How to convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

Soon, I have no doubt, many readers will be flush with Discover Cashback (see: The NEW Deal of the Year: Preparing for Discover Apple Pay and $2,000).  That’s great, but some readers prefer earning miles.  And, I’m not talking about Discover Miles.  Those are essentially pennies.  I’m talking about airline miles that can be used to towards flights, ideally at outsized value.

I’ve already explained how to get massive amounts of Discover Cashback.  Here’s how to turn those rewards into airline miles…

Overviewconvert Discover Cashback into airline miles

Here’s the general idea:

  1. Increase the value of your Discover Cashback by converting it into 1-800-Flowers gift certificates
  2. Select stuff to buy from 1-800-Flowers
  3. Apply an airline mile promo code
  4. Pay with your gift certificates
  5. You’ll end up with airline miles and stuff from 1-800-Flowers

Whenever I write posts like this, a number of people comment about how bad of a deal 1-800-Flowers is.  Others comment on how bad their service is, or how bad the delivered product is.  All of that is irrelevant.   With this plan, the idea is to use 1-800-Flowers as a vehicle for buying miles.  Consider it a bonus if it results in any nice flowers or gifts.

Important Note

Do not think of this as a recommendation!  I am not saying that it is a good idea to turn Discover Cashback into miles.  That’s up to you to decide.  In this post I’ll show you a way to do so without much analysis about whether or not it’s a good idea.

Preparations

For the following steps to work, you should first subscribe to the 1-800-Flowers Celebrations Passport program.  For $29.99, this service offers free shipping and handling for a year for any purchases made at 1-800-Flowers or its affiliated stores (1-800-Baskets, Cheryls, The Popcorn Factory, etc.).

convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

You can get a nice rebate for the purchase of this service by clicking through from a portal first (for example, Discover Deals is currently offering 15% cashback for 1-800-Baskets).  Also, if you pay with a Visa or MasterCard linked to your Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards account, you should get 20% back in SYW points.

convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

You’ll also want to join the 1-800-Flowers Celebration Rewards program.  The program is free to join and it gives you a $20 Savings Pass for every $200 spent with 1-800-Flowers.

Once you’ve joined Celebration Rewards and you have the Passport membership in-hand, you can proceed to the following step by step approach to converting Discover Cashback to miles…

Step 1: Convert Discover Cashback to 1-800-Flowers gift certificates

When redeeming Discover Cashback, you can choose to get cash, in the form of a statement credit or a deposit to your bank, or you can spend it like cash in several stores, or you can select from many different gift card options.  When you select gift cards, you get a discount off of the card’s face value.  The specific discount varies by merchant, but with 1-800-Flowers you’ll currently get a 33% discount.  For example, a $30 1-800-Flowers gift certificates costs only $20 in Discover Cashback.

convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

1-800-Flowers only allows you to apply one gift certificate per order online, so select a value as close to the amount you plan to spend as possible.  Let’s assume, for now, that you choose the $30 gift certificate.  Once you select this reward, it should be sent to you via email immediately.

Step 2: Find stuff to buy

Go to 1800Flowers.com and search for items that match the value of your gift certificate.  Try various menu items such as “All Plants”, then sort by price (Low to High).  Some items are best found by looking within certain sub-categories, such as “Meat & Cheese”.  Once you find something to buy, add it to your cart.  Make sure to select a no-fee delivery date (even with Passport, next day orders often incur an extra fee).

Step 3: Apply an airline promo code

Here are several currently active codes (sorted roughly by value of the offer):

The top two codes, above, offer miles “per order” rather than “per dollar”.  Both require orders of $29.99, or more.  With $30 orders, 1000 miles works out to 33.33 miles per dollar, and 1500 miles works out to 50 miles per dollar.

Here are promotion codes that have worked in the past (and will hopefully work again during holiday promotions):

  • AMT36 (expired): Earn 20 Amtrak points per dollar (details here)
  • TB1750 (expired): 1,750 JetBlue miles per order (58.33 miles per dollar for $30 orders)
  • RR36 (expired), RR43 (expired): 1750 Southwest points per order (58.33 points per dollar for $30 orders)
  • RR60 (expired): Earn 30 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar
  • RR59 (expired): Earn 30 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar
  • DE43 (expired): Earn 30 Delta SkyMiles per dollar

Math time!

Now we get to everyone’s favorite part of the program, math time!  Assuming we don’t value the flowers or gifts other than to make up for time spent on task, and ignoring rewards earned from the Celebration Rewards program, let’s see how much those miles and points cost…

Offer Example offer Points or Miles earned per $30 order Cost per point (each $30 order cost $20) Worth it?
10 points per dollar Amtrak 300 6.7 cents No way
15 points per dollar AA 450 4.44 cents Nope
20 points per dollar Alaska, Hawaii 600 3.33 cents No
30 points per dollar Alaska, Southwest, and Delta have offered this during seasonal promotions 900 2.22 cents Maybe for Alaska, but not for the others
1000 points per order Southwest 1000 2 cents Can be worthwhile if used to qualify for Companion Pass
1500 points per order Southwest has offered this many times in the past during seasonal promotions 1500 1.33 cents With Southwest, yes, especially if used to qualify for the Soutwest Companion Pass. JetBlue points are worth about 1.3 cents each, so it is a wash there.
1750 points per order Both Southwest and JetBlue have offered this in the past 1750 1.14 cents Yes, if you know you can make use of the points

Lowering the cost per mile with Celebration Rewards

If you plan your orders just right so that you spend exactly a multiple of $200 (twenty $30 orders, for example), then through the Celebration Rewards program you’ll get 10% back in the form of a Savings Pass to be spent on a future order.  If you then apply a mileage promo code to that future order, you’ll get additional points or miles for no extra cost.  Let’s take an example:

  • Place twenty $30 orders.
  • Total spend through 1-800-Flowers = $600
  • Savings Pass = $20 per $200 spent = $60
  • Total cost to you = $20 per order x 20 = $400

If, for simplicity, we assume the use of a 30 point per dollar promo code for all orders, then without the Saving Pass, we would earn 600 x 30 = 18,000 miles.  That comes to $400 / 18,000 = 2.22 cents per mile.  With the savings pass, we would earn 660 x 30 = 19,800 miles.  That comes to $400 / 19,800 = 2 cents per mile.

In brief, Celebration Rewards can be used to reduce the cost per mile by up to 10%.

Lowering the cost per mile through tax savings

It may be possible to save on taxes in a couple of ways:

  1. Individuals can use 1800Flowers to send food donations to a charitable organization, for example.  Those donations could be itemized in order to reduce your tax burden. You can find an example of how to do this in this old post.
  2. Business owners could use the 1800Flowers deliveries as business expenses.  One could send gifts to customers or employees, for example.  When treated as business expenses, these charges should reduce profits, and therefore taxes, accordingly.

I’m NOT a tax professional.  If you decide to do either, please consult your tax adviser.

Wrap Up

If I have any real use for buying gifts from 1800Flowers, I’ll make use of the plan shown above.  Otherwise, I’ll wait and see what the 1800Flowers’ holiday promotions look like.  If we see, for example, a 1500 mile per order promo with Alaska Mileage Plan, I might go for it.  How about you?

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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Pingbacks

  1. […] Good morning everyone, a few days ago I wrote New AMEX Offers: $50 Off $200 RocketMiles.com, $30 Off $150 Lowe’s, and More.  I have a few new AMEX Offers to share, including Dropbox, Adobe, Sleepys, Timberland, 1800Flowers.com, Vital Choice Seafood and Organic Food, Puritan’s Pride, and Oak Hall.  None of these offers are great for MS unless you are considering Frequent Miler’s post on converting Discover cash back to frequent flier miles. […]

Comments

  1. Thanks for the info. Too bad one has to wait until the holidays before taking advantage of the good promos… assuming these offers come back again.

  2. Maybe I got lost in the math section, but why did you not compare the cpm in regards to the discoverc CB redeem since you are getting gcs at 33% off? Wouldn’t the com be 33% less as well?

  3. You are THE BEST!!! Thank you!

    I am working on a companion pass for January 2016 and have 82,000 SW miles so far. I planned to use a fair chunk of my MS capacity toward it for the last quarter of the year and the 800-Flowers deals like last holiday season. Then the Apple Pay/Discover thing came along and that will take $20K of my Amex Bird/Serve card capacity since Hubby and I both have Discover IT accts. (I have other plans for sign-up bonuses and don’t want to get another SW Chase card). This solves the dilemma.

    • Sounds good. Just remember that points are awarded when product ship, not when you make a purchase. So, if you want to earn the points this calendar year, make sure shipments are for this year.

    • Be careful

      “Companion Pass Qualifying Points” are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. Points purchased for personal use or as a gift, transferred points, points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and Partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.

      • In my experience, points earned from 1800Flowers DO count towards the Companion Pass except in one situation where 1800Flowers specifically wrote in the T&C that the points didn’t count towards the companion pass

        • Thanks for the reminder, Greg, about points posting when the product ships. I have to be careful when I get close not to tip the scale too soon.

          I generated a lot of miles last holiday season with 1-800-Flowers for my husband’s acct since he had the CP in 2014 & 2015. It didn’t matter for us then that they counted toward the CP, but they did.

          Is your Michigan food bank address still accurate? I’m sure I still have them in my 1-800-Flowers address book from last year. Did the fruit and nuts work well for them?

          Hubby has a tradition of sending Harry and David pears to his extended family for the holidays, which I ordered via 1800 Flowers individually to maximize the miles. 1500 miles per aunt, uncle and cousin adds up.

        • Dee: just a reminder that the companion pass points are counted within a calendar year. On Jan 1, your companion pass qualifying point total will reset to zero. So, either go for it entirely before the end of the year or hold off completely until early next year.

  4. I love math too 🙂 I thought I’d point out a decimal point error:
    That comes to $400 / 19,800 = .2 cents per mile.
    I think you meant to say 2 cents per mile or 2.02 cpm. Thanks for the post!

  5. I have not thought through the potential comparative angle(s) yet, but 1800Flowers is now also a 30% savings for those that are targeted for it (I have 20 of them)..so, you could go through the DD portal, use the Amex offer card(s), etc. Right? DD thru to 1800 flowers makes no restriction for buying gift cards…

    • Another worthwhile note, although DD portal does not specifically restrict “buying” gift cards, it DOES restrict gift card “redemption”. Dang! It sure would be a great double dip…

    • Yes, that’s another good approach, but a bit more complicated. It works like this:
      1. Enroll Amex cards in the 1800Flowers deal: $15 back on $50 purchase
      2. Click through Discover Deals to 1800Baskets for 15% back
      3. If enrolled in the double cashback deal, you’ll get 30% back
      4. Buy a $50 1800Flowers gift card and pay with enrolled Amex card.
      At this point you have a total of $30 back in promised rebates on the $50 gift card!
      Now use those gift cards with a 30 points per dollar offer and buy things for $50.
      * You will earn 50 x 30 = 1500 miles per order
      * Your total cost per order = $50 – $30 (in rebates) = $20
      * Your cost per mile = 1.33

    • That was just for the 1750 points per order promo codes. They switched the terms mid-promotion to disallow points counting towards the companion pass. Points from other promo codes continue to count. If the 1750 points per order promo returns, we’ll have to look closely at the terms to see if they prohibit companion pass earnings again.

      • I think southwest points earned via the above way will not count towards companion pass . See below for the terms and coniditon

        “Companion Pass Qualifying Points” are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned on Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. Points purchased for personal use or as a gift, transferred points, points earned from program enrollment, Tier bonus points, flight bonus points, and Partner bonus points (with the exception of the Rapid Rewards Credit Cards from Chase) do not qualify as Companion Pass Qualifying Points.

  6. Just purchased a gift card at Walgreens with Apple Pay. My phone said the 10% promo excluded gift cards. Can anyone confirm one way or the other? I didn’t know it showed a gift card purchase on my statement.

    • Its showing up on my phone as the same too. Just bought gift cards from Rite aid and on the Wallet app after you click on your discover card, it says 10% promo excludes gift cards. Can anyone else confirm?

  7. This is an EXCELLENT post.

    I have a large amount (about $3500) in Discover Rewards. I have been saving them up for a good deal and I figure worst-case scenario I’d just take a cruise and pay for it using the rewards dollars. At the end of the year I expect a huge influx and that number will go up.

    Regarding the best use, factoring in:

    * X points per dollar spent (or 1,500/1,750 Southwest points for ~$30 order)
    * Sears ShopYourWay Rewards for using CC linked to account (20% back in SYW Rewards)
    * American Express Cashback ($15 credit on $50 spent)
    * Celebration Rewards ($20 per $200 spent)
    * a shit-ton of flowers, candy, or whatever you decide to buy. I was thinking of ordering an insane amount of flowers (like 100 dozen roses) for my wife just to see if they could fulfill it. Please deliver tomorrow morning, BTW. — or — tax deductible donation to a charity — or — business expense for a client who needs a shit-ton of flowers in their office

    This appears to be the best way to utilize the miles. The biggest question I have is do I wait until Jan. 1, 2016 to pull the trigger for the Southwest Companion Pass (and assume the AmEx cashback is gone at that point and potentially other deals)

    It appears the optimal solution might be:

    * place orders on 1800flowers close to midnight on Dec. 31, 2015 (when AmEx $15 credit on $50 expires) Expires December 31, 2015
    Hope the points credit to southwest AFTER that date so you obtain Companion Pass + a lot of miles
    * cross your fingers and hope it works.

    Thoughts? Am I the only one who is excited about this? Or have I just had too much coffee?

    • Thanks Dave.
      Miles post based on the date of delivery not the date you place your order. So, if you want to make sure to get Southwest points in early January simply schedule deliveries for then. So:
      1. Wait for the next big Southwest 1800Flowers promo
      2. Check the terms carefully to see if they specifically say that points don’t count towards the companion pass.
      3. If #2, above, is OK, then use the techniques in this post to place dozens of orders. Schedule delivery for them for early January.
      4. Hope that points really do count towards the companion pass (in the past they have counted as long as the terms didn’t explicitly say otherwise)

  8. Looking at Discover rewards it says: “Offer is not valid in combination with any other offers. Must have cookies enabled on your web browser, link to retailer site from the Discover Deals web page, found at Discover.com/deals or through the Discover mobile app, and use your Discover card for each transaction.”
    How will this work with Amex Cards?

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