Ultimate Rewards Mall August Edition

Sears brings back 10X!

Every month, the Ultimate Rewards Mall has new month-long specials. Last month, I wrote about the July specials in the post Ultimate Rewards Mall July Edition.”  Today, I’ll show you how things look for August.

Thanks again to HikerT for updating his website that shows the Ultimate Rewards Mall payouts for different Chase cards. You can find his website here:lakebagger.com/ur/.

First the bad news

As expected, some of the goodies from last month went away Nyah-Nyah

  • Lowe’s dropped from 10X to 5X
  • Office Depot dropped from 10X to 3X (5X for the Freedom card)
  • Bloomingdale’s dropped from 10X to 6X
  • Avis dropped from 5X to 3X
  • eBags dropped from 15X to 8X


August Goodies

Now on to the good stuff!

Sears 10X (Ink & Sapphire 10X. Freedom 3X)
I’ve been waiting a long time for this!  When I first started blogging a year ago, Sears was at 10X and I wrote many posts about ways to take advantage of this.  One of the best things about Sears is that they will pay points for Sears gift card purchases and purchases made with gift cards.  This means that you can earn 20 points per dollar by buying gift cards and then using them through the Ultimate Rewards Mall!  I will follow-up with many more posts on ways to leverage this throughout the month.

Staples 5X (Ink 5X, Sapphire & Freedom 4X)
Last month Freedom cardholders got 5X from Staples.  This month, 5X moved over to Ink card holders.  This is great news because Staples is one of the few stores to sell gift cards online and, despite the listed Terms & Conditions, they give points for gift card purchases.  Even better, when you buy merchant gift cards (Marriott, StarBucks, etc.) there is no fee and no shipping charge.  When you combine this 5X with the automatic 5X that the Ink Bold gets for office supply purchases, this becomes a 10X deal!

ShoeBuy 15X (Freedom 15X, Ink & Sapphire 10X)
Freedom cardholders can once again get 30X by double-dipping!  See “Shoebuy double dip 30X. Is it worth it?” for details.

JC Penney 10X (Freedom 10X, Ink & Sapphire 6X)
This one held steady from last month.  JC Penney gift cards often sell for 25% off or more through resellers (search giftcardgranny.com).  A nice double-dip is to buy gift cards at a large discount and then go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to JC Penney to use them.

A few more:

  • Lancome 12X (through 9/30)
  • HSN.com 10X (Ink 10X, Freedom & Sapphire 4X)
  • Drugstore.com 10X (Ink 10X, Freedom & Sapphire 8X)


Prediction Results

In yesterday’s post “Ultimate Rewards Mall Reminders and Predictions” I made some predictions about what would change in the mall.  Let’s see how I did:

  • Target: I said Target would increase to 3X or so.  Result: FAIL.  Target held steady at 2X
  • OfficeMax: I said OfficeMax would increase to 5X.  Result: FAIL.  OfficeMax held steady at 3X
  • KMart: I said KMart would pop up to 4X or 5X.  Result: FAIL.  KMart held steady at 2X.
  • Sears: I said Sears would jump up to 5X, and I mentioned the possibility of 10X.  Result: Success!  Sears beat my expectations by jumping all the way to 10X!
  • Staples:  I said Staples would hold steady at 4X and drop the 5X from the Freedom card.  Result: Mixed.  Staples did drop 5X from Freedom, and they did hold steady at 4X for Sapphire cardholders, but they bumped up to 5X for Ink cardholders.
  • JC Penney: I said was likely to hold steady with 10X.  Result: Success!
  • Kohls: I said was likely to hold steady with 10X. Result: Success!
  • DrugStore.com: I said was a likely 10X.  Result: Success!
  • J. Crew: I said would jump to 10X.  Result: Fail.  J. Crew held steady at 5X.

Overall score: 4.5 out of 9.  I suppose if this were baseball you could say I did all right batting 500….

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 see that Sears.com sells the Ipad. I’ve been looking to but the latest one. So $700 with double dipping will get be 14,000 UR points. nice!

  2. Ipad 32 gig 3rd gen is $753 on Sears.com.
    Ipad 32 gig 3rd gen is $642 on Bestbuy.com.

    So $111 for 14,000 UR points? So it’s .008 cents/point.

    Not the best deal, but it’s still good if you were planning to purchase the item anyway.

  3. For the record, I have a JPM Select card… Kohl’s is at 4x, sears is 4x, JC Penney 6x, drugstore 8x, Lancôme 12x, HSN 4x. Mostly not so great. The 12x being the exception. I have an IB also so I’m not throwing a tantrum.

  4. @nerd, I think that’s 8/10 of a cent per point. Your point still valid, unless one is tapped out of Chase personal and biz cards. Otherwise, sign-up bonuses too easy to achieve to pay out of pocket for UR’s once minimum spend achieved.

  5. So is the move to buy Staples gift cards online, and then take them into the store and use the GCs to buy Visa GCs or other merchant gift cards?

  6. I took last minute advantage of Lowe’s. $800 at 11 last night online. I know UR says points not valid when using a discount code, is this actually the case? I used the 10% coupon when checking out along with my discounted gc’s.

    @Rrr – It’s $0.008/point or 0.8 cents/point.

    • HikerT: Nice find! $35 off $350 can go a long way. In my experience, Sears does award points even when coupons are used. For anyone ready to jump quickly on this, you can use that code (AUGUST35) to get as much as 10% off your order. I think the key would be to buy e-gift cards first, then go through the UR mall to Sears to make one ~$350 purchase at a time. Even if your order is for $400, you will save 8.75% with the coupon!

  7. This may be a really stupid question, but where do you find the monthly specials listed in the Ultimate Rewards Mall? I use the portal all the time (in fact, we just netted over 40,000 points during Lowe’s July 10x bonus because we’re renovating our kitchen and bought some of our appliances from Lowes), but despite all sorts of poking around, I don’t see where the monthly specials are actually listed.

    • Melissa: It’s not a stupid question at all. I haven’t found a good way either via Chase. Instead, I use HikerT’s web site (referenced in the post above) to look for big point increases.

  8. @ORD_TGU I have had success using the 3rd party gift cards but not for debit cards. The cashier doesn’t have a button to push to use a gift card on a debit or prepaid card.

    …with the help of cuckoo for coupon deals, have done some pretty good damage building a stockpile of stuff (see her quadrouple post at Kmart from earlier this week – I paid <$5 for over $50 worth of stuff I'll actually use). Kmart carries BP gift cards and Southwest gift cards – I've been buying the BP and selling them for a small profit with Sears gift cards I'd purchased at PJ but that's a sob story for another day. 😉 Kmart does not give shopyourway rewards for gift card purchases, though.

  9. Ah, thanks! Glad I’m not crazy and/or oblivious.

    I’m so happy about the Sears 10x this month! We’re getting our new cooktop from Sears and we were just waiting until today to see if they would have an increased bonus!

  10. With OD AMEX GC w/ IB 5x in to the factor, Sears is 25x. Gosh, pretty soon, I will type everything with an acronym.

  11. You can also use the US Bank Cash+ card after you select department stores as one of your discount categories. You get 6.25% cash back for dept store purchases that way. Add this to the HikerT’s august35 code and the double dip, it really becomes a lot.

  12. I’m not sure I understand how the UR Mall works. So you don’t have to use your chase card for the purchase to earn the points from the UR Mall? You just have to click through to sears.com from the UR mall’s referral link and you can pay with any card (or gift card) you want? Is that right?

    If so, is the multiplier you earn just based on which chase card you actually have (you presumably get the best multiplier if you have multiple cards) – not which one you use to pay?

    • Allen: You have it mostly right. The multiplier is based on which card account you use to log into Ultimate Rewards. You don’t automatically get the best multiplier if you have multiple cards. The only caution is that if your order doesn’t track correctly, and if you don’t use your Chase card, you will have a hard time getting Chase to help you.

  13. fyi, I did not get the AUGUST35 code to work. It would not apply it to gift cards at checkout. Sure enough, the fine print says it does not apply to gift cards.

  14. Can you buy a $1200 gift card to use for a $1200 purchase of an appliance? Just wondered about the bigger denomination of gift cards.

  15. I’m not sure what you CAN use that coupon (AUGUST35) for…I’ve tried applying it to about 10 dif. things and they’re all excluded. The list of things excluded by the coupon is incredibly long!

  16. Great news about the return of 10x at Sears. Unfortunately I am little gun shy after recently having Chase reverse my points for a Sears transaction that was paid by GC (a month and a half after I earned the points). When I called Chase, they claimed the points were reversed because I did not use a Chase card for the purchase. Sapphire rep was adamant that you could not earn points in the mall unless you use your Chase card and nothing I could say would convince him otherwise. Worrisome since most of my UR mall purchases have used other than Chase cards. Hopefully they do not get reversed as well.

  17. @MSPDeltaDude: How do you do a Sears price match on an internet order?
    @IrishTiger: Am I understanding you correctly, I can buy K-mart gift cards through UR Mall portal for Sears then bring them in store to K-Mart to buy gift cards for other places like gas & restaurants?

  18. I’m pretty sure chase has caught onto this and is really making it a hassle to get any points from any cards used besides a chase card. I’ve had nothing, but bad luck with using anything else.

  19. @Elizabeth, but you were still able to retain the points you earned when you purchased the gift card itself, right? I figure I’ll try the double dip, and if it works, great. But if not, even the “single” dip is a great deal … unless they revoked those as well.

  20. @Melissa — Yes, I have never had any issues buying the Sears gift cards and getting UR mall points so they are still great for the first dip. I did use Chase cards for that portion. Spending the Sears gift cards using the UR mall have not been giving me good results. One transaction reversed and one never tracked at all. I’ve had better luck on the second dip by using the AAdvantage mall, but today they went down to only 3x.

  21. I am sorry if this has been asked before in previous post, but can one get Shop Your Way points as well as UR points?

    • MSPDeltaDude: Yes, you can use a bunch of gift cards at once at Sears. Gift cards max out at $500, I believe. I’ve placed orders over $2K in the past so I know you can do at least 5 and probably much more.

  22. So is the general guideline for those who have no interest in buying anything from Sears is to buy e-gift cards from sears, and go to a local K-mart and try to swap for a different gift card? This method would earn only 10x but may be helpful for meeting spending requirements. I’m sure Miler has other tricks to earn a lot more though!

    Is it easier to swap gift card at Kmart with Sears e-gift card or a physical Sears gift card?

    • Than P: Physical gift cards are easier to use at Kmart. Yes, if your local Kmart allows it, you can use Sears gift cards to buy BP cards and sell those. I’m not sure I would describe that as a “general guideline” though…

  23. @FrequentMiler: Even if I upgrade Sears gift card to BP card, I can only liquidate them at around 90% of the value right? which means, with 10x, I will be buying UR points at ~1 cpm? or, Am I missing something. TIA.

  24. FM: How can I get Sears to do a price match with an online order? And do you know who they will price match with? Any ideas on fast resell items with a high return on my money spent to meet spending requirements?

  25. @FrequentMiler – The BP deal seems great to me: (10-4 BeFrugal) for 1,100 worth of points = .545455cpp. Am I missing something?

  26. @kevin- actually 14.2x.
    10x Ur mall at sears. Use Amex prepaid loaded from OD for the extra 4.2.
    No one knows if I can get gap gc at sears?

  27. is there any way to double dip, buying sears e-gc’s and using them at lands end? or is it not possible to shop at lands end online and get the second 10x?

  28. Quick question, you say to double dip at JCP by buying a gift card at a discount and then using it at JCP through UR website. How do you get 10x points if you are not using one of the CC’s ?

  29. Based on my experience you don’t need to use one of the CCs. Last month I paid with a JCP GC but clicking thru via the Freedom portal and got my 10x.

  30. Another one that went up was Newegg.com to 5X. Newegg is a good place to purchase computer hardware. They sell a good bit of other stuff now too. 5X is the highest I’ve seen them offer.

    One other tidbit. I noticed that Home Depot and Lowes both now have a disclaimer that any adjustment or return you make at a physical store may void your reward points. I do not remember seeing that before. I guess this means you cannot hold on to your reward points by returning an item and asking for store credit.

  31. @ Dan-Interesting. I had a few orders with X items that I needed adjust. Havn’t seen anything retracted…yet..

  32. Did anyone else get a huge inquisition when buying a gift card today? I bought a $300 Sears egift card to use at Kmart for kids’ school supplies. About 2 hours after purchase, I got a call from the security department to verify it because it was “such a large purchase”. I got asked the height on my driver’s license, former addresses, etc. before it passed their screen and I got the gift card. Not sure what triggered this!

    Regarding Sears price match, i’ve had great luck with Sears matching to their own later sale prices. There is a form online; just go to their website and search for price match. It is very easy and fast.

    Regarding UR earnings with non-Chase cards, I started having bad luck with non-Chase card purchases back in january. it took many phone calls and lots of hassle to get points to post. I’m strictly using Chase cards in the UR Mall these days.

  33. @MSPDeltaDude – The operative word is may. Perhaps it depends on how the clerk handles the return. I had 2 bonuses from Lowes retracted and I didnt even return the items! One order I was going to return anyways so I am not going to fight it but the other I am going to call Chase and find out what the problem is.

    @Anita = I had the same thing happen to me a few months ago. From what I have read it is fairly normal for them to verify information. Last time I was in Office depot the cashier asked me for my drivers license when I purchase a Vanilla reload. He said someone had bought $10,000 in Vanilla reload cards using a stolen credit ard(multiple transactions).

  34. Anyone receive shopping portal points last month from Staples for the FAR item(trend Micro)? They made a change to their policy about getting points for software. I didnt participate but I was curious for future purchases.

  35. I did not receive points for the Staples FAR purchase (was through the Rapid Rewards mall) but both run by Cartera and it had the same language regarding software.

  36. Last time some people’s second dip using gift cards got retracted. Can people verify should i use gift cards totally or put a small amount on a chase card. Thanks

  37. @ Anita I had the same thing happen to me on a $250 card. An item I was looking to buy was avaliable on their website in the morning but later in the day was sold out. I stopped by the local sears and they had 1 left. Had them hold it for me so I could buy a gift card through the portal. Almost didn’t make it back to the store before closing because of their verification. And I called CS to speed the process up.

    I think someone beat me to my Amazon resale idea! But I will gladly take the 10 extra UR points/$

  38. I made a Lowe’s purchase last week and had the points reversed a few days later. I sent a SM to Chase and awaiting their response but I’m 95% sure it’s because I used a non-Chase card. I think the double dip is coming to an end. I’ll report back when Chase responds to my inquiry.

  39. Can you tell me what sites I can get points on through the UR Mall for e-gift cards? I’m know that Sears does but I’m looking for other types of cards. Thanks!

  40. Just went to Kmart today and saw other gift cards I could use. BP, Southwest, Red Lobster. iTunes, and more. Consider exchanging your Sears GC if you can’t find anything you need right now. You’ll get a minimum of 10X.

  41. @Howard-I just did that yesterday. Doing a trial purchase of sears.com egift card and exchanged instore for BP Gift card.

  42. Milezjunkie, I had two separate Lowe’s transactions paid with UR cards and the points were reversed a few days later for reason: “online return” which is bogus as I have not returned the items….There is something fishy with Lowe’s….

  43. Anyone experiencing delays in getting these UR points posted for Sears purchases in August? I have been waiting for 10 days now since Aug 1st ….still no points!

  44. Yes, my experience with Lowe’s was a bit fishy, too. Last month I bought a $400.00 Larson storm door. When the payment screen came up I clicked submit and the web page went blank. Had to call Lowe’s, who told me the charge/order went through, then early last week I called CSP account rep as the 10x points had not hit my account. They checked my click history and showed that I added the door to my shopping cart, but it didn’t show that the door purchase was completed. The CSP rep compared this with my credit card charge history, saw it was legit and issued a 4000 point credit to my Rewards account.

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