Sears 15X: Frequent Miler’s almost final results

Last month, for two days only, the Southwest Airlines shopping portal (Rapid Rewards Shopping) offered 15 points per dollar when shopping at Sears.com.  In the post “Sears 15X: Leveraging the deal” I showed a number of ways one could capitalize on the opportunity.  In the post “Sears 15X: Free Southwest Companion Pass” I showed how one could earn a Southwest companion pass by buying and selling gift cards.  And, in the post “Sears 15X: Shopping for 110,000 points” I showed how one could earn 110,000 Southwest points by double-dipping: buy gift cards for 15X and then use them to buy merchandise for another 15X.

Frequent Miler’s Plan

I used the double dip technique to earn 30 points per dollar for my purchases.  In order to get to 110,000 Southwest points (so that I could earn a companion pass), I bought almost $3400 worth of tablet computers for resale and I bought some items for myself to make up the difference.  In the rest of this post I’ll give the details of what I bought for resale and the results so far.

What I bought

imageI bought 8 Asus Transformer Tablets for $399.99 each.  They were listed pretty high on Amazon’s best seller list and, at the time, they were selling on Amazon for the same price advertised by Sears.  Most importantly, I tested to see if Amazon would let me list the item as new.  Many brands don’t allow resellers to do that, so finding one that allowed it was a huge plus.

My total cost after 6% taxes came to: $3,386.37

Fulfillment by Amazon

Once I received the tablets, I shipped them to Amazon for their Fulfillment by Amazon program.  This is a great service in which Amazon handles all of the headaches of resale for you.  They take a cut, of course, but it’s well worth it in my opinion.  Usually, they take a 15% cut, but they charge less for electronics, and even less for computers.  Since the tablets were considered computers, I was charged only 6% for each sale.  I listed each tablet at $399 – only 99 cents less than Amazon was charging at the time.  I figured that if these were hot sellers, I had a chance of reselling at retail value.

Pretty much the moment the tablets were scanned in at Amazon, they sold out!  Unfortunately, one guy ordered two of them and then canceled his order.  That’s when Amazon messed up.  They only put one of the two tablets back into my inventory.  The one that was returned to inventory also sold quickly.  The remaining tablet currently shows as “receiving” in my shipping queue, so at least some part of Amazon.com believes I still own one more tablet.  I opened a problem ticket and have since received several messages saying simply that they are still researching the issue.

Ironically, this Amazon mess up is exactly opposite of one that happened to me a while ago.  At that time, Amazon thought I had far more watches in inventory than I had sent.  You can read about that adventure in this post: How Amazon paid me to collect miles.  Amazon still hasn’t attempted to get their money back for that mistake!

Results

Let’s look at the results in two ways: first let’s assume the tablet is a total loss, second I’ll assume the remaining tablet reappears and I manage to sell it for the same price as the others.  In reality, the price for this tablet on Amazon.com has dropped $15 so I may not do that well, but it should be close.

Total points earned: 3386.3 * 30 = 101,589 (remember, I earned additional points for personal items to get to the 110K mark)

Total costs for Sears’ purchase: $3,386.37

Total earnings from Amazon after shipping and fees:

  • $2618.86 (without final tablet)
  • $2993.92 (if I sell final tablet for $399)

Total loss:

  • $767.51 (without final tablet)
  • $392.45 (if I sell final tablet)

Cost per point:

  • $767.51 / 101,589 points = .76 cents per point (without final tablet)
  • $392.45 / 101,589 points = .39 cents per point (if I sell final tablet)

 

Analysis

Southwest points are worth 1 cent each when used for regular fares and 1.67 cents each when used for “Wanna Get Away?” fares.  Even if I don’t want to fly Southwest at all, I can exchange the points for various gift cards at a value of 1 cent per point.  So, even if I never use the companion pass (which I should get in July), buying Southwest points at .76 cents each was a bargain.  If my tablet reappears and I sell it for a decent price, it’s clear I’ll have made out like a bandit.

What if I sell the final tablet and take full advantage of the companion pass and “Wanna Get Away” fares?  In that case, I can theoretically get $3393 worth of flights for roughly $400 in expenses!

How did you do?

I know others bought and sold items like I did.  How well did it work out for you?  Comment below.

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

  1. […] Every now and then a shopping portal offers a fantastic deal that’s too good to pass up even if you don’t really want to buy anything.  As a result, I often find myself buying things just to earn points and miles.  I then sell those things with the goal of losing as little money as possible.  The end result is usually that I effectively buy miles at a very low cost.  For example, when the British Airways portal offered 36X at Nordstrom I bought and sold headphones and watches (see “How Amazon paid me to collect miles”).  And when the Southwest Rapid Rewards portal offered 15X at Sears I bought and sold tablet computers (see “Sears 15X: Frequent Miler’s almost final results”). […]

Comments

  1. Bravo!

    FrequentMiler: So Southwest will allow all sources of points to qualify towards companion pass, not just BIS miles?

  2. Nicely done. Of course the big advantage you had over me is Sears actually delivered what you ordered from them 🙂

    I would definitely recommend next time though you better diversify. Even though these all sold out quickly this time, with gadgets there is REAL risk that something will alter the pricing between order and sale. With Amazon’s aggressive price matching these things could have dropped to $299 overnight and you’d be looking at $800 losses right off the bat

    As I mentioned previously next time I will try to spread over 2-3 different items and focus on stuff I can pick up in store rather than rely on Sears fulfillment.

  3. Great Return on your investment. I still don’t have the courage to pull the trigger on these types of miles earning methods.

  4. @ Eric – I totally agree with you. Although I admire all that effort but still I just do not have the courage to go through all that hassle. I am simply not the type of person.

  5. I’m renovating my kitchen, so I double dipped to purchased an oven and flooring, totaling ~$3800. Sadly, although Southwest shows that I used their shopping portal, Sears has not reported the purchases to them. I know it can take up to 8 weeks, but since everyone else seems to have the points showing up in the Reward Mall, and mine haven’t, I think it is unlikely. All-in-all, I overpaid ~$300 for the flooring (shipping).

  6. @ Max M – yes is the answer to your question

    @ Frequent Miler – thanks for this update, I’ve been waiting for it. I really like the way your mind works. While I understand why you previously didn’t want to list which items you purchased (as to not flood the market), I wish I’d known your general strategy. I thought you were going to try to resell via fleabay, which isn’t something I wanted to do. If I had thought about the Amazon reseller path the day of, I probably would’ve done more. BUT now I know for next time! Thanks!

  7. Thanks for the tip on Amazon Warehouse. I had to discount my item by about 10% before I was able to sell one on Craigslist. Amazon Warehouse seems far less painful and simpler!

    • DrSifu: Thanks!

      Sam: Buy gift cards for 15X and then buy products with the gift cards for another 15X

      Victor: Hopefully there will be another Sears mega deal soon

      Max M: Southwest allows points from partners and the mall is considered a partner. Transfers from Ultimate Rewards do not count.

      Phil: LOL, yes we know your story! Yes, I tried to diversify, but I couldn’t find any other products that met my criteria.

      Eric: The first time I did this kind of thing it was terrifying. I intended to do $5000 worth that time, but only did $2000.

      caveman: I totally understand. If I wasn’t blogging about this stuff, I probably wouldn’t do it either!

      Brian: You absolutely deserve the points so if you don’t get them, I would recommend non stop calling and emailing until you do. It could be simply that Sears won’t report the purchase until the items are delivered.

      Steve: That was my bad! The two days in which this deal was available was a whirlwind in which I pumped out quite a few posts on the topic. I should have detailed my strategy, but that fell through the cracks. I’m sorry!

      Conway: Hopefully that tip will help next time!

  8. Ebay or Amazon. They are so similar I dont see the difference. Except for Fulfillmet by Amazon thats the only real diff between the two for sellers.

  9. Does anybody know if massive credit card bonus offers such as the 75,000 citi ones and the various chase cards come about because of the bad economy?

    Were they giving those of us with good credit these bonus offers because they wanted to make it seem like they were lending money out to improve the economy as the government wanted them to after the bailouts?

    I know it’s kind of deep. I’m just curious about it. I’m new to this. Maybe these bonus miles come about during every bad economy and the financial crisis was no exception?

  10. Slow going here.. I’m still dumping one of the two major electronics purchases from Sears. ($2k+ each). I dumped $2k worth of gift cards through plastic jungle.

    Provided the second electronics purchase sells, I’ll be out around $1k.

    However, none of the Sears purchases have shown up on the rewards portal. I inquired about that and they see the clicks in their system, but they are not showing up on the interface after logging in.

  11. After you have the 110,000 miles in your Southwest account and receive the companion pass, I’m assuming that you can then “cash-out” your points (either for flights or gift cards) and still retain the companion pass through 2013, correct?? That really makes your out of pocket expenses even less!

    • brian: Yes, you retain the companion pass regardless of what you do with your miles. Re: new listing. Yes, I already had an account from past adventures and so I went through the pages to list my item before I bought it. By selecting Fulfillment By Amazon, my listing didn’t show up as available until I sent the tablets to Amazon.

      Sun: Good point. Things can change. I did title the post “almost final results”.

  12. I think your CPP calculation needs to wait until the return period for Amazon expires. Like Phil says… it is very risky selling commodity products like electronics.

  13. Also, how do you know if you can list something as new through Amazon? Do you need to sign up for an account first, and then you can try to add them when researching? I’ve never used the Amazon path before, but it sure seems like a better way compared to other ways!!

  14. Of note, companion pass miles can only be earned through:
    paid flights
    Chase SW card
    Rapid Rewards Mall

    @ Max M – so not all points gained count. e.g. points transferred from Ultimate Rewards don’t.

    • Frequent Flyer Collector: I included the cost of shipping in the calculations. It was only $6 and change to ship a box containing all 8 tablets.

      Ben: Yeah, I know how painful it can be to upgrade the gift cards. Have you looked at Sears?

  15. Still holding the cards. Trying to buy Southwest cards with them bit it’s slow going. The 1 Knart in my area that allows it doesn’t restock gift cards often.

  16. @Brian Nary a point has posted for me yet either, I e-mailed Cartera(mall portal operator) about it about a week after the deal and got the “it’ll take up to 8 weeks” line. I’ve got the 8 week date marked on my calendar, at which time, I’ll unleash the fury on them.

    I went the tablet route as well with the Galaxy Tab 2 7″. Bought with 5% off GC which brought the price down to ~$237.50/unit and sold them on CL for $230 each.

  17. Since I applied and was approved for both a Business and Personal version of the Southwest Card, I was just 10k points shy of the companion pass. I ended up buying $675 in Sears Gift Cards to get me to the 110k total I would need. I opted for e-gift cards and I am glad I did.

    As someone had pointed out, there was a memorial day promotion where if you made a purchase within a few day window, you would recieve a coupon to get 25% back in points on your purchase during the next window.

    I went into Sears and purchased myself a Reese’s, who does this?? Anyway I get back to the car and am frantically reading through the reciept and do not see a coupon, turns out it was emailed to me on my e-receipt, sweet!

    The next day I go back to Sears and decided I would purchase a Nikon D5100, it was $699.99 at the time and the bonus points would net me $175, purchased the camera and the points credited immediately. On that e-receipt I got a coupon for $10 off a tablet. Noting that my Sears had Kindle Fires in stock, I went right back to pick one up…The nice woman I just purchased the camera from had to override the system to get the $10 off to work, but after points I was in for $15…Between the camera and Kindle, I had spent $760…

    Next it was time to list the items through…wait for it…work forums…I was able to sell the Kindle Fire pretty quickly for $170, all I needed to do was sell the camera for $590 to break even…the next day, I get a email that Sears was now advertising a $582 price for the camera I just paid $699 for! Oh no! I was finished I thought, I went back to the store, and was able to price match to $649, bringing my total cost to approximately $715.

    About a week later, just yesterday, I sold the camera to a co-worker for $550, he was psyched, and I had made a whole $5…

    Hopefully the points that post will apply towards companion status and it will be well worth it. If not, I will still get $100 in Amazon gift cards from the Southwest points.

    Thanks Frequent Miler

    • Andy F: you have to send the stuff to yourself first, then fill out information on Amazon’s site, then print out packaging labels, then send the shipment to Amazon. You can’t have Sears (or any other merchant) ship stuff directly to Amazon. At least, not if you want to get paid for the sales.

  18. @Andy F. haha.. sears should enable ship to… amazon warehouse option! that’s funny.

    I didn’t go crazy on this as I have had trouble getting points post. Still this was a lot of fun. Thanks FM.

  19. Hi FM,
    I have to point something out that’s been bothering me for months and maybe you can clarify it for me. I’m inquisitive because I’m a financial analyst and work with numbers all day long, creating Excel spreadsheets with massive formulas and do not round to eliminate the cents.

    I’m relatively new to the miles & points blogs and I think other users might be having the same question after seeing the cost per mile or point presented several different ways. Using your example from above, the total cost was $392.45. Divide that by the points earned, 101,589, and your cost per point (CPP) is $0.0039 which is not even a penny per mile. You stated “$392.45 / 101,589 points = .39 cents per point” which to me reads 39¢ per point.

    To clarify this for myself I did the following:
    If you paid $101,589 for 101,589 points your cost is $1.00 (one dollar) per point
    If you paid $50,794.50 your cost is $0.50 (50¢)
    $25,397.25 = $0.25 (25¢)
    $12,698.62 = $0.125 (12 and half cents)
    $6,349.31 = $0.062 (6 cents)
    $392.45 = $0.0039 (about one third of one cent)

    Points, Miles & Martinis said today “With this promotion, you would need to purchase 24,000 Avios points which would net you a total of 31,200 Avios points. The cost per person would be $685 + taxes and fees for a cpm of $0.219”. I look at this and think, 21 cents per mile is expensive! But then I use Excel to divide $685.00 by 31,200 and get $0.0224 which really is 2¢ per mile.

    I guess my point here is to advocate for some kind of consistency when reporting cost per mile or point. It should be either $0.0219 or 2.19 cents but not $0.219.

    • Kadence: $0.0039 is the same as .39 cents. Your number is in dollars, mine is in cents. That being said, if it is more intuitive for people to read $0.0039 I’d be happy to write things up that way in the future.

  20. Dead in 2 days. This won’t happen again until all staff involved have moved onto other jobs. Sounds like it was more hassle for Sears than it was worth. I can imagine the conversation at sears. “Bob what were you thinking…your fired if you do that again”.

    • tjcabq: Sears regularly does large “X” promotions. This one was scheduled for 2 days. It wasn’t a situation of them pulling it once they realized something bad was happening.

  21. Are you sure these are going to work towards the companion pass? I am big SWA FFM user (about 65k this year so far) and my Rapid Rewards Mall pts have never counted towards a companion pass.

    • Nick: I hope so! Others have reported that it does work, and the Southwest T&C certainly seems to indicate that it would. Are you sure you didn’t get credit from past purchases? Anyway, if it doesn’t work, I’m still happy with .39 cents per mile!

      mandopi: Good point about the tax issue. Hopefully I’ll stay below that bar that would trigger tax reports. If not, I’ll file the information as accurately as I can and hope it doesn’t trigger an audit!

  22. A little belated comment.

    Isn’t there a tax implication that you have to account for? If you keep doing this kind of churning, Amazon or ebay will have to report the earning to the IRS. I know you are losing money on the transactions, but IRS would want to know why you are keep selling products at a loss.

    Anyways Kudos for all this work. Pretty awesome IMHO.

  23. I hope it works for you too. Mind you I have only made two purchases in the past through the mall and it didn’t credit to my companion pass. Can’t wait to hear if it works as I will definitely be watching for the next Sears 15x promo.

  24. @FrequentMiler I never knew about the Fulfillment by Amazon program, that makes doing these kind of deals so much more feasable, thanks for sharing!
    @Joe As to your question about why the credit card companies are giving out so many points, you can read about that here.

  25. Hi FrequentMiler,
    I was curious if anyone else had seen this. I did the double dip: bought gift cards and then bought product, selling on ebay. So far everything has been smooth. But I just checked the Southwest shopping site tonight and I noticed that Sears has subtracted the points for the purchase made with gift cards! Have they done this with anyone else? Any idea why this might be? I guess I’ll have to call someone to try and track this down, but it has me very worried. This deal is not nearly as good if we don’t get the double dip out of it.

    • Dustin: I haven’t heard that from anyone else. My points are still pending. Have you returned any gift cards or anything bought with the gift cards? I can’t think of any other reason that would have happened. In the past I’ve found that Sears knows and is OK with people buying gift cards for points. Contact Rapid Rewards shopping support for help.

  26. Just out of curiosity, with Fulfillment by Amazon, when a customer returns an item, who bears the risk if the item is opened or even damaged? Even with an open item, the ability to resell at the “new” price will be difficult!

  27. @FrequentMiler,
    I purchased egift cards. The subtracted points is actually for the purchased items using the gift cards. I have not returned anything that was purchased. I will try contacting rapid rewards and see what they say.

  28. @Dustin,
    I just checked my account and have the same issue. They subtracted the points for the item I bought with my e-gift card. Pls let us know what you find out. Thanks!

  29. I checked my account too and have the same issue (subtracted points for purchase made with e-gift card). The one thing I can think of is I did Price adjustment for the item because the price has dropped since I purchased the item (not sure if that is the source of issue). Please post your findings. I will contact CS.

  30. @FrequentMiler: I have done just that. I am waiting for a response on my support issue email. I want email because I want to keep things in writing in case they get ugly. I don’t like that it looks somewhat systematic though. The probability of a mistake is going down drastically.

  31. Hi all. So I have received an non-answer back from my support request. They say it has been sent to their research department to determine if it is eligible for points and could take 4-8 weeks. I am annoyed because we have a flight in mid-July and I was hoping to use the companion pass. I guess at this point I just hope we get the miles!

  32. I double dipped, nary a posted transaction yet. I’ve got Sunday, 7/1 on my calendar as the day I rip them a new one for being dishonest bastards. I have loads of screenshots I took…

  33. Hmm, Cartera runs the RR portal. They are crooked and now taking points away from people. Why does this not surprise me?

  34. My Southwest points earned through the Sears 15x promotion have begun posting to my rapid rewards account. However, SW doesn’t appear to be counting them as “Tier Qualifying Points” and thus will not be crediting them towards the Companion Pass (which, per the website, requires 110,000 “Tier Qualifying Points”). Are you experiencing the same thing?

  35. Sears miles posted but I miscalculated and need 500 more before I hit 110,000 and get the comp pass. Off to spend some money.

  36. Tony – Not all my points have posted yet, but so far the only status tracker showing up under the My Rapid Rewards Tab is for A-List Tier–no mention of Companion Pass. I’ll check back once all 120,000 points have posted and see if that’s changed. Good to know it’s working for others though.

    Thanks

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