Add an extra $10K spend to your Amex or Ink

If you’re looking to meet minimum spend on a new credit card, or increase spend on a card with bonuses for high spenders, here’s a neat little trick.  For this to work, you need either a Chase Ink card which gives 5X points for office supplies, or an Amex business card with OPEN savings which gives 5% back on purchases at OfficeMax of $100 or more.  See Preparing for Miles for more info about these cards.

Here it is in a nutshell:

  • Go to OfficeMax and buy EBay gift cards.  Spend at least $100 each time to ensure you get 5% back with Amex cards.  If you’re using an Ink card, you can optionally go to Staples or Office Depot to see if they carry EBay cards.
  • Watch EBay for $500 Walmart gift cards.  These usually sell for $485, which is a 3% discount.  When available, use your EBay gift cards to buy the Walmart cards.  You will get an additional 2% back in EBay bucks.
  • When your Walmart cards arrive, go through Walmart.com to buy smaller denomination physical cards using your $500 card.  See Washing Walmart for more info.
  • Go through MyDealsAndCoupons to PlasticJungle. Sell your Walmart gift cards to PlasticJungle for 92 cents on the dollar.  In other words, in exchange for your $500 worth of gift cards, Plastic Jungle will give you a check for $460.  Through MyDealsAndCoupons you will earn 3% of the sale price (3% of $460 = $13.80).  This comes to 2.76% of $500.

When you add up your costs and savings, you see that you lose 8% value when selling to PlasticJungle, but you gain 5% from Amex OPEN (or 5X from Ink) and 2.76% from MyDealsAndCoupons.  In other words, cash-wise, you end up very close to even.  Once you add in the 2% back in EBay bucks, though, you actually come out ahead!

Why only $10K?

EBay has a posted limit to how many gift cards can be used per 180 day period.  Supposedly you are limited to $500 in gift cards per purchase, and no more than $5000 in purchases in any 180 day period.  I say “supposedly” because a person on MilePoint reported buying a mutli-thousand dollar ring with gift cards.  It appears likely that EBay doesn’t enforce these limits, but I don’t yet have personal experience to prove it one way or another.

EBay gift card terms & conditions:

No more than a total of $500 in Gift Cards may be used per eBay purchase. Further, unverified PayPal accounts are limited to a total of $500 in Gift Card purchases in any 30-day period and verified PayPal accounts are limited to $5,000 in Gift Card purchases in any 180-day period.

Notes

  • When purchasing more than $100 worth of gift cards at a time at OfficeMax, the cashier will need a manager’s override.
  • EBay gift cards at OfficeMax usually are available in $25 and $50 denominations.  Yes, it is a bit painful to type in 10 gift card numbers when buying a Walmart card through EBay.  Often the cards start with the same sequence, so copy that sequence to the clipboard and paste in each time to save a little trouble.


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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. There is a big risk of buying walmart gift cards from ebay. Most recently I was scanned where in the seller says they sent me a gift card worth 250 and sent me a tracking number. I did not get any card in the mail. Please proceed with caution. I am not saying all sellers are fake, but all transactions above 250 are risky.

    • kushal: Thanks for the warning! Did you try to go through EBay’s buyer protection program to get your money back?

      Nick: That’s true, but buying gift cards with gift cards from Walmart does help in two ways: 1) reselling: some resellers will not buy cards larger than $300; and 2) it protects you from card sellers that keep the gift card number and use the gift card after you have received it. By draining it right away, they can’t do that.

      Piecerate: Your approach is better, safer, and faster for the Ink cards! I’ll write it up soon. I don’t believe there is limit to the 3% back you’ll get from MyDealsAndCoupons as long as you sell to PlasticJungle. If you sell to GiftCards.com you are limited to $500 in transactions every 6 months. See “Gift cards: buy low, sell high, get cash back” for more info.

  2. Frequent Miler, I know you believe that buying smaller denomination Walmart gift cards from Walmart itself using the card purchased on ebay will protect you from fraud, but I have my doubts. I can’t speak for Walmart specifically, but I have read stories where the merchant invalidated the newly purchased gift cards (without the purchaser knowing it until they tried to use them) because the merchant discovered that the gift card used was fraudulent.

  3. Thanks to your help I’ve been working a similar plan. I buy Exxon cards in person at Office Depot using ink Bold. Exxon cards resell at 92 cents per dollar. They appear to be the highest value card I can get at Office Depot. I don’t get the 2% back for using eBay but I save the trouble and possible risk. With MyDealsAndCoupons I cut my overall loss to 5 cents per dollar but I get 5X on each dollar spent while meeting my spending requirements. I’ve also bought Exxon cards using $200 Visa Gift cards purchased at Staples using Amex Ex Gold to get 5% back(although paying activation fees around 3.5%)to improve the margins but I don’t get the 5X I’d get with Ink Bold. Do you know if the 3% discount for going through discount MyDealsAndCoupons has limits?

  4. FM I would love if you posted a section just for the Ink Bold..like the best plays section or if you posted on a great play that highlights the best ways to manurfacture miles…I like Piercerate’s idea..can’t see your write up. Great blog FM! In a time when there aren’t many brand new bonus offers/cards, you really help us maximize our miles/points on existing cards. thanks!

    • UR Fan: That’s a great idea, I think I’ll do something like that. Maybe I’ll put up two new pages: Maximizing Ink and Maximizing OPEN. Something like that… Thanks for the complements by the way!

  5. When buying Exxon gift cards, the Freedom linked to a Chase checking account is a better option than the Ink card for certain quarters. What you get with the Freedom is 5X for gas, 1% of dollar amount spent, and 10 points per transaction. Of course, there is a limit of $1,500 per quarter for the 5X bonus. In 2012, 5X gas is available Q1 and Q3.

    • Churnity: thanks for the suggestion. Yes, you’re right that you can do a bit better with the Freedom for certain types of transactions. I’ll write about that too!

      Ace: Thanks for the warning again. I still haven’t heard about EBay’s buyer protection. Don’t they try to help?

      Frequent Flyer Collector: Correct, the old Ink Bold (I now call “Ink Old”) doesn’t get 5X anywhere.

      Newbie: You can give it a try, but I think it is very unlikely to work.

  6. I’m glad one of your readers brought up being scammed on Ebay-and your response 0f “Did you go thru Ebay’s buyer protection program”-I have posted before so I will do it one more time-you will get burnt playing with Ebay/Paypal.

  7. I am very intrigued by this discussion. I have considered buying those $500 gift cards many times for Walmart on-line. For those who have been burned, I would like more details like what was their reputation on Ebay? What actually happened? What did Ebay do to help you? Otherwise, everything you say seems trivial when Frequent has already pulled it off and many of us a clammoring for way to get our 10K done on the Amex Gold.

  8. I will share in information in hope that someone will be helped. Please note I am actually going through this purchase from Ebay right now so its kind of fresh.

    On Feb 9th I won this auction by doing a BIN for $250 worth of walmart GC for $240. I know I know it was greed on my part.

    Text from ebay auction
    =============Winner will receive one (1) real / authentic / unused / unscratched $250.00 Walmart Gift Card with $250.00 available. PLEASE NOTE: this gift card will NOT ship until March 30th (next month) and I have to physically ship it to you. If you can’t wait until then to receive the gift card then please do not purchase it. If you look at other listings from some of the more trusted and higher valued gift card sellers they are doing the same thing which is what gave me the idea.

    SHIPPING is 100% FREE which includes USPS First-Class Mail but remember card will shipped on March 30th. BUT, I only ship within the United States. Please do not purchase this card if you live outside the U.S. or wish for it to be shipped outside the U.S.

    PAYMENT is to be made through Paypal ONLY within three (3) days of this listing ending.

    PURCHASING THIS GIFT CARD IS A GREAT WAY TO SAVE $10.00 AND MAKE SOME MONEY RACKING UP EBAY BUCKS!
    ================

    I first made contact with the seller on Feb 29th asking Q when should I expect the card. His response was he will check and get back to me.

    I start the dispute with paypal on Mar 9th.
    My Mistake: I waited so long to initiate a dispute with paypal.

    Fast forward: Seller gives me a USPS tracking number which shows that something was delivered to my zip code on Feb 27th started from VA on Feb 24th.

    Paypal closes the dispute in favor of seller.

    I initiate a inquiry with local USPS office to find what was delivered. They tell me that a letter was put in my mailbox and they wash hands.

    I can confirm 1 thing that I have not received anything in mail. I know some of you might be suspicious but its $250 and how can one miss a mail like that. My suspicion is they might have sent something junk or they have copied a tracking number and just pasted into the dispute.

    Paypal and Ebay has washed hands and no longer want to entertain anything from me.

    Presently I am trying to get in touch with seller to get a copy of receipt but during all this he has responded only once and that too on Feb 29th.

    Seller has a feedback of 96.7% with a total of 88 feedback.

    Let me know if anyone has suggestions. I pretty much have written down $240, but will try anything based on suggestions here.

  9. did u buy with a credit card via PP? might be worth disputing with the. although it seems like there’s a chain of evidence against you on this one. It sucks that you didn’t get it even tho everyone (including USPS) says you did, but hopefully you can work this one out some how…

  10. It was bought using the Ebay gift cards + PP as posted here in the post :-). Yes, I know I would have disputed it with CC and received the money back. Its hard to believe that I will get money back on this one since all the evidence is against me.

  11. Ebay and their evil empire Paypal do not care about anything except following their rules.
    Google “paypal is the devil” and have a nice read.
    Everyone that is buying gift cards on ebay will be burnt at least once.

  12. Regarding to the Freedom card, next quarter bonus is on grocery. May I ask if I can buy Shell or Chevron gas card in a grocery store for this bonus? If yes, what are the name of grocery stores? Thanks.

    • Nguyen: Yes, I’m sure you can find those at various grocery stores. I’d recommend that you look around and see what’s available.

      Kushal: Thank you very much for providing so much detail. Sorry to hear about your predicament!

  13. well, I took a leap of faith and just went in for $500. As it usually is, says it will take about a month to ship. I am thinking about doing this weekly until I don’t need more spend then enjoy the checks coming in until I get burned…..

  14. Would buying through ebay / paypal directly with your AmEx Gold Biz card give you extra protection? Of course you would lose out on the 5% discount at OfficeMax with the ebay gcs, but you could squeeze out maybe the last of your spending minimum, while minimizing losses? Would AmEx help you to fight to get your money back?

  15. I posted here before – I actually received a $250 Hyatt gift card for $230 inc. shipping that checked out OK (I called upon receipt and verified the balance). When I tried using it 3 months later, I was told that the gift card was discovered to have been bought with a stolen CC, so the value of the card had been zeroed out. The buyer had closed their account by this time. Since eBay has a shorter claim period, I was out of luck with them, but my CC company claim was successful – I was initially declined but received guidelines from their fraud dep’t. to fax a letter stating that the goods received were not what was promised.

  16. Why would Amex open card get 5% back at officemax? Officemax isn’t listed as one of their partners at Amex OPEN website.

    Am I missing something?

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