The JCP Double Dip

JC Penney gift cards are readily available through gift card resellers for 25% off (or more).  This is a nice, easy way to get an automatic 25% savings on all JCP purchases.  If you’re willing to order online, though, you can do even better.  Currently, the Chase Freedom card offers an extra 10 points per dollar for JCP purchases when you start your shopping within the Ultimate Rewards Mall (just until then end of July).  Similarly, ShopAtHome currently offers 10% cash back when you start your JCP shopping within their portal.

With some merchants, points or cashback are not awarded when you pay with gift cards.  However, I’ve recently received confirmation that both of the portals I mentioned do work with JCP purchases made with gift cards!  Through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, HikerT made 100% of his purchase using gift cards and he used a free shipping coupon code, and he received all of the expected points.  Through ShopAtHome, a reader named Steve made most of his purchase with gift cards and small percentage with a credit card.  He received the full 10% cash back.

Step by Step

If you’re in the market for JCP stuff, do the following:

  1. Estimate the total price of all items you plan to buy (including taxes)
  2. Go to GiftCardGranny.com to find a gift card reseller with cards who’s value add up to the amount you plan to spend.  I’ve had good luck buying from both Cardpool and PlasticJungle.  I haven’t tried any of the others.
  3. If buying from Cardpool or PlasticJungle, start at TopCashBack and click through to the appropriate reseller.  This will give you 2% to 4% in extra savings!
  4. Buy the gift cards you need to cover your purchase.  If you plan to order online, you may find it easier (and faster) to order e-gift cards.  I don’t know whether e-gift cards from JCP can be used in-store.
  5. When you are ready to make a purchase, log on to either the Ultimate Rewards Mall or ShopAtHome, then click through to JCP.
  6. Within JCP’s website, pick out what you need and then pay with your gift card(s). 

Add it up

With the gift cards, you save 25% off of the total purchase (including taxes!).  With the portals, you get back 10% of the pre-tax total.  As an example, in a state with 6% sales tax, your tax-included savings would come to 34.4% (or more if you value Ultimate Rewards points higher than 1 cent each).  You could save even more if you buy your gift cards after clicking through from TopCashBack.

If you’re in the market for clothes, furniture, housewares, etc. this can be a great way to stack discounts for big savings especially if you find items in which JCP already has a competitive price!

Chase's 5/24 Rule: With most Chase credit cards, Chase will not approve your application if you have opened 5 or more cards with any bank in the past 24 months. Some exceptions that are NOT subject to the 5/24 rule include: British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Marriott Business, and Ritz Carlton.

To determine your 5/24 status, see: 3 Easy Ways to Count Your 5/24 Status.
Chase 5/24 semantics ("Subject to" vs. "Count towards"): Most (but not all) Chase cards are subject to the 5/24 rule. That means the rule is enforced in making approval decisions. In other words, you probably won't get approved if your credit report shows that you opened 5 or more cards in the past 24 months. Meanwhile, most business cards (such as those from Chase, Amex, Barclaycard, BOA, Citi, US Bank, and Wells Fargo) are not reported on your personal credit report. These cards do not count towards 5/24.

Examples:

Chase IHG Card is not subject to 5/24 so it's easy to get. But after approval it will count towards your 5/24 total.

Chase Ink Business Preferred is subject to 5/24, so you likely won't get approved if over 5/24. If you do get approved, it won't count towards 5/24 since it won't appear as an account on your credit report.
Amex 5 credit card limit: If you apply for a new Amex credit card, you may get turned down if you already have 5 or more Amex credit cards. Both personal and business cards are counted towards this limit. Charge cards, though, are not counted. You can apparently get as many charge cards as you’d like, and the number of charge cards you have does not affect your ability to get up to 5 credit cards. Authorized user cards are also not counted towards the 5 credit card limit. See also: Which Amex Cards are Charge Cards vs. Credit Cards?
Applying for Business Credit Cards

Yes, you have a business: In order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it's common for people to have businesses without realizing it. If you sell items at a yard sale, or on eBay, for example, then you have a business. Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc. In any of these cases, your business is considered a Sole Proprietorship unless you form a corporation of some sort.

When you apply for a business credit card as a sole proprietor, you can use your own name as your business name, use your own address and phone as the business' address and phone, and your social security number as the business' Tax ID / EIN. Alternatively, you can get a proper Tax ID / EIN from the IRS for free, in about a minute, through this website.

Is it OK to use business cards for personal expenses? Legally, it's fine. And, anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: don't use the card for personal expenses if you're not comfortable doing so.
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are super valuable and super flexible. At the most basic level, points can be redeemed for cash or merchandise, but you'll only get one cent per point value that way. A better option is to use points for travel. When points are used to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal, points are worth 1.25 cents each with premium cards (Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred, for example) or 1.5 cents each with the ultra-premium Sapphire Reserve card. Another great option is to transfer points from a premium or ultra-premium card to an airline or hotel program when high value awards are available (see this post for details). If your points are tied to a no-fee "cash back" Ultimate Rewards card, then first move those points to a premium or ultra-premium card before redeeming them in order to get better value.
Amex Membership Rewards points can be incredibly valuable if you know how to use them. In general, if you use Membership Rewards points to pay for merchandise or travel, you won't get good value from your points. One exception is with the Business Platinum card where you'll get a 35% point rebate when using points to book certain flights. This gives you approximately 1.5 cents per point value, which is pretty good. If you don't have the Business Platinum card, then your best bet is to transfer points to airline miles in order to book high value awards. More details can be found here: Amex Transfer Partners.
Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by the same guy who showed you how to fly round trip to Africa (DC to Senegal) for 50,000 points. You can find John’s website and award booking service here: theflyingmustache.com/awardbooking.
-Greg The Frequent Miler

Chase Application Tips


  • Shut-Down Caution: Signing up for new Chase cards can lead to Chase reviewing your accounts. This may lead to Chase shutting down all of your accounts if you have opened many cards in the past 12 months (10+ cards) and/or if your total credit available across banks far exceeds your annual income.

  • 5/24 Rule: With most Chase cards, you won't get approved if your credit report shows 5 or more cards opened in the past 24 months. Details here.

  • 24 Month Rule: You can get the same card and bonus again 24 months after having received the bonus as long as you no longer have the card open (24 month wait is not required for Ink business cards)

  • 30 Day Rule: It is tough to get approved for more than 2 Chase cards within 30 days

  • Better Offers: You may be able to get a better offer than the best available public offer. Details here.

  • Hard inquiries combine into 1 when approved same day (not always true when mixing business and personal)

Call (888) 338-2586 to check your application status
If denied, call reconsideration here:1-888-270-2127 for both personal and business cards;
or 800-527-7415 for the Ritz card

Caution: Plastiq has announced a temporary change to the way Visa credit cards are handled:
  1. Payments using personal Visa cards issued by Chase will be subject to a lower limit of 20% of your credit limit.
  2. Payments using personal Visa cards from other issuers (other than Capital One) will code as a cash advance. That means you’d incur cash advance fees and wouldn’t earn any credit card rewards.
  3. The following types of Visa cards are not affected by these changes: Capital One personal Visa cards, Visa business credit cards, Visa corporate, debit and prepaid gift cards.
Full details about Plastiq can be found here: Complete Guide to Plastiq credit card payments.

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 »

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21 Comments on "The JCP Double Dip"

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Jon
Guest

What is your experience with buying the gift cards that are sold on eBay listed on giftcardgranny for significant discount?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Jon: I’ve only bought a few gift cards on EBay. Both took a long time to be shipped (about 6 weeks), but otherwise worked out fine. One advantage is that you get 2% back in EBay bucks.

greek2me: People have reported “no” — you can’t upgrade JCP gift cards.

greek2me
Guest

can you upgrade JCP GCs?

Dee Tee
Guest

One more thing, if you buy the GCs with your prepaid Amex, add another 4% to that. This is a very good deal. Do you know if I can combine JCP GC?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dee Tee: Yep, of course that works to get another 4% or so off just about everything so I don’t bother to mention that often. I don’t know if you can combine JCP gift cards. Anyone else?

Dave: See my post “The best portal finder“.

Dave
Guest

Does any one maintain a list of all the different shopping portals?

I know chase has ultimate rewards. Most airlines have one. Citibank has it Thank You portal.

What else? Sometime in the next few months I have my eye on some drapes from pottery barn. It looks like that was once 10X on ultimate rewards from a google search last December.

Joe
Guest

FM: I have a 7% utilization when you compare my total combined credit card debt to my total combined spending limits but I have 40% utilization on a singe card. I know the goal is to keep utilization under 30%. Are they referring to a single card or all of it combined? I’m wondering if I should hold off churning until I get my untilization down for that particular credit card? You must get sick of answering the same kind of questions all day. LOL

FrequentMiler
Guest

Joe: that’s a good question and I honestly don’t know the answer. My guess is that you should keep the utilization low within a bank, but again that’s just my guess. I’d recommend asking Frugal Travel Guy since he used to be in the loan business. Let me know what he says!

Steve: Thanks

chuck: Great!

Steve
Guest

FM and Dee Tee:
During the checkout process, if you click “Yes I would like to use a giftcard” it allows you to input two different gift card numbers.
“Enter your gift card information below. You can use up to two gift cards per order”.

chuck
Guest

I was about to report the JCP success to you. Yes, I used TopCashBack to buy 30% JCP gift card and used the gift card to purchase some items thru URM along with the free shipping code. All points were posted to my Freedom card yesterday!

trackback

[…] 25% off + 10X UR points or 10% cashback at JC […]

Elle
Guest

FM:

Can you explain how using a pre-paid Amex card gets one another 4% off? Tx.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Elle: Read my post “One card to rule them all” for details. The basic idea is this: 1) get a Chase Ink card that gives 5X for office supply purchases; 2) Use Ink card to buy Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot [you get 5X because it is an office purchase, but there is also a .8% fee on $500 cards, hence 4.2% savings]; 3) load the reload card onto an Amex Prepaid card and use the Amex to pay for things.

Elle
Guest

Ah. Gotcha. Very helpful. I have the Chase Ink Bold, so I need to try this out.

Thanks for your speedy reply and amazing, helpful posts!

Jane
Guest

Have a question for you – a few weeks ago I went to the Ultimate Reward Mall (I have a Sapphire card) and purchased about $500 from Kohl’s. I paid with my AmEx card since I had to spend on it. I never got the Ultimate Reward points. I called up yesterday and the Chase representative told me that in order to get the extra points (10 per $) I needed to use my Sapphire card. So it seems like I am out of luck. How can you then use your JCP gift card to pay and get points from the Ultimate Mall?

Jane

FrequentMiler
Guest

Jane: Usually you’ll get points whether you use a Sapphire card or not to pay. Every now and then, though, there is a blip in which UR mall purchases aren’t recorded properly (regardless of whether you use your Sapphire card). When that happens, it can be difficult to get your points. Call Chase again and ask for your points again. If that doesn’t work, call again. Eventually you’ll get a nice rep who will award you the points.

Ted F
Guest

When you say can earn points when paying by gift cards, are these gift cards physical ones or electronic? or both?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ted F: Both, I believe

Tim
Guest