Can you make money buying gift cards online? In this example, the answer was absolutely. However, the method is not always this profitable. This post will detail an experiment I conducted earlier this year.
Recently. I have grown increasingly interested in the world of credit card points. The concept of saving money via earning points or cash back on spending you are already doing aligns well with my longer-term Financial Independence Retire Early goals. Some folks even earn a living off these rewards by churning welcome bonuses and manufacturing spending.
Back in March, I was reading one of these blogs talking about a deal on Virtual Visa Gift Cards through Giftcards.com and decided it would be fun to try. The concept of manufacturing spending involving turning gift cards back into cash has long intrigued me, but the community is famously reticent. I decided the best way to learn, was to jump in.
- 3x $250 Visa Gift Cards issued by Metabank from Giftcards.com
- Cost of $767.85 discounted to $730.35 via a coupon applied through the AA Portal
- AA Portal points: 1,000 from Spring Bonus and 3x on cost price for a total of 3,304 miles ($33)
- Purchase on Chase Sapphire Reserve during Sign-up Bonus (SUB) period (70k for $4k of spend). Using pro-rated SUB and 1.5x dollar value on Chase Pay Yourself Back, I get a dollar value of $139 for these Chase Ultimate Rewards. This means a large part of this transaction’s profitably is driven by being part of a SUB. Using a regular 2x card instead would only net $14.60 in value
- Using the above math, we get these $750 worth of gift cards for the equivalent of $558.55 or $682.71 under the 2x card method
This is where things get more difficult. Finding an easy method to use these virtual gift cards proved elusive. I searched around to learn these cards were coded as debit cards with limited vendors that would take them. Seemed like there was no simple way to turn these back into cash without paying some fees.
This left me with the prospect of using these cards to offset future expenses either by prepaying bills or using directly with an online vendor like Amazon. I decided to sit on these for a while until a good opportunity came up. A few weeks later, an app called Slide mentioned was in the comments of post on Doctor of Credit. This user mentioned unloading cards for a more recent Giftcards.com deal using the app.
Slide is an app where you can buy virtual gift cards for various vendors such as Doordash, Lyft, and Uber. I downloaded the Slide app on my phone and was able to load the gift cards to their platform. Loading these as debit cards earned me 2x points and each vendor I used earned 4x points. These points on Slide are payable to Venmo or PayPal easily. Additionally, there was a signup bonus for new customers netting me $20 additional purchasing power.
All told, using slide to unload these for additional gift cards netted $65.80. I primarily used these to load to my Doordash account where I typically spend several hundred a month.
Overall, this experiment was highly successful for me. I earned enough points/cashback to say I got $257.25 in value for $750 worth of spending I was already going to do on Doordash. A strong discount of 34%.
However, the calculated value is inflated by one-time events like vendor coupons, credit card SUBs, and shopping portal bonuses. As such the repeatability and scalability is limited. Successful churners are opening many cards a year, which can have pros and cons.
There were also issues dealing with my account being blocked in Slide when I tried to unload the third gift card. I had to wait over the weekend for business hours to get my account unlocked and then they locked it again! Still, the customer service was nice and helpful.
There was an additional missed opportunity to go through TopCashBack I saw mentioned on a FrequentMiler post. TopCashBack was offering 10% for new users of Slide and I believe there were some additional referral bonuses. This could have added an additional $75-$100 to the above math but is also a one-time opportunity.
If you have enjoyed this blog post and want to try some of these methods yourself, please consider using one of the below referral links.
https://slide.app.link/BFRLSJZAGVMXRQB (Click on iOS only. $20 Slide credit on 4 purchases)
https://www.topcashback.com/ref/member433642062724 ($10 cashback)