Million Mile Madness: buying, selling Kohl’s

Background: Million Mile Madness is the fun and foolish quest to earn a million points in one month. Throughout March, I’m doing everything I can to earn as many points as I can while keeping within my ethical boundaries. I don’t expect that a million points will have been credited to my account by March 31st: points often take quite a while to get credited. Instead, I’ll track all of the points that I expect, and I’ll declare victory if the expected total is over a million. To keep things challenging, I will try to keep my net costs below $1,000.

All points earned and expenses incurred are tracked via this Google Docs spreadsheet.

See all Million Mile Madness posts (in reverse order), by clicking here.

On track, fingers crossed

On Friday March 1, I earned 516,000 points by signing up for a slew of credit cards (see “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story“). Since then, I’ve earned an expected 141,000 points in about one week’s time. With three weeks left in the month, I’ll exceed a million points if I can keep to my first week’s pace.  Can I do it?

Earning a million miles is a lot of work!  I’ve been constantly watching deals as they pop up on SlickDeals and FatWallet.  I’ve been buying gift cards for points and cash back.  I’ve been researching items that could be (hopefully) easily resold.  And, I’ve been buying things through shopping portals and with coupons to earn points and save money.  All the while, I’ve been crossing my fingers hoping that all of my shopping portal transactions will post as expected.

Gift Cards

Thanks to past research I’ve done (and many readers have contributed to), I know of several opportunities to earn extra points from buying gift cards.  For details about what we’ve found that works (and what doesn’t), see the Frequent Miler Laboratory.  So far, I’ve been buying gift cards from Kohl’s, Sears, and Lowes.

Today, I’ll give you a glimpse into my efforts with Kohl’s…

Kohl’s

Past experiments have shown that buying physical gift cards through points-earning portals at Kohl’s results in points earned (this does not work with e-gift cards).  So, I’ve been using my new credit cards to buy them.  Once the gift cards arrive, I’ll go back through a portal to shop at Kohl’s, pay with the gift cards, and earn points again on the same money (a “double dip”).  Since Kohl’s offers up to 10 points per dollar, this is a great way to earn 20 points per dollar for all purchases made at Kohl’s (actually 21 points per dollar, since I will earn points from the credit card used as well)!

Getting points for buying Kohl’s physical gift cards is great, but it can take up to two weeks to get the cards.  In order to get some of the gift cards more quickly, I looked to Cardpool, which is a site that sells discount gift cards and often has a good inventory of e-gift cards.  Unfortunately, they were out of stock when I looked.  So, instead, I ordered Kohl’s e-gift cards from Staples after going through the cash back portal TopCashBack for 5.5% cash back.  Staples’ e-gift cards are shipped overnight from GiftCardMall.  So far, so good: all TopCashBack transactions have shown up as pending within a couple of days.

My goal is to turn all of these gift cards into points and cash.  I do that by shopping during big sales, and reselling what I buy through Amazon.com.  I always start my shopping sessions in a points-earning portal, and I look for items on sale that are the same price or cheaper than on Amazon.com.  Then, I apply the best coupon I can find.  Currently (until March 13) there is a 30% off coupon for Kohl’s cardholders.  Despite having to pay sales tax, shipping (to Amazon), and seller fees, I can often break even or even make a profit, all while earning more points.  A nice extra perk has been that from March 6 to March 10, Kohl’s also offered $10 in Kohl’s cash for every $50 purchased.  I will use the Kohl’s cash primarily to buy things for myself and my family that we need anyway.

So far I’ve purchased about $2000 worth of stuff that I plan to resell.  Since I haven’t yet received any of the physical Kohl’s gift cards I had ordered, all of the gift cards used so far came from Staples where I earned 5X.  Through the double dip, if all goes well, purchases made with these gift cards will earn a total of 15X.  So, I will have earned approximately 30,000 points from these purchases.  I haven’t received any of the items yet, let alone had a chance to sell them, so it’s too early to say for sure, but I think its likely that I’ll make a cash profit as well.

Going forward, I expect to buy and use about $3000 worth of physical Kohl’s gift cards through the 21X double dip technique.  If all goes well, I’ll earn over 60,000 points that way.

What I bought

I’m not going to tell!  That is, I won’t tell until I’ve finished selling everything I buy this month.  It will be well into April, at least, before I’ll list the details.  There are a few reasons for this policy:

  1. If I list specific items, there is a real risk that many others will try to buy and sell the same items.  If so, we’ll get in a price war with each other and ruin the deal.
  2. I don’t want to unfairly influence sales.  If I list specific items bought, people might buy those items from me because of this blog.  That would be cheating on my part.  Another possible outcome would be that blogger-haters (yes, they’re out there!) would try to sabotage my sales.

Either way, its best that I keep the details to myself for now.

So, that’s the story of how I’m earning points from Kohl’s.  In future posts I’ll describe my buy and sell efforts with Sears, Staples, Lowes, and elsewhere.

Learn about Million Mile Madness:

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

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  1. […] about selling tablet computers through Amazon when a store there had a promo for 12x points. Million Mile Madness: buying, selling Kohl’s – Frequent Miler This is really just an extension of finding liquidity in anything you can buy on credit and sell […]

Comments

  1. While the Ultimate Rewards Mall doesn’t require people to use Chase cards to pay, many of Chase’s call center representatives believe otherwise, so when things go wrong it can be difficult or impossible to get help.

    Unfortunately, that’s not true anymore. 🙁

    They added this to the T&C:

    Online Offers:
    You earn bonus rewards for purchases made with your Chase Account (Chase credit card or debit card) through
    the Ultimate Rewards Mall located at http://www.chase.com

    • HansGolden: For some reason this comment initially was caught by the spam filter, but luckily I happened across it. I’m still not sure that the T&C requires using a Chase card. It says that you’ll earn bonus rewards for purchases made with your Chase account. Well, we do log into a particular Chase account in order to go through the UR Mall. Plus even if they mean that “you earn bonus rewards for purchases paid for with your Chase card”, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t earn rewards by paying with other cards.

  2. FM, I’ve gone as high as $800 on an order and gotten UR points. Also, the AA portal currently has 6X at Sears.com and so this would be a good time to convert those HI cards to Sears GCs.

  3. Great job FM. It is really inspiring to see what is possible through these portals. The biggest risk I see is if the item is returned from buyer and then you will not be able to resell as new item which will tank it’s value. Of all sales you have done so far, would you mind sharing what percentage of items were returned and what was the net loss as a result of this?

  4. Robby: thanks! It’s true that returns are a hassle. Of the stuff I’ve sold before, 3 tablets and 2 GPS watches were returned but only one tablet package had been opened. All the rest I was able to sell as new. I sold the 1 opened one on eBay as like new. It would take some work to figure out my % loss from this, but I’m sure it was very small

  5. How long does it take for AA miles to post if going through AA Shopping? FYI, looks like they are trying to preauthorize more than the amount of your purchase, just like Lowes. Tried using $50 HI for $50 GC and got declined. Used $55 HI for $50GC and it went through.

  6. Do you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card? Just curious as to how much your 7% dividend was last year…TPG’s was 22940.

  7. If only OD reloads were available 🙂 Something you had not anticipated when you first announced the madness. You would have been done by now pretty much.

    Keep fighting the good fight. Great ball game.

  8. FM – How can you use a Kohl’s GC along with the 30% code? I thought that was only valid when you pay for the entire order with a Kohl’s credit card.

  9. @FM. 6
    An easy 10k is by opening the catholic checking account and fund with credit card. Check out FT manufactured spend forum for more info. It could be dead by now. I did not do it as do not want to go through hassle of canceling the account

  10. Allen: yes, they might report sales to the IRS. I’ll only have to pay taxes on the income of I make a profit overall.

    DFW: Well, reloads were no longer at OD at the time, but $500 visa cards were still there

  11. Ken: pick the Kohls charge card as your form of payment, but then add enough gift cards to cover the whole purchase

    Robby: yes, thanks. I read about this. Apparently you need to state that you’re catholic to sign up. I’m not (and I don’t plan to lie about it). Otherwise I’d give it a go

    User Name: this was already published by View from the Wing.

  12. FM, sorry yes meant Visa Variable Loads. And yes you could be done by now if $500 Visa GCs were available @ OD but I know you would have tried to mix it up as well and not done all of remaining in same OD churn.

  13. One word of caution. I ordered Kohls gift card through UR mall before and they denied my cash back due to the T&C. YMMV.

  14. Hey FM, i ordered some kohls egift card from staples.com via topcash, couple of days back. not in pending yet. in your experience how long will it take? thanks!

  15. FM, When you purchased Kohl GCs through the UR Mall, how long did it take for the UR points to show up as pending on your Chase account? I purchased my GCs on 3/26, the charge posted on 3/29 and nothing has shown up about the points. In fact, when I login to my UR account, there is even no record of my having made a purchase at Kohl’s through the UR Mall–is that supposed to happen? Thanks!

  16. One tough lesson I learned…I bought a handful of sale-priced footware from Kohls to resell via Amazon (FBA). But Amazon restricts shoe selling. 🙁 Ouch! May have to sell from the trunk of my car!

    • @Matt – That’s why you should always do a test listing with a price like $888 to see if you can sell that item.

  17. Has anyone else had an issue with buying Kohls gift cards through UR and receiving the 10x bonus points? I tried 2 purchases: one for $1000 on 3/29 and another for $100 on 4/15 and neither of these have shown up as pending (I have received the gift cards through the mail and even used them already). I haven’t contacted Chase to dispute these yet since it hasn’t been 45 days which is how long they say it can take although they say typically it only takes 3-5 business days. Any thoughts or suggestions on what I am doing wrong/what I can do to get these points?

  18. @chris i had the same issue. purchased for 1000$ in march points didnt showup. contacted chase, they declined to give the point as the purchase is a gift card/equivalent 🙁

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