Pump up Ink Spend

Yesterday, I showed how to increase credit card spend by buying EBay gift cards, using them to buy Walmart gift cards, and then selling the cards. That approach can work well to increase spend and earn points, but it also has some serious downsides.  For one, Walmart gift cards are not always available on EBay.  Another, more serious issue, is that you run the risk of losing your money to unscrupulous EBay sellers.  See the comments section of the previous post for more information.

If you have a Chase Ink card which gives 5 points per dollar for office supplies, here is a better option to increase spend.   A reader who goes by Piecerate came up with this little gem.  Buy gas gift cards at an office supply store and sell them by going through MyDealsAndCoupons to PlasticJungle.  This technique will let you buy Ultimate Rewards points for just over a penny each.

Here’s an example of how it works:

  • Buy $100 worth of gas gift cards at an office supply store such as Staples or Office Depot.
  • From your Ink card you will get 500 Ultimate Rewards points.
  • Next, go through MyDealsAndCoupons to PlasticJungle to sell the card. 
  • From PlasticJungle you will get $92 cash.
  • From MyDealsAndCoupons you will get 3% of $92 = $2.76
  • Your total cost will be $100 – $92 – $2.76 = $5.24
  • Your cost per Ultimate Rewards point will be $5.24 / 500 = 1.05 cents per point.

If you were to spend $5000 in this way, your total cost would be $262.  In return, you would get 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  At the fair trading price of 1.31 cents each, this is a value of $327.50.  Of course, you would do even better by buying gift cards that you can actually use, but if you need to increase spending (to get your signup bonus, for example), this can be an excellent option.

BEFORE YOU BUY: Check the current sell rates for the gift cards in question.  You can find PlasticJungle’s price list (the amount they’ll pay you) here.  Or, go to GiftCardGranny.com to see sell prices at various resellers.

Amex OPEN

This technique would be even more lucrative for increasing spend on business Amex cards if only OfficeMax carried gas gift cards!  Has anyone seen one at OfficeMax?  I’ve looked a few times in my local store, but there were none to be found.


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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. I’m still waiting for my INK card! Seems like its taking forever. I did go and check types of giftcards my local Office Depot carries. They do have $50 Exxon mobile gift cards and $200 AMEX and VISA cards.

  2. Only problem is that you only find out how much plasticjungle pays you after you’ve bought the gas cards. It’s simple supply and demand – they could drop the rate at which they buy Exxon cards if they get too many.

    • Mow: Thanks for the info!

      abcx: PlasticJungle’s purchase prices are public and can be found here. They change their rates about once per month. This is from PlasticJungle’s web site:

      Changes in the exchange rate for gift cards are made approximately once per month. Price changes are typically based on changes in supply and demand for the retailer’s gift cards. Price changes are effective the day they are posted. Our most current prices can be found here. The price for your gift card is set when you place the order on the Plastic Jungle web site. If price changes are made during shipment, they will not apply to any gift card shipments that are in process of being mailed

  3. Stupid office max does not carry gas cards. I checked almost all of them in the Cleveland area and have my friend checking and calling the Columbus area stores.

  4. I can’t remember where I saw them but I found Shell cards in an office supply store. The problem there is that Shell cards resell for only 88 cents on the dollar. Gas cards in general are nice because gas is almost like a commodity. They have a great deal of intrinsic value unlike Kohls or Kmart. Plus you’re dealing with such huge companies and demand that liquidity is not likely to be much of an issue in price fluctuations of cards. I worry about buying Jamba Juice and seeing the value drop due to over-supply. It seems to me that Exxon card values should remain fairly constant. My two cents worth anyway.

    • Piecerate: Thanks for pointing out that not all gas cards resell for 92 cents to the dollar. I added a caution to the page.

      HikerT: Sure, that could happen. There are no guarantees here.

      al613: Groupon has been 12X for quite a while. It is a great deal!

      Karen: Yes, it’s a lot of work if you think of it that way. Many people are in the situation of having to spend $5K on their Ink card in order to qualify for the 50,000 point signup bonus. In that case, the payoff of techniques like these is very high. Another reason to do this is if you have a specific redemption in mind. For example, I recently wrote about how I got 5 cents per point value when converting UR points to Amtrak. Since this technique allows you to buy points for just over a penny each, you get almost an 80% discount on travel when you can redeem points for 5 cents value each.

      D: I’m pretty sure that the rates shown in GiftCardGranny and in the spreadsheet I referred to earlier (here) are the cash back rates, and that you get even more if you want Amazon credit. If you find examples where that is not true, please let me know

  5. Isn’t there also a risk that MyDealsAndCoupons lowers or eliminates the 3% cash back? For every 1% drop in selling price, or 1% drop in MyDealsAndCoupons cash back, it looks like the UR cost goes up by roughly 0.2 cents.

  6. With many giftcards, the rate that PJ quotes is for getting the cashback in the form of an Amazon gift card. If you want cash in the form of a cheque then the rate is usually a few points lower. Just FYI…

  7. I did find Shell gift cards today at my local Staples. So I picked up $50 worth mainly to test out. Sure enough, they only sold for $44 on plastic jungle for a rate of 88 cents on the dollar. I had never used plastic jungle, and just want to try it out.

    One other note for other readers, I saw JC Penny gift cards at both Staples and Office Max. You can buy these, then go back and buy clothes and pick up another 6X per dollar. I am tall, so great place for me to shop online and awesome way to start buying clothes at 11 points/dollar or get 5% off and 6 points/dollar…..

    • THEsocalledfan: thanks for the update and the JC Penny advice. Note though that you can buy JC Penny gift cards for about 18% off (see giftcardgranny.com). Depending on how highly you value UR points, the discount may be better.

  8. according to the spreadsheet, Lands’end gift card is valued 80% at plastic jungle and the one for sears is valued at 83%. Why the difference? I thought lands’ end gift card can be used at all sears owned store, kmart, sears.com etc.

    • Qing: I think that even though the cards can be used interchangeably, not everyone knows that. for whatever reason, resellers must believe that they can get more for Sears gift cards than for Lands End ones.

  9. @FrequentMiler:

    $100 Lowe’s card on PJ is as follows:

    Get cash directly from us : $83
    Amazon Gift Card : $87.15
    Deposit into your PayPal account : $83

    I can confirm this is the case for many other stores

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