Experiment in progress: Sony 30X

image_thumb4As I reported recently, the Ultimate Rewards Mall is currently offering Ink Bold customers 10 points per dollar at Sony.com until the end of May.  That’s pretty good by itself, but I always like to see how far we can go.  Can we get 20X by buying gift cards for 10X, and then using them for another 10X? 

Examining the Ultimate Rewards Mall leads me to believe that the gift card double dip just might work.  First, notice that Sony is explicitly listed under gift card offers:



Second, notice that there are no explicit restrictions against gift card use:


The Experiment

Of course, I’m not content to settle for only 20X.  So, I started this experiment with a Visa gift card purchased at Staples.com.  Currently, for Ink Bold owners, the Ultimate Rewards Mall gives 5X for Staples.com purchases, and the Ink Bold itself gives another 5X for the office supply category.  So, you get 10 points per dollar when buying Visa gift cards this way at Staples!  There are fees, so the actual bonus is more like 6X overall (see “What’s my X?”), but round numbers like 10X are more fun to write about Smile.

Using the Visa gift card, I logged into the Ultimate Rewards Mall and clicked through to Sony.com.  There I purchased a $25 e-gift card and sent it to myself via a secondary email address.

Once I received the e-gift card (about 20 minutes after purchase), I went back the the Ultimate Rewards Mall, clicked through to Sony again, and bought a $20 iPod dock.  My goal was to keep the entire purchase under $25 so that I could pay entirely with the gift card, but shipping and taxes pushed the total slightly over.  I paid $25 with the gift card and a little over a dollar with my Ink Bold.  In retrospect, I see that I was an idiot because if I had added $5 to my order the $5 shipping would have been free.  Oh well.  They probably don’t sell anything for $5 anyway…

Wait and see

When buying the e-gift card I was routed to a different URL so I’m a little worried about that one.  I’m not sure at all I’ll get points.  I thought about switching to a physical card, but the 10X deal only lasts through May so time is of the essence!

I’m also disappointed that I didn’t pay entirely with a gift card.  If I get points for the iPod dock purchase, I won’t know for certain that points will always be awarded.  Sometimes when paying with a gift card through a shopping portal, you get points only if at least a part of your order is paid by credit card.

It usually takes 4 or 5 days for the Ultimate Rewards Mall to show credit for purchases (via the “Ultimate Rewards Mall & Travel Earnings” menu selection).  I should be able to report back with results next week.

How good would it be?

If all parts of this experiment succeed, let’s look at the bounty:

  • Purchase $100 Visa cards through Staples:
    • Points earned 10X.  Subtract cost of cards and real benefit = 6X.
  • Purchase Sony gift card through Ultimate Rewards Mall:
    • Points earned 10X
  • Purchase Sony merchandise through Ultimate Rewards Mall:
    • Points earned 10X
  • Total estimated “rebate”:
    • Points earned: 26X
    • Value of extra points using Fair Trading Prices = 26X * 1.31 = 34% rebate!

Enough with the Ink Bold already!

People have asked me to find deals and bonuses for other cards.  Not everyone has a Chase Ink card and not everyone can get one.  But the Ink seems to have endless opportunities!  I can’t help myself! 

I will do my best to dig up deals for other cards.  One great one this week requires American Express business cards: see “Up to 14.5% off Amazon and Barnes & Noble.”

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  1. Good find
    Ink is good keep doing deals with Ink.
    Btw any staple FAR deal lately?
    I checked their ads, none
    Office Depot, none

    Hopefully we done see the end of them

  2. Have you already tried to purchase Sony gift cards with Sony gift cards? I assume so and that this doesn’t work, but haven’t seen it confirmed either way.

  3. isn’t it that if you browse through the chase UR mall site and shop from there to get extra points, you have to use chase cards? if through freedom ur mall site, use freedom to get the extra points or if through ink bold ur mall site, then use ink bold to get the bonus points?

    how you get extra points through chase UR mall site for purchases using gift cards?

  4. @Grant: The fee is $95.00 year. You could cash out 9500 UR points to offset this, however transfering them to partner airline or hotels will likely increase the value of 9500 points over $95.00.

  5. Two random questions not having to do with the recent post. Does British airways offer the option to redeem your miles with gift cards from business’ in the way that Chase Ultimate Rewards does?

    Does anybody know if I can go to Walmart and buy a 500 dollar Visa Prepaid Card with Walmart gift cards?

    Thanks and I love the blog. I read it with my morning coffee. The Office Depot trick is a revelation although I’m a newbie and still feel taking advantage of the bonus miles is my best play.

  6. @Pat O – thank you. So 9,500 UR points / 5 points per $ is $1,900 per year. Divide that by 12 months is $158.33 per month. That seems so easy to reach. Can you pay the Chase Ink annual fee with UR points?

    • Mark: No current FAR deals of any consequence. Staples, bring them back!

      Dave: I haven’t tried that. Let me know if you do!

      John: See my post “Ultimate Question

      Joe: I don’t know the answers to either question. Sorry.

      Grant Thomas: Yes you can apply the points to your statement. As Pat O said, though, it’s not a great use of points unless you really need the money.

  7. Thanks FrequentMiler. You are right about that, I will spend my points on something better than statement credit.

    How long did it take you to receive your permanent AMEX prepaid reloadable card? I ordered mine last week and am just getting antsy.

  8. Thank you FrequentMiler! You have completely changed my point earning stretegy using the Ink/Amex Prepaid method. For you and your readers, I’d like to point out a possible fatal flaw in your “X” factor calculation. It has to do with the fees charged on the prepaid cards. In the past, you rated the Staples $100 Visa card higher than the OD Amex Prepaid card. I would argue that OD Amex is the best way to go.
    Staples: 10 Visa Cards @$105.95=$1059.50 w/ 10,595 pts
    OD: 2 Amex Cards @$504.95 & $503.95=$1,008.90 w/ 5044.5 pts
    If I were to calculate the $/point based on fees,
    Staples: $59.50/10595=$0.0056
    OD: $8.90/5044.5=$0.0018
    In both scenarios, I would be left with $1,000 to spend on items I would have spent anyway. As an added bonus, we can use the ATM option for the Amex. I don’t claim that the Amex option is 3 times better than the Visa option but the true “X” factor is probably in between.

    • Paul Ahn: Thanks for that analysis. I still stand by my “true X” analysis: you still get many more points per dollar with the $100 Visa cards. Even if you use your points at 1 cent each to pay yourself back for the fees, you end up with more points with the Staples approach. But you’re absolutely right that if you think of the card fees as the cost for buying points, the prepaid cards are way better. It’s an interesting point that I need to think more about. Regardless, the OD approach is way, way easier so I like that best!

  9. I have bought visa gift card using walmart gift card on walmart website not sure about the store though. Online max you can get $200 Amex gift card from walmart.

  10. I agree. OD is now one of my favorite stores, just behind Costco. Speaking of which, if one wanted to stay under the Amex radar, one could purchase $500 Amex Prepaid cards at OD for $504.95, then use it to purchase $500 Costco GCs at a local Costco store. I also noticed that OD sells Exxon/Mobile GCs. PJ pays 92.4% (highest of all cards). Top Cash Back gives 4% resulting in 96% return (the 4% loss is more than offset by 5 points).

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