Bad blogging and better than 5X loan payments

UPDATE 11:30 am EST: ShopAtHome dropped their cash back rate for Staples from 7% to only 3%.  Ugh.

Bad blogging

In general, the mechanics of blogging are quite easy.  I use a blog editor called Windows Live Writer.  I write a post.  I add a category and some tags and then set the scheduled post date and time.  Then I press “Publish”.  Done.  Usually.  Somehow I messed up twice in two days.

On Sunday, I was working on my improved “Best credit card offers” page and tried to make a backup of the old page.  So, I opened a new Live Writer window, pasted in the contents of the old Best Offers page, titled it “Best offers old style” and pressed publish.  Here’s the thing: that would have been fine if I had opened a new “Page” window, but I had instead opened a new “Post” window.  They look almost identical, but when I publish a Post it gets broadcast to the world through Tweets, Facebook posts, Google+, etc.  Oops.  I meant to publish a Page (which doesn’t broadcast anywhere) rather than a Post.  I edited the post with an apology and that resulted in my shortest blog post ever: “Best offers old style”.

LiveWriter

On Monday, I screwed up again.  I started writing a post to introduce my new Best Offers page.  While the blog editor is roughly WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get), it’s far from perfect.  So, as I worked on my post, I occasionally clicked “Post draft to blog.” That way I could see how it looked for real in my browser.  Then, when I was nearly done, I accidentally pressed “Publish” instead.  Boom.  My post was broadcast everywhere before it was done.  I quickly made my final edits, so no harm was done.  However, I had intended for that post (Better Best Offers) to go out today (Tuesday), not on Monday morning.  The problem with posting it on Monday morning was that it may have hidden my originally scheduled post from many readers.  If you missed it, you can find it here: #milemadness week 3: the pace slows, and we set our sights on Charlotte

Better than 5X mortgage or loan payments

Lately I’ve been using ShopDiscover and/or uPromise for 5% cash back when shopping at Staples.com.  On Friday, readers let me know that ShopAtHome has been offering 7%.  That sounds good to me!  One downside of ShopAtHome is that you have to accrue $20 or more to get a check.  One alternative is to submit a Highest Cashback Guarantee Claim with TopCashBack.  Anyway, a reader named Wes sent me a picture where he was credited with $14.96 cash back from ShopAtHome from the purchase of two $100 Visa gift cards at Staples.com (purchase total was $213.90 due to card fees).  I’m thinking that this will be an awesome way to pay my mortgage.  I’ll buy Visa gift cards with my wife’s new Ink Plus card which is registered with Visa Savings Edge, and then I’ll use Evolve Money to pay my mortgage.  Here’s how the math works out for every $200 of payments:

  • Charged to Ink Plus: $213.90
  • Points earned: 214 x 5 = 1070
  • Visa Savings Edge 1% rebate: ($2.14)
  • Portal 7% rebate: ($14.96)
  • Total cost: $196.80

If I scale up the above to $2000, then:

  • Charged to Ink Plus: $2139
  • Points earned: 2140 x 5 = 10,700
  • Visa Savings Edge 1% rebate: ($21.40)
  • Portal 7% rebate: ($149.60)
  • Total cost: $1968

To make a $2000 mortgage payment (this is just an example, not my real payment amount), I would save $32 and earn almost 11,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  Plus, it will make a huge dent in the $5K minimum spend required for the Ink Plus 50K signup bonus.  Sweet!

UPDATE: ShopAtHome has now dropped their cash back rate for Staples to 3%.  So, let’s look at the math based on 5% cash back (from uPromise or ShopDiscover):

  • Charged to Ink Plus: $2139
  • Points earned: 2140 x 5 = 10,700
  • Visa Savings Edge 1% rebate: ($21.40)
  • Portal 7% 5% rebate: ($149.60) ($106.95)
  • Total cost: $2010.65 for $2K worth of loan payments
  • Cost per point: $10.65 / 10,700 = about 1/10th of a cent per point

Still a good deal, but not a money maker as before.

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. When you make a mortgage payment, aren’t you supposed to keep a record of each individual mortgage payment until the entire loan is paid off? In case there’s a screw-up by the mortgage company down the road? (I’m asking this as someone who’s never had a mortgage).

    When you do all these fancy different ways of paying your mortgage, how do you keep records of each payment?

    • I always log into my mortgage account online after making Evolve payments to make sure they went through. It would be easy enough to print out those records if I wanted to keep a paper copy.

  2. I am surprised ShopAtHome is not shown on Cash Back Monitor, I wonder if there are any other online shopping portals that are not showing up. Have you seen any other portals worth mentioning that aren’t part of CBM?

    • ShopAtHome is shown on CashBackMonitor, but it is sorted to the bottom because it is listed as “up to 7%” rather than a flat 7%. Its tricky when portals have multiple cash back rates for one merchant (as ShopAtHome does here) because the portal finders need to decide whether to sort them to the top based on their top rate, or place them lower based on fact that they don’t know what rate you’ll get (since it depends upon what you buy). I think that sorting to the bottom makes sense in most cases, but here it did lead me to not notice it.

  3. Great post! I’ve never heard of ShopatHome. Are they reliable?

    I always wonder how many GCs I can buy with my Bold without getting in trouble, a subject you’ve tackled in the past. I’ve been keeping to 50% of my total balance. Could easily max out thanks to Evolve!

    • Thanks. Yes, in my experience ShopAtHome is reliable (but each person’s experience may vary!). It can’t hurt to mix up different types of purchases on your Ink card, but I’ve never heard of anyone getting in trouble for just buying one type of thing. That’s not to say that it can’t happen, just that I don’t think it has been a problem in the past.

      • There is a commenter on Romsdeals’ most recent post who tried to switch from the Bold to the Plus (canceled and reapplied). He says when he called recon he was grilled about his Staples/CVS gift card purchases and denied. Just FYI

  4. When you pay your mortgage with Evolve Money, does it not go straight to principal? Mine always does, as with any billpay service, and I have to call in after each payment and have it applied to the next payment due rather than principal. Super annoying and makes this seem like maybe not worth the while…

    • What I found (with my Wells Fargo mortgage) was that if I paid the entire monthly payment amount in one day via Evolve Money, it would go to the payment rather than to principal. Of course, Evolve only allows up to $1K per day of payments so I had to use multiple accounts to make that happen. YMMV.

    • I use evolvemoney with a TDBank mortgage and it shows up as a Misc. Receipt. I send a bunch of evolvepayments through the month and then call to make sure they are all applied to the current month payment and confirm the balance to be paid. I’m not sure if they would be credited automatically if they totalled the monthly payment but I don’t mind the last step of calling them and paying the balance

  5. Also: are there reports of actually receiving the Visa Savings Edge and ShopAtHome for Visa GCs? It’s explicitly excluded in both T&Cs. This is usually the case, but just wanted to see if there are any confirmed reports of these two working on GCs.

    • Yes, multiple readers have said that they received confirmations of pending cash back from ShopAtHome based on buying Visa gcs from Staples.com. And, yes, I can personally vouch for Visa Savings Edge working as I’ve done that many times since getting my (and my wife’s) Visa Ink Plus cards.

      • FYI, placed an order on the 25, CB posted to my account. Also, even though I made the order when it was 7%, unfortunately, I only received 3%. Have not contacted Shopathome yet.

  6. Staples.com only has $100 VGC, so to pay mortgage you would need to use many $100 VGCs, isn’t that too much work?

    • It is a lot of work. I think the rewards are worth it, but to be clear, here is the work involved after ordering the gift cards:
      1) Activate each gift card online. You will receive a letter separate from the gift card containing the activation code.
      2) Pay loan $100 at a time via Evolve Money. Each time, type in your name, address, gift card number, expiration date, and security code.
      3) Wait at least 5 minutes between each payment so that the payments aren’t thought to be duplicates
      4) Once you hit the $1000 per day limit, log in with a different account to continue making payments

        • That’s true, but you do have to activate the cards. There’s a difference. When you buy gift cards in-store, they are activated at the register. When you buy these online, you have to activate them at home.

  7. Shop At Home shows 7% for Staples before logging in but show 3% after logging in. Even the small pop up (comes up after clicking on Staples) shows 3%.

    Does this mean it has drop to 3%?

  8. Thanks for the post. If I understand right, the same points/savings would apply to any gift card purchase, yielding a decent discount on restaurants/Southwest, etc. Certainly it would be better than the 5X I get from Ink purchases at a Staples store. Is this right?

    Thanks again!

  9. Hey FM, no need to be sorry! its just a game, nobody should take anything for granted, enough of the entitlement attitude. if you dont spread this they would not know anything. now blame you for it because they got in too late? forget them!

    btw any success at office depot/max for the gcs?

  10. I ordered this morning after reading your post. It was 7%, now it is 3%. I am wondering what I am going to get.
    This is really interesting.

  11. Well, upromise is 5.5% if you deposit the refund to your sallie mae bank account. You get an extra 10% at the end of the year.

  12. Use ShopDiscover to buy VGCs at Staples.com, but use Ink card?

    ShopDiscover does not require one to use Discover Card?

    Is there any equivalent to Visa Savings Edge with Discover Cards?

    • Yes, ShopDiscover usually pays cash rewards regardless of how you pay (as long as you click through from the ShopDiscover site when shopping). The problem is if the purchase doesn’t track correctly, Discover won’t help you. No, I’m not aware of a Discover version of visa savings edge, but do keep an eye on “discover extras”

  13. At shopdiscover page:

    * Offer not valid on gift certificate purchases
    * Must … and use your Discover Card for each transaction

    anyone had success here?

  14. I placed an order for 2 X $100 GC this mourning when it was 7%. Hope i get it for that. Sucks that it changed already but i appretiate the heads up. Ive been consistently buying GCs using uPromise and getting 5% back without a problem. When i used ShopDiscover i was finding it was 50/50 weather it worked. Thanks again. 5% portals and savingsedge is still the best consistant way ive seen to get UR points from staples.com.

  15. Can you use Chase ink plus at shopDiscover to get cashback? It says that Discover card needs to used to get cashback?(for office depot and staples…) Thanks always for good information.

  16. Regarding uPromise cash back, will you get a check for your rebate, or you have to transfer the cash back to an 529 account? I have never used uPromise, I am kind of confused. Thanks!

  17. BAD BLOGGING! You could fall outa bed, hit your head and outblog all of your peers………..free 5X…….so why not just do ALL your everyday spend on these 5X visa cards………?? BTW nice Rave you’ve created in Charlotte……..

  18. Has anyone ever checked if the 5% on ink applies to card fees? I know for a fact that the old Blue Cash Amex only gives 5% on the gift card itself. ie: Buy $500 VR for $503.95, only get $25 back.

  19. Do you have suggestion for how many $100 visa gift card I can buy from staples.com per transaction and per month? I have enough load and Ink credit limit. Just want to make sure it will be fine for Staples and uPromise. Thanks!

  20. Yeah I purchased through Shopathome, and now they’re only giving me 3%, though I went through at 7%. Trying to resolve now…

    • Sent an email via “missing cashback” link or whatever it was called. Next day received a reply that they were sorry for the mistake and the cashback was adjusted. Looked today and they’ve added an additional 4%. Problem solved, (now just have to wait til the 5/31/14 payout date).

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