How to convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

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Soon, I have no doubt, many readers will be flush with Discover Cashback (see: The NEW Deal of the Year: Preparing for Discover Apple Pay and $2,000).  That’s great, but some readers prefer earning miles.  And, I’m not talking about Discover Miles.  Those are essentially pennies.  I’m talking about airline miles that can be used to towards flights, ideally at outsized value.

I’ve already explained how to get massive amounts of Discover Cashback.  Here’s how to turn those rewards into airline miles…

Overviewconvert Discover Cashback into airline miles

Here’s the general idea:

  1. Increase the value of your Discover Cashback by converting it into 1-800-Flowers gift certificates
  2. Select stuff to buy from 1-800-Flowers
  3. Apply an airline mile promo code
  4. Pay with your gift certificates
  5. You’ll end up with airline miles and stuff from 1-800-Flowers

Whenever I write posts like this, a number of people comment about how bad of a deal 1-800-Flowers is.  Others comment on how bad their service is, or how bad the delivered product is.  All of that is irrelevant.   With this plan, the idea is to use 1-800-Flowers as a vehicle for buying miles.  Consider it a bonus if it results in any nice flowers or gifts.

Important Note

Do not think of this as a recommendation!  I am not saying that it is a good idea to turn Discover Cashback into miles.  That’s up to you to decide.  In this post I’ll show you a way to do so without much analysis about whether or not it’s a good idea.

Preparations

For the following steps to work, you should first subscribe to the 1-800-Flowers Celebrations Passport program.  For $29.99, this service offers free shipping and handling for a year for any purchases made at 1-800-Flowers or its affiliated stores (1-800-Baskets, Cheryls, The Popcorn Factory, etc.).

convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

You can get a nice rebate for the purchase of this service by clicking through from a portal first (for example, Discover Deals is currently offering 15% cashback for 1-800-Baskets).  Also, if you pay with a Visa or MasterCard linked to your Sears’ Shop Your Way Rewards account, you should get 20% back in SYW points.

convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

You’ll also want to join the 1-800-Flowers Celebration Rewards program.  The program is free to join and it gives you a $20 Savings Pass for every $200 spent with 1-800-Flowers.

Once you’ve joined Celebration Rewards and you have the Passport membership in-hand, you can proceed to the following step by step approach to converting Discover Cashback to miles…

Step 1: Convert Discover Cashback to 1-800-Flowers gift certificates

When redeeming Discover Cashback, you can choose to get cash, in the form of a statement credit or a deposit to your bank, or you can spend it like cash in several stores, or you can select from many different gift card options.  When you select gift cards, you get a discount off of the card’s face value.  The specific discount varies by merchant, but with 1-800-Flowers you’ll currently get a 33% discount.  For example, a $30 1-800-Flowers gift certificates costs only $20 in Discover Cashback.

convert Discover Cashback into airline miles

1-800-Flowers only allows you to apply one gift certificate per order online, so select a value as close to the amount you plan to spend as possible.  Let’s assume, for now, that you choose the $30 gift certificate.  Once you select this reward, it should be sent to you via email immediately.

Step 2: Find stuff to buy

Go to 1800Flowers.com and search for items that match the value of your gift certificate.  Try various menu items such as “All Plants”, then sort by price (Low to High).  Some items are best found by looking within certain sub-categories, such as “Meat & Cheese”.  Once you find something to buy, add it to your cart.  Make sure to select a no-fee delivery date (even with Passport, next day orders often incur an extra fee).

Step 3: Apply an airline promo code

Here are several currently active codes (sorted roughly by value of the offer):

The top two codes, above, offer miles “per order” rather than “per dollar”.  Both require orders of $29.99, or more.  With $30 orders, 1000 miles works out to 33.33 miles per dollar, and 1500 miles works out to 50 miles per dollar.

Here are promotion codes that have worked in the past (and will hopefully work again during holiday promotions):

  • AMT36 (expired): Earn 20 Amtrak points per dollar (details here)
  • TB1750 (expired): 1,750 JetBlue miles per order (58.33 miles per dollar for $30 orders)
  • RR36 (expired), RR43 (expired): 1750 Southwest points per order (58.33 points per dollar for $30 orders)
  • RR60 (expired): Earn 30 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar
  • RR59 (expired): Earn 30 Southwest Rapid Rewards points per dollar
  • DE43 (expired): Earn 30 Delta SkyMiles per dollar

Math time!

Now we get to everyone’s favorite part of the program, math time!  Assuming we don’t value the flowers or gifts other than to make up for time spent on task, and ignoring rewards earned from the Celebration Rewards program, let’s see how much those miles and points cost…

Offer Example offer Points or Miles earned per $30 order Cost per point (each $30 order cost $20) Worth it?
10 points per dollar Amtrak 300 6.7 cents No way
15 points per dollar AA 450 4.44 cents Nope
20 points per dollar Alaska, Hawaii 600 3.33 cents No
30 points per dollar Alaska, Southwest, and Delta have offered this during seasonal promotions 900 2.22 cents Maybe for Alaska, but not for the others
1000 points per order Southwest 1000 2 cents Can be worthwhile if used to qualify for Companion Pass
1500 points per order Southwest has offered this many times in the past during seasonal promotions 1500 1.33 cents With Southwest, yes, especially if used to qualify for the Soutwest Companion Pass. JetBlue points are worth about 1.3 cents each, so it is a wash there.
1750 points per order Both Southwest and JetBlue have offered this in the past 1750 1.14 cents Yes, if you know you can make use of the points

Lowering the cost per mile with Celebration Rewards

If you plan your orders just right so that you spend exactly a multiple of $200 (twenty $30 orders, for example), then through the Celebration Rewards program you’ll get 10% back in the form of a Savings Pass to be spent on a future order.  If you then apply a mileage promo code to that future order, you’ll get additional points or miles for no extra cost.  Let’s take an example:

  • Place twenty $30 orders.
  • Total spend through 1-800-Flowers = $600
  • Savings Pass = $20 per $200 spent = $60
  • Total cost to you = $20 per order x 20 = $400

If, for simplicity, we assume the use of a 30 point per dollar promo code for all orders, then without the Saving Pass, we would earn 600 x 30 = 18,000 miles.  That comes to $400 / 18,000 = 2.22 cents per mile.  With the savings pass, we would earn 660 x 30 = 19,800 miles.  That comes to $400 / 19,800 = 2 cents per mile.

In brief, Celebration Rewards can be used to reduce the cost per mile by up to 10%.

Lowering the cost per mile through tax savings

It may be possible to save on taxes in a couple of ways:

  1. Individuals can use 1800Flowers to send food donations to a charitable organization, for example.  Those donations could be itemized in order to reduce your tax burden. You can find an example of how to do this in this old post.
  2. Business owners could use the 1800Flowers deliveries as business expenses.  One could send gifts to customers or employees, for example.  When treated as business expenses, these charges should reduce profits, and therefore taxes, accordingly.

I’m NOT a tax professional.  If you decide to do either, please consult your tax adviser.

Wrap Up

If I have any real use for buying gifts from 1800Flowers, I’ll make use of the plan shown above.  Otherwise, I’ll wait and see what the 1800Flowers’ holiday promotions look like.  If we see, for example, a 1500 mile per order promo with Alaska Mileage Plan, I might go for it.  How about you?

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