A fantabulous but risky quintuple dip

This week, the stars have aligned to potentially make your holiday shopping much cheaper.  Let’s look at a bunch of deals that stack together.

How to stack these dealsquintuple dip

Assuming you have a Discover It card enrolled in the Double Cash Back offer and you haven’t yet maxed out your $1500 of 5% eligible spend for this quarter, then:

  1. Find the best current portal for shopping at Sears via CashBackMonitor.  Despite its name, CashBackMonitor lists both cash back and points earning portals.
  2. Go through your selected portal to Sears to buy e-gift cards.  Buy a $50 or $100 e-gift card for yourself.  If necessary, call 1-888-396-5299 to expedite the order once you receive an email stating that your order is being reviewed.  It may take a while, but you should receive both a $10 or $20 promo gift card and portal rewards from this transaction.  If you want more than $100 worth, repeat the entire process starting with the portal.
  3. Pay for the gift cards mentioned above with your Discover It card in order to get the 5% category bonus.  When selecting e-gift cards, I recommend picking the blue Sears’ design since there have been some reports of e-gift cards with Kmart designs being sold by Kmart.  If your credit card transaction shows kmart.com rather than sears.com, you won’t earn the Discover 5% category bonus.
  4. Go through a portal to Sears or Kmart to use your gift cards to buy 100% back in SYW points items.  Apply coupons that offer additional SYW rewards.  If all goes well, you’ll earn portal rewards and at least 100% back in SYW Rewards points (often you’ll end up with even more than the gift card value you started with).  This step is contingent upon availability of 100% back in rewards items.  Please see “Roll gift cards into points for triple rewards” for complete details about this step.
  5. Go through a portal to Sears or Kmart to use your SYW points to buy merchandise.  You cannot buy gift cards with points.  You can buy items from Lands End with points, but you won’t earn portal rewards for that transaction.  When paying with SYW Rewards points, if you have a choice of coupons offering a discount or additional points, always choose the coupons offering a discount since you will not earn points on the part of the order paid for with points.

An example with a “safe” portal

At the time of this writing, Splender is offering 7% cash back at Sears and Kmart.  While its true that the terms state “Not eligible on purchase of gift cards as of 11/16/2015” and “Not eligible on online purchase made using Sears Shop Your Way points,” my recent tests have proven otherwise.  Because of the portal’s terms, there is risk in using this portal for those purchases, but it is less risky than Discover Deals (see “risky” portal, below).  The big risk here is the possibility of your purchases not tracking correctly from the portal.  If that happens, you are unlikely to get help from Splender (or any other portal with similar terms) since the terms prohibit getting cash back for buying gift cards or spending Shop Your Way points.

Risks aside, if we assume that all goes well with a portal offering 7% cash back, we can expect the following rewards for a total of $100 spend:

  • Spend $100 for $120 in gift card credit.
    • Pay with Discover It card to get 5% cash back (which is eventually doubled to 10%) = 10% of $100 = $10
    • 7% portal rewards = $7
  • Buy $120 worth of items, pay with your gift cards, and get 100% back in SYW Rewards points:
    • 7% portal rewards = 7% of $120 = $8.40
  • Buy $120 worth of merchandise, pay with SYW Rewards points:
    • 7% portal rewards = 7% of $120 = $8.40

Total returns:

  • Cash back: Discover It $10 + Portal $7 + Portal $8.40 + Portal $8.40 = $33.80
  • Merchandise: $120 worth of miscellaneous items (whatever Sears or Kmart had available for 100% back in rewards)
  • Merchandise: $120 worth of items of your choice

Even if we ignore the value of the miscellaneous 100% back in points items, the above approach means that your final (long term) out of pocket cost for $120 worth of merchandise will be $100 – $33.80 = $66.20.  That’s pretty awesome!

A risky portal (Discover Deals)

The Discover Deals portal currently offers 10% cash back for Sears and Kmart.  Plus, those enrolled in the Double Cash Back offer will eventually get 20% cash back!  That’s hard to ignore.  Unfortunately, there are several risks with this portal:

  1. For Sears and Kmart, the Discover Deals list of exceptions includes “gift card purchases and redemption.”  In my recent tests, I have (after a very long wait) received email confirmations that I will receive Discover Cash Back for purchases of gift cards, purchases made with gift cards, and purchases made with SYW Rewards points.  So, it does not appear that these terms are being enforced, but they are more restrictive than most other portals which do not ban the use of gift cards.
  2. There is evidence that Discover sometimes claws back portal cash back when the Discover card is not used to pay for an order.  See: Quick Tip: Discover claws back portal purchases made with non-Discover cards.  This means that you would risk losing your rewards if you go through this portal and buy items with gift cards or with SYW Rewards points.
  3. The Discover Deals portal has been altogether flakey lately.  See: What’s the deal with Discover Deals?

If we ignore all of the above risks and assume that all goes well with the Discover Deals portal, we can expect the following rewards for a total of $100 spend:

  • Spend $100 for $120 in gift card credit.
    • Pay with Discover It card to get 5% cash back (which is eventually doubled to 10%) = 10% of $100 = $10
    • 10% portal rewards, doubled = $20
  • Buy $120 worth of items, pay with your gift cards, and get 100% back in SYW Rewards points:
    • 10% portal rewards, doubled = 20% of $120 = $24
  • Buy $120 worth of merchandise, pay with SYW Rewards points:
    • 10% portal rewards, doubled = 20% of $120 = $24

Total returns:

  • Cash back: Discover It $10 + Discover Deals $20 + Discover Deals $24 + Discover Deals $24 = $78
  • Merchandise: $120 worth of miscellaneous items (whatever Sears or Kmart had available for 100% back in rewards)
  • Merchandise: $120 worth of items of your choice

Even if we ignore the value of the miscellaneous items, the Discover Deals approach means that your final (long term) out of pocket cost for $120 worth of merchandise will be $100 – $78 = $22.  That’s ridiculously awesome (but risky)!

Mixing and matching portals with moderate risk

I believe that the biggest risk in using the Discover Deals portal is with the possibility of Discover clawing back your rewards because you didn’t pay with your Discover card.  So, one option is to use Discover Deals only for the first “dip” in which you use your Discover card to pay for a gift card.  Then, use another portal, like Splender, for the other steps.  If you want to be really safe, use TopCashBack when spending SYW Rewards points since they do not have a restriction against their use.  Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, TopCashBack payout rates are significantly lower than Splender, so I’ll assume that we go with Splender for the second and third portal “dip”.  Here’s how the math works out:

  • Spend $100 for $120 in gift card credit.
    • Pay with Discover It card to get 5% cash back (which is eventually doubled to 10%) = 10% of $100 = $10
    • 10% portal rewards, doubled = $20
  • Buy $120 worth of items, pay with your gift cards, and get 100% back in SYW Rewards points:
    • 7% portal rewards = 7% of $120 = $8.40
  • Buy $120 worth of merchandise, pay with SYW Rewards points:
    • 7% portal rewards = 7% of $120 = $8.40

Total returns:

  • Cash back: Discover It $10 + Discover Deals $20 + Portal $8.40 + Portal $8.40 = $46.80
  • Merchandise: $120 worth of miscellaneous items (whatever Sears or Kmart had available for 100% back in rewards)
  • Merchandise: $120 worth of items of your choice

Even if we ignore the value of the miscellaneous items, this mixed portal approach means that your final (long term) out of pocket cost for $120 worth of merchandise will be $100 – $46.80 = $53.20.

More risks

In addition to the portal risks discussed above, there are several others you should be aware of:

  • Points Expire:  Unlike gift card credit, SYW Rewards points expire.  Most points expire after a year, but bonus points (the kind you get with those 100% back promotions) usually expire in 90 days or less.  While it is sometimes possible to “roll points” by using them to buy 100% back in points items (as long as you pay at least 1 penny of the total with a credit card or gift card), usually that’s not the case.  With most such deals, points do not roll.  So, be sure to have a plan to use those points!
  • Some items can’t be bought with points: You can never buy gift cards with points (or with gift cards) at sears.com or kmart.com.  Also, many (or maybe all?) marketplace items cannot be purchased with points.
  • Higher Prices:  Sears isn’t known as the most competitive store price-wise. Often its possible to find the same or similar items much cheaper elsewhere.  In those cases you may be able to price-match.  If not, some of the savings accrued from the above steps will be lost due to paying higher prices.
  • No guarantee that 100% back items will be available: Opportunities to buy items for 100% back in points come and go regularly.  And, when they do appear, they often sell out quickly.
  • SYW Rewards points may not be awarded properly: As you checkout, Sears.com and Kmart.com will show you the number of points you should receive for the order.  Unfortunately, they’re not very reliable in actually rewarding that many points.  Make sure to make screen captures in case you need to argue for points after the fact.

What to do with those 100% back in points items

If you follow the steps laid out above, you’ll find your house soon filled with cheap Bluetooth speakers, headphones, cables, etc.  Here are some ideas of what you can do with them:

  1. Use them
  2. Gift them to friends / family (some of these make great stocking stuffers!)
  3. Gift them to charitable organizations (e.g. Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc.)
  4. Sell them

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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Dave
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Dave

Ah yes, the rare quintuple dip. But have you ever don a sextuple dip?

I have.

chimmy
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chimmy

Very nice post, but it would have been prudent to mention that the bonus gift card ($10 / $20) expires at the end of January so those will have to be used up by then.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Does anyone know if the $10/20 bonus gift cards were together with what you purchases? I bought a few Sears $100 gift cards couple days ago, don’t recall receiving the promised promotion. Thank you.

Adam
Guest
Adam

Has anyone had any luck with gift card reloads getting the $20 GC? I processed several transactions but have only received the bonus on two of the transactions.

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

I would be interested in knowing that also. The two that you received….were they reloads?

Adam
Guest
Adam

Charlie, yes the credit I received were both for reloads. The other reloads have still not come in though. Weird…

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[…] For information on how to stack these cards with other opportunities at Sears, see: A fantabulous but risky quintuple dip. […]

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[…] products along with very nice portal bonuses at Sears. Frequent Miler has a great post today about stacking a lot of these opportunities. The techniques he mentions could apply to these gift cards or ones you purchase as part of their […]

Jaden
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Jaden

So I hope this isn’t too much of a newbie question, because despite having done MF for a while now I’ve never really dabbled in the reselling/ 100% points items deals just yet. How do you find items on Sears that are 100% back in points? Is there an easy resource to check to find this stuff?

Any help appreciated as I just checked out for the $100 gift card. I figured this deal was good enough that it was worth a try 🙂 Thanks for the heads up!

Dave
Guest
Dave

Thats a good question. I would like to know also.

Randy
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Randy

Maybe my wife’s right and I need to get a life.

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[…] A fantabulous but risky quintuple dip by Frequent Miler. I don’t have the patience to deal with 100% back SYWR deals, but good opportunity for those that do. […]

ken
Guest
ken

So are we saying that a $100 Sear gc reload done at Sears.com WILL trigger the $20 eReward promo?

hella67ea
Guest
hella67ea

I received a $120 e gift card after making several reload purchases.

Paul
Guest
Paul

My Discover It statement just closed and the $100 Sears GC purchases were categorized as merchandise, so no 5% cash back on them. An in store purchase showed as department store, though.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

That’s bad news… Did you purchase e-gift cards with a Sears logo on? Thanks.

Paul
Guest
Paul

Yes, Sears e gift card with the standard design. The in store purchase I made shows as Sears Roebucks, dept store. The online ones show as Sears.com, merchandise.

ken
Guest
ken

I just received (5PM Dec 18) my first eReward Certificate email today. Email heading was “$xxx eAward Card to Thank You for your Sears.com purchase” . The amount of $20’s appears to coincide with the purchases – both for a mixture of $100 egc’s AND $100 reloads, that I made Dec 11 to Dec 15 inclusive.
The eReward certificate does clearly say it has to be used by 31 Jan 2016. So, as others had suggested above – RELOADS ARE INCLUDED in this great deal.

This will allow me to focus on using my HIGC (bought from OD @ 5x UR with Chase Ink, or 5% cb with Amex OBC at HEB supermarkets in Texas) reloading of Sears GC’s I have around (which the csr’s at Sears prefer to simply swipe at the POS), rather than purchasing a whole bunch of more $100 egc’s which are a bain for csr’s to have to key in at the POS.) As Greg says – this deal really is fatabulous! I use Cartera portal to eanter Sear.com – which has been 6x AA miles/ $ for the last couple of days.

After purchase of $200 vgc’s or mgc’s at Sears IF THE CSR’s ALLOW, I’m up $21.52 cash and 600 AA miles on each $100 spent!!! (assumes a conservative UR 1 point = 1c if you buy HIGC’s @ OD)

Josh
Guest
Josh

There’s probably no way to definitively prove this, but I’ve always wondered if Discover Deals accepts the HIGC as a Discover card. If they were to audit for usage of non-Discover cards, would the HIGC pass the test?

Between my wife and I, we have 4 Discover cards. Only one of them is earning double cash back for the first year though, so I use its Discover Deals portal for all 4 cards. I assume that’s OK because they’re all Discover cards but it will be interesting to see if it ever gets flagged.

anthonyjh21
Guest
anthonyjh21

Surprised Greg or anyone else hasn’t thrown out the option of flipping the Sears gift cards through exchange sites. 16% loss on the card essentially turns the $20 ecode cards into the profit.

I’m probably in the minority but I’m not willing to invest my time into the SYW system and finding these deals to get free stuff that will already clutter up a full house or deal with reselling items that takes more time on its own. Gift cards on the other hand are silly easy to flip.

Call me stupid but I’m most likely to buy with Discover and the DCB + Upromise 10%, flip the cards and then use the (hopefully) single promotional gift card for something I need, Craftsman branded or maybe a week wacker. Sorry if my perspective on this isn’t sexy but that’s my angle.

ken
Guest
ken

anthonyjh21 – Not sure why you would want to save the promotional eReward gc for an actual purchase of merchandize, as it can be used to buy $200 vgc’s just like any other sears egc (YMMV depending on the csr – Sundays are always best). The only difference is the eReward gift card has a redemption date of end January latest.

anthonyjh21
Guest
anthonyjh21

Because my time is too valuable to drive 20 minutes to the closest Sears and perform a (highly) YMMV transaction. Simply put, YMMV gift card runs at B&M locations and myself do NOT mix well. I find it to be an overall waste of time more often than not. Sure, you’ll sometimes find me doing exactly this, but it’s no where near as often as many do and I only do it if it’s worthwhile. To spend an hour (and gas) to try to convert a $200 sears ecard into another gift card that still has to be liquidated? No thanks.

And no, I’m not too good for it. It’s a matter of life balance and underwear MS’ing being more valuable from an hourly perspective. As I stated, there’s definitely situations where this works out great for some people so I’m not bashing you if you opt to do that. Obviously many do and I’m in fact going against the norm here.

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[…] December, I published “A fantabulous but risky quintuple dip.”  Those with Discover It cards that were enrolled in the Double Cashback promotion, had an […]