Catching up after FTU

This past weekend I went to D.C. for the Freddie Awards, the Travel Executive Summit, and Frequent Traveler University (FTU).  As always, I had an awesome time making new friends and catching up with old ones.  Activities and hallway conversations ran non-stop all weekend and I barely had enough time to kill a deal or two let alone write up any new content for this blog.

So, today I’ll simply spit out a number of miscellaneous items…

FTU Presentation past and future

I gave a presentation at FTU titled something like “You can still earn 5X everywhere”.  I’m not one to give the same presentation twice so this was very different from the presentations I gave last year at FTU LA, and at the Chicago Seminars.  I thought it went well.  People laughed at the right moments and seemed engaged throughout.  It was fun!

Photo courtesy of
Kadence @ Iluvtravelfotos

Mileage Update generously tweeted:

@FrequentMiler Who knew you had a stand up routine as well?? Great speech at the #FTUDC

I’ll run a few posts in the near future to give readers an overview of my talk.  For those who’d like to meet up in person, I’ll also be at the Ann Arbor Art Fair DO in July (wait listed), at FTU Tampa in September (maybe speaking there – don’t know yet), and at the next Chicago Seminars (definitely speaking there) in October.

Staples: Save $15 when you buy $150 or more in MasterCard® gift cards after easy rebate

Valid through Saturday, May 4

You have to go into the store for this one.  Buy $150 or more of MasterCard gift cards (not Visa gift cards!) and you should qualify for a $15 Easy Rebate.  The rebate should print automatically along with your receipt.

Limit 1 rebate per household (no, I don’t know if this limit is easy to circumvent)


It should be possible to set PINs on these gift cards to use at Walmart, but I haven’t tried these yet and some people have reported issues with MasterCard gift cards and PINs, so as always, it may or may not work for you.

Hat Tip: Joshua

Staples: $10 off coupon

Valid through Saturday, May 4

UPDATE: The coupon is no longer working for gift card orders

This one is online only.  $10 off any order of $100 or more.  Seems to work with some items that you wouldn’t expect (see photo above for an idea of a related product).  Limited to one order per household.  Use coupon code 43994 at checkout.  Start your session from uPromise to possibly get 5% cash back.  Pay with a card that gets 5X at office supply stores (see “Best Category Bonuses“).


Here’s an example checkout receipt:


Hat Tip: Grant


Venmo ups limit to $3K

Hat Tip to Travelomania on FlyerTalk. This may be exciting news to those who have a debit card that earns rewards.  A friend reminded me that Venmo does not like people to swap payment sources too often so this is not a good option for draining gift cards.  I don’t use Venmo, nor do I have a rewards debit card (details coming in a future post) so I can’t really help you with details.

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 »



  1. I received this when trying to use the coupon code on the same item you purchased:

    “43994 Save $10.00 Instantly when you purchase $100 or more Applied $0.00 Coupon has not yet been applied.

    Please make sure you have met the minimum purchase requirement.”

  2. Did you actually receive the card in the mail? I have found that you can use coupons on Staples and get the order to go through. Actually receiving the item is another story. Last time they cancelled my item and never even told me it was cancelled.

  3. Data Point. $106.95 charged to Credit Card. Did not Receive Discount. YMMV. SO I did not receive the Discount. Kind of like a $6.95 bet lost in Vegas. At least I get 500 UR points. (kind of like a COMP in Vegas)

  4. Hi FM,

    Are you going to post your presentation somewhere? I had to jockey between yours and the United upgrades one and probably missed a lot.


    • Mark: No, I’m not going to post my presentation as-is: I feel that it needs commentary to be worth anything. Instead, I’ll take each of the topics from the presentation and I’ll write blog posts about each.

  5. Depending on the merchant, UPromise sucks because it might take 6 months before they credit you (like TCB). I have never been denied of the CB though.

  6. Miler-If there are any questions about setting a pin for the mastercards let me know. I already have done it. You actually have to call the number for the lost or stolen card. It actually gives you other options, including “changing” a pin. Initially I tried with last 4 digits of card number, but that didn’t work so I had to call.

  7. Has anyone else not had their $10 coupon credited? I got to the last step too and it didn’t look like the coupon would be applied, so I didn’t buy it.

  8. Discover also gives 5% cash back if you shop through them ,got $10 back (already posted!) for last week staples promo $190 for $200 visa gift cards…

  9. There is some risk with discover since they don’t always pay out on gift cards. In fact, GC are precluded in their T&C.

  10. @jessica
    are you using rewards to pay for it??
    That’s wjy its knocking the total down to $0.

    What’s the name of hikerT website with the UR prices? I can’t remember it. . .

  11. I enjoyed your FTU presentation as well. Hope your wife was happier with your attire this time! I had a quick question for you but you always seemed to be in one of those hallway conversations so never got the chance.

    Last Friday, I received a Citi Thank You Preferred card using the link on Personal Finance Digest. During activation, I asked to verify the card would earn 5x on gas, groceries and drugstores for the first 12 months. However, the agent said it would be 5x on every purchase for 12 months. Have you heard of this happening for anyone else? I had him confirm twice but we’ll see if it’s true after the first statement closes.

    • LeeInDC: I did hear that from another reader, but when he tested it he found that he only got 5X on the expected categories. I’ve also confirmed that I get 5X only with gas, grocery, and drug stores with my card. So, I think it is just an uninformed Citi rep.

  12. Yay I made a hat tip! I used this code yesterday morning so Staples may have fixed the “no gift card” glitch. I went to staples yesterday to buy some Amex GCs but will go back today to get a $150 MC GC.
    Spent an hour and a half searching for flights to FTU Tampa and found lots of award space on SWA for Friday and Sunday flights. Looking to see you in a few months.

  13. @Joshua
    Yes, I’ve done it, too. I just want to add that you don’t need to register the card online to set PIN.

  14. Hello Rom, I heard about ftu too late (I’m in dc) else I may have gone. I should ask though, are there topics/tricks discussed that aren’t already blogged about? Could you give an example? I think it’d be worth it simply to bounce ideas and knowledge off others but I wonder if I’d be learning of any significant new hacks that I haven’t read about on the blogs. Also given that I’m new to the game I wouldn’t find a lot of value (yet) in discussing reward levels and specifics of avios points transfers (for example). What do you think? Would ftu still be of great value to someone in my shoes?

    • Jonathan: If your question is to me, my name is Greg not Rom (Rom write a different blog). Anyway, yes there are always tips and tricks at these things that are not blogged about. Even better, it is a great chance to make friends with people with similar interests. Through networking you can often learn much more than through blogs. There are plenty of beginner presentations too.

  15. $10 credit did not work online. Called CS they gave credit of $10.90
    Tried another just to see. Problems, again called CS and found out first order was canceled.
    No coupons on cards…
    Will check in store just cuz I’m going there anyway today.

    • I’ve updated the post to indicate that the $10 coupon no longer works with gift card orders. At least, it doesn’t work with $100 Visa gift card orders. Has anyone tried with e-gift cards?

  16. Oops! Sorry Greg, I was reading several blog entries and mistakenly thought I was on Roms blog (on mobile they look somewhat similar). Thanks for the feedback!

  17. There is no option to change payout from the mastercard rebate. It’s ONLY staples gift card.

    I have a rebated in progress and this is the actual text:

    “Get a $15 Staples Gift Card with Purchase of $150 or more of Master Card Gift Cards (SKUs 763603, 725725, 763608, 763455) at Staples Stores ONLY”

  18. OK, I just added pins to my MC GC from Satples. This is what you do:

    Call 866-952-5663, press 1 for English, press 3 for change pin, enter 16 digit card number + #, enter 3 digit security code + #, enter 4 digit pin + #, re-enter 4 digit pin + #, press 9 to end call.

  19. @Joshua and @FM, there is only one option for the staples Easy Rebate and its for a $15 Staples Gift Card 🙁

  20. Know how to liquidate the staples gift card? Can you buy future gift cards with staples gift card at staples?

  21. Also I tried to put these Mastercards onto my Bluebird card at Wal-mart unsuccessfully. Is there a certain trick? They unfortunately didn’t have a moneypass express at my Wal-mart so just tried at customer service/money center. They tried putting them through as DEBIT but said it went through as credit. I didn’t even get a chance to put in my pins. Any help?

  22. Royce – you’ll need to add a pin, but once you do any regular checker at WalMart should be able to make it happen.

  23. @JakePB I had setup pins on both mastercards and took them to customer service and they weren’t able to do it. Have you had success doing this with a mastercard gift card or just visa? Thanks.

  24. Thought your FTU presentation was the best of all worlds…..funny as hell and very informative……but still can’t figure out why I wrote down Japanese version of tours?

  25. @Joshua, I have one of those Paypal readers but Paypal sent it to me for free when I applied for a merchant account on their website.

  26. @Joshua, I misunderstood what you were saying. I thought you could use the $15 staples gift card and run it thru the Paypal reader and have the money get deposited back into your Paypal account.

    What you were saying is that you use your $15 staples gift card to buy the $15 Paypal reader and when that comes, you enter the code on the back of the reader and the $15 will be deposited into your Paypal account. It all makes sense now. Duh!

  27. @Joshua
    Nice find!

    Since it’s a FAR (Free After Rebate) item, you don’t have to use the $15 staples rebate since as Joshua said, the promo may end before you get the $15 GC from Staples (my last rebate took 1 month). Hopefully, it will be there for you.

  28. @Grant
    Quick searching provided the following:

    “1. How to receive your $15:
    Buy a specially-marked package of a “PayPal Here” card reader (a $15 value) sold in participating retail stores in the U.S., while supplies last.

    Go to, enter the alpha-numeric code that appears on the card reader package into the form and either login to your U.S. PayPal account if you already have one or sign up for a U.S. PayPal account and confirm your email address. You will see a confirmation once the code has been successfully submitted.

    All redemption submissions (including signing up for a PayPal account and confirmation of your email address) must be completed by 12/31/2014 11:59:59 PST.

    There is a limit of three (3) redemptions allowed per U.S. PayPal account. Any additional submissions will be declined. “

  29. Alright so after the unsuccess of yesterday trying to load bluebird with the Mastercard (That I had set up with a pin). I found success today at a different Wal-Mart today. All without the use of one of those fancy MoneyExpress machines that Utah doesn’t seem to have. This Wal-Mart did have a stand alone Money center seperate from customer service (Where I tried yesterday to load). I was nervous at first because the money center person looked mean, and it at first didn’t work (same experience as yesterday) I was ready to give up when she asked if I liked to try again, I tried again and she said it wasn’t going through that it was still showing up as a credit card transaction. I was about to leave and give up on the whole thing when she said “Why don’t you hit Cancel before you leave to cancel the transaction?” This was after I had swiped the mastercard gift card. So I hit cancel and a menu came up that had the box “DEBIT” on it in the top left corner of the screen. So I hit that, and it asked for my pin. I entered it and viola it went through. I was able to load my bluebird with my mastercard gift card. I immedietly pulled out my other one from the Staples run yesterday and loaded that in the same manner. So I guess the key is to hit “cancel” when it says “Ask for Cashier to continue” or whatever it says regarding the cashier after swiping the mastercard gift card. Not sure if the experience is the same with the Visa gift card or not as I’m still waiting on that one in the mail.

  30. @Royce – after giving you the useless pin advice yesterday, I ran into the exact same problem you did trying to load BB at WalMart today. It continually said credit. Unfortunately, I am on the road and have only one WalMart to try. I’ll head back over there and attempt the “cancel trick” you invented and see if it works. Fingers crossed!

  31. @JakePB I hope it works for you and is not just some fluke! Let us know. Does anyone know if it is this hard to get it to work for Visas (not that it is that hard if this trick continues to work)? This was my first experience actually loading my Bluebird (I’ve had it for a long time ago but got it right as OfficeDepot was getting rid of vanilla reloads so never got the chance to load it).

  32. Will be trying this out at two walmarts today! So you hit cancel as soon as it goes to the cashier menu?

  33. Yahtzee! I just successfully loaded 6 $100 MC GCs onto my BB accnt using Royce’s cancel workaround. Thank you Royce – I could’ve found a way to spend the $, but I prefer putting GC money on Bluebird whenever possible.

  34. @JOe ORban yes, hit cancel after you have swiped your mastercard gift card and when it says “Waiting on cashier” or whatever it says…..

  35. Quick follow-up, so you just go to the customer service place and load or at a regular cashier just say you want to load bluebird?

  36. The first time I went to customer service and they did all the swiping for me (I didn’t have the option to hit the cancel button), the second place had a seperate money center and I did it there. I don’t know if you can do it at any register or not (worth a try?) I think $1,000 is max per day you can load.

  37. JOe ORban: Bluebird only charges $2 per $100 if you load debit online. At Walmart it is called “swipe reload” and it’s free. Limit $1K per day, $5K per month

  38. Got it done without a problem, just hit change payment type not cancel, and it worked for me! Thanks guys!

  39. Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after browsing through a few of the posts I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely pleased I found it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

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