Gift Card Churning Deals


Lately I’ve written quite a bit about credit card churning (see, for example, “Million Mile Madness: The big churn story“).  Now that I have 10 new credit cards coming my way, its time to find ways to meet my minimum spend requirements.  That’s where gift card churning comes in.  Fortunately, there are several current and upcoming deals that will help:

Staples $15 rebate on $150 or more in Visa prepaid cards

I reported this deal last week, and it is now live until March 9th.  Readers are reporting that the online rebate form allows you to select a check rather than a Visa card if you prefer.  Best bet is to buy a $200 Visa for $206.95.  You’ll make a small profit.  Plus, if you use a card that gets a good bonus at office supply stores (see Best Category Bonuses), you’ll earn lots of points.  Sadly, limit is one per household.

Amex gift cards 2% cash back, March 12th

Next week, TopCashBack is planning a one day special in which they’ll bump up the payout on American Express Gift Cards to 2% from the usual rate of 1.5%.  This could be a great way to get ahead on paying taxes (see “Pay federal taxes by credit card, almost for free“).  Or, if “almost free” isn’t good enough, see “Pay Federal Taxes via Credit Card for Free.”  The rates listed in the latter post are out of date, but the general ideas still work.  If you don’t have big tax payments to make, see also “Using the Target Amex card to run up spend.”

Plastic Jungle 3.14% cash back, March 14th

TopCashBack will be celebrating Pi day (3/14) by bumping up the PlasticJungle payout from 2.5% to 3.14% just for that one day.  PlasticJungle buys and sells discount gift cards.  By going through TopCashBack on March 14th, you can get back 3.14% of the buy or sell price.

TopCashBack reliability

Quite a few readers have reported serious frustrations with using TopCashBack, and many have stopped using the service altogether.  I can’t speak for others, but I can describe what my experience has been.  In my case, the reliability of the portal seems to be linked to specific merchants.  That is, with some merchants I’ve never received cash back whereas with others cash back has been relatively quick and reliable.  Here are some specific experiences:

  • CouponTrade (now called Raise): Terrible experience.  Never received cash back except from a TopCashBack customer service courtesy adjustment.
  • Vision Direct: Cashback from a July 2012 purchase still shows as confirmed, but is not yet payable 8 months later. 
  • American Express Gift Cards: Purchases from January 11 still show as confirmed, but not yet payable.  Often the process takes about 3 months, so I’m not yet concerned about this one, but I don’t yet have proof that this merchant is reliable through TopCashBack.
  • The following have all moved reliably through the phases (from pending, to confirmed, to payable) for me:
    • PlasticJungle
    • Cardpool (Note: Cardpool has specific limits on cash back)
    • Staples
    • Marriott

Of course, your experiences may vary, but I thought it might be helpful to show where TopCashBack has worked for me and where it has not.  What have your experiences been?

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