Gift Card Upgrade Results

Frequent Miler Laboratory experiments continue to roll on with a surprising amount of success.  In the post “Laboratory Preparations” I described a number of experiments that were being launched.  In each case, the goal was to see if I could take a merchant gift card and use it in-store to buy a different merchant’s gift card.  In other words, could I effectively upgrade one gift card to another?  One reason for testing this is to be prepared whenever discounts or points are offered for gift card purchases.  If we know a card can be easily upgraded, then we can take advantage of gift card deals even if we don’t want to shop at that particular merchant.  Since posting the details of the experiments, I’ve reported the results of a few of them, but not all. Here now, are the complete results…

Marshall’s: FAIL

Marshall’s doesn’t seem to sell gift cards from other merchants at all.  Instead, I used my $25 gift card to buy a pair of $25 Nike sandals.  They’re comfy!

Best Buy: SUCCESS

Best Buy has very few gift cards for sale other than their own, but they do sell Amazon Kindle gift cards which are really general purpose Amazon gift cards.  I used my Best Buy gift card to buy an Amazon gift card without any problem.  No questions were asked by the cashier.

Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBB): SUCCESS

As I reported in the post “Bed Bath and Far Beyond,” BBB has a large selection of gift cards, but few interesting ones (to me).  I used my BBB gift card to buy a Visa gift card without any problem.  No questions were asked by the cashier.

ToysRUs: SUCCESS

Just like Best Buy, ToysRUs has very few gift cards of interest, but they do sell Amazon Kindle gift cards.  In my case, the Kindle cards were sold out, but they were offering a deal to get $5 back on $30 worth of iTunes gift cards.  I used my ToysRUs e-gift card plus $5 of credit to buy the iTunes gift cards and they gave me a $5 ToysRUs gift card in return.  Bonus: I went through uPromise to buy the e-gift card from ToysRUs and I earned 5% cash back (at least, that much is pending).

Michaels: FAIL

This was the only store in which I brought a gift card to the register, but was unable to buy it.  The cashier tried, but the register wouldn’t allow it.  She even called over a manger to see if she could get an override, but no luck.

OfficeMax: SUCCESS

Technically, the OfficeMax experiment included one failure and several successes.  The one failure was (as expected) when I went through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to buy OfficeMax gift cards, I didn’t get any points.  This is consistent with the Terms & Conditions.  On the other hand, by paying with my American Express business card, I automatically earned cash back (see the post “10% off everything and 7% off everything else” for details).  And, in two separate visits I was able to buy both an Amazon gift card and a $200 Visa gift card using my OfficeMax gift cards.  In both cases, no questions were asked.  Next week I’ll discuss some exciting ways to leverage this discovery.  Until then, dust off your Amex business cards and have them ready!

Other upgrades

Here’s how to find a complete list of upgrades that we have found to work (or not to work):

  1. Browse to the Frequent Miler Laboratory.  For those who haven’t memorized the URL, you can always look under the “Resources” menu on any Frequent Miler page.
  2. Find the “Completed Experiments” table and type “upgradegc” (without the quotes) into the table’s Search box.  The table will automatically filter to gift card upgrade experiments.  To limit to successful experiments search for “upgradegc success”.  Similarly, you can view failed experiments by searching for “upgradegc fail”.

Contribute

If you have gift cards lying around unused, please visit the store in question and see if you can buy a more useful gift card with that one.  Let me know the results and I’ll update the Lab results table.  Thanks in advance!


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Pingbacks

  1. […] BoardingArea describes another gift card and rewards card buying strategy: use the (discounted) gift card for one store to buy a different gift card you might actually use. For example, you might get a Toys R Us gift card (which you can get 5% cash back through uPromise) and then use that card to buy an Amazon gift card. If you buy an OfficeMax gift card with a credit card that rewards you for shopping at office supplies stores, then you can use that OfficeMax gift card to buy a different gift card. Check out Boarding Area’s full chart of gift card hacks. […]

  2. […] BoardingArea describes another gift card and rewards card buying strategy: use the (discounted) gift card for one store to buy a different gift card you might actually use. for example, you might get a Toys R us gift card (which you can get 5% cash back through uPromise) and then use that card to buy an Amazon gift card. If you buy an OfficeMax gift card with a credit card that rewards you for shopping at office supplies stores, then you can use that OfficeMax gift card to buy a different gift card. Check out Boarding Area’s full chart of gift card hacks. […]

Comments

  1. Used Sears at Kmart for BP. Going to try Lands End in the same way. Whew! They also have Southwest and Visa but in small denominations so the fee is exorbitant.

    • Phil: yes, if you can find non-Sears gift cards at Sears, you can use Sears gift cards to buy them.

      Grant: Rats! Maybe try a different cashier next time?

      Ken in Phx: Ouch, I can’t believe Plastic Jungle dropped BP so far down. I wonder if you can use BP gift cards at BP to buy other gift cards…

  2. Oh Miler,

    If the final cost of the Visa gift card is $186 at officemax, why not then take these right to Walmart website or in person and buy Walmart cards. Then sell on PJ. For each $200 card, PJ should pay $184 and TCB will give you back another $8, so $192 net. You actually come out ahead and rack our MR points. Am I missing something? Seems too easy…..

    • THEsocalledfan: You have it right. I did almost exactly that last week. The only difference is that I took my new $200 Visa next door to Target and used it to buy a $200 Target card. Then I sold it on PJ for $184 + $7.36 TCB. Target and Walmart cards are always in high demand so hopefully PJ won’t lower their buy price for these.

      awg137: Thanks for the warning. Of course, THEsocalledfan could simply buy two $100 Walmart cards instead if that becomes an issue.

  3. Be careful with PlasticJungle. They see to have recently imposed a MAXIMUM limit of $100 for many cards they buy. The catch, is they don’t tell you the limit until you try to actually sell them the card. I’ve tried to ask them to publish a list of which cards have limits, but so far, no response.

  4. I did have a devil of a time unloading those Lowe’s cards. I could only do 5 at a time for $250 Lowe’s retail a shot. I found that if I waited a day, then put in a complaint, it moved it along faster. If not, it took an awfully long time.

    Walmart are mail ins, so hoping the limits are not as tough…..I was already planning on buying $100 cards.

  5. It’s arbitrage. It’s good you’re always thinking of finding ways to apply it, and also generous enough to detail your experience. Thank you !!1

    • JoC: Arbitrage: yes, definitely. Glad you like it!

      Key Y: Oh boy. Save the Border’s gift card as a collector’s piece?

      al613: Thanks for the tip. I need a Discover card!

  6. discover shopping mall offers 5% extra on the top of regular earnings till sept. 6 at many retailers. sears, macys, lands end, kmart, kohls, tumi, homedepot, target are all at 10% back now.

  7. drugstore.com and beauty.com @ 15%. if it works @ beauty.com for git cards it could be 30% back plus double drugstore dollars.

  8. al613 : I don’t understand what you are saying here.
    drugstore.com and beauty.com @ 15%. if it works @ beauty.com for git cards it could be 30% back plus double drugstore dollars.

  9. I have been to KMarts and some have sold some lucrative gift cards (Southwest & American Airlines). Unfortunately the employees there were not exactly the brightest crayons in the box, so just paying for the 2 merchandise (not gift cards) was enough of a struggle.

    I wonder if I took unregistered gift cards from a different store (say a grocery store) and tried to activate them / load them at a KMart if that would work.

    Any thoughts?

  10. al613 – I still don’t understand the beauty.com /drugstore.com deal. You’re saying you can buy drugstore.com giftcards online and get 15% back with discover. Then turn around and do what with them to get the other 15%? I’m missing something…

  11. Doesn’t drugstore.com add on a hefty shipping charge for any order that includes GCs (even if otherwise your order qualifies for free shipping)?

  12. Can no longer buy Amazon gift cards at Toys R US using discounted Toys R US/Babies R us gift cards. I have checked in multiple states with no success. Found cards in one store, but when they rang up the register says card had been discontinued please delete all inventory.

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