[update 2/6/14: please see my post on Upromise Investments]
Gift card churning seems like a lot of fun for those who enjoy it. The really serious guys like Frequent Miler wait for a big opportunity to come along and then go big, turning gift cards into merchandise and then trying to liquidate the goods, generating credit card spend and – hopefully – a small profit.
Personally, I only dabble in gift cards when opportunities come along that already fit into my overall strategy. For example, I was happy to pay $7.50 for 3,500 Flexpoints last May.
Today I made an exception and strolled down to my neighborhood Staples to buy some hanging folders – and a $100 Visa gift card, which came with an activation fee of $5.95. Just to magnify the insanity, I didn't even use a card that bonuses office supply stores: I used my American Express Hilton HHonors card, which earns 3 HHonors points per dollar spent on non-bonused purchases.
American Express Offers for You
By now you've guessed where this is going: my HHonors card was targeted by Amex for the Staples "Offer for You," which reads:
Get a one-time $25 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $100 or more on qualifying purchases at Staples by 3/17/2014.
If you carry any American Express cards, log into your online account and see if any of them have been targeted. From the reports I've read online, most people are only receiving the offer for one of their credit cards. If you get the offer for more than one card, then use the "Multiple Browser Tabs" trick described here to register for the offer on each eligible card.
In addition to the $25 statement credit I received from American Express, I also made sure to add my Hilton HHonors card to Plink in order to earn 300 Plink points (worth $3 in Amazon credit) for spending more than $60 on my linked credit card at Staples.
Breaking: Liquidate with Evolve Money
I'm more than happy to report that I was able to successfully add the Visa gift card to Evolve Money (after registering the gift card online), and make a bill payment to one of my utility companies.
This is extremely exciting since it effectively reduces the cost of gift card liquidation to $0. If this technique continues to work with other prepaid cards, like the One Vanilla cards sold at CVS, it will mean $28,000-$31,000 in monthly manufactured spend with no liquidation costs.
The possibilities here are truly staggering, but I'm going to refrain from any additional speculation until later this week when it becomes clearer what kinds of possibilities exist to liberate cash using Evolve Money.