A tale of two #Fails

Frequent Miler leaned over his laboratory workbench to examine the notice more closely.  Could it be true?  Is this real?  He turned quickly to the lab computer and ran a Google search.  Yes, it checked out!  The key to the perfect perpetual point machine was at hand!

Meanwhile, somewhere across the country, fellow schemer Greek2me saw the same notice, but came to a different conclusion.  He saw an opportunity to create a perpetual money making machine…

The notice read:

Dan’s Deals
CVS: Get A Bonus $5 eGift Card For Every $25 eGift Card That You Buy!

Why had a simple notice like this attracted anyone’s attention?

Frequent Miler’s Experiment

I often write about ways to earn huge numbers of points by buying $100 Visa gift cards online.  For example, see “What’s my X?”  If one could find an easy and reliable way to turn those gift cards into cash, then a perfect perpetual point machine would be at hand.  One could buy gift cards with a credit card, earn points, cash out the gift cards, use the cash to pay one’s credit card bill, and repeat.

The CVS deal wasn’t limited to $5 bonus cards.  For example, CVS was selling $100 e-gift cards and giving an extra $20 gift card for free.  So, one could easily convert a $100 Visa card into $120 worth of CVS gift cards!  From there, one could sell the gift cards at a 17% loss and still recoup all of the original $100.  I checked GiftCardGranny and saw that multiple gift card resellers were offering 85% for CVS gift cards!  This meant that a person could not only cash out $100 Visa cards, but they could even make a profit!

Of course I knew this deal wouldn’t last forever, but I was unable to find a stated end date, so I hoped it would last a while.

Greek2Me’s Experiment

Greek2Me bought two $150 eGift cards and received two $30 eGift cards for free.  His plan was to print the gift cards, take them to CVS, and use them to buy Visa gift cards.  If this worked, he could theoretically then use the Visa gift cards to buy more CVS eGift cards, and then repeat the whole process again and again.  Each time, his funds would grow larger!

Frequent Miler’s Story

The first part of my experiment ran without a hitch.  I had no trouble using a $100 Visa card to buy the $100 CVS eGift card.  Within minutes I received both the $100 CVS card and the $20 bonus via email. 

Next, I clicked through to PlasticJungle from TopCashBack to see about selling the cards.  It turned out that PlasticJungle did not allow sales of CVS eGift cards (physical cards only).  OK, on to plan B… 

Next stop was CardPool.  CardPool did accept eGift cards from CVS, but with an 80% payout (instead of 85% offered for physical cards).  Well, OK, I thought… With 4% cash back from TopCashBack, I’ll still do OK.  So I went ahead and sold the $100 gift card for $80.  Since I went through TopCashBack, I expect to earn an additional $4 for this transaction.  At this point, my losses amounted to 16% – still a decent take since I could afford to lose 17% and still break even.

The real trouble began when I tried to sell the $20 e-card.  CardPool would only take denominations of $25 or more!  So, I tried CouponTrade instead.  CouponTrade will take cards worth $20 or more.  Perfect!  Or so I thought…

The CVS gift card sold almost immediately on CouponTrade, but then I received a message to mail the gift card to the buyer.  Uh oh.  I sent a note to CouponTrade saying this was an e-card.  Can’t they just forward it to the buyer?  After some back and forth, it turned out that CouponTrade does not allow sales of e-cards from CVS, so the order was cancelled. 

I now plan to simply print the gift card and use it next time I’m at CVS.

Experiment Result = Fail.

Greek2Me’s Story

Greek2Me took his printed cards to CVS and tried to use them to pay for part of a $500 Visa gift card.  The cashier took the gift cards without complaint and tried to apply them.  Unfortunately, the register itself refused to complete the order.  It said that gift cards could not be used to purchase gift cards. 

Experiment Result = Fail.

Other Options: Nope

Other options still existed to meet our goals, but they are irrelevant now.  The promotion appears to have ended.

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. Sounded like a great plan! Although the promotion ended, how do you think you would have fared if you purchased items such as camera memory cards, or other small items that could hold most of their value selling through ebay? I remember you seemed to have that approach dialed in during the Sears 10x gift card days (albeit larger ticket items), not sure if you could get closer to the 17% goal through turning over the products… Great post!

  2. The experiment would have been success if you had bought 150/30 with AX prepaid. CPool allows 30 to sell just not 25.

    • kushal: True, but I was trying to find a way to liquidate $100 Visa cards.

      Erik: Yes, that would have been possible, but I was hoping to find an easy option for liquidating gift cards. Buying and selling stuff isn’t terribly easy.

  3. I also tried an experiment, mine in search of 10x UR points — it went like this:

    I purchased an Office Depot GC through Ultimate Rewards portal online (5x bonus) using my Ink Bold (5x) with the intention to buy an Amex reload cards in the actual store once it arrived in the mail. Along with the vanilla reloads, I also tried to buy a $5 item to see if the gift card purchased online at 10x could be used alongside my Ink Bold card. Result…failure. Only was able to use the gift card for the $5 item, albeit at effectively 10x. Now I have $45 of Office Depot credit to buy…paper? Meh. Back to the lab.

    • fellow lab rat: Thanks for the info! If I understand you correctly, what you found is: 1) buying OD gift cards through UR mall does result in UR mall points; and 2) You cannot use an OD gift card to buy vanilla reloads. Correct? Can you try one more experiment? Use your gift card online, going through the UR mall. See if you get UR mall points a second time.

  4. We tried! All the failed experiments should end this well. $360 of CVS GCs and 1500 UR for $300. My family spends that at CVS about every 3-4 months so we’ll work them off in no time on regular spend there. But oh the dreams of a successful experiment….

  5. How about buying physical gift card from e-gift cards? If it works, problem of selling gift card will resolve for better return.

  6. I think it would be easier to buy regular gift cards ie gas instead.
    Maybe the sys would allow those transaction

    • Mark: good point. greek2me, want to give that a try? See if they’ll let you buy a gas gift card, for example? Some places are more rigorous with Visa gift cards than merchant gift cards (Kmart, is one example).

  7. re posts 10 & 15- The follow up experiment is another failure. They would not take the gift card to purchase any third party retail store gift cards either.

  8. Thanks for posting this… it’s very beneficial for noobs like me to learn from failures as well as successes.

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