A tempting resale deal that I’ll pass on

This morning, Greg published a post about the Top 3 ways to earn uncapped profit buying Visa gift cards. When I first got into this game, Manufactured Spending didn’t appeal to me because I hadn’t found those profitable opportunities and didn’t want to pay to MS. I didn’t like paying for points because I had been reselling for years and earning a profit plus points.

Also this morning, a number of new Amex Offers came out offering an extra 1 point per dollar at many different merchants with expiration dates varying throughout the rest of the year and one of them was for Neiman Marcus, a store I used to buy from quite a bit. That caught my eye because Neiman Marcus is also currently at 12% back on Ebates, which means you could alternatively get 12 Membership Rewards points per dollar. If you stack the two, you’re looking at a minimum of 14 Membership Rewards points per dollar (or maybe more depending on which card you use). That brought back memories because I used to resell stuff from NM quite a bit (and I’ve written about it before). Here’s an example of one I won’t try and recommend that you don’t, either. But it might be useful in leading you to other things (I’m not at all holding back some major secret here — just figured it might inspire someone to give something a shot).

Double Dip dead?

As I said, several years back, I did a lot of buying and selling with Neiman Marcus. Part of that was because, for years, you could double dip. For those unfamiliar, this means that I was able to go through a shopping portal and buy a Neiman Marcus gift card and earn rewards….and then go through the portal again and use the gift card to earn rewards again. That opportunity burned up in flames when Amex ran an Amex Offer in early 2017 and portals clawed back rewards on those who bought gift cards. My last attempt with NM was in August 2017 and my gift card purchase did not track for cash back.

All that is to say that I don’t think a double dip would work. Furthermore, gift card fulfillment isn’t immediate. I found that if I ordered before 1pm Eastern time, gift cards were usually delivered the same day, but they were otherwise delivered the next business day. So even if it did work, you wouldn’t receive gift cards in time to double dip today with the Ebates 12x deal.

Gift Card “event” alive and well

What originally attracted me to NM was the combination of the double dipping and these regular “gift card events” they run. They’re running one right now:

There are several different types of these, but the one running today is pretty common: spend $X, get a gift card good for $Y. I always went for the top end — spend $2K, get $500.

The $500 gift card is given as a “promotional gift card” that is issued 8 weeks after purchase (and in my experience that is almost spot-on accurate and Neiman Marcus sends *so many* emails that it can be easy to miss this email if you’re not looking out for it). The promo gift card expires about 2 months after it is issued.

Sometimes, these events have some additional requirements — like that you buy a women’s apparel item or a men’s apparel item or something, but other times (like right now), you just have to hit the spending target. I prefer this type of event. When they require an apparel purchase, I’ll usually buy something cheap (less than $20), but one time that item ended up getting canceled because they ran out of stock and I did not get my gift card because of it. I much prefer when I just have to hit the spending target with no extra shenanigans.

An item you shouldn’t resell

Do as I say, not as I do, OK?

Years ago, I used to buy and sell Bang & Olufsen headphones and bluetooth speakers. It was magical: the high-end ones sold for exactly $400 (not $399.99 or something that would require a cheap filler they could cancel and screw up my order as above). They were $400 each, so I’d buy 5 for $2K exactly and ensure that I’d get a $500 gift card down the line. The short version of the story is that I was selling the headphones/speakers for $398 on Amazon and netting about $362 after fees & shipping. Even if I only cleared $350, that would mean I’d get $1750 of my $2K back immediately and then get a $500 gift card in 2 months. As long as I got more than $250 out of whatever I bought with that card, I was ahead of the game and printing free points (the only cost was my time, anyway).

Sometimes, they would limit you to using the code once per email address / name / shipping address. My parents’ former neighbor’s formerly living dog may or may not still get Neiman Marcus catalogs delivered in his name.

And so today, my eyes wandered back to B&O. I said do not do as I do because I eventually stopped reselling B&O stuff. Without getting into much detail about that here, I just don’t recommend it to people anymore. But it makes for a good example, so here goes one that isn’t as perfect as my old $2K orders:

The above Beoplay E8 in-head headphones sell for $350 on NeimanMarcus.com. Coincidentally, they also sell for $350 on Amazon.com:

I haven’t looked these up on eBay or read much about them. I don’t know that they are worth $350, but the fact is that this was the precise type of situation when I was selling their headphones: they sold for the same price on Amazon, which (at the time) meant that I could undercut it by a dollar and get on the product page and sell them quickly. Again, you may not be able to sell these new on Amazon at all any more (I did not check as this post is more about the idea than it is about this specific example).

Let’s say you were able to clear $300 per pair after all is said and done. This is how it would work out:

  • Buy 6 pairs at $350 each today for $2,100. Earn at least 29,400 Membership Rewards points (12x through Ebates and at least 2x with a card synced with the extra point offer at NM)
  • Sell 6 pairs at $300 net each, get $1,800.

So far you’re down $300 and received 29,400 Membership Rewards points. In about 8 weeks, you’ll get a $500 gift card. You should go through a portal when you use it. It’s very likely that you’ll be able to earn 10x or more when you use it as those types of payouts are common at NM. But let’s say you get even 4x when using the gift card. Here’s how that works out:

  • Buy 1 more pair at $350. Earn at least 1,400 points at 4x
  • Sell 1 more pair at $300 net, get $300.

At this point, you’d theoretically have your initial $2,100 back ($1800 from selling the first 6 pairs and $300 from the pair you bought with the gift card) and you would have earned 30,800 Membership Rewards points (or possibly more). And you’d still have $150 on your NM promo gift card to use to buy yourself something nice.

Even better, you may get lucky and they may run another gift card event when you get your $500 gift card (it happens more often than you’d expect). On a day like today, if you used your $500 git card to buy that $350 pair of headphones plus a $150 something-nice and you’ll get another $125 gift card in 2 months to buy something nice for someone else.

Alternatively, they often run sales like $100 off of $400 or something like that and you could stack one of those deals.

But remember that’s not a good idea

I’ll say again that I don’t really recommend you do that with Bang & Olufsen stuff specifically as the company doesn’t (or at least didn’t) seem to appreciate people reselling their stuff. So today, if you see me on an airplane, I probably have a nice looking pair of over-the-ear bluetooth B&O headphones on. And there’s probably a wired pair in my bag for my wife. And a set of earbuds still in the box in my den. Fear not — I moved a lot more than I got stuck with, so c’est la vie.

However, I post this because I eventually moved on to other products from Neiman Marcus. Some of them worked out OK (I bought some weird electric tea kettle that was hundreds of dollars and it sold OK and I bought many Coravins and did similarly OK on those with the gift card events, but not great). Some of them are still collecting dust in my reselling hall of shame (which is just a spare bedroom full of resale items I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to sell since they didn’t go easily the first time around).

I haven’t shopped much at Neiman Marcus for a long time, but if you bought $2K worth of stuff today and $500 with the gift card down the line, you just have to find stuff you can sell for about 80% of its face value and you’re picking up a “free” ~30K points with this deal. I put free in quotation marks because it’s not free: you’ve got time cost and both the risk of items not reselling and the risk of the manufacture buying items and opening them to return used or broken…or something like that. So be careful out there.

Bottom line

I’ve often said that I try to look for resale opportunities where other people aren’t. If you buy that iPad that’s on sale at Best Buy and everyone on earth is writing about and buying, you’re probably going to get stuck selling it for less than you want because the price suddenly gets competed down (or you’ll have to be patient and hold onto it hoping that Apple doesn’t announce the new model before prices rise). If you buy the weird $400 electric tea kettles at Neiman Marcus, you’re either going to sell it easily (because the person shopping for that thing really wants it) or you’re going to end up wearing it on the airplane. There’s a risk, but I recommend starting with one or two of something you can hopefully return if it doesn’t go well and working your way up if you’re interested in reselling. It’s not for everyone, but deals like this make it possible to earn enough points in one shot to make it interesting and with fewer trips to stand in line waiting to buy money orders. Which is something I do my fair share of also, but I sometimes miss the old days.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Gabe
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Gabe

Thanks for sharing Nick. I thought I was the only one procrastinating getting rid of old/resale stuff. I still find $1 coins under my couch pillows.

DaveC
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DaveC

A family member’s AMEX Plat has a $40/200 (or something similar) AMEX offer. From the FM Lab, looks like buying gift cards doesn’t activate the offer anymore.

Dave
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Dave

Always circle back with your losing items. Quite a few times I have bought the same items on Black Friday as every other reseller, then the price tanks and 100 folks are selling. On a back shelf they go. I get back to them next year, assuming I need to dump them or find another selling venue. Lo and behold, nobody is selling them and the price is higher than full retail was before the sales! Time may not heal all wounds but it can surprise your bottom line sometimes.
I resell for a living, points/cashback is all gravy.

Max
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Max

Oh how I laughed – I turned to my wife and said “these are my people!” Thanks for the hilarious and informative post.

Nicole
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Nicole

love this post. really makes me nostalgic for the days (not so long ago, mind you) where everyone I knew and their moms – literally – were sent bouquets of flowers 🙂

tro
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tro

Nice post. I have no intentions to get into reselling at this point in my life, but I still find it interesting to understand the mechanics of how others make it work.