gift cards and then turn them into Kindle cards. The other one I did load up on was the $40 AMEX credit for each AMEX card $200 spend at Lowe’s – 20% off Amazon cards! No points in that purchase, except I did earn the Hawaiian pt/$ as I have been spending them by linking through the HA Mall. Hope the bring back that promotion again…

    • Steelsnow: great extra contribution! I added to the bottom of the post the idea that you can double dip by buying gift cards as described and then go through the Hawaiian Airlines portal to use them. Thanks!

  5. Here’s another secret. AAdvantage shopping mall still offers 10 points/$ on Sears. Shop Sears Gift Card through AAdvantage shopping mall and then use sears gift cards to buy ebay gift card @ sears store or kmart. Use ebay gift card at ebay.com to buy whichever gift card you want!!

  6. This is one of the best ways to save on pretty much everything! Thanks for the post. The Hawaiian double dip is awesome too.

  7. For those have Kroger store around.
    They run promotion as buy gift card earn 2X fuel points, and very often jump to 3X or 4X. You can redeem the 100 fuel points for $0.10 cent discount per gallon on their gas station up to 1000 points per redemption. In other words, $1.00 off per gallon.
    At the same time, Kroger is definitely a Grocery store and you may very often get grocery 5% back from those rotating category program in Chase/Citi/Discover.
    You may also use the Amex Blue Cash Preferred which gives a 6% back on grocery (with annual fee through) or some other fee free cards that gives extras on grocery if you do not have / do not plan to get other cards mentioned in the post.
    This also works on other GC sold in Kroger.
    There are certain limitation on this plan. You need to have a kroger around. The fuel points expires in the next month. Extra points does not rollover. You can only use it for gas. There is a limitation of 37 (may be 27) gallon per discount.
    But, it is still a nice bonus on top of the 5% or so you are getting. Especially during the 4X promotion, you only need to buy $250 GC to get $1.00 off gas per gallon.

  8. How about the SUPER icing on the cake and setting yourself up an Amazon Affiliates link? 😉

    My fiancee buys her Amazon stuff “through me” all the time! At the very least you’ll get 4% cashback

  9. Great post! 🙂

    Do you know if any of the Super Targets or Super Walmarts that carry groceries, count as a “grocery store” in Q2 for the Freedom 5% bonus?

    Thanks!

  10. I assume that the Amazon gift cards at Office Max are sold at face value? A gift card fee for purchasing the card would negate the 5% savings.

  11. What about buying amazon.com gift cards through Staples or Office Max (with the Bold card) through UR.com? Would that be stackable to earn 10 points/$?

    • Scott: Unfortunately, last I checked, none of the stores sell Amazon gift cards online so you won’t be able to stack the savings to 10 points per $ as you suggested. Also, not all online merchants will give points for gift card purchases through the UR mall, so be careful with that as well. Staples does sell Visa gift cards online. If someone wants to experiment, I’d be very interested to hear whether you get points for both the UR mall AND the Ink Bold by buying those cards!

      JohnnieD: Thanks for the reminder about converting Hawaiian Airlines miles to Hilton points!

      Infamousdx: Great tip!

      Everett: I’ve tried it and it worked! I used an Amex business card at OfficeMax to buy a $100 Amazon gift card. About 5 days later, I see the $5 credit on my OPEN Savings account!

    • The Deal Mommy: I assume you mean that buying gift cards, in general, at Barnes and Noble works for OPEN savings — not that you can get Amazon cards there. I’m sure they wouldn’t sell their competitor’s cards.

  12. The double dip through Hawaiian does work. It actually looks like I got the miles based on the item’s price and not the total after the subscribe and save discount and coupon. Here’s a boring toilet paper purchase I made in December:

    On Hawaiian’s Site
    DATE DESCRIPTION MILEAGE BONUS TOTAL
    12/9/11 Amazon 30 0 30

    My Amazon receipt:

    Items Ordered Price
    1 of: Charmin Ultra Soft, Double Rolls, 4 Count Packs (Pack of 10) 40 Total Rolls [Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging] [Health and Beauty]
    Condition: New
    Sold by: Amazon.com LLC
    $29.98

    Item(s) Subtotal: $29.98
    Shipping & Handling: $0.00
    Promotion Applied: -$4.50
    Your Coupon Savings: -$3.00
    —–
    Total Before Tax: $22.48
    Sales Tax: $0.00
    Gift Certificate/Card Amount: -$11.01
    —–
    Total for This Shipment: $11.47
    Total paid by Gift Certificate/Card: -$11.01

  13. For anyone late to the party like me just note Hawaiian Airlines has stopped giving out miles to most Amazon purchases. They restrict you to Sports Clothing, Sports Gear and Toys. Still if you have to buy something in that category, why not do it. Off the HA site, “*As of 1/23/13 miles are no longer earned for purchases on every Amazon.com category.”

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