Ibiza 2013: Part 1 – How I went to the 2013 Ibiza Closing Parties in First Class for $218.

Lufthansa PlaneThis is the first post in a series on my 2013 trip to the Ibiza Closing parties. Part of the free plane tickets were funded by the 40,000 point sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. I redeemed 135,000 points for First Class flights from Miami to Ibiza on Lufthansa.

I love last minute travel.  One minute you have no plans and the next you are flying across the world to have an amazing time.  This was one of those times!

As many of you know, last year I went to the Ibiza closing parties for the first time and while I only paid $239 and flew business class, this year I wanted to do even better!  I had some friends who were going to the closing parties and had rented a bad ass condo and had invited me to stay with them.  So I just needed to get a plane ticket out there and some tickets or guestlists to the parties and I would be all set!

I have oodles of Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I got from my Chase Ink Bold card (40,000 point sign up bonus) and my Chase Sapphire Preferred card (50,000 point sign up bonus) so I was free to use any of the three alliances.  I checked Oneworld since Iberia flies right into Ibiza, but there was no availability.  I then used the same steps that I explained to you guys in my article on How to Check Star Alliance Availability on United.com and I saw a couple of business class seats but not a whole lot of routing that would make sense.  I don’t mind hopping around airports a bit as long as I fly in business or first class and have lounge access during any long layovers. I always try to fly business or first class to get the maximum value from my miles.  Here is the chart for using one way travel using United miles on Star Alliance carriers such as Lufthansa. For round trip travel it would be 60K miles for Economy class, 100K for Business class, and 135K for First Class.

United Europe AwardUnited has an interactive planner you can access here or you can access the full award chart here if you want to check other destinations.  What I did see available when I checked was some Lufthansa First Class seats!

Lufthansa First Class is one of those things I have been wanting to fly forever and the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt is the stuff of legends in the travel and points world.  I found a routing that I thought would work and then I called in to try and book it since it wouldn’t let me book it online due to the complexity of the routing.  When I got the representative on the phone though, one of the segments was showing phantom availability, which happens with Lufthansa sometimes when the actual seats become mismatched from the seats showing on United.com. The representative was awesome though and she checked several alternate routings and found out a great solution that had availability.

Before I get to that, a couple of things about getting to Ibiza using Star Alliance carriers.  Since Ibiza is a small, seasonal island, there aren’t any direct flights from the US.  You typically have to fly to Madrid or Barcelona and then take a small plane from there.  But there aren’t any Star Alliance carriers that fly from Madrid or Barcelona to Ibiza!  What I found out though are there are some limited flights from Munich to Ibiza on Lufthansa on certain days.  By booking my outbound flight through Munich, I was able to take this non stop flight and save buying the flight from Madrid to Ibiza.  Getting back I wasn’t so lucky and the only thing that was available was Madrid to Frankfurt and then back across the Atlantic through Toronto.  So I would need to buy a one way flight from Ibiza to Madrid to catch my award ticket home.

So when all was said and done this is what I came up with for a total of 135,000 United miles and $218 ($118 + $75 last minute booking fee + $25 Phone booking fee).  Keep in mind that this was all booked the day before I was scheduled to leave!

MIA-IBZ-FLL-LAX

You will see that I booked this using an Open Jaw (called this because I fly into Ibiza and out of Madrid) and I flew out of Miami and back into Fort Lauderdale.  I had to do this so I could tack on a Free One Way flight to Los Angeles as I discussed in this article.  A trip around Valentine’s day to the Surfing Championships in Huntington Beach sounded like fun!

So there I was, booked again to travel to the White Isle for some of the best parties in the world.  And I was able to go First Class for the first time as well!  Wait until I write about that, it was incredible!

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First Class on Lufthansa. Yes, this is my seat / bed on the plane!

How to check Star Alliance Award availability at United.com

One of my friends called me this week and had a great problem.  After getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 40,000 Ultimate Reward Point sign up bonus and the limited time Chase Ink Bold with a 60,000 Point bonus, he was ready to redeem his points for a free trip but wasn’t sure how!  Today I will cover how to check Star Alliance availability and book using United.com.

First go to United.com and log in using your Mileage Plus account.  I use my Awardwallet page to autologin for me which saves some time.  In the top left corner there is a flight search section.  Here, put in whether you want one way or round trip, where you want to fly to and from, some approximate dates, and make sure you check Award Travel under Search By.

United Award SearchAs you can see I am searching for tickets from Miami to Barcelona for next summer. On the next screen you will see a calendar view as well as available flights.

United Award Calendar

As you can see from the color coded chart, availability is pretty wide open for next summer.  On the dates with the green, both economy and first / business are available.  On the dates with the yellow, only economy is available.  If the date you want isn’t available you can click on the color coded date to see which dates are available.  The default sort is by increasing travel time.  They list flights first that are all on United planes.  In this case there isn’t any low level availability on United (which is fine, because other Star Alliance flights are nicer especially in business class)

United Flights

If you scroll down, you will see Star Alliance Partner flights availability. We are looking for saver availability so we get the minimum amount of miles.

Partner FlightsI like to fly business class for any flight over 5 hours so for the purposes of this example I will choose the blue button next to the 50,000 mile and $19.10 option on a TAP Portugal flight. I go through the same process for the return flight.  The return flight has US Air and Swiss Airlines availability.  I know that Swiss Air flights are much better than US Air in business class so that is the one I would choose.

Partner Flights 2

Hitting the blue button next to the flight I want takes me to a summary screen.

united summary100,000 Miles and $87.80, not bad!  Click the blue Reserve button underneath to hold those flights for 24 hours or go ahead and purchase it if you are ready.

Advanced Tricks

Trick 1. Especially if you are looking for a specific airline, search for the individual flights that make up the journey, starting with the transatlantic flights which are typically harder to find.  For example, if you wanted to to find available flights on TAP Portugal only then a good way to go would be to search for the MIA to LIS flight first (since Lisbon is one of their hubs), then once you find availability, find the LIS to BCN flight.  You can combine this with trick 2 as well.

Trick 2. Use the nonstop search at the bottom of the search results to search for only one segment.  At the bottom of the first search results page, there is a section where you can specify to only search for non stop flights.  Using the above Lisbon example, we can search for just the MIA to LIS leg by entering that and checking the non stop only checkbox.

nonstop searchThis will bring up a calendar of just when there is award availability of the non stop flights. This will allow you to see which dates have the availability for the non stop flights that you want.

nonstop calendar There you have it!  How to search for Star Alliance Award availability using United.com.  Now plan your dream vacation now!

How I got 257 miles by buying … Protein Powder?

I have started going to the gym regularly lately with the whole 9 yards of a controlled diet and protein shakes, fish oil, creatine etc.  I recently ran out of my “Whey Protein” and hadn’t planned ahead.  I usually buy almost everything online so I can get miles or cashback by going through a shopping portal.  But in this case, I needed to buy it today and locally.  I know that GNC is a good albeit sometimes overpriced vitamin shop that carried the Optimum Nutrition brand I use.  I checked online and it was on sale for $56.99 which was about what I had paid before.

GNC ON

The normal method of getting miles for purchases is to just use a card such as my SPG Business Amex to get 1 point per $1 spent, which would have given me 57 points.   But I can do better than that! There is a Staples close to where I live that has GNC gift cards.  And since Staples is an Office Supply store, if I use my Chase Ink Bold, I receive 5X points for anything spent there, including gift cards!  So into Staples I go and I pick up two $25 GNC cards.

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For this purchase I will get 250 Ultimate Reward points ($50X5) that I can eventually transfer to airline miles or hotel points or even cash! I then went to my local GNC and paid for my purchase with the gift cards and put the additional $7 on another card that earned me 7 more miles. This netted me a total of 257 Miles instead of just 57. Nice!

But I could have done even better if I hadn’t been in a rush and had planned ahead.  By going to the EVReward.com site, I see that if I had shopped online at GNC.com using the ShopDiscover portal, I could have gotten an additional 15% back in cold, hard, cash through my Discover It® Card.

evreward

As you can see from the above chart, there are many different ways to get miles and cash at GNC.com.  Pick the one you value the most! And you can use this in combination with the gift cards you got from Staples with your Chase Ink Bold!

I know this is a simple example and not a whole lot of points or miles, but I hope this makes you think next time you need to buy something about how many miles or points you should be getting!

Awesome deal until Friday! Ink Bold 60K Bonus!

Chase Ink Bold Bonus

Chase is having a special this week in honor of small business week for a 60,000 Ultimate Reward point bonus for their Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards.  This is 10,000 more than the usual offer of 50,000.  It requires spending of $5,000 within 3 months to get the bonus.  They are also bumping the bonus from 20K to 25K for the Ink Cash and Ink Classic cards. Ultimate Reward points are the most valuable in my opinion because they can be redeemed for cash or transferred to many different airlines and hotel chains.

60,000 Ultimate Rewards points is enough for a round trip coach ticket to Europe by transferring your points to United Miles or two round trip tickets anywhere in the U.S.  I would add some to it and use 100K for a business class trip to Europe or 120K for Business class from the US to Asia.

This is the best offer I have seen for the Ink Bold in at least a year so if you were thinking about this card, apply now!  This is a business card so follow our guide we provided here in this post on the Business American Express on how to apply even if you are individual.

Get $200 in Gift Cards and 1000 Ultimate Reward Points for $1.90 or less at Officemax

OfficeMax Gift Card 10 off

Officemax is having a promotion this week until June 15, 2013 where if you buy $200 worth of Mastercard or Visa gift cards you get $10 off. Since these are MC/Visa gift cards, there are activation fees of either $6.95 (if your OfficeMax has $200 cards) or $5.95 (if your OfficeMax only has $100 cards).  After the discounts, you will pay $196.95 if they have $200 cards and $201.90 if you have to buy two $100 cards like I did. I took $400 worth of cards to the cashier and got her to ring up the orders separately so I got a discount on both orders.  She did have to look up the coupon in a binder that she had to get the discount. Since I paid with my Chase Ink Bold card, I get 5X Ultimate Rewards points on office supply stores.  Since I bought $400 worth that means 2000 more Ultimate Rewards points for me!

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If you use your Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus cards then you will get 5X$200 = 1,000 Ultimate Reward Points for your purchase.  You can use these gift cards for everyday spend like groceries or gas or you can deposit them to your Amex Prepaid card or Bluebird and then take it out at an ATM.

I will probably get more of these since paying $1.90/1000 points is a great deal.  Just to put this into perspective, if your OfficeMax only has the $100 cards, then you could get 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points for $114 in fees by buying 120 $100 gift cards (if your Officemax let you buy that many 2 at a time).  If they have $200 gift cards at your store, you could buy 60 of them and make 60,000 Ultimate rewards and PROFIT $183 while doing it!  You could use those 60,000 points for a coach ticket to Ibiza at the end of summer on United since they are a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards. I just checked and there is availability!

Ibiza for 60K

I don’t really expect many of you to go around to 10 different OfficeMax stores buying $12,000 worth of gift cards, but you could do it to get a free or almost free trip! All you need is the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus cards to take advantage of offers like these because they give you 5X Ultimate Rewards Points at office supply stores.  I will probably end up with $1,000 worth of cards and 5,000 miles from this offer.  Gotta love the points and miles game!

Eurotrip 2013: Part 1 – How I am taking my Dad to Ireland, Scotland, and Wimbledon in London in Business Class for $137!

wimbledon court

This is the first post in a series about my 2013 trip to Ireland, Scotland and Great Britain. Part of the free plane tickets were funded by the 40,000 point sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

My Dad loves tennis.  Like really loves it.  Like he Tivos two different tennis matches while he watches a third.  He watches the tennis channel.  Back around Christmas time, I was trying to come up with an over the top gift for him and I was trying to think of a trip we could take together.  As I watched him watch recorded tennis matches, I thought about how he had never been to Wimbledon in London, which I consider to be the most epic tennis tournament each year. He is also an avid golfer and I knew that some of the best and oldest courses in the world were in Scotland including the famous St. Andrews. He is also a history and genealogy buff and I knew that my ancestors the Butlers lived in Kilkenny Castle in Ireland for 600 years.  On a selfish note, I had been to London several times, but had always wanted to visit Ireland and Scotland.

kilkenny castle

So my plan was hatched: For Christmas, I would give him a trip to Ireland, Scotland and Wimbledon!  Since Wimbledon was in the last part of June / early July, I had time to get the flights in business class.  I knew that I could use my 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points I received from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card as an annual bonus along with some of the 264,000 points I got by shopping with Sears to go round trip to Europe for 100,000 miles on United (and other Star Alliance carriers). I checked some flight times and printed out a sample itinerary which I presented to him on Christmas day.  I was waiting to book it just in case there was a problem with the dates or anything.

He was thrilled but I didn’t end up trying to book it until mid March.  Once I started looking using United’s Award Seat system the frequent flyer tickets quickly started disappearing daily! Since I was leaving from Miami and him from Nashville, I knew we would probably have to meet from one of the gateway cities such as New York or Charlotte for the trip across the pond.  I found some flights on US air, but when I researched their business class seats on the plane available, I saw that they were not the fully flat which makes it hard to get any good rest (you end up feeling like you slept in a lazy boy chair).  I searched many alternate routes and ended up finding some business seats on Brussels Airlines on the way there and on Lufthansa on the way back.

The main trip was for 7 nights in Ireland, 4 nights in Scotland and 4 nights in London.  This would allow us enough time to tour the Irish countryside, see the ring of Kerry and the castle where the Butlers lived, play a couple of rounds of golf at some famous Irish and Scottish courses and fully experience Wimbledon in London.  I was able to include an overnight in New York, an all day layover in Brussels, an overnight in Frankfurt, and a free one way in first class to San Diego in the winter.  These are sort of complicated topics so I will write additional articles about them, but I ended up quite pleased with how the trip worked out.

BNA-DUB

And the cost for this amazing trip?  100,000 united miles and $137! I used my Business Gold Rewards from American Express to pay for the $137 since I get triple miles on airfare charges.  I have a feeling the memories we are going to create will be priceless!  And we just so happen to leave the day after Father’s Day so it will be even more special. Why don’t you get started today so you can surprise someone you love with something amazing!  I can help!

Get paid $8 to collect 1000 Ultimate Rewards Points with your Ink Bold or Ink Plus card!

staplesgiftcardrebate

Staples is having an offer this week until March 9, 2013 where you get a $15 rebate in the form of a gift card or a check when you buy $150 or more in Visa prepaid cards.  If you have an Ink Bold or Ink Plus card that gives you 5X Ultimate Rewards points at office supply stores you can get 1000 Ultimate Rewards points for your purchase and end up making $8 on the deal!  Here is how it works:

  • Go to Staples and find the gift card rack.
  • Look for the $200 Visa gift card with a $6.95 purchase fee that looks like this:

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  • Buy this gift card using your Ink Bold or Ink Plus card to get 5X the purchase price in UR points.
  • A rebate form should print on your receipt, but you can skip the form and when you get home go directly to www.stapleseasyrebates.com
  • Click on “Store Purchase” then fill out the forms with the Offer Number and the Easy Rebate ID number from your receipt.
  • On the rebate screen, you can click on the option that says “I would like to see other options for my reward [Rebate Check, Staples Gift Card] and the following screen comes up.

stapleschangerebate2

The final screen will confirm all your settings so hit Submit Rebate and you should get a $15 in a few weeks.  So $15 in a check back, a $200 Visa Gift card, and 1000 Ultimate Reward points for a cost of $206.95!  Note this will work with any points earning card, but it is much sweeter getting the 5X points of the Ink cards.

Enjoy!

How I paid $5 instead of $370 for a last minute ticket.

I had the unfortunate need to be in North Carolina for a funeral recently and I was reminded of yet another use for frequent flyer miles that you don’t typically think of. I found out on Thursday that I needed to be in Raleigh on Sunday and the flights were priced at $370 round trip from Miami for the last minute travel. I knew that American and United both charged 25,000 miles for domestic award travel. US Air was also an option at a cost of 20,000 miles since I have the US Airways Mastercard which gives a discount of 5,000 miles off of their flights. However, I knew that the cheapest option would probably be to use British Airways miles since they use a distance based chart and the distance from Miami to Raleigh was only 700 miles. As you see from this chart, this meant that it would only cost 15,000 miles and $5 for the security fees.

Avios Award Chart

Since British Airways is a member of the Oneworld Alliance, the flight would actually be operated by American Airlines. So I saved 10,000 frequent flyer miles versus booking directly with American for the exact same flights! Even better, British Airways doesn’t charge any fees for last minute bookings like United does so I wouldn’t have to pay any additional out of pocket other than the $5 in taxes / security fees. I still had miles leftover from my 100,000 mile British Airways card that I applied for a few years back that I used for this booking. If you are short on miles though, luckily, BA is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards which means all of those miles I get from paying my rent I can transfer to British Airways for bookings like this. You can also use the 50,000 point sign up bonus from the Ink Plus card, the 50,000 from the Ink Bold card, or the 40,000 from the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for BA Transfers.

This redemption gave me a value of 2.4 cents per mile which I was happy with. You can get better value by redeeming for business and first class tickets but that doesn’t always meet with your travel needs. Points and miles are about meeting YOUR travel needs and saving you money which were both accomplished in my case. So if you find yourself in the situation of needing last minute airfare for family illness or worse, keep in mind to look at using your miles for an alternative to paying last minute prices.

Holiday shopping for miles and profit via online shopping portals!

You should be getting miles or cashback for every single purchase you make this holiday season.  There.  I said it.  If you play your cards right, you could get earn enough miles for a free vacation just by spending what you were going to spend anyways! Wouldn’t you rather get 10,000 miles for that LCD TV you are going to buy for $1000? Well, pay attention, because I’m going to write about four different ways to get miles or cashback today.  After that will go over some advanced ways to combine the options to really kick things into high gear!

  1. Miles Earning Credit or Debit Cards
  2. Cashback Credit Cards
  3. Online Shopping Portals for Miles
  4. Online Shopping Portals for Cashback

1. Miles Earning Credit or Debit Cards

This is one you should be familiar with if you have been reading this blog for a while. At a minimum you should be getting 1 mile or point per dollar spent. Almost every card on our Top Credit Cards page that lists miles or points as its type will give you this. You get miles for every dollar spent so you should be putting everything you buy on one of these credit cards (and then paying it off right away of course).  Some of my favorites are:

  • SPG American Express (25K sign on bonus) which gives 1 Starpoint for every dollar spent.  For hotel stays these are some of the most valuable points and I have been getting at least $0.05 per Starpoint when I redeem them for Cash and Points stays.
  • Amex Premier Rewards Gold (25K sign on bonus) which gives 1 Membership Rewards point for ever dollar spent. This are great because of the flexibility to be able to transfer to several different airlines and hotel programs.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K sign on bonus) which gives 1 Ultimate Rewards point for every dollar spent.  These points I would value even higher than the membership rewards points due to their flexibility via a higher number of transfer partners (airlines and hotels).

But you can do better than 1% a lot of times!  The Chase Freedom card gives 5X Ultimate Rewards points on Best Buy and Kohl purchases for example The Chase Ink Bold gives 5X UR Points on Office Supply purchases (OfficeMax, Office Depot, and Staples) so it can add up quickly on computers or tablet purchases.

Even if your credit needs work, you can still get 1 miles per dollar spent by using the Suntrust Delta Debit Card I wrote about.

2. Cashback Credit Cards

These cards don’t give you miles, but instead give you cold, hard cash.  I started with cash back, but realized that there is much better value in the miles cards if you want to travel the world.  Not everyone is the same though so cashback might be a better option if you hate to fly or something. Some of my favorites are:

  • Discover It Card: Up to 1% cashback on all purchases.  They have an additional bonus for the 4th quarter for 2012 of 5% at all online shopping and department stores up to $1500 in purchases which can be combined with shopping portal earnings.
  • Amex Business Simply Cash Card: 5% in Office Supply Stores, 1% at most other places.
  • OPEN Savings from Amex Business cards such as the SPG Business Amex: If you have a business Amex, their OPEN program gives you almost instantaneous cashback with a few key vendors.  The one that I have used multiple times is 10% back on purchases of $250 or more at Officemax.com.  It is only the total purchase amount that matters so gift cards, clearance items, and coupons all work in conjunction with this. Other choices are some Marriott properties, Hertz and Hyatt.

3. Online Shopping Portal for Miles.

This is where the big miles earning opportunities come into play.  The way this works is instead of going directly to a merchant, like for example, Homedepot.com, you would instead log into your shopping portal first then click on their link to Home Depot.  By the power of cookies the site can tell that you came from the shopping portal and the merchant gives the shopping portal a referral fee, that they rebate to you in the form of miles.

Some of these portals you can use any credit card you want, such at the Southwest Rapid Rewards Mall. I used this mall to get 189,000 miles by shopping earlier this year! Other examples are the American AAdvantage Shopping Mall, the United Mileage Plus Shopping Mall and the Delta Skymiles Mall.

One of the best malls that I have made hundreds of thousands of miles with is the Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Mall. Due to the flexibility of the Ultimate Rewards points, this is often my top choice for purchases even if another site has a slightly higher multiplier.

Some merchants even allow you to buy gift cards and get points, then to go back through and get points again on the gift card use.  I took advantage of this strategy at Sears when I got double dipped to maximize my miles and got a companion pass in the process.

Two great sites for comparing the miles (and cashback) are EVReward and Cashbackholic. You just have to put the store name in the search box and it will come up with an array of miles and cashback sites.  Keep in mind that when you redeem airline miles, you will often get at least $0.02 per mile and Hotel Points closer to $0.01 (except for Starpoints which I value around $0.03.)

4. Online Shopping Portal for Cashback.

This is even more simple than the miles portals.  You sign into the portal, then click through to the merchant and then get a % back in cash in usually 4-6 weeks, but it can sometimes be longer. EVReward and Cashbackholic are still the best spots to compare all of the options in one place.  My favorites for cashback are:

ShopDiscover: Has 10% for Groupon that I use all the time, and during the holiday season it bumps up the cash back on a lot of its sites to 3-4 times what everyone else is offering (think 15% instead of 5% cash back for instance). I make several hundred dollars per year just on Discover Cashback so with no annual fee, this card is staying in my wallet.

UPromise: Has a larger selection of stores than almost any portal and the tracking of your clicks is rock solid.  Even though it bills itself as cashback for education, there are several ways to get the cash back into your hands.

TopCashBack: This cashback site has some of the highest cashback out there, including a whopping 21% recently at Intercontinental Hotels. In my experience the points are a bit slow to post, but eventually it pays out as it should. I use Upromise if the rate is about the same, but will still use this site if it is the highest %.

Advanced Strategies.

Once you have the basics above down, you can combine them to find the best option.  When I got almost a quarter million Ultimate Rewards points and $1000 cash, I bought gift cards for 10X points using the Ultimate Rewards mall (from section 3) and my Chase Sapphire Preferred card for 1X points (from section 1) and then used those gift cards after clicking through UPromise for 5% cashback (section 4).

You can buy $500 Visa gift cards at OfficeMax or Office Depot getting 5X Ultimate Rewards points (from section 1) then go through Southwest’s Shopping Portal (from Section 2) to get 7X miles from Shoes.com

You can buy $1500 in gift cards at Sears.com on your Discover card getting 5% back on online shopping (from Section 1) using their ShopDiscover portal for 10% cashback (from Section 4) then use those gift cards through UPromise (from Section 4) for another 5%.  That is a whopping 20% off of anything total up to $1500 at Sears!

You can go through UPromise to OfficeMax.com (Section 4) to get 5% cashback then use your Amex with OPEN savings to pay for your purchase of $250 or more and get 10% back in a statement credit. (Section 2).  15% off any total at Officemax and that is after any coupons or sales!

Conclusion

If you can’t see the value after reading this article, then go back and read it again!  Or ask any questions that you have in the comments.

How I made 264,000 Ultimate Rewards points and $1000+ with Sears

Disclaimer: I know most of you won’t have the credit to do something like this, but this is an example of what is possible when you are careful with your credit and are able to jump on an opportunity when it comes available. By following the steps in our Credit Repair 101 article, you can start your way back to a credit line that can make something like this possible for you.

Back in August, the Ultimate Rewards Mall was having a special on Sears.com where they were giving 10 points for every dollar spent (currently 5).  I had previously gone big on Sears.com purchases and scored 189,000 Rapid Rewards points and wanted to do so again with this promotion. You needed either a Chase Ink Bold, a Chase Ink Plus, a Chase Sapphire Preferred, or a Chase Freedom card to have access to the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  The general process I used was:

  1. Log into my Chase Sapphire Preferred account, access the Ultimate Rewards mall and click through to Sears
  2. Buy enough $500 gift cards to purchase the amount of goods you want to buy.
  3. Log into your UPromise account and click through to Sears a second time.
  4. Use those gift cards to buy items from Sears.com
  5. Once you receive the items, sell them on Amazon.com using their Fulfillment By Amazon program

In my case, I had a high credit limit on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card that had a zero balance so I timed my purchases to hit my account right when the statement cycle began.  This would give me almost 2 months before my payment was due and plenty of time to sell the tablets.  I decided to go big and bought $24,000 in Sears gift cards which would give me 240,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  I also picked up another 24,000 points for the spend.  I obviously got a call from Sears security department to verify the transaction but soon had 48 $500 gift cards available and a few weeks later 240,000 UR points!

I was able to catch a good sale on Sears.com for the Asus Transformer TF300 Tablets for $349.99 which after tax and free shipping cost me $374.49 each.  After logging into Upromise.com, which gives 5% cash back for Sears.com purchases, I bought 64 tablets for a total of $23999.36 and used the gift cards to pay for it.  I talked about UPromise cashback before in my iPhone 5 article so hopefully you already have an account with them.   I did have to break it into groups of 10 tablets per order. Since I am a member of their ShopYouWayRewards program, I also got 1% back in points (222,528 points that I can use as a $222.53 credit towards a future sears purchase). I received $1162 in cashback from UPromise for the order.

Once the tablets arrived, I immediately shipped (at a cost of $63) them off to Amazon.com for sale via their Fulfillment by Amazon program. They handle the marketing shipping and billing and take a cut from each sale.  I’m not going to delve into the details of that too much today, but I ended up selling almost all of them for $399.98 (1 cent less than the Amazon price) which after all of the Amazon fees netted me $374.99 per tablet, or $23999.36 or almost exactly what I paid! They direct deposit the funds right into my checking account two weeks after the sales which I then used to pay off the credit card.

So at the end of the day, I ended up with 264,000 Ultimate Rewards points, $1162 in cash back from UPromise, and $222 in credit for a future Sears purchase! So in essense I just got paid to get over a quarter million points! To put that in perspective, that is enough for 4 round trip coach tickets to Europe on United, or 26 round trip tickets from Miami to Cancun on British Airways! Wow!

Several things could have gone wrong with this plan such as the price on the tablets dropping a lot before I could resell but I figured I had 30 days at Sears to return if things started falling apart. If this sounds interesting to you then take a look at our Getting Started page and join me in the points and miles game! Feel free to put any questions you have about this process in the comments and I will answer them.