Awesome Deal! $1150 in gift cards and 5200 Ultimate Rewards points for $1060 from Staples!

Another day, another awesome deal! This deal works best if you have the Ink Bold or Ink Plus card that gives you 5X Ultimate Rewards points on office supply stores but it is a deal even if you pay cash or put it on your debit or any credit card. Staples is having a promo until 11/24 where you get a $15 Staples gift card via an easy rebate (which means you can do it all online) for every $100 Mastercard or Visa gift card you buy (limit of 10 rebates per customer/mailing address).

The Basics

  1. Buy $1000 worth of Mastercard or Visa Gift Cards from Staples
  2. Submit your rebate online
  3. Wait 6-8 weeks for your extra $150 in gift cards to arrive.
  4. Liquidate or use your gift cards (can do part of this before #3 )

The Details

1. Buy $1000 worth of Mastercard or Visa Gift Cards from Staples

Run down to your nearest Staples and find their gift card rack which is usually in the front near the cashiers.  Select any denomination of gift cards that total up to $1000.  I used the $100 gift cards (with a $5.95 fee each) because that is what the ad said, but folks over on Fatwallet have reported that doing 5X$200 (with a $6.95 fee each) works as well which makes your out of pocket cost $1035. Make sure you give them your Staples Rewards so you can qualify for the rebate.  Sign up for a free Staples Rewards number here if you don’t have one yet.

You can use any credit card you want, a debit card, or even cash. I used my Ink Bold card because it gives me 5X UR Points for every $1 I spend at office supply stores (the same rate as the Ink Plus), but you could use your SPG Amex or SPG Business Amex too to get 1X in Starpoints which can be very valuable for hotel stays as I found out recently. If you use your Ink Bold, you end up with over 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  That is almost 1/10 of the amount needed to get a round trip to Europe on United (60,000 miles)!

 2. Submit your rebate online

Rebates can be a hassle, but Staples really does make it easy with their easy rebates.  Go to www.stapleseasyrebates.com and select Store Purchase as the source of your rebate. You just need a few pieces of info from the forms that print out with your receipt.

Put 12-28680 in the offer number box and put your Easy Rebate ID number from under the barcode in the box that says that. Then follow the prompts to tell them where to send your $150 Staples gift card.  They automatically combine the 10 Staples $15 cards into one $150 card for you.

3. Wait 4-6 weeks for your Staples gift cards to arrive.

While you wait for your $150 in Staples gift cards to arrive, you can skip to step 4 and start liquidating the $1000 in Mastercard gift cards. They will automatically send you periodic emails as the rebate processes but you can check the status manually at the stapleseasyrebates.com site.

4. Liquidate or use your gift cards

With this offer you will end up with $1000 in Mastercard gift cards and $150 in Staples gift cards.  The easiest was to get rid of them is to just use them for day to day spending wherever Mastercard is accepted.  Over the course of a month $1000 is easy to spend at grocery stores or gas stations or really anywhere, especially with the holiday season upon us.  Finding something for a good price at Staples during their holiday sales is a great way to use the $150 Staples gift card you get.

However, a lot of people would rather have cash and while there are many ways to convert gift cards to cash, I will give a few examples here.  One way if you don’t need the cash right away that has zero costs is using Kiva.org which I just wrote about in this article. You will have all of your money back in cash with no fees within 4-5 months.  If you are trying to get the money back in time to pay off the credit card bill, my preferred method is using the Amex for Target prepaid card that I talk about in this article.  You can take your prepaid Amex for Target card to a Target register, tell them you want to load $1000 on it with a 3 dollar fee, then use the $1000 in gift cards you just bought to pay for it.

Then you take that card to an ATM at Costco which charges $1.25 a withdrawal and take out $400 a day until you get all $1000 out.  Since they give you a free withdrawal every month, if you take one withdrawal in November and one in December you will save on costs. I personally will probably take $400 in November, $400 in December, and then use the final $200 for normal spending at a grocery store or something.

If you can’t find anything you need at Staples, you can cash out that at Cardpool.com which is a site that buys gift cards for cash.  You can get up to 88% today for Staples cards, or $132 for your $150 in gift cards.

Conclusion

There ya go, an easy way to get free miles or points and help meet a spend requirement at the same time.  Also a way to make money or get free stuff from Staples.  Can’t beat it!  I love this game!

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.

How I am going to the Ibiza closing parties and the Amsterdam Dance Event in business class for $239!

This article is the first in a series on my month long trip to Ibiza for the closing parties and Amsterdam for the Amsterdam Dance Event.

  1. How I am going to the Ibiza closing parties and Amsterdam Dance Event in business class for $239
  2. Ibiza Here I come!
  3. Arrival in Ibiza – SIM cards, hotels and my first night of clubbing
  4. Ibiza Closing Parties: Luciano & Friends, Hot Natured, Marco Carola Music On
  5. Ibiza Closing Parties: Vagabundos at Pacha, Circo Loco at DC-10, Cocoon Heroes Closing at Amnesia
  6. Ibiza Closing Parties: Ovum Closing at Space, Cafe Del Mar, and r:piar:r Closing at Privilege
  7. Ibiza Closing Parties: Space Closing Party and Circo Loco Closing Party

It started simply enough, with a Facebook message four days ago from my best friend Andres:

“dude lets go to the ibiza closing parties!!! smile….wat u think about that?? and after that u can come for the Amsterdam dance event in october here in netherlands….awakenings festivals and more!!! like wmc but in amsterdam!!”

The reason I love points and miles is because 1) I love to travel and 2) It gives you flexibility to plan last minute vacations that would otherwise be priced out of reach.  While I spend a ton of time on this site discussing ways to accumulate massive amounts of points (such as the Easy Quarter Million, my 189,000+ point Sears shopping Spree, and 100,000 Club Carlson Points Bonanza), the main reason I do this is to spend the points on free travel! My Ultimate Rewards balance had gotten to well over 500,000 points due in part to the Chase Sapphire Preferred sign up bonus of 50,000 (now 40,000) and the Chase Ink Bold sign up bonus of 50,000.  This meant I could plan a trip without making too big of a dent in my war chest.  In addition, since points tend to devalue over time, it is a good idea to use them before the programs nerf the rewards.

My first stop was the great Frequent Flyer Redemption Options of the Wandering Aramean .  This page allows you to input city pairs and find out which programs require the fewest miles.  When I entered MIA to IBZ, I saw totals of 80,000 to 215,000 for business class.

Another of the reasons I love the frequent flyer game is it allows you to travel in style in business class instead of cramped in coach for long flights.  As a general rule, I try to fly anything over 3 hours in business class if possible.  While JAL had the best rate at 80,000 (for Oneworld partner flights), there wasn’t much availability on the dates I needed.  And ANA had the same 80,000 rate and had good availability, but they charge high fuel surcharges for European carrier redemptions. Since the award availability was there on Star Alliance (which ANA is part of), I looked to United Airlines which is also part of Star Alliance.  Even better, they are an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, and don’t charge any fuel surcharges. Score!

An additional benefit of United is they offer one free stopover and two open jaws on roundtrip tickets.  If this sounds like Greek to you, you are not alone! But what that means is you can stop along your route once for as long as you like, then continue to your final destination (a “stopover”).  An open jaw means you could land in one city and take off in another (example, fly to London, then take the chunnel over to Paris, then fly back home from there).  In my case, I wanted to go to both Ibiza and Amsterdam, so the free stopover would work perfectly!  Amsterdam would be my final destination and Ibiza would be my stopover since it is “sort of” on the way in a normal routing.  I actually booked the whole thing through Barcelona instead because Ibiza wasn’t showing availability and will pick up a cheap $100 flight from Barcelona to Ibiza.  And I could do this whole trip for 100,000 MileagePlus miles in business class!

I’m going to do a separate article about how to book stopovers on United, but the end results of my work was:

So for 100,000 miles and $239, I would be booked!  You can see that this business class flight would have cost $12,918 if I had paid cash for it!(not that I would ever pay that much)  That gives me a cash/point value of 12 cents per mile!  Awesome!  I had to call in to get them to change the last flight to a flight an hour later that had business class availability. For some reason, it wasn’t showing up online when I booked the whole itinerary, but it showed up when I tried to book a one way flight from EWR to FLL on those dates.

But as you can see, I only had 1026 miles in my United account. Ultimate Rewards to the rescue!  I logged onto my Chase Ink Bold account, and transferred 99,000 points over to United Mileageplus that were available more or less immediately.

I was then able to book the whole thing.  I did have to pay $75 more than I could have since I was booking less than 21 days from  the date of departure(included in the $239). I used my Amex Business Gold Rewards card to get 3X Membership Rewards points on airfare, so I will be 717 miles closer to my next trip!

There are really too many big names to list that will be both in Ibiza and Amsterdam, such as Ricardo Villalobos, Loco Dice, Luciano, Jamie Jones, Seth Troxler and many more.  But if you want the full list check out this link for Ibiza and this link for Amsterdam.

And as always I will blog and post pics and videos of the trip for your reading pleasure. Well, that’s it for now, off to plan some hotels!

Buying the iPhone 5 for Points and Profit! 1200 Ultimate Rewards Points + $10 Cashback!

Like many others, I will be picking up the iPhone 5 when it becomes available on September 14th for preorder.  I always try to plan any purchases of $100 or more (well, really almost any purchase) around what will give me the most points or miles and this is what I came up with for the iPhone 5 purchase.  I am assuming a $199+tax upgrade price.  If you aren’t eligible for the subsidized upgrade or are spending more than that then it will be even more miles.

I have split the strategy into beginner and advanced sections.

Beginner Strategy – Go through Upromise to get 5% cash back.  First log into Upromise (or sign up for a upromise account if you don’t have one yet) then under the Earn toolbar, click on Online Shopping.

Then click on the Apple banner that should be on the next page, or look for Apple in the store list.  It should be giving 5% cash back.

The web site will then open a new tab in your browser and redirect you to the Apple site where you will get 5% cash back on your iPhone purchase.  Yes, it is only $10, but that is better than what you had before you read this article!  Make sure to use whatever card gives you the most miles or a card you are trying to meet a spending requirement on.

Advanced Strategy – Use your Chase Ink Bold card to purchase a Vanilla Reload to fund your Amex Prepaid card as I discussed in this article.  This will get you 5X Ultimate Rewards Points on your purchase price (including tax) which should be at least 1070 UR Points.  Then use the prepaid Amex to go thorough UPromise as mentioned above to get the additional $10 back.  So if all goes well, you should get 1000+ UR points + 199 UR points + $10 cashback using the advanced strategy.  Not bad for something you were going to buy anyways! Make sure to remember if you use this strategy you won’t be eligible for the extended warranty protection that your credit card may provide.  I personally tend to upgrade my iPhone once a year when the new model comes out so this isn’t as much of a concern for me.

Alternative Advanced Strategies – If you have the Chase Freedom card, you can wait until October 1 when they activate 5% UR points at Best Buy.  Or if you have an Ink Bold or Ink Plus that gives 5X UR points on telecommunications, you can probably put the upgraded handset onto your monthly bill and get 5% on it.

1850 Ultimate Rewards Points and $15 for buying FAR Staples software.

Until August 18 Staples has a free after rebate software package that you can buy 10 copies of and the whole cost will get sent back to you in the form of a rebate check. You don’t even have to pay tax since it is downloadable software by choosing in store pickup in a state with no sales tax such as NH. To maximize this offer, you need to use your Ink Bold Card, but you also use a different card for less points.

Step by Step

Start a new incognito window in chrome (to help with tracking) and log onto your Chase Ink Bold account and go to the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  Click through to the Staples link which should show 5X.

Search for item 368662 and it should come up with Trend Micro Maximum Security 2012 (1-User).  Change the quantity to 10 and then hit add to cart.

On the next screen click on the Add/Edit coupons link and add coupon 99618 to the order which should give you $15 off a $150 order.

After the order is completed, there will be a section on the page for Easy Rebates.  Click on the link given and it should autofill the rebate section with your order number and ship to zip code.  Put the rebate offer number of 12-14521 into the appropriate box and then hit next and then next again on the following screen.  They automatically get the quantity from the order number so you don’t have to enter 10 copies of the rebate. On the next screen, fill in the contact information where you want them to mail the rebate check and hit next.  Now the important part on the next screen, changing the rebate form from a visa gift card to a check. Click on the link that says “I would like to see other options for my reward [Rebate Check, Staples Gift Card]”

Change your desired selection to Check and hit next

The final screen will confirm all of your settings so hit Submit Rebate if it all looks right. All done!

So the way this breaks down is

  • 5X$185=925 points for going through the Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal
  • 5X$185=925 points for using your Ink Bold card in an office supply store.
  • $200 back in a rebate check in 4-6 weeks

Since you only paid $185, this means you will have $15 profit plus 1850 points for free!  Can’t beat it! If you don’t have an Ink Bold, then get one! You can also use your Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Freedom but will only get 4X and no office supply bonus. Or use a card that you are trying to reach a spend requirement on since this is spending without actually spending since you get all of the money back!  Enjoy!

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card


Edit: This offer is now for 40,000 points.  But with the other benefits of the card, it is still one of my top recommendations.

Everyone asks me what the best card to get right now is and while there are many great offers right now, the best in my opinion is the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  The card itself has great benefits that I will cover in a second, but the real value is in the 50,000 Ultimate Reward Points they give you after spending $3,000 within 3 months of opening your card.

But what are Ultimate Reward Points?  They are super flexible points that can be redeemed at a 1% rate for cash, gift cards or merchandise.  However, if you want to use them for travel related expenses (hotel, car rental, airfare), you can book through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall for a 1.25% rate. This makes the 50,000 sign up bonus worth $625 in free travel. However, the best use of Ultimate Rewards points in my opinion is transferring them to airline or hotel partners such as British Airways, United Airlines, or Hyatt where you should be able to easily get 2 cents per point in redemption value (on my around the world ticket, I ended up north of 6 cents per mile so it is definitely possible).  This makes the 50,000 point  sign up bonus worth a minimum of $1,000 as long as you are smart about how you use it.

The benefits of this card don’t stop with the sign on bonus though.  You will earn 1 Ultimate Reward point for every dollar that you spend on the card, so the $3000 you will spend for the sign up bonus will get you another $3000 points.  You also earn 2X points on Dining and Travel which includes restaurants and a wide variety of travel such as train tickets, cab fares and the obvious such as hotels and airfare.

This card also has no foreign transaction fees (FOREX) which means you will not pay extra fees on currencies other than USD.  This makes it an ideal card to use while travelling internationally and is something most cards don’t include.

Like most great miles earning cards, it does have an annual fee of $95 a year, but that is lower than many comparable cards, and the fee is waived for the first year.

This card also has a very sharp look to it, and instead of plastic is made out of a piece of aluminum similar the the Amex Centurion Card.  The front just has your name and Chase Sapphire Preferred on it and the rear has your account number, expiration  and signature slip on it.  I get questions and compliments on this card every day I use it.

They have announced that the 50,000 point offer is only a limited time offer so applying sooner rather than later is the best course of option.

Apply today!