When 18X beats 21X. Same store, same portal.

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Note: Most of the following post was written yesterday morning.  Since then, I learned about some additional related issues, so I added information about that to the end of this post.  It’s like getting two posts for the price of one! 

One of my favorite quadruple dips involves both the Ultimate Rewards Mall and Kohl’s and makes use of intermittently available Kohl’s 30% off discount codes and Kohl’s Cash offers.  I reported the latest such offer via my QuickDeals page: “Kohl’s charge card holders get 30% off everything plus Kohl’s cash.”

The quadruple dip goes like this:

  1. Go through Ultimate Rewards Mall to Kohl’s to buy physical gift cards.  Earn 10 points per dollar (10X) from the mall and 1X from your credit card.
  2. Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Kohl’s to use gift cards.  Earn 10X.
  3. Apply 30% off coupon (if you are a Kohl’s charge card holder) or 20% off coupon otherwise.
  4. For every $50 worth of purchases (after discounts are applied), you’ll earn $10 Kohl’s Cash to be used for future purchases.

Through the above process, I have many times earned 21 points per dollar (1 point from my credit card, 10X for buying the gift cards, and 10X for using the gift cards).  On top of that, I’ve saved 30% and earned up to 20% in the form of Kohl’s Cash (which I value at about 10% due to Kohl’s Cash limitations).

Full details about this quadruple dip can be found here: “Extreme Savings at Kohl’s.”  If you’re interested in the quadruple dip, please read that post.

Chase Freedom

This quarter, Kohl’s is one of the Chase Freedom 5X categories.  So, if you haven’t already maxed out your bonus ($1500 5X spend), you can actually earn up to 25 points per dollar by following the above steps and paying for the gift cards with your Freedom card.

Flaky recent results

Since August, shopping at Kohl’s through the Ultimate Rewards Mall has been problematic.  For a while, almost all purchases were underreported by Kohl’s to the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  For example, a person might spend $300, but only $100 was reported for the sale.  Chase will always award mall bonus points based on the sale amount reported to them by the merchant.  So, in this example, the shopper would earn 1000 points (10 x $100) rather than the expected 3000 points.

More recently, most of the portal problems seem to have been resolved, except for one big issue: purchases of gift cards are still being frequently underreported.  As far as I can tell, it seems as if $100 purchases are fine, but larger purchases are underreported.  It may only be an issue when you buy multiple of the same gift card.  I don’t know for sure.  All I can say with confidence right now is that you cannot be sure of earning 10X from physical gift card purchases (and you will never earn points for e-gift card purchases, in my experience).

The faster and safer Ink option

There are two big problems with the quadruple dip I described above.  One issue is the flaky results of recent transactions (see above).  Another issue is that gift cards by mail can take quite a while to be delivered (expect at least a week, if not more).  And e-gift card purchases are known not to work.  Waiting to receive a gift card in the mail might not be a viable option if you’re in a hurry to buy something, or if you’re trying to buy during a soon to expire sale.

A faster and safer option is to buy Kohl’s gift cards at Staples and pay with a Chase Ink card.  Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to Staples.com, buy a Kohl’s e-gift card, and pay with your Chase Ink card.  By going through the Ultimate Rewards Mall you’ll (currently) earn 3 points per dollar, and by paying with your Chase Ink card you’ll earn 5 points per dollar (since this will be classified as an office supply purchase).  In my experience, you’ll receive the Kohl’s gift card sometime the next day.  In total, you’ll earn 8X for the purchase of these gift cards.

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If you’re really in a hurry, you can go in person to an office supply store and buy Kohl’s gift cards with your Chase Ink card to get 5X for the purchase.

Once you have the Kohl’s gift card(s), follow steps 2-4, above to complete your savings and point earnings.  With this faster and safer option, you’ll earn a total of 18X points (or 15X points if you buy the gift cards in-person) and the same 30% savings and up to 20% Kohl’s cash.

Summary

It is possible to earn 21X to 25X for Kohl’s purchases, but the approach takes time and may not work as expected.  If you have the Freedom card and haven’t maxed out its quarterly bonus, this is still probably the best way to go (for the chance of earning 25X).  Even if you’re in a hurry, you could use your Freedom card at Kohls.com to buy e-gift cards (or in person at Kohl’s to buy gift cards) and get a total of 15X.

If you don’t have the Freedom card or have already maxed out its quarterly bonus, your best bet (for speed and reliability) is to use a Chase Ink card as described above, and earn 15X to 18X on your purchases. 

Recent problems using gift cards

Now that I’ve described a solution to the problem of getting points for Kohl’s gift card purchases, another problem has surfaced: people have experienced problems when trying to use gift cards with the 30% off codes.  Some people have reported being unable to complete the order online and others have reported that their orders have been cancelled before delivery.  One reader was told that you must put at least some of your order on the Kohl’s charge card for it to work, but even that didn’t seem to fix things.  Personally, I’ve had mixed results.  Yesterday, one order seemed to go through without any trouble, but of course it could still get cancelled before shipment.  A second order wouldn’t go through at all.  The screen showed an incomprehensible error message.

I’m hoping that Kohls is experiencing temporary technical issues, but more likely this is a continuation or evolution of the flaky results we first saw in August.  Either way, I hope Kohl’s fixes their systems soon!

Have you experienced problems placing Kohl’s orders?  If so, what discount codes did you use?  Also, did you pay with gift cards?  Please comment below.

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