I just got a heads up from Eric, one of my readers, that Ebates has changed it’s terms for cash back from GiftCardMall.com.
Buying cash Visa gift cards with a credit card and then liquidating them via a method such as Bluebird or money orders has been a staple for manufactured spending. But in order for it to be worthwhile you need to be able to purchase as large of value of a card for as little cost as possible. This is where cash back portals come into play.
Earlier this year GiftCardMall dropped the limit on Visa cards down from $1,000 per card to $500 per card making them slightly less profitable (as you pay a fee per card). However, earning 1% cash back on the purchase has been a great way to offset the fee’s and if done right, even turn a profit.
Ebates has seen an increase in volume of traffic going to GiftCardMall.com through there portal ever since TopCashBack dropped their rebate rate to 0.5% back in May. Ebates pushed on offering 1% cash back.
But according to the terms now showing on Ebates this morning, that is all changing.
Previously the terms only stated that cash back would not be paid out on the purchase fee for Visa cards but would pay on the actual value of the Visa purchased.
Buying gift cards from GCM is not a good value without earning cash back as the fees are ridiculously high. Currently it appears TopCashBack is still offering 0.5% on gift cards from GCM, however that alone isn’t enough to make it worth while for me.
By adding one additional step you can still get value out of GiftCardMall. Instead of heading straight to GCM for a Visa you can first purchase an AMEX gift card and earn 1% cash back from Ebates or TopCashBack and then use that card to purchase your Visa gift cards from GCM. However, be warned Citi has been coding these as CASH ADVANCES. I only use my American Express cards to purchase Amex gift cards.
Amex charges $3.95 purchase fee per card and shipping is $8.95. However Amex does offer unlimited next day shipping for $99/year and if you sign up you will get a Free 3 month trial. During the trial period you can order gift cards for only the $3.95 fee. Also, Amex runs frequent promos where they waive the purchase fee as well!
Here are some current codes that waive the $3.95 purchase fee.
- HOLIDAYPCN – valid through 1/31/14
- HOLIDAYPBN – valid through 1/31/14
- HOLIDAYCC4 – valid through 1/13/14
- BDAY100 – valid through 11/30/13
- GIFT100 – valid through 11/30/13
Alert: TopCashBack is offering 2.25% cash back on Amex gift cards for the next 2 days. However, there is a limit of $500 per gift card, anything over $500 will not earn cash back.
It is also worth noting that Bigcrumbs offers 1.75% back and currently even 2%. However, they clearly state in their terms they will not payout if you use a promo code for no purchase fee. I have not attempted it.
Here is how it would look based on 1% back for a $500 card.
- Go through Ebates/TopCashBack to American Express to purchase Amex gift card earn $5 back and pay $0 using a promo code and 3 month trial of next day shipping
- Call American Express to register your gift card with your address or it will be declined by GCM.
- Go to GCM through TopCashBack and earn 0.5% back using Amex card to buy Visa card. Pay $7.94 for shipping and fees earning $2.50 back
- Liquidate Visa card via Bluebird or money order.
In the above example the total cost is $0.44 for a $492.06 Visa gift card and 500 miles/points. Although it took a little extra work to find the promo codes and wait for an Amex card, in the end it is all worth it. The no purchase fee codes and the free shipping are absolutely crucial to making this work! It is also worth mentioning that the cost comes down slightly on larger orders as the shipping rate from GCM is tiered.