Maximizing Home Improvement Spend

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Yesterday I showed a number of different credit cards that are offering bonus points for Home Improvement spend this quarter.  Here are some ideas for maximizing your savings and points earned…

Maximizing points and savings at Lowe’s

In previous experiments I’ve found the following triple dip to work at Lowe’s:

  • If you’re planning to move, go to this link to request a 10% off coupon from Lowe’s.
  • Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Lowe’s and buy Lowe’s physical gift cards (do not buy e-gift cards).  Earn 5X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
  • Pay for the above gift cards with a card offering 5X at Home Improvement stores this quarter (Freedom, Discover, etc.).
  • Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall again to buy merchandise.  Apply coupons, if any, for savings.  Pay with gift cards.  Earn 5X from the Ultimate Rewards Mall.

In all, you can save 10% and earn 15 points per dollar on your purchases!  Keep in mind, though, that when you pay with gift cards you do not get automatic extended warranties or other protections from your credit card.  For additional ideas for saving money, see “Extreme savings at Lowes“.

Manufacturing spend at Lowe’s

If you don’t have any plans to buy things at Lowe’s, you can still take advantage of your credit card’s 5X earnings by buying gift cards.  Go to a Lowe’s store and look for their gift card rack.  Buy gift cards for things you would have bought anyway (but where you would have earned only 1X otherwise).  A couple of good examples include Amazon.com gift cards and gas gift cards. 

Here are two options to take it further:

  • Buy high value gift cards (think gas cards) and resell through a site like PlasticJungle.  You’ll lose money on the deal, but it might be worth it to you to if you highly value the points earned.
  • Buy gift cards to merchants that sell Visa or MasterCard gift cards.  Then, use the merchant gift cards to buy those Visa or MasterCard gift cards.  For example I’ve had success in the past at Bed, Bath & Beyond where I was able to buy a Visa gift card with a Bed, Bath & Beyond gift card.  I’ve had similar experiences at Staples, OfficeMax, and BestBuy.  Caution: at each of these stores the cashier and/or manager might not allow you to buy gift cards with gift cards.  So, this approach is risky!  Once you have the gift cards, hopefully you can create a PIN and cash them out (see “Gift card PINs“).

 

Maximizing points and savings at Home Depot

Here is a path to earn extra points and savings at Home Depot:

  • This week, go through the AAdvantage eShopping portal to Home Depot to earn an extra 6 miles per dollar.
  • Pay for merchandise with a card that earns bonus points this quarter.

Or:

  • If you’re planning to move, go to this link to request a 10% off coupon from Lowe’s (yes, Lowe’s).
  • Print the coupon and bring it to Home Depot.  Ask them to match the discount on anything you buy.
  • Pay for merchandise with a card that earns bonus points this quarter.

Or:

  • Go to an online portal that offers points or cash back for Staples.com. The best current opportunity I know of is TopCashBack which currently offers 5.5% back. Click through to Staples.
  • Buy Home Depot e-gift cards at Staples.com, and pay with a card that earns bonus points at office supply stores (see “Best Category Bonuses“).
  • Use the online or in-store options from above to purchase items and pay with your gift cards.

The last option doesn’t take advantage of current Home Improvement bonus offers, but it may be the most lucrative option if you want to shop at Home Depot.

Background Info

For your reference, here are some helpful nuggets of info that I presented yesterday (that I believe to be true):

  • Credit card bonus points are stackable with shopping portal bonus points. For example, if you use the Chase Freedom card this quarter and go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Lowe’s, you’ll get 5X from the credit card and another 5X from the shopping portal.

Home Depot

  • The AAdvantage eShopping portal is offering 6X for Home Depot this week.
  • In past experiments, people did not receive points for buying Home Depot gift cards through online shopping portals.
  • In past experiments, people did receive points for using Home Depot gift cards through online shopping portals to buy Home Depot merchandise.
  • Home Depot does not sell gift cards to other merchants (neither online nor in store).

Lowe’s

  • The Ultimate Rewards Mall currently offers 5X for Lowe’s
  • In past experiments, people did receive points for buying Lowe’s physical gift cards through online shopping portals. I do not expect this to work for e-gift cards since they are not sold directly by Lowes.com (Lowes.com sends you out to another URL when you select e-gift cards).
  • In past experiments, people did receive points for using Lowe’s gift cards through online shopping portals to buy Lowe’s merchandise.
  • Lowe’s sells a large selection of merchant gift cards in-store. Dan’s Deals lists the following: AMC Theaters, AT&T GoPhone, Aeropastle, Amazon, Applebees, Barnes & Noble, Bass Pro Shop, Bath & Body Works, Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, Boost Mobile, Build, A, Bear, Cabela’s, Cheesecake Factory, Chili’s, Claire’s, Coldstone Creamery, Cracker Barrel, Darden Restaurants, Fandango, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Game Stop, Gap Inc (Gap, Banana, Old Navy, Athleta, Piperlime), Golfsmith, Ihop, iTunes, JCPenney, Jiffy Lube, Jo, Ann Fabric, Justice, Kohl’s, Lane Bryant, Lowe’s, MLB.com, Macy’s, Marriott, Marshalls, Michael’s, Nascar Superstore, Nike, Nordstrom, OfficeMax, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, PFChang’s, Panera, Petco, Petsmart, Pizza Hut, Red Lobster, Red Robin, Regal Cinemas, Ruby Tuesday, Sephora, Shell, Southwest, SpaFinder, Sports Authority, Staples, Starbucks, Subway, TGIFriday, TJMaxx, T, Mobile Prepaid, Tracfone, Verizon Prepaid, Virgin Mobile, Xbox
  • I’ve seen additional gas gift cards at Lowe’s besides Shell, so the particular gift cards available at any one Lowe’s store may vary.
  • Lowe’s does not allow you to buy gift cards with Lowe’s gift cards.  UPDATE: Reader bf says that it is possible to buy merchant gift cards at Lowe’s with Lowe’s gift cards.  He says “It requires going to the customer service desk and getting a supervisor to override the register but it works. Can’t do it at regular registers.”
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