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Subtitle: How to get 27,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for under $20 of spend. Keep reading to find out how to do it.
Kroger is running a deal that I first saw it with Travel With Grant and later also saw by Miles to Memories. The promotion is if you buy 2 or more Visa or Mastercard gift cards, you get a coupon for $5 off your next order. It is from July 2nd to July 15th, and claims to limit you to one coupon per day.
But as I learned from my years of extreme couponing, it doesn’t matter what they SAY, it matters what the registers are coded for. In this case, you apparently only need to buy one gift card, and there is no daily limit (how would they even enforce that)
Trip 1 and 2
I took a trip before and after work last week and had no problems. Both times, it worked as expected – 1 $500 gift card cost $505.95 and got a $5 coupon for my next order. It is apparently Kroger policy that if you buy more than $100 in gift cards they check ID.
On my way to see the fireworks, I stopped by my local Kroger to try again. This time in addition to a gift card, I bought a $1 box of red white and blue popsicles to eat while waiting for the show.
So my total came to $506.95. I tried to use the $5 coupon just to see if that would work. It would not scan automatically but I have plenty of experience just standing around at grocery stores with a blank look on my face (“I don’t know why this coupon isn’t scanning….” :-P. The cashier (teenage girl) eventually just put in a manual $5 off.
Then the fun happened. She wanted to see my ID, but I was using my wife’s American Express Every Day card that we picked up in our latest churn. I had used the card on my first 2 trips and neither of the cashiers seemed to care that my ID did not match the name on the card.
But alas, this one did. She wouldn’t sell me the card with the IDs not matching. So I had her take the gift card off, but the coupon was still on there, so I showed a balance of NEGATIVE $4. She said “Your total is $4” and I had to reply “Actually, it’s NEGATIVE $4 because of the coupon” That got her flustered (LOL) but eventually she had to call the manager over, void the coupon, give it back to me, and I paid $1 for my popsicles
A few more trips
Not wanting to try that again, I’ve had to drag my wife along to buy them. No problems – they’ve always checked her ID, but not always verified that it matched the card. And we’ve only had to call American Express Fraud Protection once!
We’ve also bought 2 cards back to back in separate transactions, and each time 1 coupon printed out per transaction of 1 gift card
Maximizing the Deal
UPDATE: Grant from Travel with Grant mentions in the comments that you should tread carefully here, as buying a ton of gift cards MAY increase your odds of getting an American Express Financial Review. Be careful out there folks!
But now how do we maximize it? Like I said before, we have been using our new Every Day card. This one gives 3x on grocery spending, BUT if you make 30 transactions or more in a month, you get a 50% bonus (so 4.5x). Originally I was going to buy 30 $500 gift cards but the fine print on the Every Day card says that it’s limited to the first $6,000 in spending (afterwards you only get 1x).
So the new max would be 12 cards, which should get 18,000 American Express points (12 * 500 * 3), which should make 27,000 Membership Rewards points after the 50% bonus.
You’ll pay 12 * $5.95 or $71.40 in activation fees, but you will also get $60 back in grocery coupons. Add in a few extra dollars if you cash out with money orders instead of Bluebird, but your total cost should be under $20. Not bad for Amex points that conservatively are valued at least $500.
I have not personally cashed out any of mine yet, but these should have no problem being loaded to Bluebird or used to buy money orders.
Now what would make this even sweeter is if you earned Kroger fuel points on these transactions, but you do not (on Visa / MC or Kroger gift card purchases). I had a cashier swear to me that you did when I didn’t put in my Kroger Plus card number but I finally convinced him. I mean if they did, then I’d be buying these all day long, since even without the deal, $505.95 would give me (with double fuel points) just over 1000 fuel points, good for $1 / gallon off, which would more than offset the $5.95 activation fee.
As I was telling Carolyn, that would be why they don’t earn fuel points.
Another thought I had was that you can earn community rewards for linking up your Kroger card. Like here, my local school district earns I think 4% off purchases if you link your card up. I’m not sure if this is something that would flow through to those – if so, that could be a huge way to help out your favorite charitable organization. I’m not sure how I can check that though.