Maximizing Amex Sync offers. Part 3: shopping elsewhere

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American Express regularly hosts terrific “Sync Offers” in which you get a statement credit after using an Amex card to spend a targeted amount at a participating merchant.  For example, one current offer is for Sony: spend $100, get $25 back.  But, what if you don’t have plans to buy anything from that particular merchant?  I’ll share here a few ways you can still do well with these offers.  First, though, please familiarize yourself with the earlier posts in this series:

 

Shopping elsewhere: buy gift cards in-store

If a store with a good Amex Sync offer sells gift cards to other merchants, then it’s pretty easy to get the Sync offer savings even if you intend to shop elsewhere.  Here are a few examples of recent Sync offers in which this would work:

  • Kohl’s, spend $50, get $10 back:  Kohl’s sells gift cards to various restaurants and other merchants in-store.  To capitalize on this offer you could simply go to Kohl’s, pick out a $50 gift card that you would actually use and buy it with the Amex card that is registered for this promotion.  If you’ve registered multiple Amex cards, then buy multiple $50 gift cards and ask the cashier to ring up each one separately. 
  • Toys R Us, spend $25, get $5 back:  Last I looked, Toys R Us sells iTunes and Amazon Kindle gift cards in-store.  Kindle gift cards can be used for anything at Amazon.com so this is a way to get 20% off anything at Amazon (in case you missed the 33% off everything promo!).
  • BestBuy, spend $250, get $25 back:  Many BestBuy stores sell Amazon Kindle and even Visa gift cards in-store.  This will only give you 10% off, but that’s better than nothing!  Also keep in mind that gift card purchases should qualify for BestBuy Reward Zone My BestBuy points and even ShopKick points (ShopKick is a smart phone app that awards points for shopping and checking-in at various stores – read more here).

Shopping elsewhere: buy gift cards online

Some merchants sell gift cards to other merchants online.  And, some Sync offers are valid online only.  Here are a few examples of recent Sync offers in which you could buy gift cards online:

  • Walmart.com, spend $79, get $20 back (valid online only): Walmart sells a variety of gift cards online.  Buy $80 worth with your Synced Amex card and you’ll get back $20.  That’s a savings of 25%!
  • Costco.com, spend $115, get $15 back (valid online only): Costco sells a few miscellaneous gift cards online.  While $15 off $115 isn’t a huge discount (13%), they do offer some gift cards at a discount to begin with.  For example, you can currently get two $50 gift cards to McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant for $79.99.  Make sure your total purchase comes to $115 or more in order to trigger the $15 back.

Shopping elsewhere: buy and upgrade

Sometimes, the best way to get the gift card you really want is to buy a merchant’s gift card and then use that gift card to “upgrade” to a different one.  Here are some examples of recent Sync offers in which this could be done:

  • Walmart.com, spend $79, get $20 back (valid online only): Buy an $80 Walmart gift card online, then take it in-store to get the gift card(s) you really want.
  • Toys R Us, spend $25, get $5 back: Buy a $25 Toys R Us gift card online via a portal (in order to get extra points or cash back) and then use the gift card in-store to upgrade to an Amazon Kindle gift card.
  • Lands End, spend $100, get $25 back (valid online only): Buy a $100 Lands End gift card online via a portal (in order to get extra points or cash back) and then use the gift card at Sears to buy other gift cards (see “A year later, a new breed of Sears’ gift card racks spotted in the wild. The mystery continues“).

Make sure to check the Frequent Miler Laboratory for information about which merchants allow buying gift cards with gift cards.

 

Forget shopping: get points and cash for free

All of the above techniques assume that you want to end up with a gift card that you can then use elsewhere.  What if you don’t want to shop at all?  Stay tuned for the next installment in this series!

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