Why I suddenly care so much about flowers

For years I’ve mostly ignored the excitement about getting miles for flower purchases.  FTD, 1800Flowers, ProFlowers and other companies often offer seemingly great rewards for flower purchases.  You’ll see ads for 20 miles per dollar, 30 miles per dollar, and sometimes even more.  The truth, though, is that flowers purchased through these companies are crazily expensive, they often arrive in shambles, and they tack on ridiculously high shipping and handling charges (it reminds me of British Airways’ award fuel surcharges).  Since the shipping and handling charges do not earn miles, your actual miles per dollar earnings are usually far less than advertised.

1800FlowersAmazonLocal

Changing the equation

Thanks to advice from readers, other blogs, and through experimentation I’ve learned how to get good value from online flower purchases, specifically through 1800Flowers.  The basic formula is:

  1. Buy 1800Flowers gift cards for half price (or less)
  2. Subscribe to their unlimited free shipping program called Passport
  3. Find items that are priced exactly the same as the gift card value
  4. Find desirable items that will be delivered in good condition
  5. Use the best available promo codes to maximize rewards

By following the above steps (more on each below), it’s possible to buy miles for as little as 1.4 cents each (or maybe less) which can be an attractive price even if you don’t care about the flowers.  And, if you do care about the flowers more than the miles, you’ll still get rewarded with miles every time you send someone a gift.

How good is this?

I recently posted the following Quick Deal: “Possible 105 miles per dollar with 1800Flowers!”  The jury is still out on whether the earnings will really be that high because I’m waiting for confirmation from a cash back portal.  More likely, we’ll be looking at 71 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar.

If it were possible to scale up this offer to many purchases (in reality it is limited to two per person, but this is just a thought experiment so bear with me), then one could buy 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points for $1,551.  I recently showed that Southwest points are currently worth more than 1.5 cents per point towards Wanna Getaway fares (see “The new true value of Southwest points”).  So, your $1,551 investment would be worth more than $1,661 in travel.  In other words, you could have sent presents to 110 of your closest friends and still made a small profit in the form of future travel.  Even better, 110,000 points would be enough to qualify you for the Southwest companion pass which is good for a free companion flight on an unlimited number of paid or reward flights for the rest of the year and all of the next year.  So, by bringing a friend along on your trips, those 110,000 points could mean as much as $3,322 in travel (if you used all of the points for two person travel while you have the companion pass).

The above thought experiment isn’t realistic for a number of reasons, but it is intended to show that there really is value to be mined here.

Here, now, are the steps towards great flowery rewards:

1. Buy 1800Flowers gift cards for half price, or less

This part requires being on the lookout for special deals.  In my recent Quick Deal, I reported on a current Amazon Local deal where you can get $30 gift cards for half price or less.  In other posts, I’ve shown how it is possible to use the occasional American Express “Offers for You” deals combined with a cash back portal to buy $50 gift cards for half price or less (see, for example, “Preparing for Mother’s Day Miles”).

You may still have time to get in on the Amazon Local deal.  Otherwise, subscribe to my Quick Deals page to be alerted when deals like these come up.

2. Subscribe to Passport for half price, or less

1800Flowers charges $29.99 per year for their Passport program which gives you unlimited free shipping.  You can use a 1800Flowers gift card to pay for your membership.  So, do the following:

  1. Start with the best cash back or point earning portal you can find (search here)
  2. Click through the portal to 1800Flowers and purchase the Passport subscription
  3. Pay with a $30 gift card bought at half price (in step 1)

Let’s say you went through a portal offering 20% cash back.  In that case, you can expect to get $6 back.  So, assuming you paid $15 for the $30 gift card to begin with, your total cost for the one year membership would be only $9.  Actually, it may be even lower if you bought the gift card for less than half price by shopping for the gift card through a portal!

3. Find items that are priced exactly the same as the gift card value

1800Flowers allows only one gift card to be used per purchase.  If you spend more than the gift card’s value, then your rewards per dollar spent will be lower.  My approach is to sort by price, low to high, and look for items that are as close as possible to the gift card’s value.  If I have a $30 gift card, I’ll look for items priced $29.99.  With a $50 gift card, I’ll look for items priced $49.99.

1800FlowersSameDayDeliveryExamples

4. Find items that will be delivered in good condition

A common complaint with services like 1800Flowers is that flowers arrive broken (often the included vase is broken) or looking nothing like the advertised photo.  There are two easy solutions to this.  First, when sending flowers, always look for the one’s offering “Same-Day Local Florist Delivery”.  When flowers are delivered locally, they are far more likely to arrive in good condition, looking great.  Another option, of course, is to send things other than flowers.  You can send popcorn tins, cookies, baskets, and much more.  Many such items are less likely to arrive in bad condition.  Here are a few examples that I dug up at the $50 price point:

1800Flowers50DollarItemsThatMightNotBreak

5. Use the best available promo codes to maximize rewards

Point earning promo codes for 1800Flowers tend to take two forms.  They either offer X miles per dollar (e.g. 30 miles per dollar), or they offer a fixed number of miles for purchases of $29.99 or more.  For example, here are a few offers that are available at the time of writing:

  • American Airlines: 30 miles per dollar with code A54. Valid through May 12 2014.  Details here.
  • Alaska Airlines: 30 miles per dollar with code AKA3. Unknown expiration date.
  • Southwest: 1000 points with code RR22 for purchases of $29.99 or more. Details here.
  • Southwest: 30 points per dollar with code RR51 for purchases of $29.99 or more.

As you can see above, 1800Flowers often offers 30 miles per dollar in the weeks leading up to a holiday (in this case, Mother’s Day).  The Southwest offer, meanwhile, seems to be always available.  Which is better?  If you value the miles equally, the Southwest offer is slightly better for $30 purchases (33.3 miles per dollar), but the 30 mile per dollar offers are better for larger purchases.

Wrap up

The steps, shown above, for maximizing value from flower purchases may seem overwhelming at first, but once you get the hang of it, its not hard.  For long distance deliveries, there’s no question in my mind that this process is a better value than any alternatives I’m aware of.  For local gift giving, the value of this approach over cheaper or better alternatives depends upon how much you value the miles earned and the convenience of ordering online.

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 »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. It doesn’t have to be flowers. I used FTD to get a Baccarat vase for a friend’s wedding. The price was the same as the department stores, and I couldn’t easily find it for a discount at least online. The delivery fee was negligible given the cost of the vase, and we got over 10,000 AA miles.

    Another thing I often get delivered is the Dean and Deluca gift boxes. I’ve gotten lots of good reactions to that. Someone even remarked her sausage arrived still cold.

  2. I am trying to buy a gift card and the website says it will not be “delivered” until 5/12. Do you know if it is eGift card and will delivered by email or do they mail it and it takes a while?

  3. Remember to enroll in their Fresh Rewards program. You get 1pt per $1 and every 200 pts = $20 voucher emailed to you. And once you reach their elite level, you get extra bonus points. Right now, you get 50 bonus pts ($5 value) for orders under $30 and 100 bonus pts ($10 value) for orders above that. Using the Local Amazon vouchers doesn’t reduce the number of points you get.

  4. Dunno if it is worth mentioning or not, but there is also an amex sync promo for $15 off $50 at 800flowers. Of course you would have to spend $50 beyond what the vouchers will pay for, but if you are buying more than one set of flowers then this could be useful.

    • Yep, the Amex sync promo is another way to get 1/2 price gift cards. Go through 20% cash back portal and use Amex card to buy $50 gift card. You’ll get back $25 total. Can also trick it in additional ways: use Amex OPEN business card for another 5%. Link card account to Plink for Plink points. Link card to Sears’ SYWR for points.

  5. This was SO useful! Thank you! I was able to buy 2 amazon local deals – one for the passport membership, and one for my actual order. So I got $60 of flowers/shipping value for $30! And now I have the shipping value for the full next year. Very happy about this 🙂

  6. Some of you might notice that, in addition to the 1800Flowers Amazon Local deal, there is also a 1800Baskets deal ($40 credit for $20). I tried it and found that it is NOT compatible with the mile-earning offers. So, if you want both the discount and the miles (and, who wouldn’t?) stick with the 1800Flowers gift card.

  7. I’m not dissing or trashing anyone who uses a flower order to get extra miles or points, but for myself that’s a thing I don’t do.

    –My experience is that the flowers/arrangement has never shown up as I would like–either poor quality, substitution, or shoddy arrangement.

    –I get much, much better value by calling a local florist in that delivery area and asking about what they have that looks good *right then*, especially when ordering live plants. Also they tend to have many more choices available than the sites, and have suggested things I hadn’t considered that arrived, and were received well.

    –If I order from a local florist the money stays in the community, and contributes to a small business, both of which are important to me.

    –I just feel bad settling for less just so I get a few more miles/points. Remember you’ll always still get credit card points, just not the multiplier. Perhaps you could get a gift card from a cash-back site and use that to order, I haven’t tried.

    –I don’t send flowers to anyone I don’t like or don’t love. If I’m spending the money it should look as nice as possible.

    Cheers! And Happy Mom’s Day to you Moms!

  8. Until May 12, Southwest now has the option of earning 30 points per dollar spent (with a minimum purchase of $29.99) using promo code RR51. If you are only spending $29.99, RR22 is the better code, but if you are buying something that costs over $34, you will get more miles with RR51.

  9. I just wanted to let you know I tried an alternative: $20 for $40 at FTD from groupon I bought through Discover Portal for 10% off, then FTD has free shipping through shoprunner and tried to get an additional 15% cashback through upromise. Anyway, couldn’t get it to work. FTD wouldnt let me apply the groupon gift card unless I went directly through .com/groupon and then it wouldn’t give me free shipping. and I couldnt even add the 15 AA miles/dollar promotion either. but I had already purchased the groupon so I was stuck with them. ANNOYING.

    • Jared, thank you so much for providing that warning. I had just spent time piecing together essentially that same deal now that the Amazon Local offer has expired, and was about to start buying. I just wanted to let you know that the time you took to compose that e-mail really did save someone else (me) money and time. Thanks again.

  10. I’m not averse to putting out cash for the miles. Remember the annual AA 60 points per mile for Magazines.
    46 copies of The Economist later I had enough miles for an around the World first class one world explorer ticket for $4672, 46 subscriptions to the Economist , and had become considerably more conservative in my economic thinking until AA cancelled the award.
    Actually, I just PROPOSED doing this and donating 45 of the subsciprtions to charity, taking the wirte off and nettinh 280,000 miles for $3000. I was just worried I wouldn’t get all the miles but I’ll do it this year if offered and cancel the subscriptions of I don’t get the miles (not to mention cancel the credit card so they can’t renew me).
    I’m allergic to flowers and don;t have enough female friends and relatives

  11. Thanks Greg! I appreciate your thorough legwork and in-depth instructions. This process was new to me, thanks again!

  12. After the best cash back, gift card discount from Amazon Local, and tax the Passport Unlimited Delivery cost me $12.21
    Tried to stack promo codes. Fail.
    Purchased at 1800Flowers via cashback, but the amount that will apply is after the gift card, so on a 29.99 order I think only the tax portion will apply to the cashback…40c. So a $29.99 flower with the Passport free delivery cost me $16.50 after rebates. Got the SW 1000 pts which I value at minimum $30, but using points to convert to a standard award up to $44 or so.

  13. If you don’t care about flowers and don’t want to pay for delivery or passport membership , 1-800 Flowers offers free shipping on some of the gift basket items. I bought 3 boxes of chocolates at $10 each. Just enough to spend my Amazon Local voucher. I also used Shopathome.com and it is already showing $4.80 cash back for this transaction.

  14. For what it’s worth, the Southwest Air Valentine’s Day promo code is valid thru 12/31/2014. I’ve used it multiple times and received the points each time. Spend $29.99+ and receive 1,750 SW miles. That’s 58 miles per dollar on $30 purchase. Codes are RR52 & RR29. You’ll need your SW RR # at checkout.

    • That’s fine, but I don’t know of any way to avoid shipping and handling charges (unlike 1800Flowers where signing up for Passport gives you free shipping for a year)

  15. Hi FrequentMiler,

    Just got a chance to read your blog. Do you know if buying an expensive gift like baccarat vase on FTD or 1800Flower would be eligible for 30miles/$ or only flowers are eligible? also how about international delivery? Thanks.

    • Yes, the expensive items should work just as well. Yes, they’re eligible for rewards. I don’t have any experience with international delivery. Not sure if its an option

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *