Top 3 ways to earn uncapped profit buying Visa gift cards

Money Tree

The points & miles game is, to many of us, a series of fun and challenging puzzles.  We first figure out how to earn the most points & miles for the least cost and effort, and then we figure out how to get the most value with those points and miles (see: The games we play).  While I usually write about points & miles techniques, it’s not lost on me that many of the same techniques can be used to earn cash back.

One technique that works well for cash back is buying and liquidating Visa/Mastercard gift cards.  It’s possible to earn a profit with these transactions, and you won’t receive 1099 tax forms.  This post looks only at the buy side of the equation: how to earn the most profit with each gift card purchase.  How to liquidate gift cards is not covered here.  While some liquidation techniques are covered in our Manufactured Spending Complete Guide, most techniques vary by location. To learn how to liquidate gift cards, your best bet is to try to find others in your area who are willing to help.

It’s often possible to earn high cash back rates through limited credit card bonuses.  For example, a number of credit cards offer very high rewards on grocery spend but only up to $6K spend per year (or up to $25K per year with the Amex Gold card).  Similarly, a number of cards offer 5% back in various categories of spend, but only on up to $1500 or $2500 spend per quarter.  This post is not about those limited deals.

Manufacturing Spend Caution: Many, many things can go wrong when manufacturing spend. If you suddenly increase credit card spend, your accounts may get shut down. If you cycle your balance often (e.g. spend to your limit, pay the bill, repeat) within a billing cycle, your accounts may get shut down. If you repeatedly pay your credit card bill from an anonymous bill payment source, your accounts may get shut down. If you buy lots of gift cards you may lose money due to gift card fraud, theft, loss, or simply mishandling those gift cards (e.g. maybe you thought you already used a gift card and tossed it into your “used” bin). If you rely on only one method to liquidate gift cards, you may be stuck unable to pay your credit card bill when that method gets shut down. In other words, don’t try this at home unless you know what you’re doing, and you understand and accept the risks..

This post is about (mostly) uncapped cash back rewards opportunities when buying Visa or Mastercard gift cards. In a future post I’ll similarly look at the best uncapped points & miles options.

Here are the options I’ve identified that offer the biggest potential cash profits:

#3: Gift Card Mall + Ebates + Ebates Visa

($14.05 profit* per card)

Gift Card Mall offers $500 Visa gift cards online with a $5.95 fee per card and free USPS shipping on orders under $2,000 (inclusive of fees) or $10.95 per order (or more depending upon which shipping option you choose) for larger orders.

Even better, you can earn 1% cash back by clicking through the Ebates cash back portal to Gift Card Mall.  By ordering 3 or fewer $500 gift cards at a time this way (with free shipping), your cost per card after the portal rebate is only 95 cents.  That’s a mere 0.19% of the card’s $500 value.

Profit comes into play when you use a credit card that earns better than 0.19% in rewards (i.e. almost any rewards card out there).  The best card for this purchase is probably the Ebates Cash Back Visa which earns 3% cash back on qualified purchases made through the Ebates portal.

By buying gift cards with no shipping fee at Gift Card Mall after clicking through the Ebates cash back portal, you’ll spend $5.95 in fees for each card, but you’ll get back $5 per card from the portal and $15 from the credit card.

Example Purchase: $500 Visa gift card with $5.95 fee

  • Click through Ebates to Gift Card Mall for 1% cash back ($5)
  • Pay with Ebates Visa for 3% back ($15)

Profit* per card: $20 – $5.95 = $14.05 (not counting the cost to liquidate cards)

Limits: $1,686 profit* per month per person (portal rebates are limited to $60K spend per month: 120 $500 cards).

Credit card fees: None

* “Profit” does not account for cost to liquidate cards

#2 Gift Card Mall + Ebates MR + Ebates Visa + Schwab Platinum

($19.05 profit* per card)

Now that you can earn Membership Rewards points instead of cash back from Ebates, there’s another play here.  The Amex Platinum Card from Schwab lets you cash out points at 1.25 cents each.

Example Purchase: $500 Visa gift card with $5.95 fee

  • Click through Ebates (Membership Rewards version) to Gift Card Mall for 1X Membership Rewards
    (500 Membership Rewards)
  • Pay with Ebates Visa for 3X Membership Rewards (1500 Membership Rewards)
  • Via Schwab Platinum, cash out 2000 Membership Rewards points for $25

Profit* per card: $25 – $5.95 = $19.05

Limits: $2,286 profit* per month per person (portal rebates are limited to $60K spend per month: 120 $500 cards).

Credit card fees: $550 per year

* “Profit” does not account for cost to liquidate cards

#1 Gas Stations + Ducks Unlimited

($19.35 profit* per card)

If you’re lucky enough to find a gas station (or a numerically named convenience store) that sells Visa or Mastercard gift cards loadable up to $500 each, and that’s willing to let you pay with a credit card, you’re in luck.  Many credit cards that offer bonuses for gas purchases are limited to “pay at the pump” transactions.  Fortunately, the Ducks Unlimited Visa card does not have that restriction.  With the Ducks card, you get 5% back on all gas station purchases.

Most Visa or Mastercard gift cards loadable to $500 include a $5.95 fee.  With the Ducks card, you’ll get 5% back on the full $505.95 charge.

Example Purchase: $500 Visa or Mastercard gift card with $5.95 fee

  • Pay with Ducks Visa for 5% back (5% of $505.95 = $25.30)

Profit* per card: $25.30 – $5.95 = $19.35

Pump up the profit: It may be possible to increase profits with a card linked offer for your local gas station convenience store.

Limits: Some gas station convenience stores have limits on how much you can spend at once on gift cards

Credit card fees: None

Alternate approach: The Amex Business Gold Card offers up to 4X at US gas stations. When paired with the Schwab Platinum, this combination earns 5% cash back at US gas stations on up to $150K in purchases per year.

* “Profit” does not account for cost to liquidate cards

Last updated on April 9th, 2019

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Jason
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Jason

Thank you for this.

John
Guest
John

Legit thought this was an April Fools day post based on the headline but I guess not…

TobyK
Guest
TobyK

The second paragraph under #3 says cost is $2.17 per card but I believe it is $0.95 per card ($5.95 cost less $5 rebate). Otherwise, a great article. I didn’t know about the Ebates 3% rebate for purchases on their site

Parts Unknown
Guest
Parts Unknown

AKA how to get shutdown by Synchrony and/or Amex. Cycling $60k/mo on your Ebates Visa prob not the best idea imo

Ilikeit
Guest
Ilikeit

No love for ink & csr? Staples $300+6.95 fee = at min $23 if using portal with csr or more if you redeem for upper classes with transfer. So at min profit of $16

ABC
Guest
ABC

Where do u get portal points for VGC bought at staples? And isn’t that card $8.95?

Mike
Guest
Mike

I tried to buy some visas at staples.com today and all denominations of visas (and mastercards) were “out of stock for delivery”. Also noticed their website has been revamped and “welcome to the new staples” on the homepage. Hoping this isn’t the end of a very convenient MS path for UR points.

Mike
Guest
Mike

second day…still out of stock for delivery

Mike
Guest
Mike

4th day…i’m sensing this may be permanent. It’s just the visas and mastercards showing out of stock online – other gift cards are available. Surprised this isn’t getting more attention. Hopefully Staples stores will continue to sell Vs and MCs (especially with their no/reduced fee promos).

Ilikeit
Guest
Ilikeit

Oh and excellent article Gregg! Very interesting.

Tommy B.
Guest
Tommy B.

I can appreciate wanting to help educate people, but articles like this are what leads to profitable methods getting shutdown quickly.

Debit
Guest
Debit

Uncapped makes no sense if there is no easy liquidation method. Dumb idiots that will vote for orange cheetos and his illegal financial frauds will want to see your name on the gift card when you buy more than one money order.

Credit
Guest
Credit

They are not dumb. They might be idiots but not dumb.

rick ingersoll
Guest
rick ingersoll

Any DP on successful posting of Ebates 3MR on gift card purchases yet with MR linked?

Carter
Guest
Carter

Was wondering about this. Do we actually have confirmation that the 3x Ebates payout is in MR assuming you have an MR-earning EBates account?

voyager
Guest
voyager

i get mine, yes, 3x. Takes a while to post, but eventually gets there, at least for now.

Stephen Dedalus
Guest
Stephen Dedalus

Interesting post. With respect to the third option (gas stations + Ducks Unlimited), I haven’t ever had a problem finding gas stations to sell $500 Vanilla VGCs, and until recently could easily liquidate these cards. About a month ago, though, these cards stopped working for me across the board to buy MOs. Quite frustrating, especially in light of all the drug store/gas station category/rotating bonuses (e.g., Dividend, Freedom etc.)

Nick Reyes
Editor

Interesting. I haven’t had any trouble buying MOs with the Vanillas as recently as this week (not at WM obviously). Curious as to where you’ve had trouble when you say “across the board”.

Stephen Dedalus
Guest
Stephen Dedalus

The “across the board phrase” may have been misleading, but in the past I’ve been able to buy MOs with Vanillas at various gas stations and at Kroger grocery stores, but recently these options stopped working. Perhaps I need to find different places that sell MOs with debit cards.

Mike@ms4profit
Guest
Mike@ms4profit

They say the best [insert profession here ie. architect, engineer etc} come from other fields – primarily because they were not trained by others from their same profession and they bring their own perspectives and ideas. I figured out MSing on my own about 10 years ago – I didn’t know this was a thing until I stumbled on to these blogs about 4 years ago. The method I figured out is different (and easier) than what everyone else is doing. I also like to say – “If everyone is thinking the same thing, then nobody is really thinking at all.”
My recommendation to everyone is to think outside the box – don’t just follow what everyone else is doing like sheeple! There are other ways and more profitable ways to MS. I make between $34.40 and $53.50 per $500 vgc (before liquidation). Average is about $40 for each – uncapped. I use a few different methods to liquidate and they are less time consuming than the WM MO route and similar in cost. I do use the WM MO method as well when convenient but do not rely on it. I do about $10k per week in volume and it takes me about 20-30 minutes. I have also been racking up hundreds of thousands of miles/points each year without doing any MS and very little CC churning – since the 1990’s.
My point is to not rely on others to spoon feed you. Think on your own. It’s ok to use the info given here on these blogs for your benefit and gain, but don’t act like it’s the end of the world when they dry up or get you banned or shut down.

Nick W
Guest
Nick W

Your post definitely got my hamster wheel spinning.

Earl Lee
Guest
Earl Lee

You also got me wondering. I just went to your website and would love to find out more about this.

Miles Ahead
Guest
Miles Ahead

@Mike@ms4profit If your point is that people should not cry when methods that they likely found on some blog somewhere in their past now dry up (for whatever reason) should not now cry about blogs distributing the information– I 100% agree with you, but as for the rest of your post; is your point that
people who rely on MO’s/Bluebird/Serve and the like and read blogs like this are:
1) lazy
2) stupid
3) require spoon feeding
4) not as smart as you
??

I don’t know, I thought the purpose of a blog was to communicate and share. Talking about other methods that are not shared really serves no useful purpose whatsever unless it is to stroke your own ego.

Stryker
Guest
Stryker

. I think he’s just pimping his website or mastermind here.

Mike
Guest
Mike

anybody here ever heard of this guy before? Obvious to me with that name selection that he is trying to promote his website. I assume he charges a fee to learn his wonderful MS secrets?

Credit
Guest
Credit

Yup. And Earl Lee seems to be his bitch.

joseph crews
Guest
joseph crews

Can you email me ways to liquidate Visa debit cards ?

Yuri
Guest
Yuri

7-11 still charges $4.95 for gift card, there is currently a promo for $1 off when you buy OVGC. So the math for Du will be $20.30 profit.

Mike
Guest
Mike

promo is good until April 9

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Isn’t Ducks Unlimited mentioned with gas station in same sentence a double negative?

voyager
Guest
voyager

what Chase CIP, isn’t it earning 3x from GCM? With cashback, that might be better than 3x ebates.

Sam
Guest
Sam

Are GCMall GCs embossed with our names? I am not successful at WMs or Krogers without names on card…almost seen as a fraudster. Don’t like that feeling…

Mike
Guest
Mike

yes they are embossed with your name. Most WMs will take them for MOs, but I’ve run across a couple that wouldn’t (saying it needs to be linked to a personal bank account and it’s easy to tell these aren’t). But most of the WMs are not that sophisticated and are just looking for an embossed name.

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[…] (vs the normal 1%) on certain styles of cards. At the same time, other advanced techniques are step by step posted on blogs that will likely end in the death of some of these deals. In addition to these we have the good old […]

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[…] Top 3 ways to earn uncapped profit buying Visa gift cards- Frequent Miler […]

Cory
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Cory

I often wonder if I am on the right track with the miles/points game. Thank you for opening my eyes to the possibilities!

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[…] Greg’s recent post about the top 3 ways to earn uncapped profit buying Visa gift cards, a reader gave us the heads up that both Visa and Mastercard gift cards have been out of stock on […]

tajar
Guest
tajar

What about using Alliant @ 2.5% ?

JoeP
Guest
JoeP

Bought VGC at GCM with Ebates card. It tracks and posts the reward at 1x, not at the 3x as believed. Be aware.

djbaker77
Guest
djbaker77

Won’t the 3X show up on your credit card statement once the billing cycle closes, then be transferred to your MR earning ebates account as MR points, not cash back?

joseph crews
Guest
joseph crews

Good article. Do you have reliable ways to liquidate Visa debit cards?