Gift card churning gone wrong


I’ve written a few posts about how to buy and sell discounted gift cards in order to add spend to your credit cards.  In general, you won’t make much money from doing this, but if you’re trying to meet minimum spend it’s a great idea.  Or so I thought.  Life has not been good for me in gift card buy/sell land lately:

  • TopCashBack used to give 4% cash back for selling gift cards to PlasticJungle, but that dropped to 1%.
  • A reader tipped me off about a situation in which one could apparently make money by buying and selling Applebee’s gift cards.  I jumped in and bought a bunch of “paper” gift cards at CardPool.  I thought paper was just a strange name for physical plastic cards.  Instead, when they arrived they were electronic gift cards that had been printed out one page each.  I couldn’t sell these to PlasticJungle so I returned the lot (luckily I got all of my money back).
  • In another adventure, I found a money making buy/sell opportunity based upon stated buy/sell prices.  Well, the buy prices were correct, but when I went to sell the cards I discovered that the sell prices were 5% off.  I lost a few bucks on that deal!  The lesson I learned was to use PlasticJungle’s spreadsheet to look up re-sell prices rather than the GiftCardGranny prices.
  • That brings us to today where I proudly announced the availability of a buy/sell opportunity that would lose only 2% from each transaction.  For those looking to meet minimum spend requirements, a 2% loss isn’t that bad.  And, once again, I was able to buy gift cards at the expected rate, but when I went to sell them I discovered the prices were wrong again!  This time it was the spreadsheet that was wrong! I contacted PlasticJungle and got this helpful response:

We would like to inform you that we have a gift card pricing engine that determines what we can pay based on factors such as merchant popularity, resale velocity, seasonality and more.

Please access the link, you will be able to check the offers once you entered your card information.

Anyone want a bunch of JC Penney e-gift cards?  Now, on to new ideas…

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