Practice makes points

This past weekend, Sears ran a promotion in which they offered 9 points per dollar through the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal.  9X is very good, but the deal was particularly interesting because the terms and conditions for Sears within the portal had recently changed to now explicitly allow gift card purchases to count for earning points.  This meant that it was possible to buy gift cards to get 9 points per dollar, and then use the gift cards to buy merchandise for another 9 points per dollar to get a total of 18 points per dollar.  I wrote about this first via a Quick Deal post (here), and then through a more complete blog post follow-up (here).

I’m sure that some people went big with this deal in order to earn lots of points and, in some cases, a Southwest Companion Pass.  In my case, though, I saw this as a good chance to practice… to test the waters for the next bigger and better deal.  Given the new terms & conditions, would gift cards really earn points?  What about e-gift cards?  What about gift card reloads?  And, how quick is the turnaround?  If/when Sears does another big promotion will there be time to buy gift cards and use them within the deal’s time constraints?  Below is what I learned myself and what I heard from readers.  Please comment below with your own experiences as well.

Points were earned

Thursday morning I purchased a $10 physical gift card, a $15 e-gift card, and I reloaded $20 onto an existing physical gift card.  I checked yesterday morning and found points pending within the portal for all three purchases:

Sears_SWA_gc_results

And, on my credit card account, the purchases showed up as Sears for the e-gift card and for the gift card reload, and as Kmart for the purchase of the physical gift card.  This piece of data is important for situations in which credit card companies or other organizations automatically give rewards based on what merchant you buy from.  It’s also important for anyone with a Home Improvement Gift Card: those can be used to purchase e-gift cards or to reload gift cards, but not to purchase physical gift cards (unless you include other items from Sears in the cart at the same time).

Timing is everything

In order to double dip for 18X points, it’s necessary for Sears to deliver the gift cards before the promotion is over.  Here are the results showing how long it took for each of my gift cards to be delivered:

  • Reload gift card: Immediate.  As soon as I finished an online security verification process, I completed the purchase, and my gift card balance was available.  As long as this continues to hold, this is the way to go for future Sears deals.
  • E-gift card: I ordered the gift card on Thursday morning and it was delivered Sunday afternoon.  That’s a terribly long wait for an electronic gift card.  To be fair, I didn’t call to try to rush the order as I recommended in my previous post.  So, hopefully others received their e-gift cards much more quickly.  On the other hand, one Quick Deals reader says that he called and was told that it would take 5 to 7 days to process.  My guess is that the people he talked to were confused with the difference between e-gift cards and physical gift cards, but I can’t be sure.  I’m very interested in hearing from readers about your experience in ordering e-gift cards.  Please comment below.
  • Physical (by mail) gift card: Amazingly, the same day I ordered this card I received an email saying that it had been shipped.  Unsurprisingly, I haven’t received it yet.  Its rare for portal deals to last long enough to wait for the US postal service to show up with your gift cards, but I suppose that paying for expedited shipping might work in some cases.

Home Improvement sweetens the deal

While Office Depot no longer allows the purchase of variable load bank gift cards or reload cards with credit cards, they do allow the purchase of variable load merchant gift cards such as Whole Foods, Amazon.com, and the Home Improvement gift card.  This is important because: 1) You can pay with a credit card that earns 5X at office supply stores (Chase Ink cards and Amex SimplyCash, for example); and 2) You can use the Home Improvement Gift Cards for purchases as Sears.

So, with the right credit cards, it’s possible to sweeten these Sears portal deals by first buying Home Improvement gift cards, and then using them to buy Sears e-gift cards (or to reload an existing gift card), and then buy merchandise.  The downside?  Sometimes Sears’ fraud department won’t approve purchases of gift cards made with Home Improvement Gift Cards.  Yesterday, though, one reader tweeted that he had success buying 5 $500 e-gift cards this way.  My advice: only go this route if you’re willing to take the chance that you won’t be able to use the Home Improvement Gift Cards in this manner.  Yes, there is a chance of earning an extra 4 points per dollar through this extra step, but at best it is extra work and at worst it won’t work at all.

Reselling Practice

If your plan is to buy and resell to try to get most or all of your money back, it’s a great idea to start small and try out reselling services like Fulfillment by Amazon, eBay, Craigslist, etc.  If you’re interested in selling lots of items, I think that Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is the best way to go (since they do most of the work).  However, FBA can be very confusing, so please read this first: Tips for selling on Amazon.

What’s the chance of a new and bigger deal?

Sears has made a habit of running big portal promotions every so often for years now.  The best I can remember was last October when they offered 16 miles per dollar through the United MileagePlus portal (for MileagePlus cardholders) which meant 32X when double-dipping.  Soon after that deal, they offered 12X through the AAdvantage eShopping portal (or, 24X with the double-dip).  This past weekend’s deal was clearly timed to be a father’s day deal, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see another 9X or bigger deal before the end of summer.


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  1. I made several purchases over the weekend, starting with a large egift card order.

    Sears called me to verify, and the verification process took 17 minutes by phone.

    As of this morning (2-3 days after my purchases) the merchandise purchases all show as pending in my rapid rewards shopping account. The large gift card purchase does not. I’m not concerned yet, as I’ve experience slow posting on large purchases before.

    • I’ve got $4.8k shipped so far this month. I’ve been getting shipments for awhile though, been getting shipments even when there were $100 cards. Hope that helps.

  2. Bought $300 e-gift card last Thursday in the evening. Called the verification phone number Friday morning and was approved after answering a lot of questions. Received the e-gift card within an hour. Ordered another e-gift card Friday morning for $300. Called the verification phone number and they said it was approved. Did not answer any questions. Did not receive the e-gift card. Did a live chat to find out what happened. Funds went to Sears from my credit card. Still no e-gift card Saturday. Did another chat and they said it was sent to me. Checked all e-mail folders, but didn’t receive e-gift card. Cancelled the order. Received numerous e-mails after cancelling that my gift card was on the way. Also Sears wanted to send me a gift card in the mail and needed my address. On Sunday I received the e-gift card for $300. Used the $600 in e-gift cards to buy tires and $100 for the BBQ deal. Sunday night received another email that my gift card, which I had cancelled, was ready to be mailed. It all worked out but the transaction was sketchy. Bought e-gift cards w/ Club Carlson 5X CC. Received email from Southwest Sunday night that I had earned 2700 miles.

  3. Multiple problems where they were telling me after making the order for egift card that I would not get the cards till 6/18. What a problem this has caused

  4. I think reloading an existing gift card is the best way to go. I reloaded 3X over the weekend and a short call was all that was needed for the final reload.

    Promotional opportunities were coming and going related to headphones and grill accessories. Sears coupons and promos are truly a thing of beauty. What is an electronic purchase, what is a home purchase, what are home appliances? It is always hit and miss.

    Trying to turn this into a triple dip later using SYW rewards when an opportunity presents itself. Don’t need tires or a washer quite yet. Hopefully, they will still be in business when I have that need.

  5. I bought 3 $500 e-gift cards on Friday night. Received email on Saturday morning to call their fraud department. After calling and verifying with them, got the e-gift cards to my email with in half an hour.

    @Frequentmiler, Haven’t received any email from southwest regarding earned miles. How can I see the points earned or transaction pending status on Southwest portal? How long will it take to post the points to rapid rewards account?

    Thanks

  6. I noticed the deal on Thursday night, made a purchase of e-gift cards on Thursday night. An email was waiting for me Friday morning to call the fraud department. After a lengthy call with the fraud department, gift cards showed up via email about 10 minutes later. Of my purchases this weekend, three have shown up and a fourth, ironically the first purchase I made on Friday, has not. Gift card purchase has not shown up either.

    @Craig –
    After you log in at the rapid rewards shopping site, click on the “My Shopping Account” at the top next to login/logout. Should show your points earned.

  7. Ordered 2 $500 physical gift cards friday night. Immediately received an email saying my details were being verified. I have heard nothing more since Friday. Since the southwest portal promotion has ended, will i still get credit for the transaction if these cards ship this week or next?

  8. Ordered a simple $50 egift card on Friday morning. One hour later fraud department called me to verify. Everything went successfully. 2 hours later I called to see where the egift card was. Was told it was stuck in the system and I would get it by 6/17. Called back on Sunday morning to cancel that order as I would obviously not have it in time to double dip and didn’t need an extra gift card to Sears. After the cancellation (of which I never received a confirmation email, but many assurances on the phone) I purchased what I wanted online and then two hours later received the egift card. Not a pleasant experience. Sounds like reloading a giftcard is the smartest way to go.

  9. Large e-gift purchase on Thursday. Received verification email after two hours and gift cards arrived within an hour after that. Ordered merchandise with gift cards and then ordered again using SYWR points. Small orders posted (under 1k). Larger orders haven’t posted yet.

    One other note: 9X points posted for the full amount when using SYWR points.

  10. 2 orders, 500 for physical and $500 ecard on Friday night. Had to chat with the fraud dept to verify and both were approved. I received the $500 ecard 2 days later, which hasn’t come up in SW yet. However, the 500 physical order has posted pending in SW.

  11. I have three Sears physical gift cards that I reload with up to $500 when a portal deal arises. I have NEVER seen the funds loaded to the card immediately. And I have never received an email informing me that I need to call in for further verification. I have made it a habit to immediately call in after placing an online reload to get the order completed. Do not wait for them to verify and risk a lessor portal payout.

  12. Finally got those VISA GCs from Stables……now I am wondering how much longer I have to wait to receive the “activation codes” by separate mail……..

  13. The reason that virtual gift cards take so long is because most have to be vetted by the fraud department. These type of gift cards have the highest incident of fraud as they do not require a physical address beyond the billing for the cc used. Usually once you have established a history of purchasing and verifying the virtual gift card then it is no longer required, unless the delivery email is changed to something suspect (usually wildly inappropriate and/or sexual in nature). Based on my work as fraud investigator I can say that about 50% of these types of gift cards are fraudulent.

    • 10,800 miles just posted to my Southwest account for $600 in e-gift cards and double dip tire purchase. I bought the e-gift cards last Thursday and Friday and bought the tires on Sunday. I’ve never had on-line points or miles post so quickly!

  14. I did $3k in e-giftcards Saturday and received Saturday.

    I then purchased the $3k in merchandise Sunday.

    Points have posted for the Sunday purchases, but like many others there is no record of points pending or otherwise for the e-GC purchase.

    It sounds like others are in similar boats – can anybody verify that this is normal, or if not, can anybody suggest next steps? I don’t mind waiting, but just want to be sure this is all normal.

    • I’ve already received 10,800 miles in my Southwest account for a $300 e-gift card bought last Thursday and $300 e-gift card bought last Friday. Bought $600 merchandise on Sunday.

    • i’m in your boat. some of the points posted, some haven’t. what is the next steps? wait it out? if so how long, if not, do we send SW an inquiry for the missing points?

      • Same here – some points have posted, some haven’t – I guess I’ll wait a few more days.

        @Anita – large gift card purchase has not posted to me either.

        • I’ve had large purchase (>2k) take upto a couple weeks to process before with Sears. My smaller purchase posted in a couple days, but still waiting on the large two purchases. I’m impatient but won’t be too worried until later next week.

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