Target’s 4 Mile Moment

Last Tuesday, thanks to a tip from SteelSnow, I wrote “Breaking News: Today only buy Target gift cards 10% off!”  Target gift cards are usually quite valuable so this was an amazing deal, but there was a lot more going on than a simple 10% discount…

I didn’t put details in my post, but people over on SlickDeals had a great scheme going.  They were buying Target e-gift cards for 10% off and then using them to buy more e-gift cards for 10% off, and so on!  In other words, they had a great perpetual money machine going while it lasted. 

I call this Target’s “4 Mile Moment” because it reminds me of United’s 4 mile mistake fare from a couple of weeks ago.  In that case, United had a programming glitch in which people were able to book first class flights to Hong Kong in exchange for only 4 miles.  In this case, I think Target’s marketing department simply hadn’t realized how this promotion could backfire.  In the heat of the moment, United stopped their bleeding by temporarily blocking all award flight redemptions to Hong Kong.  Later, they canceled all bookings that began more than a week out.  Target stopped their bleeding in three ways:

  1. Target delayed delivery of e-gift cards until the next day (when the sale was over).  Their web site promises delivery “usually within 4 hours”.  They were saved by the word “usually.”  I thought this was a smart move by Target.
  2. Target also imposed a 10 item limit clause that was apparently buried in some document somewhere.  Most people who ordered more than 10 items had their extra orders canceled without explanation.  Some people were lucky enough to have more than 10 orders go through.
  3. Most gift cards were out of stock before the day was through.  I can’t figure out how anyone can run out of e-gift cards, but that’s what happened. 

Personally, I found both United’s and Target’s mistakes to be great fun regardless of how they turned out.  All three of my United trips were canceled.  With Target I did better.  I had more than $1000 of Target gift cards at home in preparation for other experiments, so I used them to buy 14 $100 e-gift cards and 1 $100 physical card.  5 of the e-gift card orders were canceled, but still I was able to turn $900 worth of gift cards (that I had bought at a discount previously) into $1000 worth of new gift cards.  Nice!

How did you do?


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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18 Comments on "Target’s 4 Mile Moment"

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Hard to view Target as the loser here, as they’re now sitting on all of this prepaid revenue…


Ivan: If Target had allowed the perpetual money machine to continue they would have lost out big time, but they were pretty quick to stop the bleeding.

Rapid Travel Chai

I bought some gift cards for legitimate spend at Target and glad they honored them. Spinning for perpetual money crossed the line for me and I have no problem with them shutting that down.


Rapid Travel Chai: Same here. I knew about the trick, but didn’t publish it until it was dead because it just seemed wrong.


I just bought 1 Target card. There is no Target stores nearby, so I didn’t want to sit on all these gift cards.


I bought one gc which isn’t great but will be 10% off on school supply shopping.


I love your blog but I’d be careful, if I were you, using the word ‘scam’ (especially when you participated) on a high profile blog such as yours to describe the rolling of gift cards. It’s something that Target permitted and previously permitted in the past and is not much different than a lot of your ideas. Using that word will officially kill these deals for all of us in the future. I would edit your post if I were you.


I bought 6 of them (4 electronic, 2 physical). I dumped the electronic ones at card pool (+Plas Jungle) for break even. I’ll probably spend the two. This was a first foray into this kind of thing and I am kicking myself for not going bigger since target GC are so close to cash.

I am trying to meet spend on 2xAA cards and I mostly didn’t want to piss off Citi. I could have grabbed a few thousand hyatt/hilton/marriot points too though.

I also thought of keeping the electronic ones since we shop there, but ultimately decided the all AOR will have spend to meet too, so no need to be carrying inventory. Also, my wife does most of the shopping there and I complicate her wallet enough.


Typos – Err fall AOR (not all AOR). And Top Cash link to cardpool, not plastic jungle.


I hit a home run scoring 27 $100 physical gift cards for $92.07 each. Selling them to Cardpool 5 at a time so I feel comfortable just using their free envelopes. Might keep 2 for real spending and hit my 3K I needed on a AA business card.


I think I am going to sue Target because they discriminated against me because I am obviously slow!

I bought a Panera GC card at Office max yesterday when I got my kids new backpacks for a penny each (after rebates into office maxperks account). I think this is one of the few GCs I ever bought:-)


$1600 in physical gift cards for me. out of my 17 physical GC transactions and 1 e-GC, I cancelled my e-GC myself (got tired of waiting, wasn’t 100% sure on transferability to store credit) and Target cancelled ONE of my physical GC purchases. I don’t get why they cancelled only ONE instead of 7…but whatever


Personally, when no deception or artifice is involved, I think the term “deal” is the most fitting.

I came in at the closing of the deal. 1 regular gift card and 2 “foam finger” gift cards (the last part of the offer to be shut down).

Ozaer N.

DOH! always…I just see the caboose pass by


Managed to snag 25 gc’s through this offer. Originally bought all 25 via e-gift cards, however, 15 were cancelled. Sounds like I was luck because I called into CS right after the orders were cancelled, and they allowed me to re-submit the orders (they could not find anything in the T&C’s that limited 10 gc’s a day). I resubmitted all 15 for physical gift cards, then also turned the remaining 10 e-cards into physical cards the next day. Selling them all to ABC gift cards and making about $50 on the deal.


I didn’t know about the slick deals.
I just bought 20 GC @ 10% off.
None cancelled.
Sold it, made some money.
Used the profit to buy a new coffee machine. ^^y

I just want to meet minimum spent requirement.

If you have a Fry’s around you, there’s a bunch of FREE AFTER REBATE Software this week


Interesting … If you bought $1000 worth of gift cards at 10% off, and then used the card to buy more cards at 10% off, presuming no transaction fee, and you repeated that 70 times, you would turn $1000 into $1,000,000. If you did it 70 more times you’d end up with a Billion Dollars. Sweet deal if you can get it!