Credit Card

5X Reward PayPal Extras Promo through February 21st

I received an email of PayPal Extras MasterCard promotion. Between 2/6 and 2/21, you can earn 5X reward points for every 1 dollar you spend in a selected category. You need to choose one of 3 the following categories. (if you don’t know about PayPal Extras MasterCard, click here to see details.)

  • Travel (Hotels, Airlines, Rental Cars)
  • Shopping (Department Stores, Home Improvement)
  • Entertainment (Movie Theaters, Amusement Parks)

You have to use PP Extras credit card directly. Even if you buy something online at department store, when you check out through PayPal, the transaction is not qualified for 5X reward.

Here is a screenshot of the email.

paypal extras promo 5x rewards

There are the terms at the bottom of the email, but they don’t have many details such as an example of stores, exclusions, etc. At least, I’m sure that Sears is Department Store, and they have $200 Visa or MasterCard gift cards. I purchased some Visa gift cards with Chase freedom in the 4th quarter of 2014 to earn 5x UR points. Now, you can do it the same with PP Extras MC.

However, I’m not as appreciated for this promo as the ones that offer statement credit. That’s because the total points you can earn are limited to 50,000 a year. Unless your anniversary month is close, and you haven’t earned many points yet, you don’t have to lose $6.95 of a purchase fee for each Visa/MasterCard GCs.

My PP Extras MC’s anniversary month is April, and I will be able to earn around 5000 points by April. So, I don’t have to rush. I may be going to buy HFT GCs online. HFT is a home improvement store, and shopping portals pay cash back on their GC purchases.

paypal shopping offer

PayPal Extras MasterCard Special Offer

PayPal Extras MasterCard credit card is not really popular because of low value of reward points. And it’s capped at 50,000 pts (≤$500) annually. Click PayPal Extras MasterCard reviews to see details. I have a cardholder for a year, and I got to know that they occasionally send a special offer. I’m satisfied with the offers. They give you statement credit or e-gift card, so it has nothing to do with reward points. Even if you have earned 50,000 points, you can get these offers. Here are some examples:

paypal extras mastercard offerpaypal extras mastercard promo

You receive an email that has a link to activate the offer. You must activate the offer by clicking a link before you use the card. I was really surprised that there were four offers in December, 2014. I received new offers almost every week that month.

It’s much easier to redeem the offers than Amex Offers. Amex Offers are similar, using the card and receiving statement credit. But for PayPal offers, you can use the card to redeem the offers in any stores.

There is one minor problem. Unlike Amex Offers, you can’t tell if you redeem the offers properly until you receive statement credit. So, it’s better to keep a record. I decided to keep a record here in this blog. The following is the first offer I received in 2015:

paypal extras mastercard 1st offer 2015

It’s very easy! I’m going to buy $50 e-gift card on eBay. $20 statement credit is 40% back. I will also earn eBay Bucks and 2X reward points.

Maximize the Benefit of Sears Credit Card

sears credit cardSears credit cards, including Sears MasterCard and Sears Store Card, are issued by Citibank. Sears MasterCard can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted. Sears Store card is used at Sears or Kmart. Neither of them has an annual fee. Although Sears MC can be used outside of Sears or Kmart, they don’t give you any points or rewards. Sears CC gives you the benefit on the purchase at Sears and Kmart only.

The basic benefit of Sears CC is that you earn extra 1X base point (of Shop Your Way Rewards) on Sears purchases, extra 4X base point on Kmart purchases when you pay with the cards. Base point is worth 1% of the price of an item, and you can earn it with any type of payment except for SYWR point redemption. So, extra 1X base point on Sears purchase isn’t great at all. If you use your reward credit card, you still earn SYWR base point and 1% or more cash back from credit card. How about Kmart? Extra 4X sounds good. But, you can find around 10% discounted Sears/Kmart gift cards. If you buy GCs and pay with them, you still earn SYWR base point. And you had already got around 10% discount when you bought GCs.

So far, you may not see any benefits of Sears CC. And you don’t know the reason to apply although there is no annual fee. However, I will tell you in advance. If you purchase at Sears (not Kmart), especially online, you’d better have one of these cards. You may not actually use the card. But, it’s important to have the card. I will explain.

Instead of Kmart’s extra 4X, Sears offers 5% discount on selected items when you pay with Sears CC. These items are found in all categories. For my business, I purchase a lot of items in Tools category. Most of the items in Tools category I buy are eligible for 5% discount. The point is that 5%-discount is applied on your purchase even when you pay with GCs.

sears credit card discount

It’s easy to do. If you set your Sears CC as a default payment method, 5%-discount will automatically apply on eligible items. If you don’t see the discount, proceed checkout. And choose Sears CC as payment method. (You may need to enter 3-digit security code.) And then click “Review Order.” After making sure that the discount appears, go back to the Payment page and choose GC and enter GC numbers. Now, you can place an order, but it’s better to review the order again.

It doesn’t matter if you partially or fully pay with GCs. The discount is reflected on a list price of items. It also works with SYWR point redemption. Let’s say you have enough points to pay the entire amount of your purchase. After you make the discount show up, go back to the Payment page and redeem points. Review an order to make sure that everything looks good, and then place an order.

You should click through shopping portal sites on every online order at Sears and Kmart. Surprisingly, portals don’t see the 5%-discount or SYWR point redemption. It means that cash back is reflected upon a price before the discount. Even when you entirely pay with SYWR points, you still earn cash back from portals.

And, it may work in store purchases. But you have to tell a cashier that you will use Sears CC. Then a cashier presses a button on a register and rings up 5% discounted price. There is one problem, though. Unlike online orders, you can’t tell if items are eligible for 5% discount.

What about Kmart? Kmart offers 5% back in SYWR point when you pay with Sears CC. Let’s try. 5% in points stay even after GCs are applied. But, when you review the order, points are reduced from 5% to 1%. And don’t bother to place an order without reviewing. It won’t work.You will earn only 1%. For Kmart, you can get 5% back only when you use Sears CC. However, some items at are marked “Sold by Sears.” These items may be eligible for 5%-discount, and you may use the strategy.

On some holiday season, Sears CC offers 10% back in point on up to $500 Sears purchases. Except the period of this promotion, I don’t actually pay with my Sears CC. Sears CC doesn’t have many promotions. But, it’s a great benefit that just having the card qualifies 5% discount on selected items. If you often buy products at Sears, you should apply for one.

Purchase of Merchant Gift Card was treated as Cash Advance by Citi

One day, I logged in my Citi account to check my available balance of my newest credit card, Citi Double Cash, and glanced at my recent transactions. Then I noticed that there was a pending transaction of $10 as a cash advance fee.

10 dollar cash advance fee

I was aware that Citi treats a purchase of AmEx gift cards as a cash advance. And they may also do so for an online load of AmEx Serve. So, I had completely avoided using Citi credit cards for these transactions.

To find out why I was charged a cash advance fee, I scroll down the list of transactions. And I found “MORTGAGE CO/NONFINANCIAL INST/TRAVEL CHK” category on one of them. Here are the details.

cash advance by citi

The transaction was a purchase of discounted Lowe’s gift card from I didn’t use the credit card directly but through PayPal. Earlier, I linked the credit card with my PayPal account so I can eliminate the process of entering card number and an expiration date during checkout (as long as merchants accept PayPal.)

In the same way, I bought discounted gift cards from The transaction was posted as “Purchases” and categorized as “DISCOUNT STORE

I made another transaction through PayPal at, but it was actually eBay transaction. I bought eBay gift cards. It was posted as “Purchases” and categorized as “COMPUTER NETWORK/INFO SRVS

And there are lots of transactions of  purchasing shipping labels for my eBay business. There are also posted as “Puchases” and categorized as “BUSINESS SERVICES,NOT ELSEWHERE CLASSED

I also use the credit card directly for the purchase of discounted gift cards because the following sites don’t accept PayPal.

A transaction at is posted as “Purchases” and categorized as “MISC GENERAL MERCHANDISE NOT CLASSIFIED

A transaction at is posted as “Purchases” and categorized as “ADVERTISING SERVICES

I sent an email to Cardflip. They told me that it’d never happened, and I should contact Citi. I called Citi, and a representative said, “I can’t change transaction types or categories. The system just decides them. Whatever you buy from them (Cardflip) are viewed as a cash equivalent by the system. So, it will be treated as a cash advance.”

I don’t think this is right. Lowe’s gift cards are redeemable at Lowe’s only. I bought Lowe’s gift card to save money on the purchase of merchandise at Lowe’s. If purchases of discounted gift card incur a cash advance fee and interest, which is usually higher than the regular interest rate, the existence of gift card exchange sites has no meanings.

So, I sent the second email to Cardflip, suggesting to work on changing category from “MORTGAGE CO/NONFINANCIAL INST/TRAVEL CHK” to something else that is appropriate. Because they sell ONLY merchant gift cards, not even single Visa/MasterCard/AmEx gift card or traveler’s check.

Although the response to the first email was prompt, there was no response to the second email. I’m very disappointed. I could stop buying from them, but not this time. If the same thing happens to other bank’s credit card, it will be the end of my business with them.

As for Citi, although I hate their “the system”, sending balance transfer offer over and over, the benefit of Double Cash (2% cash back) is valuable. I lost $10 for cash advance fee and a few more dollar for an interest charge, but I will get them back soon. If you buy $500 Visa GC with $5.95 fee, cash back will be $10.12. It’s a money maker. I will need to keep an eye on the statement and learn Dos and Donts. And let the card work for me.

What happens when retailer cancels your order with Amex Offer?

When I redeemed a recent Amex Offer “Get $5 statement credit when you spend $15 or more at“, I had a little trouble. My initial plan goes like this:

  • Buy $15 Walmart E-Gift cards with my two American Express cards
  • Buy $30 Starbucks physical gift card with two $15 Walmart E-gift cards

walmart egift card cancelIn this way, I can get 33.3% discounted Starbucks gift card. (see detail here.) I placed the first order, but Walmart canceled my order about 10 minutes after I placed the order. When I submitted an order, I received an email of “Thank You for using your Synced Card!”from American Express in no time. Then, a few minutes later, I received the order confirmation email from Walmart. But, ten minutes later, I received another email for telling me that the order was canceled. The reason of cancellation is not clear. The email said,

Thank you for shopping with Unfortunately, due to an error processing payment information, we have had to cancel the following order

For sure, I entered credit card number correctly because I received an email from American Express.

The email also said,

Since this order hasn’t shipped, your account was never charged. Any authorization hold placed on your account will automatically expire in accordance with the card issuer’s policy. Please contact your financial institution for more information

However, there is a pending transaction in the history of my credit card. So, I just waited until this pending transaction would disappear.

Although I received “Thank You for using your Synced Card!” email from AmEx, the offer of Walmart had been in MY OFFERS (a list of offers that is synced, but not yet redeemed), not in MY SAVINGS (a list of offers you redeemed).

When a pending transaction disappeared from the history, the offer of Walmart stayed in MY OFFERS. I placed another order of E-gift card, but the order was also canceled.

I waited another a few more days and then placed an order of physical gift card. This time, it went through. I didn’t receive an email from AmEx, but $5 statement credit was posted a few days later.

If the order is canceled after a statement credit is posted, it is probably a different story. As long as the transaction is still pending when retailers or you cancel an order, you won’t lose Amex Offer.

Discover New 5% Cashback Bonus of Your Choice

discover 5 percent cashback choiceToday, I logged in my Discover account, and I felt something unfamiliar on the page. There are three lines in 5% Cashback Bonus section. One is “Gas Station”, which is 3rd quarter of rotating category. The other one is “Online Shopping and Department Store”, which is 4th quarter. And there is another one between these two. It was telling me to activate now. I clicked and got to know a new special offer.

5% cashback bonus on up to $1000 purchases in-store and online at a store of your choice from October through November

The time-frame overlaps with 4th quarter’s rotating category a little, but they are different offers. You need to choose one among the following stores, Applebee’s, Olive Garden, Bed Bath and Beyond, Shell, Lowes, and Walgreen.

  • Applebee’s and Olive Garden – I don’t often go. I’m definitely not going to spend $1000 there.
  • Bed Bath and Beyond – I don’t shop. They don’t sell other store’s gift cards
  • Shell – The gas station I primarily use. Although I drive a lot. I spend money a little (read Gasoline articles for details). And my local Shell don’t sell gift cards
  • Lowes and Walgreen – You can find their stores gift cards with around 10% discount. If you buy merchandises in these stores, getting discounted gift card can save more. However, they sell other stores gift cards. Especially, Walgreen has $500 ($20-$500 variable amount) Vanilla Visa gift cards, and the selection of gift cards is much better than Lowes.

discover special offer your choiceSo, I chose Walgreen and activated the offer.

I have three credit cards with rotating category, Chase freedom, Citi dividend, and Discover it. Go shopping at department stores with Chase freedom, at Bestbuy with Citi dividend, at Walgreen and online shopping with Discover it card. I will be really busy the following months.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred vs Everyday

amex blue cash credit cardThe two credit cards from American Express, Blue Cash Preferred and Blue Cash Everyday, both offer bonus cash back on the purchase at grocery stores and gas stations. Preferred charges an annual fee of $75, and Everyday has no annual fee.



  • 6% cash back at grocery stores (up to $6000 per year in purchases, 1% after that)
  • 3% cash back at gas stations and selected department stores
  • 1% cash back on any other purchases


  • 3% cash back at grocery stores (up to $6000 per year in purchases, 1% after that)
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and selected department stores
  • 1% cash back on any other purchases

The limits only apply on purchases at grocery stores. Cash back at gas stations and department stores are unlimited. Let’s say that you use two cards at grocery stores only. When you spend $2500 a year, cash back from two cards are:

  • Preferred $2500 x 0.06 – $75 (annual fee) = $75
  • Everyday $2500 x 0.03 = $75

So, if you spend more than $2500 a year (or $208.33 a month), you’d better choose Preferred over Everyday. After you have spent $6000 at grocery stores, you can still earn 1% cash back. You can track your spending on each category online account page. The picture is how statement looks like when grocery purchases has exceeded $6000. There are two lines for U.S. Supermarkets, and one is follow by “1%”.

amex blue cash reward statement

What to Do when reaching $6000 limit

Until next year, My AmEx Blue Cash Preferred offers only 1% cash back at grocery stores. You can use another card that offer cash back more than 1%. For example, 2% Bank of America Cash Rewards Visa, 2% US Bank Cash+ Visa, etc. Or you may apply for another AmEx Blue Cash card. But maybe you don’t want to have many credit cards, or don’t have credit score good enough to get approved of new credit cards. For those people, there is a way to continue to get bonus cash back at grocery stores with the same AmEx Blue Cash even after you have spent $6000 at grocery store. The key item is American Express Gift Card.

You can purchase AmEx GCs online, at their website But you shouldn’t go to the site directly. You have to go through online shopping portal sites. A rate of cash back for the purchase of AmEx GCs varies from portal to portal. However, most of the time, either Befrugal or TopCashBack offers the highest rate between 2% and 3%. A purchase fee of AmEx GC is $3.95 regardless of value of gift card. There are some different shipping options and costs, but say you purchase $1000 AmEx GC with cheapest shipping option. A purchase Fee and shipping cost $3.95+$8.95=12.90. You have to spend $12.90 for $1000 cash equivalent item, but credit card reward’s 1% cash back covers most of it. So, cash back from the portal will remain! It means that you always get 2% to 3% discount every time you use AmEx GC.


American Express Blue Cash Preferred and Everyday are both great credit cards for grocery store purchases. To offset an annual fee of Preferred ($75), you need to spend $2500 annually at grocery store. (if you use the cards only at grocery stores) As a rough indication, if you spend less than $2500 a year, choose Everyday. If you spend more than $2500 a year, choose Preferred. In my opinion, $2500 is just a little amount. It is $208.33 per month. Even if you don’t buy foods at grocery stores, some grocery stores sell gift cards. You can buy merchant or Visa/MasterCard gift cards to get full 6% bonus cash back ($360) easily.

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.”)


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.