Maximizing Home Improvement Spend

Yesterday I showed a number of different credit cards that are offering bonus points for Home Improvement spend this quarter.  Here are some ideas for maximizing your savings and points earned…

Maximizing points and savings at Lowe’s

In previous experiments I’ve found the following triple dip to work at Lowe’s:

  • If you’re planning to move, go to this link to request a 10% off coupon from Lowe’s.
  • Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Lowe’s and buy Lowe’s physical gift cards (do not buy e-gift cards).  Earn 5X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
  • Pay for the above gift cards with a card offering 5X at Home Improvement stores this quarter (Freedom, Discover, etc.).
  • Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall again to buy merchandise.  Apply coupons, if any, for savings.  Pay with gift cards.  Earn 5X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall.

In all, you can save 10% and earn 15 points per dollar on your purchases!  Keep in mind, though, that when you pay with gift cards you do not get automatic extended warranties or other protections from your credit card.  For additional ideas for saving money, see “Extreme savings at Lowes“.

Manufacturing spend at Lowe’s

If you don’t have any plans to buy things at Lowe’s, you can still take advantage of your credit card’s 5X earnings by buying gift cards.  Go to a Lowe’s store and look for their gift card rack.  Buy gift cards for things you would have bought anyway (but where you would have earned only 1X otherwise).  A couple of good examples include Amazon.com gift cards and gas gift cards. 

Here are two options to take it further:

  • Buy high value gift cards (think gas cards) and resell through a site like PlasticJungle.  You’ll lose money on the deal, but it might be worth it to you to if you highly value the points earned.
  • Buy gift cards to merchants that sell Visa or MasterCard gift cards.  Then, use the merchant gift cards to buy those Visa or MasterCard gift cards.  For example I’ve had success in the past at Bed, Bath & Beyond where I was able to buy a Visa gift card with a Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card.  I’ve had similar experiences at Staples, OfficeMax, and BestBuy.  Caution: at each of these stores the cashier and/or manager might not allow you to buy gift cards with gift cards.  So, this approach is risky!  Once you have the gift cards, hopefully you can create a PIN and cash them out (see “Gift card PINs“).

 

Maximizing points and savings at Home Depot

Here is a path to earn extra points and savings at Home Depot:

  • This week, go through the AAdvantage eShopping portal to Home Depot to earn an extra 6 miles per dollar.
  • Pay for merchandise with a card that earns bonus points this quarter.

Or:

  • If you’re planning to move, go to this link to request a 10% off coupon from Lowe’s (yes, Lowe’s).
  • Print the coupon and bring it to Home Depot.  Ask them to match the discount on anything you buy.
  • Pay for merchandise with a card that earns bonus points this quarter.

Or:

  • Go to an online portal that offers points or cash back for Staples.com. The best current opportunity I know of is TopCashBack which currently offers 5.5% back. Click through to Staples.
  • Buy Home Depot e-gift cards at Staples.com, and pay with a card that earns bonus points at office supply stores (see “Best Category Bonuses“).
  • Use the online or in-store options from above to purchase items and pay with your gift cards.

The last option doesn’t take advantage of current Home Improvement bonus offers, but it may be the most lucrative option if you want to shop at Home Depot.

Background Info

For your reference, here are some helpful nuggets of info that I presented yesterday (that I believe to be true):

  • Credit card bonus points are stackable with shopping portal bonus points. For example, if you use the Chase Freedom card this quarter and go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Lowe’s, you’ll get 5X from the credit card and another 5X from the shopping portal.

Home Depot

  • The AAdvantage eShopping portal is offering 6X for Home Depot this week.
  • In past experiments, people did not receive points for buying Home Depot gift cards through online shopping portals.
  • In past experiments, people did receive points for using Home Depot gift cards through online shopping portals to buy Home Depot merchandise.
  • Home Depot does not sell gift cards to other merchants (neither online nor in store).

Lowe’s

  • The Ultimate Rewards Mall currently offers 5X for Lowe’s
  • In past experiments, people did receive points for buying Lowe’s physical gift cards through online shopping portals. I do not expect this to work for e-gift cards since they are not sold directly by Lowes.com (Lowes.com sends you out to another URL when you select e-gift cards).
  • In past experiments, people did receive points for using Lowe’s gift cards through online shopping portals to buy Lowe’s merchandise.
  • Lowe’s sells a large selection of merchant gift cards in-store. Dan’s Deals lists the following: AMC Theaters, AT&T GoPhone, Aeropastle, Amazon, Applebees, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shop, Bath & Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, Boost Mobile, Build, A, Bear, Cabela’s, Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s, Claire’s, Coldstone Creamery, Cracker Barrel, Darden Restaurants, Fandango, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Game Stop, Gap Inc (Gap, Banana, Old Navy, Athleta, Piperlime), Golfsmith, Ihop, iTunes, JCPenney, Jiffy Lube, Jo, Ann Fabric, Justice, Kohl’s, Lane Bryant, Lowe’s, MLB.com, Macy’s, Marriott, Marshalls, Michael’s, Nascar Superstore, Nike, Nordstrom, OfficeMax, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, PFChang’s, Panera, Petco, Petsmart, Pizza Hut, Red Lobster, Red Robin, Regal Cinemas, Ruby Tuesday, Sephora, Shell, Southwest, SpaFinder, Sports Authority, Staples, Starbucks, Subway, TGIFriday, TJMaxx, T, Mobile Prepaid, Tracfone, Verizon Prepaid, Virgin Mobile, Xbox
  • I’ve seen additional gas gift cards at Lowe’s besides Shell, so the particular gift cards available at any one Lowe’s store may vary.
  • Lowe’s does not allow you to buy gift cards with Lowe’s gift cards.  UPDATE: Reader bf says that it is possible to buy merchant gift cards at Lowe’s with Lowe’s gift cards.  He says “It requires going to the customer service desk and getting a supervisor to override the register but it works. Can’t do it at regular registers.”

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. There is one more advantage of getting gas GC at home improvement stores. The GC are treated as cash (at least at Shell Gas stations). In my state there is a difference in price between paying with a credit card or cash at a gas station (Usually 10 cents per gallon, but sometimes more). So there is a savings of $1.50 per tank (assuming 15 gallons) on top of the 5 points earned per dollar.

  2. This is a great post, FM. I’ve actually been doing this thanks to ideas from your Lab. I’m having a bit of a trouble buying GC though. Anyone else getting an error code? Perhaps my account has been flagged for buying too many GC?

  3. With all the opportunities to save at HD, it’s very enticing to buy there rather than Amazon, but Amazon may have better pricing. HD apparently price-matches, but it’s unclear how the policy applies, and how it’s usable online. Any ideas on how to get HD online prices to match Amazon’s?

  4. Kind of confused, half this post was based on buying other GCs with a Lowe GC, yet the last bullet point kind of makes it a very iffy proposition.

  5. FM, this is off-topic question.
    I want to transfer my chase ultimate point to United but i am wondering if United normally have promotion for point transfer from chase? if not, i will do it now, however, if you have experience it, normally when? and at what rate?

  6. opps, I just realized that you already mentioned that 🙂 Thanks for the awesome post! I will be doing some renovations soon so this will be awesome to earn lotta points 🙂

  7. @Yo – yes but unless you already have them this is pointless if you have Freedom as this is 5x at Lowes – might as well just buy directly with the Freedom card.
    .
    @stevento – I called Lowes online to price match and they will match Amazon as long as it is directly sold by them (no reseller prices). You can then have this set for local pickup. Note – most Lowes coupons are specifically for in-store only even when they don’t state this. You can retroactively apply them to an online order in store at the service desk when you go for local pickup.

  8. @SJCRussel, @Yo – you can double dip by buying HI at OD and then going through an online portal. The benefit of the HI card is that you can use it at Lowes or HD so you’re not locked into either vendor for your spend. Not sure about buying GC at lowes, but I imagine you can since it acts as a Discover credit card and not a GC, but YMMV.

    I have applied for a couple Lowes coupons over the last month, one with a mover coupon code, and one without (from different names, ip’s, computers, networks, and browsers so that each request was unique). I have yet to receive my coupon. Has anybody else had trouble with receiving 10% off lowes coupons in the last month? When did you specify as your move date? I get the suspicion Lowes is now checking with USPS to validate an address change.

    • I successfully purchased GCs from Lowes using HI card yesterday.

      Here’s a question: Can you go through the UR portal and use Lowes GC to purchase Lowes GC? (or HD)?

  9. @Yo – I’ve never tried it but from what I hear you can not (And from this blog post its clear you can not in store unless by some miracle you get a manager override)

  10. BUT, you could buy merchandise with the Lowes GCs online, and then return it in store in exchange for other merchant’s GCs…right?

  11. Nevermind – I just ran my own experiment and ordered a $10 item through the UR portal, paid with Freedom and chose store pickup. I then went to pick it up and tried exchanging it for a Shell GC, but they said they had to return the item to the card first and then I could purchase the GC. They couldn’t manually exchange the items through the register transaction.

  12. Has anyone seen Shell GCs at Lowe’s for > $50 each? I was hoping for larger denominations, but I am not going to start searching around if that seems to be the norm. My local Lowe’s only had $25 and $50.

  13. TO OP and Blogger: Im trying to take advantage of the double dip by going thru TCB to buy HD e-gift cards at Staples.com. However, TCB has a disclaimer that states “Please note: Cashback is not eligible on e-giftcards”.

  14. Earlier today, I tried to purchase Shell and iTunes gift cards using my Chase Freedom at a Lowe’s in Los Angeles. I was told by two different employees that gift cards can only be paid with cash or a debit card. Has anyone else experienced this?

  15. @Michael – i had the same problem in South SF when trying to buy a Shell card with my Freedom. It’s probably more of an issue in larger cities.

  16. @Hao L and Michael,

    Got the thing at the San Bruno Lowe’s store. Cash or debit card ONLY for trying to buy 2 – $25 Shell gift cards with the Freedom.

  17. Hi FM! I bought Lowe’s gift cards through the UR shopping mall and received 5x points for that click through. My statement closed yesterday, and those points posted. BUT, I did not receive 5x for the actual use of the Chase Freedom to make the purchase at Lowes.com? Is there any reason why I did not get the 5x category bonus for a purchase at Lowes.com? Is it only available for in-store purchases?

    Thanks.

  18. Scott: That’s weird. Have you logged into Blueprint on Chase.com to see how the purchase is categorized? If it shows up under Home Improvement, maybe there is just a lag between the purchase and the bonus points being awarded. Also, just checking, but you did register for the quarterly bonus right?

    • Thanks for tip on Blueprint, Greg! I checked it, and yes, $200 (the amount I bought on lowes.com) shows up as home improvement, so I think there may just be a lag, because I registered, and already got some bonus points for restaurant spend as a 4x line item.

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