When it comes to earning miles/points there are essentially 2 main ways to do so -- signing up for credit cards and/or through everyday spend. I've already covered extensively why leveraging your credit through the signing up of credit cards is so valuable (big amount of points in a short amount of time!), while I haven't touched much on how to maximize your earning potential with everyday spend.
I like finding deals. Travel, yes, first and foremost. But once you get the deal-finding-bug, it pretty much flows into everything else. Ask my wife about this aspect of me and she will probably roll her eyes, sigh, and tell you how I tire her so.
Back in 2013, I came across an Instagram contest where you had the chance to win an iPad Mini by posting your "scared face" from seeing something "scary" on the internet. The contest was a collaboration between a blogger and a company that made an internet plug-in to keep kids from seeing "scary" things while browsing the World Wide Web. Well, it turns out my face is pretty scary (click if you dare), and it won me that iPad Mini! However, I hardly used it due to it's non-retina screen and slow processing speeds (yes, I'm a technology snob).
Flash forward to Black Friday 2015. Staples was selling the newest iPad Mini 4 for $299, on sale from $399. I had a bunch of Staples gift cards and a barely used iPad Mini on hand, so I decided to do some wheeling and dealing.
I listed the iPad Mini on eBay and it sold. This is the breakdown, which will also show you why selling on eBay isn't as lucrative as people make it to be:
- Sold for $148.74 + $10 for shipping = $158.74
- PayPal Fee: $4.90
- eBay Final Value Fee: $15.87
- Actual Shipping Costs: $22.12
- Total Made: +$115.85
It seems as if almost every month, or every other month, Staples is running a promotion. A recurrent promotion is that if you buy $300 worth of Visa or Mastercard gift cards, you get a $20 Visa or Staples gift card through their EasyRebate system. I accrued 3 of these $20 Staples gift cards through purchasing 6 total gifts cards, all of which came with a fee of $5.95. Recently, there was also a 'Get a $15 Credit when you spend $15+ using Visa Checkout" promo which I took advantage of 2x, so I purchased 2 x $15 Staples gift card for essentially free.
You can view the purchasing of Visa/Mastercard gift cards as straight up making money. Not only can you still use those cards for everyday spending, but now you are getting cash back in the form of Staples gift cards. On top of this, I used my Chase Ink Plus card, which earns me 5x the points at office supply stores, so I not only made money off of this promo, but I accrued some travel points as well! My total gift cards gained and costs incurred is broken down as follows:
- Total Staples Gift Cards: +$90
- Fees From Visa/Mastercard Gift Card Purchases: $5.95 x 6 = $35.70
- Cost for $60 worth of Staples Gift Cards: -$24.30
Amazon has had some pretty amazing promotions this holiday season as well. I was able to take advantage of a promotion where if you used at least 1 Ultimate Rewards Point (1 point = $.01) from a Chase credit card (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, Freedom) linked to your Amazon account, you get $15 off a $25+ purchase. I was able to use this promo twice to purchase 2 x $25 Staples gift cards. My total gift cards gained and costs incurred is broken down as follows:
- Ultimate Rewards Point Usage 2 x $25:
- Total Staples Gift Cards: +$50
- Cost for $50 worth of Staples Gift Cards: 2 x $9.99 = -$19.98
iPad Mini 4
I made my way to Staples the morning of Black Friday, on my way into work. There weren't any long lines or craziness, thank goodness. I wrote about the Discover/ApplePay Promo back in September, so I had planned on taking advantage of this as well. The breakdown of the total cost for this new iPad is as follows:
- Cost to Purchase Ipad Mini 4: $299 + $17.94 (6% tax) = $316.94
- Staples Gift Cards on hand: +$140
- Discover/ApplePay Promo (22%): +38.93
- Profits from selling Ipad Mini 1: +$115.85
- Cost for $140 worth of Staples Gift Cards: -$44.28
- Total: $66.44
For some of you this may seem like a lot of work. However, for me, doing the little leg work of keeping up with the latest deals or signing up for promotions, makes a worthy purchase such as this all the more rewarding! I'll try to do a better job of sharing these promotions with all of you as well! Feel free to email me or comment below with any questions you may have!
*If you're interested in learning how to earn cash back, earn lots of miles/points, and maximize your travel redemptions, setup a consultation with me!
For those of you who keep up with the latest and greatest in the tech world, you may or may not be familiar with Apple Pay -- it was one of the highly touted features for the iPhone 6, which was launched in September of 2014. Apple Pay gives you the ability to add certain credit cards onto your iPhone, allowing you to pay for purchases electronically, at participating stores via specific Apple Pay terminals. I would love to be able to take advantage of the convenience of Apple Pay, however, I have an iPhone 5, and any iPhone iteration prior to the 6 does not have the hardware to support Apple Pay. I can almost guarantee that even many of you iPhone 6 owners (i.e. - my wife) under utilize it as well!
Discover has long been known for their no annual fee cash back cards along with providing great over-the-phone customer service. A couple of years back, Discover re-branded it's cash back card, calling it the "Discover IT". The Discover IT earns 1% cash back on all purchases, but has quarterly 5% rotating categories such as Amazon, home improvement stores (i.e. - Home Depot, Lowes), restaurants, movies, gas/ground transportation, etc. The current quarter's 5% category includes Amazon, so for example -- spending $100 at Amazon, would get you $5 in cash back. However, starting earlier this year, Discover began a promotion that doubles all cash back for a new card member's first year! So if you were approved for a card, did your spending for the year, and received for that year $1000 in total cash back rewards, Discover would give you another $1000 cash back on top of that! Wow!
Back when this promo first came out, Discover allowed current card holders to get in on the double cash back action, but that ability to do so went away in June. Now, the only way to get the double cash back bonus is to sign up for a new Discover IT card. But wait, there's more...
ARE YOU FO REAL?
Up until this point, Discover IT and older Discover card holders have not been able to load their Discover cards onto their iPhone 6's and utilize Apple Pay. However, in Discover's latest press release announcing the ability to do so, it states:
"From September 16, to the end of the year, cardmembers who pay with their Discover card using Apple Pay will automatically earn an extra 10% Cashback Bonus on up to $10,000 of in-store purchases. Discover it Miles, Miles and Escape cardmembers will earn an extra 10 miles per dollar on up to $10,000 of in-store purchases."
This means that starting this past Wednesday, with the upgrade of your iOS, you have the ability to load your Discover card onto Apple Pay! If you then make $10K worth of purchases, in-store, paying with the Discover IT card, using your iPhone 6 (or newer), you will have cash back to the tune of $1100 coming to you! Wait, I don't think I got that right -- you will be getting $2200 in cash back -- due to the double cash back promo I mentioned above! *cue stampede to sign up for the card*
Discover IT Cash Back: 1% + 10% = 11% x 2 = 22%!
Plan Of Attack
Between the wife and I, we have 1 iPhone 6, and 1 old Discover card (without the double cash back bonus). I will be applying for a Discover IT card for the each of us, to make use of both the double cash back and 10% Apple Pay promos. I will also purchase a new iPhone 6s for this, as I could use an upgrade, but the cost of the phone will basically be a wash with the cash back. We will then spend $30K in-store, in the next 3 months, to maximize all the cash back. Here is a full list of participating retailers and a sample of stores where Apple Pay is accepted:
Potential Cash Back:
- Discover IT (2 x $10K spend x 22%) = $4,400
- Old Discover Card $10K spend x 11% = $1,100
- iPhone 6s 64 GB = $749
NOW THAT'S A NICE CHUNK OF CHANGE FOR... travel, bills, student loans, etc.!
Email me or comment below with any questions!
*If you would like to take advantage of the Apple Pay promo of the year and apply for a Discover IT card, click HERE! You'll get $50 after making your first purchase within the first 3 months!
*If you're interested in learning how to maximize this deal in the next 3 months, how to earn tons of points, maximize your redemptions, and how to travel for free, click HERE!