Laboratory Preparations

image_thumb4High on my Laboratory to-do list is to figure out which merchant gift cards are easily upgradeable.  As I discussed in the post “The Art of Gift Card Churning,” some merchants will let you use their gift cards to buy other gift cards.  I’ve done this successfully many times at Kmart, Sears, and Walgreens, but I’d like to find more options.  The more options we can find, the more we can save money and/or earn points and miles.

Today, I ran over to Walgreens and used a Walgreens gift card to buy Marshalls, Best Buy, and Bed Bath & Beyond gift cards.  I plan to visit each of these merchants to see if I can use their gift cards to buy others.  Here are a few others I plan to try:

ToysRUs: I’ve been told that you can buy gift cards with ToysRUs gift cards.  So, I’ll go through uPromise to ToysRUs to buy a gift card.  Hopefully I’ll earn 5% cash back.  Once the gift card arrives, I’ll go to ToysRUs to see if I can upgrade.

OfficeMax: Can OfficeMax gift cards be upgraded in-store?  One reader said “no,” another said “yes.”  I just need to try it myself.  First, I’ll go through the UR Mall to see if points are awarded (probably not).  Second, I’ll pay with an Amex business card with OPEN Savings to see if I get 5% back (10% back for $250 or more).  Finally, I’ll take the gift card to OfficeMax to see if I can upgrade.

Michaels: A few people have told me that they were able to buy gift cards with gift cards at Michaels.  I’ll find a good deal through and order a Michael’s gift card.  Then, I’ll take it to the store to see if I can upgrade.

I’m looking forward to trying out all of the above.  As always, I’ll let you know how it turns out, and I’ll update the Frequent Miler Laboratory.  Do you know of other stores that should be tested?  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.

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  1. I was able to buy Kohl’s gift cards from Officemax – using my Officemax gift cards to pay.

    The employee at the counter first said that their system doesn’t allow purchasing GC with Officemax GC. But then I told him that one other store (to whom, I did speak to and confirmed in the past) said they would accept.

    Then he tried with my Officemax GC and the transaction went through fine.

  2. Sure Greg.
    I was skeptical before entering the store.. But happy that it worked!

    Only problem is I’ve to drive 10 miles to get to my nearest OfficeMax!

  3. I know you didn’t mention OD, but since we all love to shop there with Ink Bold, here’s a data point. My OD would NOT accept OD gift cards to purchase other gift cards.

    • bf: Thanks, I’ll update the Lab with your info

      Ted F: It took me 3 trips to Sears to finally find the one hidden gift card rack that sold other gift cards. Maybe ask a manager?

  4. I finally found a Kmart that had an eBay GC. I purchased the card (along with a couple of filler items) with a Sears GC. The transaction appeared to go though but the receipt stated that the eBay GC failed. The cashier directed me to the customer service counter where a manager lectured me and said that I cannot buy a GC with a Sears GC. The whole thing was a waste of time (~30 minutes). Has anyone else have success at Kmart recently?

    • Paul Ahn: Sometimes the transactions fail because there’s a problem with the card you’re trying to buy. That happened to me once at Kmart and like you I had to go to the customer service counter to get it fixed, but it all worked out — no lecture. I suspect the manager you saw was wrong, but it is possible that they’ve changed their rules. Generally, Kmart will say “no” if you ask if it’s OK, but usually it goes through no problem.

  5. Safeway in Honolulu has the best variety gift cards selection than any other stores. They don’t allow using gift card buying gift card. They even don’t allow using credit card buying visa gift card(has to be cash). However, their system will allow the payment go through even they told you it is not allowed (one cashier tried for me to pay the $500 visa gift card with credit card without cash, it went through). However when I did not get the $10 off for next shopping(a promotion) I took the $500 visa gift card receipt to the manager to ask for $10 store credit. He is very mad of my payment method(he said it is not allowed to pay with credit card) and said that I am not following the rules paying the visa gift card with cash, he refused to honor me $10 store credit. I pointed to him that the $500 visa gift card does not state “cash only”(like the GreenDot) and the system can accept the payment. He said his decision is final and he does not own my money. This manager is really tough(a little while ago, a couple with a 5 year old girl shopping at this store, forgot to pay a $5 sandwich they ate when they are so hungry, even the couple willing to pay for it and said sorry for the forgotten, the manager still escalate the issue to police for the $5 stealing. Ending up the little girl has to separate from her parents(they are at the police station) staying in the state foster care. The couple finally took their story to the local newspaper and Safeway eventually dropped the charge against the couple.

    • Jack: Thanks for sharing that story. I wouldn’t want to shop there!

      HansGolden: Yep, you can even buy gift cards online at Walmart using Walmart gift cards.

      Serion: Thanks for the added data point!

  6. @FrequentMiler hmm so it may be hidden. I didn’t look too hard, I don’t really like Sears layout as it disorients me pretty easily with all their checkouts in the “junctions”. I only asked 2 cashiers.

    @enthusiast yea I checked out the Kmarts. They didn’t quite have anything I would like at the moment. Only things I see are maybe some restaurant or SW gift cards that I may use.

  7. Heres my 2 cents…i they had some groupon certificates for toysrus last december..i went thru the aa shopping portal and use the groupon certicates to purchase reg toys r us gift cards and got the miles…

    • Bitachu: nice! Let me know when you see those groupons again!

      benji: Thanks for the info! Just checking — you went to Office Depot (not OfficeMax?) and used an OD gift card to buy an Amex gift card?

  8. I was able to buy an AMEX at OD with an OD GC last week. I also bought a moving cart and had to pay the difference with my credit card.

    • Randy: Interesting. I tried about a year ago in-store to buy a Bestbuy gift card with a Kohl’s gift card, but it didn’t work. The cashier tried, but the register didn’t allow it.

      Bacc: Other than the obvious use that you point out, it can be a way to upgrade to more valuable cards. So, buy gift cards at a discount, upgrade, then sell to break even or for a profit. Basically, it’s a complicated way to pump up credit card spend and potentially earn a few bucks.

      jcmitchell21: Uh, oh. I have a card on order. Hopefully not all Michael’s are the same…

      mike: sounds like a big hassle.

  9. what is the point of buying gcs with gcs? Other than using a card that you don’t intend to use at the intended store how does this leverage things?

  10. @Paul Ahn — The same failure notice for ebay gift cards happened to people who bought them at a local grocery store during a recent promo. Someone got to the bottom of it, and found that the ebay gift cards were no longer supposed to be sold at the grocery store. So maybe ebay pulled the gift cards at other retailers as well.

  11. I tried Michael’s when they had the discounted lowe’s cards. The register would not accept payment will gift cards.

  12. I tried buying 100 dollars of ebay gift cards at grocery store and it stated not activated but the charge still went through my card. Since I was doing regular shopping I did not realize it till I went to use them the same day. had to get refund the next day on my card

  13. JCPenney does not accept gc purchases with another gift card or ecard….took advanateg of the 30% discount on cardpool but could not buy gift cards at the store. I simply purchase nontaxable items (closes in my state) and then returned them and got a new real gift card.

  14. FYI –
    At least based upon past personal experience, Michael’s does not allow GFs to be used to buy other GFs.

  15. I just tried using Kohl’s gift card to purchase restaurant gift cards but the system would not let the cashier proceed…Same thing when I tried to use a Kohl’s merchandise store credit.

  16. I went to Office Depot and had my girlfried buy a $50 gift card. Then I went in with her gift card and bought an AMEX prepaid with $50 loaded on it, and a collapsible rolling cart. I paid $50 of the total with my gift card and put the rest on a credit card.

  17. bexho2000: thanks for the JCP info! I’ll update the Lab table. Regarding Kohl’s: that is consistent with my experience too.

    JW: I hope that has changed since I have one on order

    benji: That’s great! Thanks for sharing that info.

  18. I would really like to find a way to buy MoneyPak cards using a credit card to increase bonus spending. If there were a way to upgrade a gift card bought with a credit card to a MoneyPak card would be awesome for me.

  19. About michales, last week I run into a store and stopped in front of the GC shell, a nice girl said hello to me and told thatI could not use a michales gc to buy gc. I had to say thank u let me know and went away.

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