Finally, a new portal mega deal! My thoughts on today’s 37X opportunity

It used to be the case that lucrative portal offers were common.  In fact, I used to post every month about the latest and greatest deals available through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  And, every couple of months, a fantastic offer would appear.  Sometimes the offers were so good that it made sense to shop even if you didn’t really need anything from the store offering points. 

Then, all of the great offers stopped appearing.  I stopped writing my monthly update because there was nothing interesting to say.  The last great offer was in September 2012.  Since then there has been mostly silence.

In August, I saw some signs of hope.  After a long drought with nothing better than 6X in any portal, Sears’ began offering 9X through various portal promotions this past summer.  9X was pretty good!  I was encouraged and, on August 1, I wrote “Are portal mega-deals on their way back?”  Here is an excerpt:

Are the Sears 9X offers an anomaly or are they a sign of things to come?  Maybe I’m just a wishful thinker (and there’s no doubt, I am), but it feels to me as if something is in the wind.  Mega deals are coming.  I can feel it.

Can you feel it?  Are shopping portal mega-deals on their way?

Two months later, it is here.  If you have the right credit cards, this one is almost as good as it gets.  It’s not quite at the level of being worth buying stuff you don’t need just for the points, but it’s close.  And, it’s a bit risky…

I first published the details via my QuickDeals site:

Sears 12X to 16X through the United MileagePlus Shopping portal!!!!

Then, I followed up with details via my blog:

Maximizing the 2 day Sears/MileagePlus 16X promotion

If you have both the United MileagePlus Explorer card and a Chase Freedom card, it is possible to turn this promotion into a 37 mile per dollar offer!  You do have to act fast, though.  The deal ends today (October 9th).

Here’s how to get 37 miles per dollar (please see yesterday’s post for complete details, other options, and Q&A):

  1. Go through the MileagePlus shopping portal to Sears and buy e-gift cards.  You should earn 16 points per dollar from this transaction.
  2. Pay for the gift cards with your Chase Freedom card to earn 5 points per dollar thanks to this quarter’s 5X department store bonus.
  3. When the e-gift cards arrive, go through the portal again to use the gift cards to buy merchandise.  Earn 16 points per dollar.

If you were to max out the Freedom’s 5X bonus with $1500 in spend, you could earn 48,000 United miles and 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points!  That’s a phenomenal haul for $1500 spend!  Of course, $1500 is just an example.  You shouldn’t spend that much unless you have the money to cover it and you either need the stuff or have a plan for reselling it.

The biggest risk is that e-gift card purchases won’t earn points.  In the past year or so, it has been the case that e-gift cards from Sears have not earned points, whereas physical gift cards have earned points.  Recently, though, there has been a change in the terms of the Sears’ portal offers.  They now say “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13” (hat tip, Mommy Points).   So, e-gift cards should earn points, but it will be at least a few days before we know for sure, and the deal will be over by then.

My personal plan is to to take the chance that e-gift cards will work.  I’ll probably buy $1,500 worth of e-gift cards altogether in order to max out my Freedom card’s 4th quarter bonus.  I’ll buy many of the e-gift cards $50 at a time in order to maximize Plink point earnings (see “Plinking Sears“), but there is a limit to how much I can stand the repetitive process of checking out over and over again.  I bought $500 worth that way yesterday and may do the same today.  That should result in $60 worth of Plink points in addition to the points and miles earned.  I’ll also buy physical gift cards to hedge my bets.  I haven’t yet decided exactly how much I’ll spend.

In addition to buying gift cards, I’ll use existing gift cards I own and the e-gift cards as they arrive to buy stuff that I need.  And, holidays are just around the corner so I might as well get a start on buying gifts while I’m at it.  I’ll also spend some time today searching for good values in case there is anything worth buying and reselling.  If I find some great options, I’ll go for it.  Otherwise, I’ll take my gift cards to Sears to find the secret gift card rack

Are you going to take advantage of this promotion?  If so, what are your plans?  Please comment below.  For questions about how this works, what will work, and what won’t, please read yesterday’s post and comment there.  Thanks!

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. My USAir MasterCard will give me 3x pts on ‘Department Store’ purchases. Does Sears qualify and will physical gift cards qualify since you say they are fulfilled by Kmart??

    • JohnnieD: Sears should qualify, but you’re right that physical gift cards probably won’t.
      .
      Paul: Yes, purchases from ShopYourWay sellers should result in points as long as you can “add to cart” from within Sears.com. I don’t know if I’ve ever tested it to make sure, though.
      .
      Another Greg: Yes, many gift card orders are being held up while they’re being verified. After ordering, you might be able to expedite the process by calling 1-888-396-5299.

  2. Do you know if purchases from “ShopYourWay Guarantee Sellers” count on sears.com for portal points? I just would like to know for sure before buying something expensive from one. Thanks!

  3. Is Sears still calling to verify every gift card purchase? Last time I bought a gift card during a mega bonus opportunity they took so long to call me and verify I almost missed the bonus.

  4. I always keep a list of things I need to buy so that when I’m ready to buy online I can buy them all together and avoid shipping fees, and be ready to jump in on opportunities like these. Plus, it lets me plan better for online shopping and not forget stuff I need. Thanks for sharing!

    • FreeTravelGuys: Great idea.
      .
      Aaron: No, the card used for the purchase does not need to be the same name / cardholder. You can do as you suggested as long as you realize that your friend will get the Freedom points, not you.
      .
      Howard: I don’t know why Sears and Kmart don’t always show up within Plink for everyone. Contact Plink and ask them to add it for you.

  5. Does the card used for the purchase have to have the same name / cardholder as the united mileageplus cardholder / portal user?

    For instance can I go through the portal using my login with access to 16x (since I’m a united mileageplus cardholder), use a friend’s freedom card for the purchase for the additional 5x, and successfully receive the points?

  6. Question. I only see KMart on Plink. Where is Sears? Does that only appear after you have accumulated enough Plink points?

  7. I actually bought almost $1k worth of stuff yesterday without using the gift card route but just purchasing them through the MileagePlus Portal using my Freedom card. When I saw this, I canceled the order and bought $1k worth of gift cards (2 x $500). Still waiting for them to arrive, but I hope I get the 5 UR points per dollar on that purchase. When I get them, I’ll go ahead and use them to purchase the things I bought yesterday. One of the things I bought was a TV!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    • CK: Just keep in mind that you don’t get credit card extended warranties or purchase protection when you buy with gift cards. If you’re willing to risk it though, its a potential miles goldmine 🙂
      .
      Kevin: If they process without going through the fraud dept for verification, the e-gift cards arrive in about an hour. Otherwise, it could be several hours before you get a phone call for security verification. Maybe even longer if they are swamped today (and they are).
      .
      Charlie: That makes sense. There is a risk that even e-gift cards won’t arrive in time!

  8. How long does it take for the e-gift cards to show up? I bought an e-gift card once from Staples and it took about 30 hours to arrive, even though I contacted customer service.

  9. I am going to skip the e-gift card route this time after all my e-gift card orders during were held up for fraud alert. In fact, they were eventually canceled even though I never received a call or e-mail. Of course, they did call to tell me they were canceled AFTER the promo was over. Good luck to everyone who is going that route – hope it works out!

  10. @AnotherGreg & @Charlie – Pretty sure they have the fraud department call to verify the purchase based upon the amount of the sale, although I’m not sure what that threshold is. Probably in the ballpark of $1,000. I keep the phone number for the fraud dept on hand, you can call them preemptively instead of waiting hours (or sometimes days when there is high volume) after placing an order. I typically call immediately after placing the order and they’ll verify it immediately.

  11. If I buy a couple thousand dollars of physical gift cards at 5 PM today will that post in time? I’ve never purchased GCs from Sears before.

    • Danny: That’s a great question. I’m not sure if you’ll get the full points if they don’t release your order from security verification before the end of the day. There’s definitely some risk there.

  12. FM,

    In your experience, will the points still post through the portal if I use a coupon for sears.com that is not approved by the portal? I know this varies by store — I’m asking specifically about sears. Thanks as always!

    • RH: Yes, I’ve had points post in the past despite using coupons not from the portal. In this case though the risk is so high that I’m sticking to the portal’s coupons.
      .
      Erik: thanks for posting that.
      .
      Grado: Only United MileagePlus credit cardholders get the 16X offer. Everyone else gets 12X (which is still very good).

  13. Fraud dept called me yesterday for a measly $50 e-gift card order and asked more security questions than I would get entering most countries. Could be super lucrative if it all works out though!

    • mommypoints: same happened to me, but they then cleared all 10 of my e-gift card orders in one shot.
      .
      Jill: I don’t know. Log into the MileagePlus shopping portal, search for Sears and check how many points they offer.
      .
      Chris: No, you don’t have to exit completely after each e-gift card. Just go back to the portal and click through again each time.

  14. do you have to exit completely (clear cookies and etc) after each $50 E-gift card? or after check out 1 Egift card, go back into sears and check out another one until you are done?

  15. If i buy LED TV and paid 1/2 with gift card and 1/2 with Amex (with extended warranty), will amex still give extended warranty for this type of purchase??

    • Chris: If I remember right, Amex will provide the warranty but will only cover up to the amount you paid via credit card.
      .
      Alan: I haven’t found anything great for resale yet either. I’ve been so busy buying stuff for myself/others that I haven’t really spent much time looking either.

  16. Did this yesterday, bought $1150 (random number, I know, I wasn’t really keeping track) worth of $50 e-gift cards, the fraud department guys were really surprised and asked if there was a promotion going on.

    Anyways, I had a terrible time trying to find things to buy for resale. Maybe you’ll do a better job of it, but it certainly seem harder than last year with the 15x southwest rewards deal.

  17. Anyone else not getting any calls? I purchased two $300 e-gift cards three hours ago and it’s neither been confirmed nor have I heard a squeak from the fraud department. I got an e-mail saying that my order was being processed, but nothing else. Should I call the fraud department or wait?

  18. See… just another way the government shutdown is hurting the economy 🙂
    I can’t take advantage of a fantastic (but somewhat risky) portal scheme when I’m not sure they are going to pay us next month! (sometimes you just have to laugh about these things)

  19. If they allow purchase gc using e-gc, then it’s worth it since you will get 37x then sell the gc for MS. Otherwise, you still need to spend that money. I almost jump on it.

  20. Have dove in this morning and after checking I’m set up for Sears purchases on Plink, I bought 15 x $50 = $750 in egiftcards using chase freedom for each of them. There was a call from fraud office, but questions were very routine and gift crads arrived within 20 mins of the call to them.

    I’m now back in into Sears online again through the UA MP portal and attempting to place an order for merchandise.

    BEWARE: Sears.com website chechout page says you can only use 15 gift cards max for online orders.

    So I looked for a gift around $690 + taxes = $732. When I pass through to checkout and enter in GC # and PIN#, it says “Gift card # invalid – Please insert a valid gift card and PIN #”. I called the tel # on the egift card and they tell me the card # is valid, working and has the $50. I’ve re-entered the 16 digit GC # and 8 digit PIN # several times now, but same problem. I’m stuck!

    Anyone else having these same issues and can help?
    Ken

    • ken: thanks for pointing out the 15 gift card limit. I should have stated it in the post. I haven’t had any trouble redeeming my $50 gift cards so far. Sorry to hear it’s so much trouble for you!

  21. I read through today’s and yesterday’s posts including comments and can’t seem to find out…

    ..Why is everyone trying to buy individual GC for $50 each, I found the GC that can be emailed to you where you can specify any amount up to $500. Want to buy more than $500, just buy multiple email GC.

    Did I do something wrong by not purchasing the $50 individual GC?

    Thanks FM!

  22. FM, I just got off the phone with Sears security dept. I bought $2K in Sears physical GCs. They asked me 7 questions. I wrote them down. If you want me to post them here, let me know.

  23. Lively: Did you buy the $2000 of physical GCs in $500 increments or did you do the $50 at a time?

    I’d like to know the 7 questions. At least they aren’t playing ’21 questions’ ..7 is a lot though!

  24. laflyguy. I am only a grasshopper in this points hobby….so I bought four $500 GCs. And I mistakenly said 7 questions, it was only 6.
    1.What is the state that I received my social security number from?
    2. What county do I currently live in?
    3. What year was I born?
    Next 3 were multiple choice (they read answers and I picked one):
    4. What professional license do I hold?
    5. On my driver’s license, what does my height say?
    6. Which of the following street addresses have I ever lived on?

  25. @FM thanks for answering my earlier question. Do you know if sears marketplace / seller store items will count as qualifying purchases? There are a lot of different merchants that are all selling through the sears site.

  26. Security Department has to talk to you for these e-gift card orders. You can call them at 888-396-5299 proactively to minimize the wait.

  27. I purchased $1k worth of GCs this morning and had to go through verification. They arrived in my email as soon as I went through the process. Now I will go through UA MP portal to make my purchases.

    Another thought came to mind for Chase inkPlus/inkBold cardholders: Can’t we just buy physical Sears GCs at office supply stores for 5x points per dollar (which has no $1,500 limit) and use them when making purchases on the UA MP portal?

    Also, I called the Chase Freedom customer service line and the rep confirmed that my Sears.com GC purchase did indeed qualify for the 5x points bonus. This solves my earlier concern that it wouldn’t qualify. From this point on, I shouldn’t have a problem getting another 16x points through the UA MP portal using the GCs, right? Thanks!

  28. Since I don’t have a Chase Freedom card. Can i purchase the Visa GC’s at Staples and use those to purchase Sears GC’s through the UR portal? 5x at Staples + 16x for UR portal (and I have United Visa) = 21x.

  29. It looks like the terms have already changed when going to Sears.com through the MileagePlus Portal. The “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13” portion is now gone when I just checked a few minutes ago even though I saw it there this morning. That didn’t take long.

  30. I finally bought the Bose SoundDock I wanted and used my freedom card. I saw 16 miles on the MIleageShopping website ( I have the United card ). Will I get 16x miles or 12x plus 5x freedom?

    In addition I wanted to use the Plink website you mentioned but it wants my Chase account and password. I do not feel comfortable giving them that. How do you get around this?
    TIA

  31. Thanks FrequentMiler! Finally was able to offload my HIGC yesterday and hoping to get ~90k UA miles off my W/D purchase!

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