Buy.com experiment success

Through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, Chase Ink cardholders can earn 10 points per dollar at Buy.com this month (see “Ultimate Rewards Mall September Edition”).  On September 2nd, I launched an experiment: Could I buy gift cards at Buy.com and receive 10 points per dollar?

After logging into the Ultimate Rewards Mall with my Ink Bold account, I clicked through to Buy.com.

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There, I searched for gift cards and found a few good ones such as Home Depot, Marriott, and OfficeMax.

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Sadly, there were no high value cards such as gas cards, Target, or Walmart but each of the ones listed above are pretty good.  With Home Depot, you can double-dip (go through the mall a second time to buy items at Home Depot using your gift card) as long as part of the purchase is made with a credit card.  Marriott double-dipping should work too, but so far I’ve had little success doing so through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  You might be better off booking your stay through a portal like FatWallet when planning to pay by gift card.  If you’re lucky enough to have a friendly OfficeMax nearby, there are lots of great opportunities to upgrade your gift card.  See “10% off everything and 7% off everything else.”

Buy.com adds a $2.99 shipping & handling charge for the first card you put in your basket, and 99 cents for each additional card.  So, if you plan to buy multiple cards, I’d recommend buying them all at once so as to minimize shipping and handling charges.

For this experiment, I bought a single $100 Marriott card which arrived in the mail about 5 days later.  It took 8 days for the transaction to show up as pending in the Ultimate Rewards Mall:

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Note that the transaction above makes it look like the points posted on September 8, but in reality, they didn’t show up on my account until September 10.

No Super Points

Buy.com has its own loyalty program where you can earn “Super Points” for each qualifying purchase.  My account shows 0 super points earned from the gift card purchase.  I guess this means that gift cards are not qualifying purchases.

Other items of note

  • As you can see from my screenshot above, Staples still gives points for software purchases despite the Terms & Conditions that say otherwise.
  • In addition to this experiment, I launched a Bloomingdale’s double dip experiment the same day, but have yet to see any points.  I’ll wait another week before giving up on that one.
  • I plan one more Buy.com experiment.  I will buy a Buy.com gift card to see if I get points, then I’ll use that gift card to buy a merchant gift card (e.g. Home Depot, Marriott, or OfficeMax) to see if I get points again.

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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Comments

  1. Hi,

    Do the 4 extra points (+5 with ink bold) work on staples(.com) for gift cards?
    Does a Staples store purchase get u the x5 points no problem?

    Thanks for your advice.

  2. I am waiting for the same news from staple giftcards. I bought some last months but the points has not been posted into my account. Anybody got the points by buying giftcards from staple recently?

  3. When I purchase GCs from staples, I usually get the confirmation email 2 weeks later.
    FM-if your buy.com doubledip works, I would be a happy clam.

    • Yes, but note that in the store I found $200 cards for the same 5.95 (or 6.95) as if you purchase a $100 (which is the max) in the store.

  4. Steven,
    The last time I bought gift cards from Staples, it was July 31st. The points posted August 11th. The transaction consisted of $3,000 worth of Visa GCs (before the extra surcharges). Looking at other Staples transactions that month, they were otherwise posting in 4 days. Remember the points post under the month of the transaction, not the posting date…so remember to go back to your August transaction activity to see if they show up there. That’s one thing I didn’t realize when I started using UR Mall.

  5. I’ll be making a large TV purchase this month and found a competitive price on Buy.com. Shouldn’t I be able to buy Visa reloads with the Ink Bold at OD (assuming I can find some) and use the Amex prepaid through the UR Mall for a total of 15X points?

  6. Frequent Miler –
    Not sure if you already started your experiment with purchasing Buy.com GCs to then buy merchant GCs, but it won’t work. I tried doing the same thing and Buy.com will NOT let you purchase a gift card with a buy.com gift card. However, if you were going to purchase something else from Buy.com, a double-dip may work. I did receive Super Points for the buy.com gift card purchase.

      • OK, I just kicked off a slightly different experiment. I bought a buy.com gift card and then went through the UR mall a second time to use the gift card for merchandise. As Bob said, I wasn’t able to use the gift card to buy merchant gift cards.

  7. CaptainCool-
    Did not do a double-dip on an item yet. I just know that you can not apply a Buy.com gift card to a Merchant gift card order.

  8. For Officemax, doesnt it make sense to use an American Express card with open, like a Simply Cash card?

    On that card, at Officemax, I get 5% cash back. Because it is part of Amex Open, I get 10% back at Officemax on purchases that are over $200 made online (5% if the transaction is less than $200). I can also go through any portal to get me an extra 5% or 10%.

    That means I can get about 20x on Officemax if I use the right card. Why would I go to Buy.com to get only 10x (+ at most 2x or 3x on a credit card) cash back?

    • Would anyone know if getting the Amex gift cards on their website constitute reaching and counting for the threshold?
      How about purchasing visa gift cards on the OPEN? Will Amex give the 5x and also count it towards the threshold?

      Thanks

    • Al: Yes, a great option is to use your Amex OPEN card to buy OfficeMax gift cards. As long as you purchase more than $250 in one transaction you get 10% back from Amex. And, yes, if you use the Simply Cash you get even more back (up to $12K per year of office purchases, I think). For people who don’t have the Simply Cash, 10X from Buy.com is arguably better since many people (including me!) value UR points more highly than 1 cent each. And, of course, for people without any OPEN card, 10X is great regardless. You won’t necessarily get another 5% back or so when going through a portal since OfficeMax doesn’t give cash back through portals when you buy gift cards.

  9. Hope this works! Just bought $500 worth of Home Depot cards. Anyone know of a way to see what points have posted on the Ink card before your billing cycle ends? Mine only show up at the end of the cycle which is annoying since my Sapphire updates almost daily.

  10. Has it been confirmed that NO portals give cash back from OM for purchasing OM GC?
    I just got an OPEN card, and was planning on buying a bunch of OM cards to upgrade at B&M. and I was planning on going through every portal I could find to see if one of them gave something.

  11. Two things. First, I bought $200 worth of visa gift cards from staples.com about a week ago through the UR mall. I also bought some pens. On my credit card online statement it broke it into two transactions — one for $200 and one for $20something (the cost of the pens). So far, nothing is posted on mall earnings, but I’m a bit pessimistic that maybe staples.com really is going to finally adhere to the t&c saying that gift cards don’t earn mall points. At least I should still get the 5x.

    Second, I have a large apple purchase coming up, and I’d really love to buy at Amazon. The best option seems to be using my Open card to buy OM gift cards online, then converting that to Amazon cards. This will get me 10 percent cash back, 2000 points on my credit card, and then 1 HA point when I buy through their amazon portal. The only concern I have is being stuck with $2k in OM gift cards unable to convert them to amazon. Any thoughts, or am I looking at this wrong?

    • Larry: I’ve heard recently from people who have received points for gift cards so I wouldn’t count you out yet. Please let us know how it goes. As to Amazon, yes I agree that the approach you list would offer the best savings. I’d recommend buying a $25 (or so) OfficeMax gift card first and see if you can use it to get an Amazon gift card in-store before you go big with this. FYI, in case OfficeMax doesn’t work for you: other stores that will let you use their gift cards to buy Amazon gift cards include Best Buy and Toys R Us. So, you could see if either of those gift cards are available at a discount.

  12. FM, a little off subject but you lamented the fact that you couldn’t get Target or Walmart cards through buy.com. I share your pain since I do a bit of horse trading with those cards based on some of your creative gift cards plays. Do you know of any way to get Target or Walmart cards at a multiple? I know you can get them at a discount on the resell sites but I am more interested in miles. Thanks.

    • Piecerate: No luck yet. Before Ebay pulled their gift cards out of stores it was possible to buy Sears/Kmart gift cards for a nice multiple and then upgrade them to EBay cards and then use those cards to buy Target / Walmart. I don’t know of any current tricks though

  13. I do sometimes buy Target cards at Smiths (Kroger) when it has 4x promotions and then use my Smiths point to get free gas. The problem is I drive a natural gas vehicle and end up giving the free gas to others. I’d rather be getting miles. But at least it helps me build ink spend outside of Office Depot.

  14. Not sure if this is a recent change, but the Buy.com T&C explicitly state at the very beginning not valid on gift cards. Wondering if that was always there and people are still getting points? Or if this is something that was just put into effect. Would be nice to know before I take the plunge with $500 in home depot gift cards…

  15. While I wait for the new double dip experiment to pan out (or not), I’ll report one more finding: I just got my Ink Bold bill and I see that I did not get 5X for the Buy.com purchase. I didn’t expect to get 5X, but I did think there was a tiny chance it would be classified as an office supply purchase.

  16. Just wondering if anyone has any experience getting a “double dip” to work on Kohls or Sephora (using either Chase Freedom or Chase Sapphire)???

    I am new to the double dip game, and want to make sure I am not missing anything.

    • Jacob: Yes to both Sephora and Kohls, but in both cases there have been mixed results (meaning some people received points for buying gift cards, but some didn’t). The good news is that in all reports using the gift cards worked for getting points. It was only in buying the gift card that some people had trouble. If you have a choice of e-gift cards or physical, in general points seem to come more readily with physical gift cards.

  17. Here’s a follow up to my post above (number 30) about whether mall earnings are still awarded on visa cards purchased on staples. As I reported, I bought two $100 visa gift cards, as well as some pens. Chase broke up my purchase into two separate purchases (even though it was all one transaction online). For the gift cards, I received a charge for $213.90 (the two cards plus the $6.95 fee for each). For the pens, there is a separate charge of $20. Lo and behold, I earned 4x mall earnings on both purchases — it’s on separate entries in the earn activity page, showing 4x bonus on both. So, basically, 900 (5x plus 4x) points for the $6.95 fee, which comes out around .77 cents per UR point. Not horrible. I think I’m done with this experiment though. It works out better to buy the $200 gift cards at staples and pay a $6.95 fee — that’s .695 cents per point, even though I’m only getting 5x. I wish I could get vanilla reloads, but this probably the best I’m going to be able to do.

  18. @FrequentMiler, so you might as well just buy the gift card to Kohls and Sephora through UR portal to see if you get the 10X points, and if you don’t then you can always just use the gift card to get 10X when shopping through the UR portal. Essentially the opportunity is to get either 20X or 10X depending on how “successful” you are?

  19. Larry: thanks for the update. Great info!

    Jacob: Yes, that’s true. An alternative is to play it a bit safer by buying Kohl’s gift cards at a discount (go to GiftCardGranny.com to find the best prices) and then do a single dip through the UR Mall. I’ve done that many times without problem and its quicker because I’ve been able to buy e-gift cards that arrived in less than a day.

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