Month: June 2014

Attention! Lands End Gift Card not Redeemable at Sears or Kmart

This first happened to me a month ago (May 2014). I purchased Lands End’s e-codes at I wanted to buy something at, but I got an error message “please enter valid card number and PIN.” However, at Land’s, it was valid. I called the number for automated balance inquiry of both Sears and Lands End. It was the same as online. Sears told me invalid number, while Lands End has no problem.

I thought this e-codes were something special that were available only at Lands End. I contacted with Raise and told the problem, and they refunded several days later. Because the e-code I got was not as described in their website. They describe that Lands End gift cards are also available at Sears and Kmart.

Today, I just redeemed my Discover credit reward for Land’s End e-code which is 20% bonus ($25 e-code for $20 reward dollars.) And this e-code also has the same problem. This time, I can’t blame on Discover because terms and condition of Lands End gift cards doesn’t say you can use it at Sears or Kmart. It just says “redeemable at and in Lands’ End consumer catalogs, including Home, Women, Men and Kids.” It doesn’t mention about Sears or Kmart at all.

I called Lands End customer center. They told me Lands End gift cards (LEGCs) were redeemable at Sears and Kmart, and I saw an error message because of a problem in the website. So I called Sears customer center. They told terms and condition of LEGC has changed, and LEGCs are no longer redeemable at Sears or Kmart.

This problem, however, affect on newer LEGCs. I have several LEGCs that I got a few month ago, and they don’t show an error message when I enter numbers at Something in common is that some LEGCs that I got recently can’t use at or

What about in store? My local Sears has Lands End inside. There is no partition. All cashiers look the same. I guess it doesn’t matter which gift cards (Sears/Kmart/Lands End) you use in my local Sears. I went to Sears to make sure. I showed a print-out of e-code to a store clerk at a cashier of the tool section, which is clearly not Lands End. The clerk told me it was redeemable at only Lands End section. I mentioned that I used to use lots of LEGCs at Sears and Kmart, both in store and online. The clerk said “About a month ago, the rule of LEGCs has changed. Now, LEGCs are redeemable at Lands End section only.”

However, you can use Sears and Kmart gift cards at Land End. And I verified that old LEGCs (that is more than a month old) continue to use at Sears and Kmart.

I have redeemed Discover’s reward for LEGCs all the time, but I won’t do it anymore. That’s because I don’t shop any Lands End’s products. I have been using LEGCs for purchases at Sears and Kmart. Fortunately, I only redeemed $20 (and got $25 of LEGC) today. I have over $700 reward right now. Thank God, I didn’t redeem all of it.

From now on, I will redeem Discover’s reward for Sears or Kmart gift cards which are offered by 10% discount, or Staples gift cards which are offered by 20% discount. But Staples GCs are only a denomination of $25 and physical card only.

lands end gift card not accepted at sears kmartAnyway, if you use gift cards to save money on purchases at Sears or Kmart, you’d better avoid purchasing LEGCs. At least, LEGCs from Discover’s reward redemption is no longer good for Sears and Kmart. And gift card exchange sites, such as Cardpool, ABC Gift Cards, you will need to confirm that LEGCs are redeemable at Sears and Kmart. At eBay auction, it is the same, you should contact the seller and make sure of it before bidding. And one more thing, if you see a picture on the right in eBay listing, it is a great chance that the item is “NEW LEGC”, meaning that you can’t use at Sears or Kmart. It will be clear if you ask the seller about it, though.

Take precautions when purchasing Lands End Gift Cards!!!

Switching Chase ink from MasterCard to Visa for Visa SavingsEdge

I applied for Chase business credit card called “ink Cash” in June 2013. The card has MasterCard logo on it. Almost at the same time, Chase changed the version of ink credit card from MasterCard to Visa. If you applied for ink credit card after July 2013, your card is probably Visa version.

The best benefit of ink credit cards is that you can earn 5% cash back or 5x reward points on the purchase at office supply stores, such as Staples, Office Depot, and Office Max. And Staples is one of merchants for another cash back program called Visa SavingsEdge. You can get 1% cash back on purchases of $200 or more at Staples, both in store and online.

visa savingsedge staples offer

When you buy $200 Visa or MasterCard gift card at Staples with a Visa-version ink credit card, you will get 1% cash back in addition to 5% cash back or 5x reward points from Chase Ultimate Reward. This offer is available through 12/31/2014. I couldn’t get this offer because my ink credit card is MasterCard version. To get this offer, I considered applying another ink credit card so I would get a Visa-version ink. However, in the last six months, I applied many credit cards and wanted to recover my credit score. So, I headed to a Chase bank and asked if they could change my ink card from MasterCard to Visa without affecting my credit score.

After a bank teller had spoken on the phone with a credit company for a few minutes, the teller told me I could and would receive a new card (Visa-version) by mail in 7 to 10 business days. Ten days later, I received a new one. Before I received the new card, Chase had transferred my account, balance, etc to the new card, so I couldn’t use my old ink (MasterCard-version) for several days. If you switch your card from MasterCard to Visa, you should go shopping before asking Chase.

ink credit card from mastercard to visa

Card numbers are changed, and expiration date is one year extended. A color of ink Cash credit card is sliver. MasterCard logo on ink card was red and orange, while Visa’s is shiny silver. Now my ink Cash credit card looks very plain and dull.

American Express for Target Reviews

american express for targetSince I started saving money by using gift cards, I always check a rack of gift cards in every store I visit. In Target, I found something different from other gift cards. It’s called American Express for Target. Its package is relatively big and large. It says, “$3 Loads & ATMS, NO OTHER FEES”

AmEx for Target is not a gift card, but Reloadable Prepaid Card. Key features are the following:

  • Reloadable by credit card
  • Withdraw cash at ATM
  • No monthly fee

You can directly reload the card with your credit cards at Target stores. This was very appealing. I thought it would help my manufactured spending. And there is no monthly fee. So, I just bought it without simulating a usage of this card. I tried to come up with a method for manufacture spending, but it seems AmEx for Target is not for those who are collecting cash back or travel reward. Because the fee is inevitable.

$3 Fee for Reload

Online, you can load the card from your bank account, and there is no fee. However, if you want to load with your credit or debit cards, you will need to go to Target store and have them swiped. They charge $3 fee. The amount of each load is from $0.01 to $1,000. If your credit card has a great reward program, it may be worth it, but when you take money out of the card, they also charge a fee.

$3 ATM Fee

You can withdraw up to $400 per week. The first withdrawal in each calendar month is free, and later $3 fee per withdrawal. This fee is charged by AmEx. The ATM owner fee is charged on every withdrawal. The website says the maximum withdrawal is $400, but the paper included the package says $200 max. I don’t know why. It may be because of the place I live or buy. But, it doesn’t matter $200 or $400, every withdrawal cost and reduce the value of the reward points you earned when loading the card with a credit card.

No Amex offer, No Target offer

Unlike American Express Serve, the card can’t sync with Amex offers. I expected some special features when you shopped at Target with the card, but there is nothing. It is just Target sells the cards and reload them. That’s it.


AmEx for Target may be good for those who want to use it in a plain way, meaning that simply you don’t want to carry cash, or parents want to control and watch their children’s spending, etc. But it’s not recommended to people who don’t have a bank account. No fee when you load the card online from your bank account, but whether you load the card with cash or check, you have to go to Target and pay $3 fee per load. As long as you use the card on purchases at stores or online, there is no fee. Loading from your bank account and spending at stores or online charge no fee, and there is no monthly fee, either. American Express for Target is a great item for those who use it in a simple way, but it can’t be used for manufactured spending.

Target Visa Gift Card and ShopDiscover 2/2

I have received the second email from ShopDiscover. Now for sure, cash back is available for the purchase of Target Visa GCs. I added one Target Visa GC and tried to check out with Discover it card. Then I knew I was completely unaware of shipping cost. It is eligible of free shipping  when you purchase with REDcard, and when checking out with Target GCs they didn’t charge shipping cost, either. Anyway, they charge $1.95 for shipping, if I buy (1) $100 Target Visa GC with Discover it card:

  • Pay a purchase fee (-$6.00)
  • Pay shipping cost (-$1.95)
  • 5% cash back from ShopDiscover ($5.30 <– $106 x 0.05 not applied for shipping)
  • 1% cash back from Discover ($1.08)
  • Total $1.57 loss

Shipping cost is the same, $1.95 if you order five gift cards. But still, the total of cash back doesn’t cover purchase fee and shipping cost. It is not worth a try. Now my choice is to give up or find a way to buy Target Visa GCs with Target GCs. Why did the first transaction go through? Why did the second and third attempts also go through, but cancel a minute later? The following I can come up with:

  • My account is blocked because of the first purchase made with Target GCs
  • The second purchase is too close from the day of the first one
  • I clicked ShopDiscover’s link

Maybe my account is blocked. I had the same experience on Sears purchases. I ordered and checked out something at They cancelled my orders right after sending thank-you-for-your-order emails. My Sears account was blocked becasue I used SYW Max program, which is free shipping on almost all items for $79 a year, for my eBay business. I dropshipped tons of items to customers on eBay for more than 6 months. Sears detected and blocked my account.

But. what I bought at is only $100 gift card. I don’t think it is a big problem. The first purchase is 2 weeks ago. Again, it is only one $100 gift card I bought. The details on the page of  Target Visa GC says “Limit on number of cards purchased.” It can’t be you can buy only one gift card a month.

The emails telling me that the order was cancelled is exactly one minute after a check-out. It seems to be automated. They don’t want to give cash back on the purchase of gift cards, so maybe they set to cancel the orders checked out through ShopDiscover. This may be the cause of cancellation. To find the answer, I made another attempt. I clicked a link on and checked out (1) $100 Target Visa GC with Target GCs.

It wouldn’t go through. Just like previous two orders, I received a confirmation email and then cancellation email. This time, however, things got worse. The refund are almost instanly come back to my gift cards on previous orders, but it didn’t on this order. What’s more, I couldn’t see the balance of gift cards, either. There was an error message when I tried to check the balance of gift cards.

The next day, it was available to get access to the balance of gift cards and I confirmed money was refunded. The series of incident scares me. I will no longer try to buy Visa GCs with Target GCs. The reason of cancellations hasn’t been clear yet, but I don’t want to risk losing money of Target GCs.

What I got from the experience is ShopDiscover will probably pay out  on the purchase of Target Visa GCs. You can make profit when ShopDiscover has a promotion. During the promotion, some retailers cash back rate are added up by 5%.  I’m not sure if there is a promotion that cash back rate of goes up to 10%. So, I will need to check every time ShopDiscover has a promotion. And using 4th quarter of Discover it card promotion, 5% cash back on all online shopping, will also make profit. (This promotion is limited on the total purchase of $1500, so it is better to use it for somewhere else, though)

Updated in June, 2014, Target introduced new shipping policy. All orders of $50 or more are eligible free shipping. With this new offer, I finally purchased Target Visa Gift Card with a credit card.

American Express Gift Card Portal Rate Down

After the end of promotion for Father’s Day (there was a code to waive a purchase fee through June 16th 2014), a rate of online shopping portal for American Express Gift Card is down on most portals. The highest rate had been 4% cash back from Lucky Rewards, and the rate is now significantly lowered to 1%. Fuel Rewards Network had been 2x, which was equivalent to 4% cash back, and it is now 1x (equivalent to 2%).

2.5 percent cash back on the purchase of amex gcAs of June 20th, the best rate is 2.5% cash back from Until better rates become available, I will keep using BeFrugal for the purchase of AmEx GCs. BeFrugal online portal is very reliable. I had been using for other retailers, and it seems I will use for AmEx GCs for a while. I even respect for their showing cash back terms of each retailers very clearly. None of other portals bother to describe terms and conditions as detailed as BeFrugal does.

To compare the rates of cash back or travel point, you can use these sites

How you use these sites is the same, type a name of retainers and click search and they show lists of available portals and rates. It is better to check on both sites. Because rates are constantly changing, and sometimes they can’t keep up with changes. They may show different rates, miss some portals, etc. In fact, as of today, I can’t find Befrugal on when I searched the rate for AmEx GC. On the other hand, you don’t see ShopDiscover on on the default search result.

I hope the rate will go back to 4% or better soon.

Experiment on Cash Back from Cardpool is one of my favorite online portals. It is very reliable and clear about cash back rules for each retailer. It has over 4000 retailers including some gift card exchange sites such as Cardpool, CardCash, and I have been earning 2% cash back on the purchases of gift cards from them without any problems, but one day I didn’t receive one from Cardpool. Apparently, I reached the limit. Here is the rule of cash back from Cardpool.

  • Terms & Exclusions for Cardpool:
  • 2% Cash Back on Purchase of a Gift Card
  • 4% Cash Back on Sale of A Gift Card to Cardpool
  • Cash Back only available for the first $1000 in transactions from your Cardpool account (this includes all history in your Cardpool account)

I had bought a lot of gift cards from Cardpool before I knew of I haven’t earned the full cash back ($20 to $40) on the total purchases of $1000, but it stopped giving cash back. That means it doesn’t matter if you earned the full cash back, once the total purchases from Cardpool hit $1000, you won’t get cash back from them anymore.

befrugal com cash back from cardpool

I carried out an experiment: If I open a new account at, will I get cash back on the purchase of another $1000? I use a different email address and set a password. That’ it. And then I bought some gift cards from Cardpool through a link of I can’t change my address. I even used the same payment method.

Success! It is still pending, but cash back showed up in my account.

befrugal cash back cardpool has the same rule for cash back. Once it hit the total purchases of $1000, I will open a new account and see if cash back is available on another purchase of $1000. doesn’t have a description about the limit. So, probably cash back from Raise is unlimited.

All you need is a different email address. In this way, you can practically earn unlimited cash back from Cardpool and CardCash.

Fee or Error? Being Charged $3.95 on Every Walmart Swipe Reload

On June 15th, 2014, I reloaded my Serve with 3 Visa gift cards at Walmart. I have been doing many times, and it seemed there was no problem to complete 3 reloads. The receipts show the exact amount I loaded. At a glance of them, I couldn’t see any problem, but when I logged in Serve account and saw the transaction history, I noticed there was something wrong. The amount of each reload is $3.95 less. I checked the receipts carefully. Although the amount of the debit load is correct, the beginning balance and the ending balance don’t match each other. The beginning balance on all three receipts is somehow $3.95 less.

serve 3.95 glitch

As soon as I got home, I searched on the internet. Instantly, it was a hit. There were many people experiencing the same problem. Something in common was that they happened recently and only to Serve, not BlueBird. In terms of time and place, it probably happened at random.

Someone’s post on flyertalk forum says “It was probably a glitch only affecting on Serve. Wait for the next few days to see if it is just a glitch or a new policy.” I was convinced by this post, and I just waited.

I have been waiting for a few days, but there is no change in my Serve account. I went back to the forum and continued to read pages. On page 5, I found the resolution. I should have read this page on the first day. It had been already resolved 4 days before.

There is a link in the forum and visited blog post. As it says, I called the number on the back of the card and spoke to an account manager. In a few minutes, $3.95 x 3 was credited to my Serve account. It shows up as Good Faith Credit.

serve glitch credited

If you recently reload your Serve at Walmart, you should double check if there is a hidden deduction of $3.95 for each reload.

Target Visa Gift Card and ShopDiscover 1/2

I found that you could buy Target Visa GC with Target GC, but it seems it wouldn’t go through anymore. I succeeded for the first attempt. And 3 weeks later I tried to purchase (4) $100 Target Visa GCs. Checking out was done smoothly, and I received “Thank you for your order” email. However, in just one minute, I was received another email telling me the order was cancelled. The email doesn’t say what exactly the problem. The first thing I came up with is the payment method I took. The description of Target Visa GC at says:

target visa gift card details

I thought using Target GC was the problem, but it might be that I ordered too many cards. So, hours later, I made another order of (1) $100 Target Visa GC. And this time, too. The order was cancelled a minute after I was received thank-you-for-your-order email. I got disappointed. This strategy won’t work, and I should spend all Target GCs (which I bought from gift card exchange sites) for merchandises.

But, the next day, an email I received from ShopDiscover brightens me. Although I clicked through a link at ShopDiscover, I didn’t expect cash back from them. That’s because the first successful order was made through, and I didn’t receive cash back from them. I clicked the link of ShopDiscover just in case.

target visa gift card through shopdiscover

ShopDiscover’s cash back bonus for Target is 5%. For the order of (4) $100 Target Visa GCs, I could have gotten $21.20 as the email says. And if Target accepts credit card for the purchase of Target Visa GCs, you will receive 1% (or more, depending on credit cards) cash back. For example, when I buy (1) $100 Target Visa GC with Discover it (which gives 1% cash back on all your spending):

  • Pay a purchase fee (-$6.00)
  • 5% cash Back from ShopDiscover (+$5.30)
  • 1% cash back from Discover (+$1.06)
  • It is slight, but there is a profit, $0.36!

Visa GCs can be used as a debit card. Depending on stores, you can get cash back at the register. You can load your Bluebird or Serve at Walmart. They are easy to convert into cash. The point is you don’t lose money in this transaction. You can use this strategy as one of your manufactured spending. Compared with buying Visa GCs at Staples, it is a worse deal, but it is always better to have many options for your manufactured spending.

So far, I have received only one email from ShopDiscover. For the second order (1x $100 Visa GC), I haven’t received. It will probably be sent tomorrow. This strategy is mostly relied on Cash Back Bonus from ShopDiscover, so I want to make sure of it. And then, I will make another order with a credit card.

Why do gift cards on ebay sell for more than face value

Sometimes, gift cards on eBay are sold at prices more than their face values. You may be wondering why it happens. I am, too. I went online to research and saw lots of discussion in many forums. From them, I learned cash back or promotion can explain some of them. And today, I experienced that myself. I bid at eBay auction and won. The price is more than face value of the gift card, 104.44%. Here is a detail.

500 target gc for $522.22

The item was $500 Target gift card. It was auction style listing and ending in a few hours when I saw it. Before logging in eBay, I received an email from eBay that notified me about eBay Bucks promotion. It was:

Earn 10% eBay Bucks on every qualifying single item of $250 or more on June 4th to June 5th

I received an email 3 hours before the promotion started. I have seen the same type of eBay Bucks promotions throughout the year (sometimes 4%, qualifying on $50 or more purchases, etc.), but they appear at random. So, you need to keep an eye on your emails.

earned $52.22 ebay bucks$250 is not cheap (at least, for me). You shouldn’t buy something expensive just to meet requirements for 10% eBay Bucks. But if you choose gift cards for stores that you regularly shop, it will be fine. So I chose Target gift card and bid at the auction. I won the auction for $522.22, which was my max bid. I will get $52.22 in eBay Bucks. Considering this, I got $500 Target gift card for $470. It is exactly 6% off. According to data at, 6% discount is more than the average for Target gift cards and 5% REDcard discount as well. It won’t take a month for me to spend $500 at Target, but I can even boost up spending by using this strategy (of course, without frittering away).

6% discount is not only the bargain I got from the transaction. That is because I earned 0.5% cash back ($2.61) from And I paid with American Express gift card linked to my PayPal account. When I purchased AmEx GC, I earned 4% equivalent reward ($20.88) from Fuel Rewards Network.

This is why I spent more money for a gift card which has less value. However, the money I paid is only 104.44% of actual value of the gift card. I still cannot understand why some gift cards or reload packs are sold at 150% to 200% price. In the forums, people are saying that it’s fraudulent, money laundering, or stupidity. But I feel that there must be a secret, and I hope I will figure it out someday.

Earn 3X Gas Rewards on GC purchases at Stop and Shop

earn 3x on the purchase of gcs at s&s6/6/2014 thru 6/16/2014, you can earn 3x gas rewards when you purchase any gift card at Stop & Shop. I was lucky enough the store has $20-$500 Visa gift cards. I knew the store had lots of gift cards including Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, but I have never seen $20-$500 gift cards. There is a bunch of them now. It seems the store have just restocked them. Without thinking, I picked up and took it to the cashier. I had it loaded $500, and a fee is just $5.95. That is only 1.19%.

I used American Express Blue Cash Preferred so I will get 6% cash back ($30.36) in addition to 3x gas rewards (1500 pts = $1.50/gal).

I don’t know full potential of Visa GC, but at least I know that you can load American Express Serve at Walmart and withdraw money to your bank account. There is no fee in this process. It is just you need a trip to Walmart, and it takes up to 5 days to withdraw money to your bank account.

visa gift card

On the other day, I tried to get cash back with Visa GC (issued by the same bank, MetaBank) at the register of Target, but it couldn’t succeed. A PIN pad said, “Access denied, contact issuer”. At that time, I used $100 Visa GC (issued by the same bank, MetaBank), and tried to get $40 cash back. What if I choose a smaller amount of cash back? What about other stores. I will have to find out.

Of course, you can use the gift card normally, at grocery stores, gas stations, online purchases, etc. After you add the GC to your PayPal account, you can spend it on eBay purchases, too.

You don’t have to buy Visa gift cards. Any gift cards except Stop & Shop gift cards are eligible for 3x gas rewards. I chose $500 Visa gift card because:

  • A purchase fee is the lowest against a face value of gift card
  • I can use anywhere Visa debit cards are accepted
  • There is a way to turn it into cash
  • It may be possible to get cash back at the register
  • I can buy gift cards at Stop & Shop or elsewhere again

If I buy an amazon gift card with the Visa GC, there is no credit card cash back. However, since there is no purchase fee on amazon gift cards, you can buy $500 amazon gift card with $500 Visa gift card. And I will get another 1500 pts! This is just one example, but starting with $500 Visa GC, you will be able to choose a lot of options and earn a lot of gas rewards as well!