Mileage Run Shopping: Buying 162,000 Miles for $500

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Today is my big, all day mileage run. It is also Sears’ 10 points per dollar day via Chase. I plan to use Delta’s in-flight wifi and the Sears deal to essentially buy 162,000 miles for $500 or less. Details to follow.

NOTE: I will update this page regularly during the day, so come back often and refresh the page to see the latest updates.

Mileage Run

For background about the mileage run I’m doing today, please see How my $320 mileage run will result in 54000 Delta SkyMiles.

This morning I woke up early and headed out to the airport on slick roads due to an overnight snowfall. I drove slowly and carefully, not wanting to become yet another hospitalized BoardingArea blogger. I got to the airport fairly late, but was whisked through security thanks to TSA PRE! For more about TSA PRE, see I’m in Love with TSA PRE. I know others have reported otherwise, but I’m three for three on TSA PRE flying out of Detroit! Anyway, I made it to my flight and I made the upgrade, so I’m happily sitting in First on my way to my first stop – Salt Lake City. I remember one reader asked me to wave hello as I pass through SLC, but I don’t remember who. Anyway, I’ll happily wave to any readers in the area!

A few weeks ago I bought a 3 pack of GoGo wifi service thanks to a special I read about (from Dan’s Deals maybe?). So, I’m using the first of the 3 pack today. So far, so good! The internet speed is actually pretty snappy unlike previous experiences I’ve had.

9:30-ish EST: I need to close up the computer now for a bit – breakfast is coming. After breakfast I’ll tell you how I plan to buy 162,000 miles today (and no, I’m not counting the 54000 miles from the mileage run that I’ve reported before).

11:30-ish EST: I’m back.

Shopping for Miles

First let me say that I was totally inspired by DeltaGOLDflyer over at Delta Points who wrote about how he earned 250,000 SkyMiles for $700 during a SkyMall promotion. I don’t think the opportunities today are that good, but I do think they come close. To get to 250,000 miles, DeltaGOLDflyer bought $5000 worth of products during the Skymall promotion, and then sold them for a slight loss. The idea today is very similar: use the Sears / Ultimate Rewards mall “double dip” technique to buy $5000 worth of products and then sell them for as little loss as possible.

100,000 Miles: If you buy $5000 worth of Sears e-gift cards through the UR mall, and then use the gift cards through the mall for actual product purchases, you will earn a combined 100,000 points from the UR mall. Next, unless you want those products for yourself (or as gifts for others), you need to sell them for as close to the original purchase price as possible. My guess is that if you are smart about how you buy and resell items, you could get away with as little as a 10% loss (that is, a $500 loss on $5000 worth of products).

5000 More Miles: Since you would buy the $5000 worth of products using a mile or point earning credit card, you will get another 5,000 miles on top of the 100,000 listed before.

7000 More Miles: If you log into the Ultimate Rewards Mall with your Chase Sapphire account, the 100,000 miles you earn in the UR mall will result in an additional 7% yearend bonus of 7000 more miles! This bonus will be even more if you use the Sapphire to purchase the gift cards in the mall, but that’s not my plan…

50,000 More Miles: OK, this one is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s a nice way to run up the numbers. I recently signed up for the Chase Ink Bold which will give me a 50,000 point signup bonus after I spend $5000. You know where this is going, right? Now that I have both the Ink Bold and the Sapphire Preferred, when I log into the Ultimate Rewards mall I’m given a choice of which account to log into. So, my plan is to log into the Sapphire account so that mall points will go there (for the end of year bonus), but I will use the Ink Bold for buying the Sears gift cards. That way, I can quickly reach the minimum spend requirements and get 50,000 more points!

100,000 + 5,000 + 7,000 + 50,000 = 162,000 Miles!

Shopping Wisely

The goal is to find products that are in high demand on EBay and Amazon (for resale purposes) and that sell for a competitive price on Sears.com. You should also look for small items to reduce shipping expenses. Personally, I’m hoping to find items that cost $500 and up in order to reduce the number of items I need to sell. In some cases EBay fees are reduced for higher priced items as well, so that is another factor to consider. I will also look mostly at electronics since EBay fees for fixed price sales are considerably lower for high priced electronics than for other types of items. Another thing to consider is the list of Sears’ coupons that are available. Here is the list from the Ultimate Rewards Mall:

Note that code ELEC05 is listed in the text, but not in the coupon code column. If this code works, it will be pretty nice since it will almost completely cover the cost of sales tax depending on where you live.

Escape Plan

What if I buy all this junk and it doesn’t sell? Sears is currently running a “Holiday Extended Return Policy”. This means that, with the exception of computers, unopened items can be returned within 60 days of purchase. Computers can be returned within 30 days. If I try, but can’t sell what I buy, then yes I’ll return those items. I don’t know whether or not I’ll keep the bonus points in such a situation, but it would be really cool if I did! On the other hand, I think I would feel guilty about that…

Some readers have suggested that returning items from the get-go (without trying to sell them first) is a good way to earn miles without any expense. My guess is that this would work, but I don’t personally feel like it is the right thing to do. It is one thing to take advantage of the “double dip” so that Sears gets a smaller margin from each sale, and quite another thing to get Sears to buy you miles without them making a sale at all. I know everyone has different opinions about this: some people don’t feel right about even doing the double dip, whereas others feel that it is perfectly fine to rip off retailers as long as it doesn’t violate any laws. Everyone needs to do what they feel is right.

11:30-ish EST: time to go shopping… I’ll be back later with more info about what I’ve bought.

Purchase Tally (will be updated):

  • $200 Tires: Need for ourselves

12:15-ish EST: About to land…

2:00-ish EST: It was beautiful looking out the window as we descended towards Salt Lake City amidst snow capped mountains. Once we landed, though, I had a mad dash to the next concourse to get on my flight which was already boarding. I made it, and made the upgrade too. Two for two on upgrades so far today!

Purchase Tally (updated ~2:15 EST):

  • $200 Tires: Need for ourselves
  • $200 Nook Color: code ELEC05 took off the sales tax so I paid almost exactly $200. I know I said I was looking for more expensive items, but I want to see what its like selling these in preparation for an upcoming likely Barnes and Noble double dip! That one will have to work differently because B&N doesn’t pay UR points for purchases made with gift cards

I have my eye on a few SLR cameras: I might buy a couple. Unfortunately, we’re getting ready to land. I’m not sure I’m going to be able to pull this off during a mileage run after all!

4:30-ish EST: Ate late lunch in beautiful Sacramento airport. Waiting for flight to LAX and from there back home.

Purchase Tally (updated ~4:30 EST):

  • $200 Tires: Need for ourselves
  • $200 Nook Color: code ELEC05 took off the sales tax so I paid almost exactly $200. I know I said I was looking for more expensive items, but I want to see what its like selling these in preparation for an upcoming likely Barnes and Noble double dip! That one will have to work differently because B&N doesn’t pay UR points for purchases made with gift cards
  • $2000 for three digital SLR cameras. I got a few different ones to try to spread the risk a bit. I like having a diversified portfolio!

At this point I’m not sure I’m going to buy any more unless I find some really awesome deals. I’m pretty tired and need some non-screen time. It’s true that I could just buy more of what I already bought – we’ll see… The good thing is that I’m confident there will be more great deals like this one in the future. In fact, Sears was 10 points per dollar in the UR mall for a few months, I believe, before dropping to 5 points and then moving up to 6. I’ll be surprised if we don’t see it jump up to 10 again sometime in 2012.

Readers: How did you do? What did you buy?

8:15-ish EST: Barely made the upgrade list for my last, and longest flight – Los Angeles to Detroit. I’m very thankful to be sitting up front! I realize now that I haven’t bought presents yet so I need to get back to shopping!

10:00-ish EST:

OK, I’ve added a bunch of presents to the collection (I can’t tell you what they are!), but now I’m officially sick and tired of looking at Sears.com! Time for a nap J. In future posts I’ll describe how I do at selling some of the items I bought. I’m also very interested in hearing your experiences so please comment or email!

My total tonight was only about half of what I had set out to do. I bought $3000 worth of gift cards and spent about $2500 worth. So, I should see 55,000 points added to my account from the UR mall and will get a 7% bonus on top of that sometime in January. I still have work to do to meet my minimum spend, but there’s plenty of time (and deals) for that. Stay tuned.

Goodnight everyone!

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