Finally, a new portal mega deal! My thoughts on today’s 37X opportunity

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It used to be the case that lucrative portal offers were common.  In fact, I used to post every month about the latest and greatest deals available through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  And, every couple of months, a fantastic offer would appear.  Sometimes the offers were so good that it made sense to shop even if you didn’t really need anything from the store offering points. 

Then, all of the great offers stopped appearing.  I stopped writing my monthly update because there was nothing interesting to say.  The last great offer was in September 2012.  Since then there has been mostly silence.

In August, I saw some signs of hope.  After a long drought with nothing better than 6X in any portal, Sears’ began offering 9X through various portal promotions this past summer.  9X was pretty good!  I was encouraged and, on August 1, I wrote “Are portal mega-deals on their way back?”  Here is an excerpt:

Are the Sears 9X offers an anomaly or are they a sign of things to come?  Maybe I’m just a wishful thinker (and there’s no doubt, I am), but it feels to me as if something is in the wind.  Mega deals are coming.  I can feel it.

Can you feel it?  Are shopping portal mega-deals on their way?

Two months later, it is here.  If you have the right credit cards, this one is almost as good as it gets.  It’s not quite at the level of being worth buying stuff you don’t need just for the points, but it’s close.  And, it’s a bit risky…

I first published the details via my QuickDeals site:

Sears 12X to 16X through the United MileagePlus Shopping portal!!!!

Then, I followed up with details via my blog:

Maximizing the 2 day Sears/MileagePlus 16X promotion

If you have both the United MileagePlus Explorer card and a Chase Freedom card, it is possible to turn this promotion into a 37 mile per dollar offer!  You do have to act fast, though.  The deal ends today (October 9th).

Here’s how to get 37 miles per dollar (please see yesterday’s post for complete details, other options, and Q&A):

  1. Go through the MileagePlus shopping portal to Sears and buy e-gift cards.  You should earn 16 points per dollar from this transaction.
  2. Pay for the gift cards with your Chase Freedom card to earn 5 points per dollar thanks to this quarter’s 5X department store bonus.
  3. When the e-gift cards arrive, go through the portal again to use the gift cards to buy merchandise.  Earn 16 points per dollar.

If you were to max out the Freedom’s 5X bonus with $1500 in spend, you could earn 48,000 United miles and 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points!  That’s a phenomenal haul for $1500 spend!  Of course, $1500 is just an example.  You shouldn’t spend that much unless you have the money to cover it and you either need the stuff or have a plan for reselling it.

The biggest risk is that e-gift card purchases won’t earn points.  In the past year or so, it has been the case that e-gift cards from Sears have not earned points, whereas physical gift cards have earned points.  Recently, though, there has been a change in the terms of the Sears’ portal offers.  They now say “Gift Cards eligible as of 10/4/13” (hat tip, Mommy Points).   So, e-gift cards should earn points, but it will be at least a few days before we know for sure, and the deal will be over by then.

My personal plan is to to take the chance that e-gift cards will work.  I’ll probably buy $1,500 worth of e-gift cards altogether in order to max out my Freedom card’s 4th quarter bonus.  I’ll buy many of the e-gift cards $50 at a time in order to maximize Plink point earnings (see “Plinking Sears“), but there is a limit to how much I can stand the repetitive process of checking out over and over again.  I bought $500 worth that way yesterday and may do the same today.  That should result in $60 worth of Plink points in addition to the points and miles earned.  I’ll also buy physical gift cards to hedge my bets.  I haven’t yet decided exactly how much I’ll spend.

In addition to buying gift cards, I’ll use existing gift cards I own and the e-gift cards as they arrive to buy stuff that I need.  And, holidays are just around the corner so I might as well get a start on buying gifts while I’m at it.  I’ll also spend some time today searching for good values in case there is anything worth buying and reselling.  If I find some great options, I’ll go for it.  Otherwise, I’ll take my gift cards to Sears to find the secret gift card rack

Are you going to take advantage of this promotion?  If so, what are your plans?  Please comment below.  For questions about how this works, what will work, and what won’t, please read yesterday’s post and comment there.  Thanks!

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