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Last updated on March 27th, 2019

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julius
Guest
julius

just wondering: have you (has anyone) tried to setting-up a PIN on a CHASE gift cards? please advise.

FrequentMiler
Guest

jim: You can drain Target Amex cards via ATMs, Amazon Payments, Google Wallet, etc. It’s definitely not the easiest option for manufacturing spend. I much prefer buying Vanilla Reload cards and loading Bluebird.

julius: I haven’t tried, but others have reported success with Chase gift cards.

grapes
Guest
grapes

Hi FM,

After checking your post “The hunt for perfect GCs, Part 2,” I picked up three $200 GCs at Office Depot. 20-30 minutes later, I headed into Walmart and used their Money Center ATM to reload my BB with the 3 GCs.

I was unable to do so 🙁 After entering my PIN (which apparently can be whatever I want, like you said), the transaction was declined.

I logged onto the vanillavisa.com site on my phone and saw the following (error) message under transactions:

INCOMM 970200 Denied : Delayed Redemption $200.00

Any ideas on what this means? I’m gonna try again tonight after work but am hoping for your insight. Thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

grapes: I don’t know. It might simply be that not enough time went by after buying the card so that it wasn’t fully activated yet.

grapes
Guest
grapes

Hi FM, I called the Vanilla Visa number on the back of the GC and the CSR told me that it usually takes 1-2 hours for the funds to be available for use, and can take up to 24 hours. Went to WM after work (and about 6 hours after I had initially purchased the GCs at OD) and the reloads went through on the Money Center ATM without a hitch.

Might be a good note to include in your “Hunt for Perfect GCs” posts! Thanks 🙂

Cyclops
Guest
Cyclops

I saw variable load Vanilla Mastercards at CVS today.
Any word on how the PIN works for them.

FrequentMiler
Guest

grapes: thanks for the update
Cyclops: I don’t know. In general I’ve had good luck with Visa gcs so I’m not sure why one would want to risk getting the MasterCards?

Victor
Guest
Victor

Just picked up a $500 Visa giftcard from Kroger. I noticed that i got 2X fuel points for 2X fuel point weekends promotion. Usually, I only get 1X for this type of giftcard… the machine also spit out a note saying that a 4X fuel point starts on May 30th… looks like a good deal for those to live close to a Kroger and Wally..

jim
Guest
jim

Dear FM

I signed up for go bank and in the final page, it asks me how I want to make a deposit. I selected debit and used my visa debit gift card to deposit $50 but it didn’t work. It seems that I completed the sign up process even without the online initial deposit. But it didn’t tell me if and when I will receive the GO BANK CARD. Will I receive a physical card?
It says

You chose our free standard card. Once you make your initial deposit, we’ll drop your card in the mail (woohoo!)

How do I make initial deposit when I don’t have the GO BANK card? I tried DEBIT to load $50 but it didn’t work online. Looks like I am not getting the card in mail?

FrequentMiler
Guest

jim: Do you have a regular debit card that you can use to do the initial load? I’m surprised the Visa gc didn’t work. You could always email their support team to ask if you’ll be sent a card or if there are other ways you can do the initial load.

alexi
Guest
alexi

FM: 7/11s in my area are stocking Vanilla reloads all of a sudden. Do you have any strategy for category bonus’ in the convenience store categories? I can’t find any leads on this. Thanks. Love your work.

FrequentMiler
Guest

alexi: Do you know if they allow you to pay with a credit card? If so, I remember another blogger writing about a rewards program that pays out for 7-11 purchases. I’ll have to dig that up.

Alexi
Guest
Alexi

FM, credit cards are accepted at most but all 7/11s in my area ( portland Oregon). I love not having to go to Walmart to load my bluebird. This would be an awesome addition to 5x everywhere ethos. But a tough one!

Alexi
Guest
Alexi

Clarification. Credit cards are accepted for VR purchase.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Alexi: That’s great. I’ll have to check out my local 7-11 again.

Ozaer N.
Guest

FM: I picked up two Chase GC at $500 each ; went to wal*mart to load BB….one went through, but the other didn’t. I checked the Chase GC that didn’t and its all okay, so I’m guessing i hit a snag with BB…did I push a limit or something? I had $5.00 in my BB acct before trying to dump these gift cards into my BB account.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ozaer N: Sometimes there are hiccups with loads at Walmart, especially at the machines. If you try again with a cashier it will probably work.

jkl
Guest
jkl

anybody having problems purchasing visa gcs at walmart.com using walmart gift card? had my last 4 orders cancelled immediately, they wont explain why either.

MSPDeltaDude
Guest
MSPDeltaDude

Lowes and ITunes $50 giftcards for $45 at Michaels Crafts

Valid until June 15th.

Ad in paper said limit 4 per transaction per day, but they didn’t enforce it on me.

dubaych
Guest
dubaych

Did you know — should I have known? — that Chase Freedom Rewards are automatically retroactive? As someone who doesn’t pay a lot of attention, or who pays attention to the wrong things, I forgot to register for the Q2 bonus rewards but still intentionally put a lot of spend at restaurants on my Freedom. Today I discovered my oversight and SM’ed Chase to see if they would be understanding. They said:

I see that your account was previously not enrolled for the 5% cash back promotion. However, your account is now enrolled for the same.

I do see qualifying transactions made at restaurants since April 2013. Since, the points earned through this
promotion are retroactive you will earn points for all the charges made in the qualifying category since, April 2013. The points will post to your account in the next bill.

[Me again]: so even if it’s the end of the window, make sure you enroll!

dubaych
Guest
dubaych

Oh, never mind, common knowledge: enthusiasm outpaced browsing.

Erik
Guest
Erik

FM – I’ve backed off the reload game since the demise of VR’s at OD. Just noticed that the Chase Freedom is offering 5x at gas stations next quarter and was considering burning my $1,500 allowance there for reloads. Any suggestions for cards to grab and gas station locations in the A2 area that load to Bluebird?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Erik: I’m not aware of a gas station in AA that sells reloads, but you can buy Vanilla Visas at Speedway. Those can be loaded to Bluebird at Walmart.

Deb W
Guest
Deb W

Trying to meet the spend requirement of a new American Express Business Gold Rewards Card. It’s amazing how many places DON’T take AMEX. The fine print says “To be eligible to earn additional points, you must be enrolled in the Membership Rewards program at the time of purchase and you must charge $5,0000 of eligible purchases** during the first 3 months of membership ….

**Elibile Purchase …does NOT include fees….purchase of American Express Travelers Cheques, American Express Gift Cheques or other cash equivalents.”

My questions are:
– Am I automatically enrolled in Membership Rewards program or is there something I have to do (I didn’t see any mention of a signup on receipt of card)?
– Are Vanilla One cards counted as “cash equivalents”?

Thanks.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Deb W: yes, you are automatically enrolled. Despite the T&C, you will be fine to buy reload cards or gift cards (including Vanilla gift cards). In practice, all such purchases count.

PointsObsession
Guest
PointsObsession

Lowes is gone from the Ultimate Rewards Mall?

FrequentMiler
Guest

PointsObsession: Yep, Lowe’s disappeared, but they’re back now.

maryjane
Guest
maryjane

Am Exp gift cards are now eligible for pins to buy online and pay bills online. For personal reasons I would like to be able to load them to something to pay large bills, like tuition. Bluebird doesn’t accept AM EXp gift cards even with PINS, neither does Amazaon payments. Does anybody know anybody else?

FrequentMiler
Guest

maryjane: I’m not aware of any ability to add pins to Amex gift cards. Even if they did have PINs, they couldn’t be used as debit cards because they run on a different network from Visa/MC.

Amazon Payments does allow Amex gift cards though.

Mary Jane
Guest
Mary Jane

DEar FM, Yes, Am EXp gift cards now can be registered over the phone and can be used for online purchases and bills.I tried to load an AMEXp gift card that I had regiestered to Bluebird at Walmart but no success. I will double check Amazon Payments again but I didn’t think you could load a registered Am EX gift card to Amazon payments. By the way, I signed up my husband on two of the Chase cards on your referral page last week. Thanks, mj

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mary Jane: It was always possible to register Amex gift cards over the phone for online purchases, but not to get a PIN. Yes, Amazon payments works. Thanks for using my links!

Ken
Guest
Ken

Re your June 25th Posting on CC’s to keep and those not – Where are the Amex SPG cards in your wallet, both personal and business versions. How can you be a FF blogger without the best card in the market for value and flexibility – right up there with the Chase Ink Bold/ Plus Cards? Amex SPG is a major keeper for me.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ken: For many people, I agree that the SPG cards are among the best. For me, I try to focus on cards that offer 5X returns for day to day spend, and I tend to use my Delta cards for non bonus spend in order to keep high level Delta elite status. And, I don’t chase status with SPG, so the extra stays/nights that the cards offer don’t matter to me.

S Brown
Guest
S Brown

Do you get more value from charging something on a Capital One card that gives 2x per $1 spent, or on a Chase card that gives 1 regular reward point per $1 spent?

Mary Jane
Guest
Mary Jane

What a great article on AmEX Target,FM!Quite frankly, your thoroughness is amazing.You had to be an analyst in a former life.All my questions were answered.

FrequentMiler
Guest

S Brown: There’s no easy answer to your question. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points can be worth as little as 1 cent per point to well over 10 cents per point depending upon how you use them. If you plan to use points for cash back or to buy merchandise, then you’ll do much better with Capital One points (which are worth a penny each). If you use Ultimate Rewards points for certain high value travel redemptions you’ll do better that way.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mary Jane: Thanks!

Carole Felberbaum
Guest
Carole Felberbaum

After a 61/2 hour delay, in Chicago, en route to Bejing, United offered me a choice of 10,000 miles, a $250 voucher (good for a year) or a 20% discount on an economy fair. Which one is worth the most? Thanks.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Carole Felberbaum: It really depends on your situation as to which is best. If you are sure you would use the $250 voucher, then I would pick that over the miles (because I wouldn’t usually buy miles for 2.5 cents each). I would only pick the 20% discount if I knew I was going to buy a very expensive ticket. If you are unsure of your future plans, then go for the miles because they won’t expire as long as you have activity in your MileagePlus account.

Mary Jane
Guest
Mary Jane

Dear FM!Happy 4th of July! I couldn’t find my answers in your achives so I’ll pose them here: 1)Can Target AMEX prepaid cards be reloaded with anything other than AMEX gift cards? 2)IF you charge on your bluebird card, does it go through like any othere AMEXp card.My son’s tuition takes AMEXp and I can’t afford to load up bb and then not have the transaction go thru.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mary Jane:
1) Yes, you can use any credit card to reload Target Amex prepaid cards.
2) Yes, Bluebird transactions look to the merchant exactly like any other Amex card. That said, why not use a regular points earning credit card? I think that Bluebird is best used for bills that can’t be paid by credit card.

Caz
Guest
Caz

It is getting more difficult to find Vanilla Prepaid ReLoad cards. Which is the Vanilla card I should use for downloading to Bluebird at Walmart – the OneVanilla or the MyVanilla? CVS seems to have a new, huge supply of MyVanilla, which is only $3.95. Thanks. I have three new credit cards to satisfy the three month spend.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Caz: See my old post “The many flavors of Vanilla“. Vanilla Reload cards cost $3.95 and can be loaded to Bluebird at home over the internet. Vanilla Visa cards typically cost $4.95 and can only be loaded to Bluebird at Walmart.

Caz
Guest
Caz

Thanks for the speedy reply. I believe that the MyVanilla Visa is new and and it is only $3.95. Will I be able to use it in Walmart to load my Bluebird account?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Caz: Sorry, you’re right, MyVanilla Visa prepaid cards came out in September last year (see My Vanilla finally appears). Yes, you should be able to use those to load Bluebird. The trick is that I think you have to register those first whereas regular OneVanilla gift cards ($4.95) don’t have to be registered.

Y. Jiang
Guest

Hi FM,
I was able to confirm that the 711 corporate policy is that VRs are for debit card only. But if the cashier is willing to try it for you, the transaction will go through.
Also, anything above 2 cards will always be declined.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Y. Jiang: Thanks, yes that is consistent with what I’ve found recently at a nearby 7-eleven

LaDell Carter
Guest
LaDell Carter

Recently my family and I took a trip that originated from JFK and made multiply stops in Europe-we had 6 roundtrip mileage tickets for Venice with Delta..

I purchased enternal flights from Venice to Olbia ( I was trying to get to Porto Cervo). Nevertheless I purchased the tickets through Delta, but was scheduled with their co-share: Air one.

When I arrived in VCE I spent 6 hrs between the two airlines trying to locate the tickets ( total nightmare). Initially, Delta reservations had to rebook the tickets twice. After I contacted Air one and was advised our itenary didn’t exist. Finally I was told that the current tickets were now valid ( but they weren’t ).

A Delta agent was able to switch the electronic tickets to print at the VCE airport, which allowed us to board after mere horror and 6 hrs. But on the return ( from OLB to VCE) I incurred the same problem. Frantic, as it is only one flight departure per day, I was forced to purchase 5 tickets triple the cost. Only 5 tickets because I had one return print ticket for one of the passengers, which was printed on the departure from VCE ( the agent was unable to print all 6).

Compensation:

Delta refunded all but $315 and wants to offer me a credit voucher of $300 per passenger ( remember they are still unable to refund the last $315 dollars, some accounting issue). I have $1000 dollar phone bill from calling Delta for help ( the Delta phone agent stated, ” either purchase new tickets or you’ll be stranded.”

I’m unhappy with this compensation, what do you think?

FrequentMiler
Guest

LaDell Carter: That sounds like quite a nightmare! Try contacting Delta in multiple ways to see if any of them get you to someone who can help. This page has contact details: http://elliott.org/contacts/delta-air-lines/

Mitch
Guest
Mitch

Hi FM,

Quick question in your experience with buying merchandise from Kohls. If you go through your ultimate rewards portal and then return the merchandise do you get to keep the points?

So far I’ve done this 2x and they haven’t taken back the PTs. Just wondering if they will eventually. It’s been a month.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mitch: Yes, I believe that you keep the points. I don’t recommend this as a general strategy though. It seems inevitable that Kohl’s will catch on and stop it (or go out of business)

Dave Golden
Guest
Dave Golden

Is this something to get excited about? It is a bit vague, but could be HUGE.

http://www.officedepot.com/a/products/365388/VANILLA-VISA-METALLIC-200/?cm_mmc=Affiliates-_-CJ-_-1122587-_-11263938

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave Golden: I’m pretty sure its a mistake that it is listed online so I don’t think they’ll actually honor any of these orders. On the other hand, I ordered some just in case!

Deb
Guest
Deb

I’m thinking about going to Washington State late September (flying Southwest from Michigan). Any suggestions for getting a rental car with open-jaw cities? Maybe pickup in Spokane and drop off in Seattle.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Deb: For one-way rentals, sometimes the best bet is to use car rental awards (free days, etc.). If you don’t have any rewards, then after checking the best offers for regular rentals (via kayak, Costco travel, Ultimate Rewards mall), checkout U-Haul. Sometimes it is much cheaper to rent a small U-Haul truck one-way than a car!

caz
Guest
caz

The best website for car rentals is Costco. Book it and then keep checking back. It will go down considerably about a week before you leave. Cancel and then book again.

Deb
Guest
Deb

Great ideas on the car rental. Thanks!

jim
Guest
jim

My wife finally got the Club carlson visa signature card.

This card gives 5 points per dollar everywhere right?

Is this good for buying VRs? I mean worth doing VR purchases? Or the point is not too valuable and not worth it?
Any cases of punishment for large purchases?
something like FR from amex?
Thanks

FrequentMiler
Guest

jim: I’ve never heard of any trouble with US Bank / Club Carlson card but you never know. Using it to buy VR can make sense if you plan to stay often at Club Carlson properties and will make use of the Club Carlson card’s 2 nights for the price of one award benefit.

bob s
Guest
bob s

Can you research what is happening with CVS VR purchases.
I have been in my Boston area CVS twice in the last 2 days and after the first VR load, the cash register asks for your license and the clerk uses the cash register scanner to scan the back of my license.

So buying one eliminates that but doubles the number of visits to max out the BB card.

Any idea what CVS is tracking or using the data for.

Worth publishing about as you are the VR go to guru

FrequentMiler
Guest

Bob s: I’ll see what happens next time I buy from CVS

Caz
Guest
Caz

CVS always looks at my license, but never scans it. Caz in NJ.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I recently made a couple purchases from Kohls through the Ultimate Rewards mall. I used a gift card and a Kohl’s charge and applied 30% off. I thought that I had read you had success getting the points doing this.

After a back and forth through the secure message center, I received this email from Chase:

Thank you for taking the time to contact us again
regarding the Ultimate Rewards Mall.

Please note that bonus points are awarded typically within
3-5 business days but can take up to 45 days and post upon
shipment of the product.

Your order confirmation page does show that you used a 30%
discount coupon which may deem your purchase ineligible
for bonus points however at this time, we do ask that you
allow the necessary timeframe before we can fully
determine if your purchase will be eligible for bonus
points.

Kohl’s Ultimate Rewards Mall Disclaimer:
Not eligible on purchases made with coupon or discount
codes that are not found on this site. Not eligible on
gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash
equivalents, including portion of sale made with Kohl’s
Cash. Kohl’s cares merchandise is not eligible. Any
return, exchange or other adjustment made at a physical
store location for an on-line purchase may result in your
purchase being deemed ineligible for reward.

If you have any further questions, please reply using the
Secure Message Center.

Thank you,

Rebeca Fierros
Senior Service Specialist
1-847-488-5837
M-F 6:00am-2:30pm CST

What did I do wrong??

FrequentMiler
Guest

Brian: you didn’t do anything wrong. It is true that the terms & conditions say those things, but in practice we usually earn points anyway. The problem is that if anything goes wrong with tracking your order, it is very hard to get Chase to help you since your order didn’t meet the terms & conditions. Despite what Chase told you, there is still an excellent chance that points will show up in your account. It has happened many times before where Chase has said “too bad” but points have appeared anyway.

jettyboy
Guest
jettyboy

Hi FM,

Any thoughts on maximizing miles on a ~$5K purchase at Crate and Barrel (in-store purchase)? I havent seen their GCs anywhere, and it looks like they are no longer listed on UR as well.

Thanks.

FrequentMiler
Guest

jettyboy: For Crate and Barrel, start by buying gift cards at a reseller (search here: http://www.giftcardgranny.com/store/crate-and-barrel/). If you were to do an online purchase, you could then go through uPromise or ShopDiscover for 5% cash back. In your case, though, I think that discount gift cards are your best bet.

Deb
Guest
Deb

If I fly Southwest, can I still use my United Club passes to get into the United lounge?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Deb: Yes.

zemmer
Guest
zemmer

Don’t know why I’m asking but any thoughts on liquidating HIGC via gift card upgrades to cash equivalents? 🙂

Ed
Guest
Ed

Hey FM,

I was wondering if you’ve heard anything recently regarding the TYP 5x card. For 3 solid months now, I’ve spend about $8-10k/month mostly on VR @ CVS, but I sprinke in some other random expenses, and of course all groceries and gas. My limit is $12,500. My pts post every month and as of yesterday I am up to abt 140k. My goal was to apply for the Premier card so I can book 1.25x flights, and get another sign up in the process. I am not too int in gift cards and don’t have any flights to book right now at 1:1 as I also just got SW companion pass so I’m trying to fly SW as much as possible. When I did Citi TYP it was more of a long term plan.

With all this being said, what should I do with my existing pts? Bite the bullet and get some gift cards for a rainy day or take a chance that the storm has passed and go for a premier card as intended, so that I have about $6k of free flights by May 2014. So tempting to do the latter.

Anyway just wondering if you had a a temperature on this topic. Thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

zemmer: I posted some thoughts a couple of days ago. I very subtly hinted at a solution, but I purposely didn’t make it easy to find.

Ed: I haven’t heard of any new ThankYou shutdowns for a while (but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any). So, I think it is probably safe to keep collecting ThankYou points. I would still be nervous about trying to cash out the points for mortgage or student loan. Personally, I’m still going to sit on my points until I have a good (flight) use for them unless I see a really good gift card option.

jim
Guest
jim

Can anyone give me the complete payment mailing address of the CLUB CARLSON VISA SIGNATURE CARD?
i have some balance to pay but statement is not generated online yet.
thanks

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

I have the Premier Rewards Visa Signature card and my online statement shows:

U.S. Bank
P.O. Box 790408
St. Louis, MO 63179-0408

jim
Guest
jim

thanks thomas.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I got the email for 2x Plink for K-Mart, so bought 2 $50 Sears gift cards on 8/16 (I think) via the AAdvantage 9x promo for Sears. Unfortunately, Sears placed my orders on hold for verification, and it finally got approved on my credit card (Chase SP) on 8/20, and finalized on 8/22. So far, my Plink account only shows 300 points each gift card purchase… anybody know when I can expect to see the double points?

Also, I placed my order for the gift cards during the window for AA’s 9x promo, but it didn’t get approved until after the 9x window closed. Will I still get 9x points?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave: You should get both the double Plink points and the AA miles. Have either appeared yet?

Mary Jane
Guest
Mary Jane

Dear FM, I signed up my husband under your link for the SPG business (30pts).It got me wondering:for AA miles-Not counting bonus sign-up offers or AA shoping portels,do you think the SPG is the best card out there for AA pts (you get the extra 5,000 per 20,000)?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mary Jane: Yes, for regular credit card spend, I believe that the SPG card is the best for earning AA miles since it effectively earns 1.25 miles per dollar if you always transfer 20K points at a time.
.
Dave: To learn about signing up for credit cards and other strategies for earning miles, please consider signing up for my free newsletter (click here). To find the best credit card offers, please see my Best Signup Offers page (here). All of the cards you mentioned are good ones. If you hurry you can get in on the SPG 30K signup offer before it drops down to 25K. And, yes, both you and your wife going for the Sapphire Preferred makes sense. As to the Citi AA offer you have, make sure it is for 50K miles or more since that is the best publicly available offer right now. Feel free to email me if you have more involved questions (frequentmiler at gmail dot com)

Dave
Guest
Dave

FM, I think I am ready to sign up for some new cards. I currently have the Ink card that I signed up for earlier this year and that we use for most of our purchases. I would think that I should keep this card and just pay the yearly fee. But I was thinking about adding a new card and getting some bonus points. I have a offer for the citi AA card on my desk, but I was really considering the Chase Saphire in my wifes name, because she currently has the Chase SW card, and we could just transfer the credit over, and close the SW card and avoid next years fee. Also do you think that I should apply for the same card too so that we can earn 80k in points? I don’t understand the whole churning thing and how best to apply it. Thanks. Also recently saw someone ranking that Starwood card high on the list maybe we should consider that?

David
Guest
David

FM, I have been an avid gift card card purchaser at Kroger for a long time. It seems as of Sept 1, they are no longer awarding fuel points for the variable load Visa, MC or AM EX cards, this is bad news as it more than covered the activation fees. Are hearing/seeing the same? Thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

David: Yep, I’ve heard the same from many people. Rats!

Silver springer
Guest
Silver springer

Hi. After your talk at FTU DC I signed up for citi preferred card and am getting 5 points per $ on a number of categories for a year. However, I heard that on October 20 both the points earning and redemption opportunities change in a negative way and after that date you can’t redeem points for airfares. Is this correct? If so should I redeem my points before October 20 for airfares as was my goal?
Thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Silver springer: There are two different similarly named cards: ThankYou Preferred (the one you have) and the ThankYou Premier that offers 1.33 cents per point towards airfare. The ThankYou Premier is the one changing in October. It will then offer 1.25 cents per point towards airfare (still good). If you don’t have a premier card, your ThankYou points are worth, at best, 1 cent per point for travel, gift cards, etc. Read my post tomorrow with more information.

Nate
Guest
Nate

FM: I check your blog most days, got into the M&P game back in March and have been going hard since. I managed to get a ‘free’ week in Aruba via United/Hyatt for the girlfriend and myself, which is a great bonus, but has taken a considerable amount of time for a hobby with the steep learning curve for someone that does very minimal travel.

One thing I’ve noticed most blogs/FT etc do not address are people who are infrequent travelers. There’s plenty of info here and there on MS and CC bonus and the like, however rarely do I see things wrapped up in a presentable, understandable fashion for those that don’t travel on a regular basis.

Any chance for a request of a post by yourself of this nature? You tend to have a very clean, straight forward approach to the game so I think it would be a very good resource for those of us who don’t do much travel and are in it for the CC bonus/MS aspect of the M&P game.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Nate: That’s a great suggestion, thank you. I’ll give it some thought. The truth is, though (as you’ve found out), it really is complicated to eek out the full value of your points.

James
Guest
James

Where are we currently on the My Vanilla Visa GC’s – they’re the only ones available at a couple gas stations in my area and want to max out my 5%. Been reading horror stories on the web about getting them/pin assignments, etc.

FrequentMiler
Guest

James: MyVanilla cards are meant to be upgraded to permanent cards so I don’t recommend getting them unless you intend to get the permanent card then reload it with Vanilla Reload cards. If you want a card that can be used with a PIN to reload Bluebird, buy money orders, pay bills at Walmart, etc then look for the VanillaOne cards with the $4.95 fee.

hdawg
Guest
hdawg

Just got some free stuff at newegg with my amex business gold new 2x category. Got to love those free after rebate items. I had a question for you regarding buying gift cards with store gifts cards. Any chance your can put out a chart or blog about which stores openly accept gift cards for gifts cards. At staples I usually have a hard time especially if it is an e-gift card. Kmart used to be easy but now it seems they have a block on there registers that won’t allow the transaction. I am going to try sears in the near future. I thought it could be helpful to me and those that enjoy plinking and earning points. always trying to think of new and creative ways to earn points and save on spending.

FrequentMiler
Guest

hdawg: As you probably know, my Laboratory page shows in which stores people have had success upgrading gift cards (e.g. buying gift cards with other gift cards). I think, though, you’re looking for more of an idea of which stores are most customer friendly about doing this? If so, the only one I know of is Sears and who knows how long that will last! My local Staples has stopped allowing it, but my local OfficeMax still does (whereas other OfficeMax stores don’t allow it).

hdawg
Guest
hdawg

FrequentMiler, Went to Sears yesterday with over $500 in Sears Gift Cards and bought 5 $100 Visa cards no problem thanks to your advice. I had purchase over $800 in Gift cards during the last double plink promotion. All worked out well and I got a return of close to 18%. Thank for your help and look forward to hearing more money saving, points earning strategies from you.

FrequentMiler
Guest

hdawg: Heh, I was going through and answering the comments one at a time and didn’t realize that you had two in a row here. I’m glad that the Sears trick worked so well for you!

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

I just received an offer from United to earn 500 bonus miles for making a purchase of at least $50 through Mileage Plus Shopping. It’s not as good as AA’s 2,000 mile bonus for a purchase of at least $35 that one time (I regret not taking part in that promotion). Anyway, if I buy Walmart physical gift cards through Mileage Plus Shopping, then would I earn miles for it?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Brandon: No, I don’t believe that Walmart gift cards result in points.

Dave
Guest
Dave

General question about Plinking– I currently have another credit card account linked with my Plink account. I made some purchases yesterday and am expecting a lot of Plink points (Sears!) which haven’t arrived yet. Does anybody know if I risk losing those points if I change the card linked to my Plink account before those points arrive? For example, if I now link Plink to my AMEX card for this Staples deal, could I potentially lose the incoming Plink points?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave: Great question. Yes, you’ll lose your Plink points if you switch credit cards before your Plink points arrive. So, wait until the points show up, if you can, before switching.

jia yu
Guest
jia yu

Hi, greg, i cannot buy egift card in noth face. It always show this: WE ARE UNABLE TO PROCESS YOUR PAYMENT INFORMATION. PLEASE CORRECT THE INFORMATION AND TRY AGAIN.
Can you check that? thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

jia yu: I don’t have time to look into that right now. Have you tried calling The North Face to ask about that? Tell them you’re trying to buy e-gift cards online, but that it’s not working.

Dave
Guest
Dave

FM, I’m interested in the 10x AA for Lands End gift cards but have 2 questions.
You said we can get 10x for buying physical gift cards and e-gift cards, but when trying to buy e-gc, it opens a new window to another website. You’re sure they’ll post?
Also, do you think LE gift cards will work on Sears Vacation? thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave: I can’t guarantee it will work, but I did run an experiment with it a while ago and I did get points for buying an e-gift card from lands end. yes, LE gift cards should work for Sears Vacations.

tag78
Guest
tag78

Love the tips! Really just getting started but have some big accounts with United and Southwest now thanks to this site!

I’m fortunate to have a bonus coming which I’ll use to paydown my mortgage. I’ve seen things about the vanilla cards, bluebird, etc but wondered if there is a better way to handle a large, one time, occurrence?

Thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Tag78: you could use a service like chargesmart, but the fee might undo the benefit of the rewards.

Ozaer N.
Guest

Sir…quick question: I wanna maximize a purchase from apple.com ; does OD, OM, or staples sell Apple store gift cards? (not iTunes)..I want to use my Ink card for the 5 x to purchase an iPad.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Ozaer: I haven’t seen Apple gift cards anywhere usefull, but Staples is now selling iPads so why not just buy the iPad there? Go through uPromise and get an additional 5% cash back.

Kyle
Guest

Question for you – Can you purchase VISA GC’s at grocery stores with a Citi CC without getting nailed for cash advance fees?

Thanks in advance!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Kyle: yes, that is fine. When gift cards are purchased in stores, the transactions look like regular store purchases.
.
Carole: yes, just use an existing business name

Carole
Guest
Carole

I just got the Southwest personal card and want to apply for the business card. i have two Ink business cards with Chase. Should I apply using one of the business names I already have, or should I use a new one?
Thanks so much.

Dave
Guest
Dave

FM, I think I remember you Plinked Sears gift cards during the 12x/16x a couple weeks ago. I did the same for 8 cards of $50, and so far got nothing. I got my MP points already. I have both Sears and KMart on my Plink account. Have you gotten those Plink points?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave: about half of my expected Plink points posted. I just now sent a message to Plink support

Carole
Guest
Carole

I just applied for the Southwest Business Card. It was the first time that asked for a tax ID when applying for a business card. I said I was a sole owner and gave my SS number. Has anyone else had this problem?
Thanks.
Carole

FrequentMiler
Guest

Carole: It’s normal to be asked for a tax ID when applying for business cards. And, its common to use your SSN when your business is a sole proprietorship.

smay
Guest
smay

So it’s been 3 weeks since I made some big purchases at Sears at 12X and no points or even transactions listed on my account. My daughters account did list the 3 $500 egift cards I bought but not anything on the tablet purchases I made with them for $1550. When should I be concerned or try to do something about it? 3 weeks is up, 4 weeks? more?? Whats your thoughts about the timetable?

nazgul
Guest
nazgul

I have the same question as smay. My $400 egift card purchase for 16x pts never got applied, but my orders for $2100 of tablets did get applied and posted to my mileage plus account for use.

FrequentMiler
Guest

smay and nazgul: If you still don’t see the miles by next week, I’d recommend that you go ahead and contact the MileagePlus shopping portal to try to get help.

Mark
Guest

Hey FM

Have you seen the Visa discount for Sears? $35 off $300 in purchases. It didn’t appear that gift cards were excluded.

http://usa.visa.com/personal/discounts/index.jsp Just look for Sears there.

Love the blog and keep it up

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mark: Thanks for that info. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t work, but if you try it and find it works please let us know!

Amit
Guest
Amit

Have you seen Dynamics Inc’s ePlate reward program for JetLimo? http://dynamicsinc.com/JetLimo
Seems too good to be true… the program is so confusing that it warrants some investigation. The rewards could be HUGE though.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Amit: Thanks for that. It definitely looks too good to be true. I might write it up anyway just for fun 🙂

Wiiill
Guest
Wiiill

Hi I am wondering if you have ever been accused of fraud? Do you have any idea when obtaining points through purchases of cash-like items would become fraud? Don’t get me wrong I think that your schemes to obtain free points and rewards from promotional offers are 100% ethical, entail their own inherent financial risk, and also serve to promote the credit cards and programs offered by companies to a general audience that may use the cards for everyday purchases as intended but I am wondering when they could become legally ambiguous? Have you ever talked to anyone about this? I know I should ask a lawyer but I am too cheap.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Nope, never.

JC
Guest
JC

Hi FM,

I recently got my new USB CC card, I bought a VR and some groceries at cvs but when I got my first statement, the purchase showed as “Other Debits” and I did not accumulate points. Do you know why this happened? They didn’t charge me any cash advances though. Do you know if this has happened to anyone else before and does that mean I can’t purchase VRs at this place with this CC? The total was more than 520.

JC
Guest
JC

@FM I ended up calling the bank. The reason for this is that the fraud dept added it as a debit.

A couple of weeks ago, I noticed a charge that I didn’t recognize, so I called USB to investigate. At that moment, they deactivated the cards and all pending transactions were added as debits. Today the rep explained and spoke to the supervisor and they’re going to add my points within 5-7 business days….I thought I would lose my points. Also, it’s 5X per dollar for purchases, that’s more than 2500pts!

FrequentMiler
Guest

JC: Thanks for the follow up. I’m glad that worked out OK!

Dave
Guest
Dave

FM, remember in Sept the AA eShopping mall had the bonus 2000 miles for a single $50 purchase? Did you ever get the miles for that? I got the miles for the purchase about a week later, but still haven’t gotten the bonus miles. It’s now been 2 months.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Dave: I’m still waiting too.

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

@FM: didn’t you mention something about this??

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9Sx34swEG0

FrequentMiler
Guest

Thomas, I had written about a nearly identical invention: A new card to rule them all. I think it would be very risky to pre-order Coin.

Carole
Guest
Carole

I got both the Southwest personal and business card. I know not to complete my spend until January, but can i complete one of the cards, and the extra 6000 miles to get to 110,000, in December?
Thanks.
Carole

FrequentMiler
Guest

Carole, as long as you wait until after your December statement closes, you should be OK.

Andy
Guest
Andy

@FM,
These months, I saw many CVS stores and their speakers promotoe Amex Serve Card that has 0 purchase fee until Dec 31, 2013. Have you ever wrote about that card? Any benefits to get that card?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Andy: yes, I’ve written about Serve, but it has changed a lot since. It is nearly identical to Bluebird and you can only have one: Bluebird or Serve. I think that most people are better off with Bluebird because it has no fees. Serve has fees if you do not deposit a certain amount every month.

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

Lands’End currently 8X at United MP, so buy eGift cards and spend at UR Sears 5x …total 13x Right?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Sorry for the late response here. Yes, you can do that if the promo is still available.

jim
Guest
jim

It was time for App party & I applied from your links like before. Git shut down for Citi AA biz even though mine was 18 months old. They said no explainations will convince them to approve. The rules have no changed strictly. Called 6 more times and only got scolded for bothering them.

Your CHASE BA card link says 100k offer but in the term it shows as 50k offer with AF waived for first year and agent confirmed it.

FrequentMiler
Guest

jim: Sorry about that! It looks like the 100K BA offer died without telling me. You might be able to call or secure message Chase and ask them to match you to the 100K offer since that’s what you thought you were signing up for.

elteetrav
Guest
elteetrav

Kohls gift card issue. Just passing along so others can watch out for this. I ordered $350 in Kohls gift cards through the UR portal. The 3500 points posted even before the cards arrived. Great! Then the cards arrive – and when I try to spend, they ALL have NO money on them. Called Kohl’s and they check and confirm that the cards were sent without being authorized. So they tell me my only options are to go to the store to get new cards, or wait two weeks while they “open a case” and investigate. This is on the last day of current 30% deal, when I don’t really have time to go to the store (not to mention it is major annoyance to even think about all that work to correct Kohl’s screw up.)

Really lost confidence in Kohls over this one. Can you imagine if I had given the cards out as gifts, and then my friends try to spend?

FrequentMiler
Guest

elteetrav: thanks for the cautionary tale. That really stinks on Kohl’s part!

Mona C
Guest
Mona C

Hi FM,
What’s the best cashback or portal site to buy the new Ipad Mini? Thank you!

FrequentMiler
Guest

Mona: do you have a Chase Ink card? If so:
1: Go through uPromise shopping portal to Staples for 5% cash back.
2: Buy iPad and pay with Chase Ink card (earn 5X at office supply stores)
3: Make sure you are signed up for Staples Rewards so that you’ll get 5% back for future Staples’ purchases.
Note that they don’t yet seem to have the iPad mini with retina display listed for sale, but I expect they will soon.

elteetrav
Guest
elteetrav

Hi Again. Following up on my November 16 post about Kohl’s gift cards being sent without being activated. Looks like this is not a one-time problem. My sister ordered Kohl’s gift cards twice. First time they were sent with wrong amounts on them – though the “bottom line” was ok. (Eg – she ordered 4 gift cards at $50 each. They sent 4 gift cards. Two were blank; two had $100) Then her second order was worse. Ordered about $300 worth of cards. Got one with $50 on it.
It’s really a shame. I like Kohls and would like to buy more gift cards. But they are clearly having some problems.

FrequentMiler
Guest

elteetrav, thanks for the followup info. Kohl’s has been messing up in the past few months in a number of ways when buying or using gift cards: error messages when ordering, incorrect points posting to UR mall, etc. I’m guessing that the issues you’ve reported are related. I guess that’s not particularly helpful, but just an observation.

Thomas
Guest
Thomas

Hi FM, I was just wondering if there was a way to be alerted with fluctuations in the miles/points/cash back rates of various portals and merchants? Similar to email alerts for discounts on gift cards, can the same thing be achieved for portal discounts (and raises)? I usually try to make a habit of checking my favorite merchants via my top 3 portal finders which you recommended some time ago (evreward, cashbackholic, and nerdwallet) on a near-daily basis, but the routine gets a little tedious.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Thomas, I’m thinking of developing something to do that, but I don’t have any suggestions right now. By the way, my latest tests showed that cashbackmonitor was better than all three of the old recommendations.

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

I just got an email that AAdvantage shopping is offering 15 miles per dollar at Walgreens through 11/23. They have store pick up available for a lot of items. Not bad, since I end up at the Walgreens by my house almost once a day. I just wish they’d let me use my credit cards for VR purchases, lol.

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

Just noticed you already posted about Walgreens. Guess I need more coffee!

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

FM,

My first born is beginning day care next week and of course they don’t take credit card, which sucks for me. I have thought about making multiple trips during the month to purchase VR’s, but I just don’t think time will be on my side for that. What are my other alternatives to VR’s so I can pay this bill? Would sending money to my wife via Amazon Payments work? I know they have the $1,000 monthly limit. Too bad the BoA Alaska debit card is going away because I thought of that as an option.

Thanks,
Ryan

FrequentMiler
Guest

For paying for day care and things like that, Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards really are the best option. Yes, you can pay your wife up to $1K per month with Amazon Payments.

Steve
Guest
Steve

Hi FM,
Is there an alternative method similar to bluebird?
Since $5000 is not enough for me.
I just purchased one myvanilladebit and waiting for my perm card with my name on it. I am planning to test out the cash advance methods (I have unlimited source of vanilla reload at grocery near by. 2x with AMEX PRG will help me out I think. Since I am planning to cover $5000 each for three MVDs.
But from your post, you mentioned that you have 9 prepaid cards. What are the prepaid cards that you use to liquidate and how to liquidate it?

Thanks

FrequentMiler
Guest

Steve, while I have lots of prepaid cards, I use very few of them. In fact, right now I only use my Bluebird cards (my wife and mine) because my Mio card got shut down. Best alternative right now is probably buying $500 visa gift cards and using them to pay bills at Walmart.

Sherry Brown
Guest
Sherry Brown

Can you load American Express gift cards onto the Bluebird card? Just noticed that they are fee-free through January, and Walgreens even has them fee free for the next three days?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Unfortunately, no.

FlyingTPA
Guest
FlyingTPA

Loaded a few MC GC’s to BB this morning using the ATM at my local Walmart. As usual, I received an email from Amex saying the load had been successful. What’s interesting is that email title reads “Your American Express Serve Reload Was Successful” whereas they used to read “Your Bluebird POS Reload Was Successful.” I’m guessing that they’ve simply officially renamed the payment network to American Express Serve?

Thanks!

FrequentMiler
Guest

I haven’t seen that yet. It might be a bug caused by the fact that Serve and Bluebird are on the same technical platform. Maybe Serve cards can be swipe reloaded now?

Evan
Guest
Evan

FAR is back at Staples although it appears a rebate check is no longer an option. Only a pre-paid Visa is offered.