Gift Card Churning Deals

Lately I’ve written quite a bit about credit card churning (see, for example, “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story“).  Now that I have 10 new credit cards coming my way, its time to find ways to meet my minimum spend requirements.  That’s where gift card churning comes in.  Fortunately, there are several current and upcoming deals that will help:

Staples $15 rebate on $150 or more in Visa prepaid cards

I reported this deal last week, and it is now live until March 9th.  Readers are reporting that the online rebate form allows you to select a check rather than a Visa card if you prefer.  Best bet is to buy a $200 Visa for $206.95.  You’ll make a small profit.  Plus, if you use a card that gets a good bonus at office supply stores (see Best Category Bonuses), you’ll earn lots of points.  Sadly, limit is one per household.

Amex gift cards 2% cash back, March 12th

Next week, TopCashBack is planning a one day special in which they’ll bump up the payout on American Express Gift Cards to 2% from the usual rate of 1.5%.  This could be a great way to get ahead on paying taxes (see “Pay federal taxes by credit card, almost for free“).  Or, if “almost free” isn’t good enough, see “Pay Federal Taxes via Credit Card for Free.”  The rates listed in the latter post are out of date, but the general ideas still work.  If you don’t have big tax payments to make, see also “Using the Target Amex card to run up spend.”

Plastic Jungle 3.14% cash back, March 14th

TopCashBack will be celebrating Pi day (3/14) by bumping up the PlasticJungle payout from 2.5% to 3.14% just for that one day.  PlasticJungle buys and sells discount gift cards.  By going through TopCashBack on March 14th, you can get back 3.14% of the buy or sell price.

TopCashBack reliability

Quite a few readers have reported serious frustrations with using TopCashBack, and many have stopped using the service altogether.  I can’t speak for others, but I can describe what my experience has been.  In my case, the reliability of the portal seems to be linked to specific merchants.  That is, with some merchants I’ve never received cash back whereas with others cash back has been relatively quick and reliable.  Here are some specific experiences:

  • CouponTrade (now called Raise): Terrible experience.  Never received cash back except from a TopCashBack customer service courtesy adjustment.
  • Vision Direct: Cashback from a July 2012 purchase still shows as confirmed, but is not yet payable 8 months later. 
  • American Express Gift Cards: Purchases from January 11 still show as confirmed, but not yet payable.  Often the process takes about 3 months, so I’m not yet concerned about this one, but I don’t yet have proof that this merchant is reliable through TopCashBack.
  • The following have all moved reliably through the phases (from pending, to confirmed, to payable) for me:
    • PlasticJungle
    • Cardpool (Note: Cardpool has specific limits on cash back)
    • Staples
    • Marriott
    • DrugStore.com

Of course, your experiences may vary, but I thought it might be helpful to show where TopCashBack has worked for me and where it has not.  What have your experiences been?

Related posts and links


Follow me on Twitter / Like me on Facebook / Find me on Google+


If you are new to collecting miles, click here for the free newsletter
If you are new to Frequent Miler, start here

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. I am struggling with TCB now with a transaction from PlasticJungle. I had one good experience with Staples(though I didn’t use them yesterday). I had already planned a American Express gift card purchase after 3/6 with Big Crumbs(very reliable on last Amex transaction).I am skeptical on using TCB with this Amex purchase.

  2. Count me in the camp of people with headaches using TopCashBack with merchant PlasticJungle. Of the 25 gift cards I’ve purchased from PlasticJungle, *NONE* have properly credited cashback from PlasticJungle.

    I sold 1 gift card to Plastic Jungle, and it was fine for cash back, but when I attempted to request payment from TopCashBack, I had something VERY creepy happen. Because I sold a gift card to Plastic Jungle, my only way of receiving Payment from TopCashBack is a wire transfer to my bank— this strange message appears on my “payments” screen. I am very curious as to why PlasticJungle stipulates that they have authority of TopCashBack for TopCashBack’s cashback/payment method.

    I purchased the gift card that I sold to Plastic Jungle directly from the merchant, so the full value of the gift card can be assured.

    It’s just VERY wierd why this message would appear on TopCashBack’s website.

  3. I only use Topcashback for travel partners as I typically buy through airlines portals (I know not as good really but hey I like the points/miles).

    I have had very good luck with TCB but they do take forever to post and be available for payout. I get most of my TCB rebates from Intercontinental Hotel group with has ranged from 6% to 15%. It looks like they normally assign a travel agency code to the reservation so that seems to be how they track this on hotels. Stacking this with a miles credit card and hotel points adds up for me.

  4. Miler,

    Keep us up to date on the Amex gift card thing. I was for sure planning to do this until I read your little issue…

  5. All the Radisson entities processed the TCB payment just fine during the big Radisson promotions last year. Lowe’s also worked fine.

  6. To answer my own question:

    Promotion: Get a $15 Visa (R) Prepaid Card on Purchase of $150 or more of Visa Gift Cards (SKUs 763604, 763607, 763602, 374172, 374177, 866291) at Staples Stores Only

    So, in stores only. But at least it’s an easy rebate

  7. when you buy amex gift cards with amex credit cards does it count for the bonus spending? i read somewhere cant remember in their tcs that cash equivalents dont count for min. spending?

  8. I got shafted for one of the three cash backs from Club Carlson reservations last year. The other two took about five or six months to become payable. Budget truck rental never came through.

    I stopped using TCB not necessarily because of that but because of the horrible customer support. They kept wanting me resubmit ticket after ticket for tickets I have already submitted (mind you, the issues with Club Carlson payouts were known and try flat out refused to acknowledge that). After wasting my time running in circles with them I vowed to never again.

  9. do you know if you can buy the visa gc from staples multiple times with same ink card (sep transactions) and then have the rebate checks made out to friends and family at other addresses?

  10. @conde

    Certainly what I am banking on……I would sure think the answer will be yes and risk is low if wrong.

  11. Could you tell me how to contact the topcashback regarding purchase on coupontrade? I doubt I can receive cash back after reading your post@@ I can see my purchase shows up in account but it has a 16 week waiting estimation!

    • conde: I expect that would work, but I’ve never tried it.
      Terry: If the purchase shows up at all, then hold tight for a while to see if it moves to payable. I never had purchases from coupontrade show up at all.

  12. Hey FM, I read on million mile secrets about the two browser trick for CITI no longer working. Darius went over some possible strategies for still getting up to 100k bonus AA miles from signups but no one over there is talking about the possibility of signing up for one CITI AAdvantage platinum personal VISA then 91 days later signing up for the other, the CITI AAdvantage platinum mastercard . Do you know if there is any restriction on this or is it possible to get one then the other since they are not exactly identical products with one being a VISA and the other a mastercard?

  13. Plastic Jungle 3.14% cash back, March 14th? WHAT A CROCK! FM, please make contact with TCB and ask them to stop this charade! Better yet, propose on March 14th TCB tell the truth and show what PJ actually pays, which would be 0% and call it cowpi day for the merchants that pay cow doo doo instead of TCB. I just finished submitting 2 more missing cash back claims for PJ at TCB before I read this post. Thumbs down!

  14. For all of the people who are having problems with TCB, did you have items/quotes already saved at the merchant site before connecting through? Apparently, one of the requirements is to have nothing in your basket when linking to a merchant site.

  15. Sorry to use this harsh word, folks, but you are an IDIOT if you use TCB after hearing about everyones problems with the service. The amount of energy it takes to track and beg for your rebate is not worth it.

    I have never had a problem with Big Crumbs and will use this over TCB anyday.

  16. Purchased Amex gift card from TCB a few weeks ago, and there is no pending status, or any info/data on TCB saying that I used them. I’m pretty upset, and I submitted a claim, we’ll see what happens…

  17. What’s the advantage of purchasing an Amex Gift card?
    At least with Staples purchase you can get 5x, but the Amex Gift card is 1x. I suppose you do make some net profit after the cash back (if it works), and you also time-shift future expenses into the present, but is it really worth it?

  18. Had issues with TCB on all 4 Radisson nights but eventually got the points after claims for each linked to each trackback. Have avoided since.

    On another happy note, just got my 2x bonus from MyPoints – from the Open Sky 150x purchase! To say how long this has been going on, the purchase was 9/28/12… And the bonus points won’t post from pending until 4/1/13! Just wanted to throw this out in case anyone was still left in the same scenario, you have until 6 months after the purchase to file the claim (and persist, and persist, and follow-up, and chase….. But another 75k points well worth the struggle!)

  19. FM: In line with what Chris has posted … perhaps you can contact TCB on behalf of your blog readers to encourage them to make it easier for users of their site to communicate with them when problems arise. As TCB sponsors some of the FTG’s Deals of the Day, perhaps Rick also can be of assistance.

  20. @nep301 – I had 4 purchases from Walmart.com and all 4 times I had items in my cart before I clicked through TCB and all 4 are pending in TCB. 17 weeks, but still pending.

  21. Never submit the the easy rebates with the same name. I did it several times and all got rejected because the household limit. I used the same name, different address, phone number, e-mails. I guess the problem is 1. The same city. 2. I used the same computer to submit the rebates. Don’t risk that especially the rebate amount is large. Staples is good at flag the same person who want to scale it up their rebates.

  22. None of my TCB has ever posted automatically. Not that any other portal is 100% perfect, but experiences with Big Crumbs / Ebates / MrRebates have all been wayyyy more positive.

  23. How about this one – I have never, ever been able to get them to verify my email address! Have emailed repeatedly with no response. Was due around $70 cash back from them before I gave up.

  24. I bought $3000 Amex card on TCB but never got anything. Custermer service is trying their best to ignore me.

  25. Hi everyone,

    Thank you for taking the time to post comments on this blog and give us your feedback. The comment facility wasn’t available at the end of last week, so this is the first chance we’ve had since to reply.

    I am really sorry that some of you are experiencing issues with the site.

    Plastic Jungle

    Our preference is for TopCashback members to have the choice between PayPal and direct deposit (ACH – money straight into checking accounts) payments when requesting rebate money from all of our 2,300 merchants. Plastic Jungle is one of a handful of merchants that has specified it only wants direct deposit as a payment option for its rebates; and we have to adhere to this or we may not be able to keep it as a cashback opportunity. Sorry about that.

    There is a note on Plastic Jungle’s TopCashback page to say its payments cannot be requested by PayPal as we want to manage expectations.

    Transactions not posting

    The vast majority of purchases made through TopCashback post in our members’ accounts, yet we realise that some seem to fail from time to time. We only know when something’s not worked when our members individually tell us; that’s why we welcome and rely on your feedback. We would love for it to be a perfect tracking system and try to work very closely with affiliate networks (the companies all rebates sites partner with to ensure transactions post) to improve the technology or spot glitches that hinder the process.

    We use the same affiliate networks as all other rebate sites so if a transaction is missing in your account, the same would have happened with another cashback provider.

    Although I understand it may not quash frustrations entirely, as ideally every transaction would post, we have a missing cashback claims system to help resolve problems. You can instruct us to file a claim by using this link once signed into your TopCashback account: http://www.topcashback.com/account/enquiries/missingcashbackclaims/submit

    It’s very important to tell us the specifics of any transaction that doesn’t post so we can do two things: a) claim the money for you and b) highlight to the affiliate network and merchant that something is wrong and needs investigating and fixing as soon as possible to protect future transactions. If problems persist with a particular merchant, we also strongly consider pausing or ceasing our relationship with it as we don’t want our members to repeatedly feel disappointed. We have to balance this consideration with the needs of members whose transactions work seamlessly as, on the other side, they would then be disappointed.

    I understand some members find it a hassle to file a claim, but they are very much worth doing; especially as the majority of claims are resolved in our members’ favor.

    We are aware that there’s currently a slight glitch with the posting of some Plastic Jungle transactions. Please let me assure you that this issue is receiving our full attention and we are working with Plastic Jungle to get it resolved. *We’re sending Plastic Jungle a file of all outstanding cashback claims this Friday (March 15). If not already done so, to be included in this next batch, please file a missing cashback claim for each relevant Plastic Jungle transaction you have yet to file, by this Thursday (March 14). We will be pushing Plastic Jungle to urgently get all of its missing transactions resolved.*

    What happens once a claim is submitted to us
    Once a missing cashback claim is given to us, we pass this to the stores’ affiliate network 1-14 days later. The network then investigates what’s happened and if the claim is genuine.

    From there on we have to wait for the affiliate network to respond to us. Some do within a month; with others it’s within three. Sometimes there’s debate and further information requests between us and the network or merchant as we try to claim the cashback; this can take many months. Although members may not hear back from us while we try to get the cashback, we don’t ever stop unless you tell us to or we’ve reached deadlock with the affiliate network. If the latter, we’ll let you know straight away.

    We’re sorry for all less-than-happy experiences and are continuously trying to improve
    Our team continuously works to chase payments from stores that have exceeded their estimated payable date to help us send your cashback to you as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in the very smallest of instances, we may sometimes miss a delayed payment; however please give us a nudge if it has gone past this date and we will chase it. Our business model means that we can only pay you once we have been paid. This model also allows us to give you higher rates than other cashback sites and pass on 100 per cent – the full amount – of the commission we receive to you.
    I really hope this helps to explain the situation. If you would like further information or experience any problems with our site, please don’t hesitate to submit a support ticket through your TopCashback account. You can do this by going to the Customer Care section of your TopCashback account. If signed in, this link takes you straight there: http://www.topcashback.com/account/enquiries/tickets/submit
    We want to ensure our members enjoy using and interacting with TopCashback and we are always looking for ways to improve our members’ experience. If you have any suggestions – big or small – on how we can improve our service for you, we would love to hear your ideas: http://www.topcashback.com/contact

    Best wishes,
    Your TopCashback Customer Care Team

  26. My experience with TCB and PJ has been that I received cash back on all of my GC sales to PJ but never on any purchases.

  27. Hi everyone,

    Thank you for taking the time to post comments on this blog and give us your feedback. The comment facility wasn’t available at the end of last week, so this is the first chance we’ve had since to reply.

    I am really sorry that some of you are experiencing issues with the site.

    Plastic Jungle

    Our preference is for TopCashback members to have the choice between PayPal and direct deposit (ACH – money straight into checking accounts) payments when requesting rebate money from all of our 2,300 merchants. Plastic Jungle is one of a handful of merchants that has specified it only wants direct deposit as a payment option for its rebates; and we have to adhere to this or we may not be able to keep it as a cashback opportunity. Sorry about that.

    There is a note on Plastic Jungle’s TopCashback page to say its payments cannot be requested by PayPal as we want to manage expectations.

    Transactions not posting

    The vast majority of purchases made through TopCashback post in our members’ accounts, yet we realise that some seem to fail from time to time. We only know when something’s not worked when our members individually tell us; that’s why we welcome and rely on your feedback. We would love for it to be a perfect tracking system and try to work very closely with affiliate networks (the companies all rebates sites partner with to ensure transactions post) to improve the technology or spot glitches that hinder the process.

    We use the same affiliate networks as all other rebate sites so if a transaction is missing in your account, the same would have happened with another cashback provider.

    Although I understand it may not quash frustrations entirely, as ideally every transaction would post, we have a missing cashback claims system to help resolve problems. You can instruct us to file a claim by using this link once signed into your TopCashback account: http://www.topcashback.com/account/enquiries/missingcashbackclaims/submit

    It’s very important to tell us the specifics of any transaction that doesn’t post so we can do two things: a) claim the money for you and b) highlight to the affiliate network and merchant that something is wrong and needs investigating and fixing as soon as possible to protect future transactions. If problems persist with a particular merchant, we also strongly consider pausing or ceasing our relationship with it as we don’t want our members to repeatedly feel disappointed. We have to balance this consideration with the needs of members whose transactions work seamlessly as, on the other side, they would then be disappointed.

    I understand some members find it a hassle to file a claim, but they are very much worth doing; especially as the majority of claims are resolved in our members’ favor.

    We are aware that there’s currently a slight glitch with the posting of some Plastic Jungle transactions. Please let me assure you that this issue is receiving our full attention and we are working with Plastic Jungle to get it resolved. *We’re sending Plastic Jungle a file of all outstanding cashback claims this Friday (March 15). If not already done so, to be included in this next batch, please file a missing cashback claim for each relevant Plastic Jungle transaction you have yet to file, by this Thursday (March 14). We will be pushing Plastic Jungle to urgently get all of its missing transactions resolved.*

    What happens once a claim is submitted to us
    Once a missing cashback claim is given to us, we pass this to the stores’ affiliate network 1-14 days later. The network then investigates what’s happened and if the claim is genuine.

    From there on we have to wait for the affiliate network to respond to us. Some do within a month; with others it’s within three. Sometimes there’s debate and further information requests between us and the network or merchant as we try to claim the cashback; this can take many months. Although members may not hear back from us while we try to get the cashback, we don’t ever stop unless you tell us to or we’ve reached deadlock with the affiliate network. If the latter, we’ll let you know straight away.

    We’re sorry for all less-than-happy experiences and are continuously trying to improve
    Our team continuously works to chase payments from stores that have exceeded their estimated payable date to help us send your cashback to you as soon as possible. Unfortunately, in the very smallest of instances, we may sometimes miss a delayed payment; however please give us a nudge if it has gone past this date and we will chase it. Our business model means that we can only pay you once we have been paid. This model also allows us to give you higher rates than other cashback sites and pass on 100 per cent – the full amount – of the commission we receive to you.
    I really hope this helps to explain the situation. If you would like further information or experience any problems with our site, please don’t hesitate to submit a support ticket through your TopCashback account. You can do this by going to the Customer Care section of your TopCashback account. If signed in, this link takes you straight there: http://www.topcashback.com/account/enquiries/tickets/submit
    We want to ensure our members enjoy using and interacting with TopCashback and we are always looking for ways to improve our members’ experience. If you have any suggestions – big or small – on how we can improve our service for you, we would love to hear your ideas: http://www.topcashback.com/contact

    Best wishes,
    Your TopCashback Customer Care Team

  28. I’m not seeing the 2% cashback for American Express on topcashback. This is what it reads

    American Express Prepaid and Gift Cards
    Unfortunately American Express prepaid and giftcards can no longer offer cashback we hope to have them back live very soon….

    • Quick update: It turns out that TopCashBack is experiencing technical difficulties with Amex. As a result, the 2% promotion for Amex gift cards has been delayed. I’ll report back once the issue is resolved and a new date has been set.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>