Month: July 2014

ShopDiscover Pays 10% Cash Back at Sears

shopdiscover 10 percent cash back at searsThere are so many changes recently that cause a slowdown on my manufactured spending or negative effect on my reselling business, but I noticed that some changes in Discover’s online shopping portal, ShopDiscover, that is good to (at least) me. It used be 5% cash back on purchases at, but now it’s 10%. As you see in the picture on the right, it doesn’t look like seasonal, holiday, or temporary offer. It seems a new, regular, and permanent cash back rate (until they change the rates in the future.)

It is not only Sears, but also Kmart, Lands End, and probably more retailers. Since I don’t memorize all retailers’ cash back rate, I can’t tell all changes, but here are the retailers ShopDiscover now pays more:

  • Sears 5%10%
  • Kmart 5%10%
  • Lands End 5%10%
  • Macy’s 5%10%
  • Starbucks 5%10%
  • Moosejaw 10%15%

Other retailers I usually shop stay the same cash back rate. So, this change is very grateful to me. In order not to miss these changes, you should visit cash back comparing sites such as and

To use ShopDiscover, you need to be a cardholder of one of Discover’s cards. I believe ShopDiscover is the best online shopping portal of all. No other portals could compete with various ways of ShopDisocver’s reward redemption. (for more details, read “King of Cash Back! “Discover it” Card Review.”)


Ultimate Strategy of Fuel Rewards Network 2/2

If you never sell stuffs online, the strategy described on the previous post might be a little overwhelming. If there is a way to turn an AmEx gift card into cash easily, you will earn the reward over and over. Of course, there is no such a perfect method. However, there is a way to do so with a little work and some conditions.

Sell AmEx Gift Card on eBay

selling amex gc on ebayThe fastest way to turn AmEx gift cards into cash is to sell them on eBay. Look at the picture. It shows how much fee eBay and PayPal charge you. To get $500 by selling $500 AmEx gift card, you have to sell a gift card at the price of $574.40 (plus shipping cost). Obviously, it is a bad deal for eBay buyers. I guess nobody buys it. But what if you sell five $100 gift cards? For $100 gift card, you need to sell it for $115.15. On eBay, some gift cards are very popular. For whatever reasons, some people pay more than face values for those gift cards. Please remember about $3.95 purchase fee on each card when you buy AmEx gift cards, and $115.15 doesn’t include it. American Express offer free-purchase-fee promotion very often. You can take advantage of the promotion when you sell AmEx gift cards on eBay.

eBay’s Policy of Selling Gift Cards

ebay gift card policyHowever, actually I have never tried to sell any AmEx gift cards on eBay because of eBay’s gift cards policy. According to the policy, you cannot sell Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express Prepaid cards regardless of the amount on the card. You cannot even sell used (no-value $0) prepaid cards as collectibles if an expiration date on the card is within 10 years. Despite the policy, so many cards are sold on eBay. You rarely see active listings of Visa, MarsterCard, Discover, and AmEx because they are sold quickly. If you click “complete listings” or “sold listings”, you will see a lot. It seems easy to sell $100 AmEx gift card for $115.15, but what if buyers report a charge-back? The items are prohibited by the policy, so I don’t think eBay’s seller protection covers these transactions. I sent a question about it to eBay by email, and I’m waiting for an answer. Until my question is clear, I don’t want to risk losing money by selling AmEx gift cards on eBay.

Buy Visa Gift Card

visa gift cardThe reason of converting AmEx GCs into Visa GCs is that Visa GCs are much closer to “Cash form” than AmEx GCs. Unlike AmEx GCs, Visa GCs have some features of Debit Card. Depending on stores, you can get cash back at registers. And more conveniently, you can load BlueBird or Serve with Visa GCs, and then pay bills, withdraw cash at ATM, or transfer to your bank account.

Now, the cycle is completed. You can buy another AmEx GC. There is one problem, though. That’s Visa GCs charge a purchase fee. Purchase fees vary depending on types and denomination of Visa GCs. You should choose a GC with low percentage fee.

Ways to avoid the purchase fee

There are ways to avoid the purchase fee of Visa GCs. Exactly speaking, you can never avoid a purchase fee, however, by using the following store’s gift cards, a purchase fee are offset. Here are what I have found so far.

  • Buy 6% or more discounted Target GCs, and then buy $100 Target Visa GCs with Target GCs
  • Buy 3.5% or more discounted Staples GCs, and then buy $200 Visa GCs with Staples GCs

target and staples gift card secretBoth and allow to purchase gift cards with their own gift cards. If you can get these store’s GCs with equal to or more discount than a purchase fee of Visa GCs, you may as well avoid a purchase fee. It is kind of hard to find 6%-discounted Target GCs, but you can always find 3.5%-discounted Staples GCs at Gift Card Granny. This step may take extra time (a week or so for store’s GCs to be delivered). Instead, you don’t lose money in transactions of purchasing Visa GCs.


That’s all I can come up with so far. To earn a lot of rewards, you have to spend a lot of money. American Express Gift Card is the perfect choice. Use AmEx GC for everyday’s spending unless your credit card has a better reward, such as Blue Cash Preferred 6% Cash Back at grocery stores and Chase ink 5% Cash Back (5X) at office supply stores. And you can buy Visa GCs to boost up the speed of the cycle. The reward shows up and is available for you to use approximately 30 days later. By keep doing this strategy, you get a steady flow of gas reward.

You can join in Fuel Rewards Network online. FRN card will arrive 7 to 10 business days. You need FRN card to redeem the reward, but you don’t need it to earn reward. Start earning today! Click here to sign up (it’s free!)

How to Maximize Kmart Gas Rewards

I like Shop Your Way (SYW) very much. SYW is a loyalty program for Sears, Kmart, and Lands End shoppers. Basically, when you purchase at these stores or online, you can earn 1% back in SYW points. Sometimes, you get multiplied points with coupons, special offers, etc. And Kmart offers another reward for SYW members to shop in stores.

Spend $50 or more and get a gas coupon to save 30¢ per gallon up to 20 gallons

shop your way gas rewards

To get the coupon, you need to spend at least $50 in a single transaction. If your total is less than $50, you can add some gift cards to your shopping cart. Although the purchases of gift cards are not eligible for SYW reward points, a gas coupon is printed out of a cash register automatically. This happens even when you buy only $50 gift card. You don’t get SYW point on the purchase of gift cards, but you get a save-30¢-per-gallon coupon, which is equivalent of $6 off of your gas purchase.

Kmart has a good selection of gift cards. You can probably find gift cards you need. They sell gas gift cards, too. My local Kmart prints out a gas coupon for BP. So you buy $50 BP gas card and get the coupon, and then redeem both of them at BP gas station right away.

If you usually shop a lot (more than $50) at Kmart, you should buy a $50 Kmart or Sears gift card every time you visit the store. And then use the gift card for the purchase of regular items. You spend only $50, but you get TWO gas coupons in this way. Please make sure to separate the transactions (purchase of gift card and regular items) to receive two coupons.

If you shop at Kmart moderately (less than $50), you should add Variable Load Kmart gift card to your shopping cart. You can choose any amount to make the total purchase more than $50. When you shop at Kmart next time, you can use the gift card and buy another Kmart gift card to make it to $50. By doing this every time, you always get a gas coupon.

shop your way rewards card kmart versionNote that you need to be an SYW member to receive the coupon. And please don’t forget to have your SYW member card scanned every check-out. Otherwise, cash register won’t print out the coupon.

No Longer Purchase Gift Cards with Staples Gift Cards Online?

I noticed today (July 25th, 2014), Staples gift cards can’t be used for the purchase of any gift cards at The last order I made was a week ago. I bought one $200 Sears e-gift card. I used five Staples GCs (that had all small amounts) and Chase ink business credit card for the rest. The check-out was smooth, and the e-gift card was delivered a few days later.

And today, I tried to reorder, but can’t choose Staples gift card as payment. In check-out page, there are five payment methods: Credit Card, Visa Checkout, Staples Gift Card, Staples Rebate Card, and Pre-Paid Card. However, a check box of Staples Gift Card is dim and not clickable. I tried for Visa gift cards, but it was the same. I couldn’t choose Staples Gift Card as a payment.

no longer accept staples gc

Next, I added regular items like k-cups and copy papers, but the check box is still not clickable. Then I removed gift cards from a cart. Now I was able to click the check box of Staples Gift Card.

It seems that Staples no longer accepts Staples GCs for purchases of any gift cards. I was receiving Staples GCs from Discover credit card reward, and also purchasing at 5% to 7% off price at gift card exchange sites like Cardpool or ABC Gift Card.

Discover offers 20% discount when you redeem the reward for Staples GCs while it offers 10% discount for Sears GCs. So, I redeemed for Staples GCs and purchased Sears e-gift cards at It takes time, but I managed to get 20% discounted Sears GCs in this way.

The reason I bought Staples GCs at Cardpool or ABC Gift Card was that I wanted to speed up the process of spending American Express Gift Cards. I bought 5% to 7% discounted Staples GCs with AmEx GCs, then purchase Visa GCs at Visa GCs charge a purchase fee, but 5% to 7% discount offsets the fee, even leaves a profit. Once I get Visa GCs, I can reload AmEx Serve at Walmart, and then pay bills or withdraw money to my bank account.

Now that Staples GCs can’t buy other gift cards, I should stop ordering Staples GCs. I can continue to buy gift cards with Chase ink credit card, but I should look for another way to spend down AmEx GCs.

American Express Promo Code for Premium Shipping Plan

american express premium shipping plan

Today, American Express sent me an email about Premium Shipping Plan. Premium Shipping Plan costs $99, and you will get the following benefits:

  • Next-Day Shipping on gift card purchases on for a year
  • No limit, as often as you use for a year
  • No minimum purchase
  • New customer gets a 90-day free trial

An email I received today notifies that my free trial is about to expire. If I don’t cancel until the free trial ends, AmEx will charge $99 and process one-year enrollment. And they are going to send me $25 gift card as the thanks for an enrollment.

$25 gc for one year premium shipping plan enrollment

So, it is like a $25-off deal on Premium Shipping Plan. Since I intended to keep using the Plan anyway, I was very happy with this offer… However, after some research on the internet, there WAS a much better deal. According to Frequent Miler blog, there was a promo code to waive the fee of Premium Shipping Plan completely. Unfortunately, this code expired last month. I might have found and gotten this offer if my free trial expired last month.

What’s done is done. Now I have two options. One is to do nothing and let them charge $99 automatically, and then get $25 gift card. The other is to cancel Premium Shipping Plan and wait for a code to show up, which waives 100% of Premium Shipping Plan fee. If I take this option, I will lose the $25-off deal. Besides, nobody knows when the code shows up. Or nobody even knows if the code shows up again.

So, what I do is to pay attention to promotions for American Express Gift Card until my free trial expires. If the code shows up before it expires, I will cancel the Plan and then make a new enrollment with the code. Otherwise, I won’t do anything. AmEx will charge $99 automatically and send me $25 gift card. I purchase AmEx GCs every week or two. I don’t want to risk losing $25-off deal for the code that is uncertain to show up.

There are two weeks until my free trial expires. I hope the code will show up.

Amex Offer amazon already $20 back for $20+ Purchase

Get a one-time $20 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $20 or more online at by 8/31/2014

amazon e gift card email deliveryI received this offer in July 2014. I purchased $20 Amazon E-Gift Card with AmEx  card synced with this offer (Blue Cash Preferred). Usually, AmEx sends a confirmation email (picture below) in a minute, but I didn’t receive one this time.

amex offer staple confirmation email

I wondered e-gift card might not have been eligible for the offer. So, I logged in my AmEx account to double-check its terms and conditions. Then I noticed that $20 had been already credited to my account. ^^

I purchased the e-gift card on July 10th, and the credit was posted on the next day. Since amazon gift cards are eligible items for this offer, just buy a $20 gift card for a future purchase if you don’t find anything you want right now.

amex offer amazon $20 back on $20

Another great offer became available at the same time. It’s for

Get a one-time $15 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $100 or more on qualifying purchases online at by 7/31/2014

I purchased $100 Sears gift card with the card. For this purchase, I received a confirmation email (2nd picture) right after the check-out. Please note that Staples offer is valid online only, and e-gift cards are not eligible items.

And today, I see another offer added. It’s for BestBuy. (sync up with Serve, too)

Get a one-time $25 statement credit by using your enrolled Card to spend a total of $250 or more at Best Buy by 9/2/2014

What generous offers! Thank you, American Express!

New Amex Offer at and

I just found two new Amex Offers. Both of them are really great.

  • Get $20 statement credit when you spend $20 or more at (expires 8/31/2014)
  • Get $15 statement credit when you spend $100 or more at (expires 7/31/2014)

amex offer amazon staples online

They are both one-time deal on each card. I have two American Express cards, Blue Cash Preferred and Serve, but I don’t see these offers on Serve (facebook nor twitter).

Please note that e-gift card purchase are not eligible for the offer at It’s clearly described on the top row of Terms. Here is the full description of terms.

Offer valid online only at E-Gift Card purchases sent directly to recipient’s email address are excluded. Quill, Smilemaker, Staples Business Advantage, Staples Toner Services, Staples Technology Solutions, Staples Promotional Products, Staples Print Solutions, Staples Contract & Commercial, Staples Simplexity & international purchases are excluded. If you order an item during the offer period but it is not sent to you until after 7/31/14, it may not count towards determining whether your purchase qualifies for the offer. Offer is non-transferable. Limit 1 statement credit per American Express online account. Enrollment for the offer is limited. Statement credit will appear on your billing statement within 90 days after 7/31/14, provided that American Express receives information from the merchant about your qualifying purchase. Statement credit may be reversed if qualifying purchase is returned/cancelled. If American Express does not receive information that identifies your transaction as qualifying for the offer, you will not receive the statement credit. For example, your transaction will not qualify if it is not made directly with the merchant. In addition, in most cases, you will not receive the statement credit if your transaction is made with an electronic wallet or through a third party or if the merchant uses a mobile or wireless card reader to process it. POID: BG3A:0001

I appreciate that American Express clearly describes terms because purchasing e-gift cards was the first thing I came up with when I saw the offer. Plus, they usually send a confirmation email right after you use a card synced with Amex Offer. So even if you order something, but don’t receive a confirmation email, you should check your order and re-read Terms to see if your order is eligible for the offer.

While e-gift card purchases are not eligible, physical gift card purchases seem to be OK. I plan to use this offer for either $200 Visa gift card (+$6.95 purchase fee) or $100 Sears gift card (+$1.99 shipping fee).

As for amazon, it seems any items are OK. So, I purchased $20 e-gift card. But it’s been 12 hours since check-out, I haven’t received a confirmation email from American Express. E-gift card may be excluded from eligible items. But I will wait and see for at least a week. I don’t have to rush. The offer at expires on the end of August. There is plenty of time.

Serve Can’t Redeem AmEx GC Offer

American Express Serve is a reloadable prepaid card. One of its benefits is that you can sync up with Amex offers. Currently, there is an offer of $10 statement credit on the purchase of $200 or more American Express gift cards online. (expires on 07/30/2014)

amex offer on 200 or more amex gc

The offer was able to add to my Serve card, but you can’t redeem the offer because American Express doesn’t accept prepaid cards as payment for purchases of AmEx GCs.

After I had placed an order, I received an email from AmEx network. It said:

Thank you for using your synced American Express® Card

ending in xxxxx at AMEX GIFT CARDS!

Look out for a statement credit within 90 days.

Soon after, I received another email from AmEx. It said, “Your Card order cannot be completed.” Here are the details.

Thank you for placing your order for prepaid American Express Card(s). Unfortunately, we cannot fulfill order #1114xxxx at this time.

Your order was not fulfilled for the following reasons: At this time we do not accept gift cards as a form of payment.

It’s not big deal, but money I tried to use for AmEx GC has been on hold for a long time. It’s been three days after the check-out. The money is still on hold.

serve cant buy amex gc

And here is how the page at (online shopping portal) show this transaction.

cash back from befrugal on amex gc

I kind of knew that AmEx wouldn’t accept prepaid cards for the purchase of AmEx GCs. However, Serve synced with this offer. So I thought it would be worth a try. I missed one thing. I didn’t expect Serve kept the money on hold for so long time. You’d better not try to use prepaid cards for AmEx GCs.

Vanilla / OneVanilla / Target Visa Gift Card Problems

It used to work before, but didn’t work yesterday. Since I found out that ShopDiscover, Discover’s shopping portal, pays out cash back on the purchase of Target Visa GCs, I have purchased many Target Visa GCs. It used to be able to reload American Express BlueBird/Serve with Target Visa GCs at Walmart MoneyCenter Express. But their system has recently updated so that it declines Prepaid gift cards issued by Bancorp, such as Vanilla, OneVanilla, and Target Visa GCs. I also used $100 Target Visa gift cards for purchases of Costco Cash Cards and got cash back at the same time. But now this isn’t available, either.

Visa GCs issued by Bancorp can’t be attached with your name or address. All you can do is to assign Zip code. Since online merchants can’t verify your billing name and address from the cards, many online merchants decline transactions.

So, for what can you use them?

Purchase at stores

You can use it anywhere it accepts Visa, purchase for merchandises that cost less than $100 in total. Depending on stores, you can use multiple GCs for a single transaction. You should ask store clerks at first.

Add to your amazon account

You can add not only Visa prepaid GCs, but also AmEx GCs to your amazon account. You can shop items at If you have “left-over” GCs, like $1.37 or $5.69 left, redeem for amazon e-codes. A great feature of amazon e-codes is that you can choose any amount in increment of as little as 1¢. (As of July 2014, an e-code can be purchase between $0.50 and $2,000.)

Send Via Amazon Payment

Since you can add prepaid GCs to your amazon account, you can send money to your friend, member of your family, or someone you can trust, through Amazon Payment. Unlike PayPal, Amazon Payment doesn’t charge a fee to send money from debit or credit cards. Someone who receives your money either sends back to you through Amazon Payment or withdraws to his or her bank account and then give you back in cash.

Add to your PayPal account

Even if an online merchant declines the card due to being unable to verify a billing name and address, you can pay through PayPal as long as online merchants accepts PayPal payment. Before adding the card to your PayPal account, you should assign Zip code in the website, Otherwise, PayPal rejects the card.

Buy merchant gift cards

Unlike bank GCs, such as Visa, MasterCard, or AmEx GCs, merchant gift cards don’t charge a purchase fee. So, you can use up the card without leaving a small amount.

Tips of buying merchant GCs

Depending on stores, you may get a reward on the purchase of merchant GCs. For example, when you buy a $100 BestBuy GC at Stop & Shop supermarket, you will get a fuel reward, which you can save 10¢/gal. Sometimes, there is a promotion. During this promotion, the fuel reward you earn will be multiplied by 3 to 5.

Maximize Shop Your Way Fuel Reward

Kmart has also a fuel reward program. When you buy a $50 merchant GC, you will get a 30¢-off-per-gallon coupon. You can buy (2) $50 GCs with $100 Target Visa GC, but you should make two separate transactions to receive two coupons. If you buy Sears or Kmart GCs, you can use them at Kmart later. If you use the GCs for something that costs $50 or more, you will get another coupon. So, in the end, you will get four coupons out of (1) $100 Target Visa GC.

I needed to come up with these methods because I have many Target Visa GCs right now. My plan was reloading Serve and Walmart MoneyCard with them, and also getting cash back at stores whenever I got a chance. But that is no longer available. I’m not going to order Target Visa GCs anymore unless ShopDiscover has a promotion, or I get a new credit card with sign-up bonus, etc.

New Amex Offer $10 back on $200+ AmEx GC

$10 credit on $200 amex gcThere is new Amex Offer through July 30, 2014. You will get one-time $10 statement credit when you spend the total of $200 or more on American Express Gift Card. The offer is available online only,

I have two American Express cards for Amex Offer. One is Blue Cash Preferred, and the other is Serve. However, you can’t use Serve for the purchase of AmEx GCs. They don’t accept Prepaid Cards as a payment.

Please don’t forget to click a link of shopping portal. As of July 1st 2014, the best rate is BeFrugal’s 3% cash back. Once the rate was down to 2.5%, but it slightly went back up.