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Gift Cards Archives - SimplisticSaving.com

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Saving You Money through Simple Methods

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How I earned 6% Cashback and 20 points per dollar on Spending this year

 

“Daddy, can we fly on a plane someday?” A simple question set forth by my daughter January of this year. As a father and husband I wanted nothing more than to book a flight to some beautiful destination at that moment. Unfortunately, in my capacity as the personal financial planner I am much less flexible. Absent a wealthy philanthropist deciding to sponsor our family sometimes we will not be afforded certain luxuries.

 

 

A few days later my brothers returned from a ski trip and my mother suggested that we take a big family ski vacation during Christmas Break. In the same way that my daughter’s idea to fly on a plane sounded fun, this also sounded great. However, my mind slipped back into the “how can I make this happen” mode. Obviously to even consider this kind of endeavor we would need to tighten our purse strings and save as much money as possible. We would need to purchase at least 3 plane tickets, which would cost at least $300 each. At this point I stumbled upon credit card offers that may help my family out.

 

 

I have been a long time user of a couple different cashback reward cards and feel that these are fantastic. The first card I signed up for was an American Express Blue Cash Preferred Card that would earn me $200 sign up bonus and 6% cashback on any grocery purchases. At this point I figured that I would buy gift cards from Kroger and use the extra $200 bonus to pay for these. This card also has a 0% intro rate for 12 months so it was nice. This card is very nice, but is only part of my overall spending strategy. It seemed that the more I looked into credit card offers the more benefits I found.

 

 

After that card I found the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card which has a 40,000 point signing bonus which can be used as a statement credit and be worth $400! I signed up for this card as well, met the spending and got the bonus points.

 

 

My biggest score of the year I will be writing in more detail about in a few days, but I was able to sign up for 2 Southwest credit cards. This netted me 106,000 points which are good toward about $1,908 worth of flights, but it actually gets better. When you earn 110,000 points in one year you earn a “Companion Pass”, this allows me the opportunity to bring a companion (my wife) along with me for free on any trip I book. Even if that flight is booked and paid with points. This effectively doubles the value of my points.

 

 

So far this year, as of 7/30/2013, my wife and I have racked up many miles, points and cashback. These have been earned through cashback portals and credit cards. In cashback alone we earned more than $775 in cashback. Even after paying the $75 annual fee on my AMEX we have earned over $700 cashback this year on our AMEX, Discover, Gas Reward Card and TopCashBack. We earned nearly 6 cents back on every dollar spent. We used this money to purchase a computer, which I built.

 

 

Even more amazing is our return on points and miles! We have earned over 400,000 miles! Even if you value these at only 1 penny each this means we have $4,000 worth of travel in our future. However, 235,000 of these miles can be used toward Southwest, which means they are worth about 1.8 cents per mile (doubled to 3.6 cents per mile with Companion Pass)! If we used all of these for flying Southwest we could get as much as $8,460 worth of travel on those 235,000 miles. Most of these points and miles came from bonuses and they all came from spending money normally. We earned nearly 20 points per dollar spent. That is like getting a 20% (or more) discount on everything we bought, even after finding the lowest prices.

 

 

In order to maximize our points per dollar spent we focus our credit card spending on those cards that provide the biggest payoff. I have a 6% Grocery Card, 5% Gas Card, 2 points per dollar on restaurant and travel. Even with these bigger returns my focus is on meeting spending limits on individual cards that offer big bonuses. If I need to spend $5,000 in 3 months to earn 60,000 points this is far more lucrative than the 5% or 6%. So if I am at the grocery and have not hit my $5,000 amount I will use the card with a spending goal rather than a 6% grocery card.

 

 

Using credit cards has been very lucrative for us this year and we look forward to taking many enjoyable trips at a deep discount. The use of credit cards inappropriately can be very dangerous. If you do not have the money to spend in cash, then using a credit card for spending is out of the question as well. We pay off our bills every month and have not paid any credit card fees over this amount of time. Also be sure to not bite off more than you can chew. For instance if you spend $1,000 a month normally do not sign up for cards that will require you to spend $4,000 each month in order to get the bonus.

 

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Kohls 10x Savings

I love being able to double dip on savings.  Kohls is one of my favorite places because they sell a variety of things and are not afraid of coupons or other discounts.  I used a Visa prepaid gift card that I bought using a cashback credit card.  When I bought this card I made $8.50 in cashback and gas per $100 spent.

I then went to the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall and clicked on Kohls 10x.  I then proceeded to buy a $100 Kohls gift card earning 10 points per dollar.  This simple transaction earned me 1,000 points which I can use as a statement credit worth $10 or get between $16 and $20 worth of free travel!

Obviously once I get the Kohls card in the mail I will use it through the Ultimate Rewards Mall and earn another 1,000 points.

 

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Discount Gift Cards Lock in the Savings

Using coupons and shopping portals are great avenues for saving money.  It usually takes minimal effort to type into google and find a great coupon code.  The same is true with shopping portals.  It literally takes two minutes and can save many dollars.  I also advocate using reward credit cards to further amplify the cost savings.  This is only a beneficial approach if you pay off your credit cards each month.

Using any one of these methods will save some money, but with a little extra effort and some stacking you can save a lot more money.  Here’s my most recent example.  Yesterday, I used my Blue Cash Preferred American Express (earns 6% cashback) at Kroger to purchase a $500 Visa gift card +$5.95 activation fee.  After taking the 6% cashback into account the card ended up costing about $475, plus I got 500 gas points, which will translate into $17.50 discount on gas.  With the gas and cashback savings that works out to $8.50 per $100 or 8.5%!

I buy dog food from Tractor Supply and try to time my purchases for their discounted prices every couple months.  Usually though I have not been able to gain tremendous value using this method.  However, that’s where buying discount gift cards comes into play.  I took my Visa Gift Card from Kroger and went to TopCashBack.com and clicked to Raise.com.  I found Tractor Supply gift cards for 14% off so I made my $100 gift card purchase, which also earned 3% cashback.  So this portion of the transaction earned me $17 off of $100.

Raise.com emailed me my $100 e-card nearly instantly.  I prefer a physical gift card so I had the idea of using my electronic gift card to buy a physical gift card.  I went through BeFrugal.com to earn 5% cashback.  I put a $100 gift card in my shopping cart and checked out.  I paid with my e-card.  The transaction went through flawlessly.  So I earned another $5 for turning my gift card into another gift card.

Once I receive the gift card in the mail I will use BeFrugal.com again to earn 5% cashback on my purchases of dog food.  The food is usually $31 a bag, but I will wait until the price goes down to $25 a bag.  With all of the discounts stacked, I will be able to get 4 bags of dog food for   $64.50, which is the price I would normally pay for 2 bags of dog food.  Not including discounts or coupons I might find I will save 35.5% by just using cashback portals and credit cards in an advantageous manner.

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Cashback, Gift Cards and Cheap Gas

amazon

I absolutely love to shop at Amazon.com (this is an unpaid shout out).  We are Amazon Prime subscribers and also own a Kindle Fire HD.  I continue to be amazed at the fact that I can order something in the afternoon and it is at my doorstep the next day (for $3.99).  The other thing I love about Amazon is that they always have low prices, the only problem with this is that they do not participate in cashback portal programs (Join TopCashBack.com) or offer coupons for large percentages off your total purchases.  Even without these money saving advantages I am working on  getting 6% off my Amazon purchases at minimal.  This strategy does not only work on Amazon, but can be used successfully for most regular purchases.  Dave Ramsey certainly will not appreciate what I have to say, but that’s just the chance I’ll have to take.

My Blue Cash Preferred AMEX card gets me 6% cashback on all grocery purchases throughout the year (First $6,000).  This cashback amount is in addition to the fantastic $250 signing bonus.  Therefore, I can walk into my local Kroger, buy a $100 Amazon gift card and I will get $6 credited to my card.  This is a fantastic deal as it is, but it is made even better by the fact that my local Kroger also has a daily offer of 2X gas rewards on all gift card purchases.  Therefore, my $100 gift card gets me $6 cashback and 200 gas points!  Fuel reward points are good for .10 off per gallon of gas for every hundred points.  Currently, the offer is even juicier!

Last month I went into Kroger and they were offering 4X fuel reward points on the purchase of a gift card!  So here’s what I did.  Knowing that we buy from Amazon.com constantly I purchased a $250 gift card and paid with my AMEX which earns 6% cashback on grocery store purchases for a total of $15 cashback.  This purchase also earned me 1,000 gas points (250 x 4) which are good for $1.00 off per gallon of gas (up to 35 gallons).  Since we buy gas no matter what, this is a real savings!  We will maximize this savings on all 35 gallons of fuel.  So the $250 gift card – $15 cashback – $35 fuel savings basically makes the $250 gift card $200!  This 4X point deal is available until the end of March and the actual points earned can be used through the end of April.

To further increase savings I will use my 5% cashback gas reward card when paying for the gas.  I do not figure this savings into my actual savings because I would use this card regardless.

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