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So part of using miles to travel for free or cheap is getting the miles in the first place! Now we’ve talked about it a bit before that most points are going to come from credit card signups, but sometimes people are just GIVING away money, and in such cases you’d be foolish not to take advantage of it!
There are 2 deals going on right now that are definitely worth taking advantage of.
OfficeMax is doing a deal right now where you get $20 off if you purchase $300 in prepaid Mastercards. There are some people that buy these cards all the time just to get the points, but that is not something that I’ve done a ton. Each card has a $6.95 activation fee, so you can get 200 points (or 1000 if you have a 5x credit card) for paying $6.95. Not a bad deal, but when you consider the cost to liquidate the Mastercard, and especially the time taken to do it, it is not quite as big of a slam dunk as it first appears.
But right now as I mentioned, it’s $20 off for a purchase of $300. The best way to do is is to buy 3 $200 Mastercards ($600 total). The worker will scan a coupon code at the register and $40 (2 * $20) comes off. Add in the $6.95 activation fee (*3) and your total is $600 – $40 +$20.85 = $580.85 for $600 in Mastercards. So almost a $20 moneymaker
Plus you get the miles for $600 in purchases. The best deal is if you have a Chase Ink card, which I do. Those cards give 5x on purchases made at office supply stores, so it ends up for each time you do this deal, you get 3000 Ultimate Reward points, plus $20. Now we’re getting somewhere! There is a limit of 2 deals (so 1 purchase of $600) per person, but I had no problem going back later in the same day.
Now how to best use those MasterCards? Well you could, you know, just SPEND them, but what’s the fun in that? At least for me, whenever you’re spending money, ideally you want to put it on a credit card (for additional miles).
One of the recent changes to credit card regulations is that all prepaid cards such as this are required to have a PIN. They aren’t set up with a PIN by default, but there is an automated phone number listed on the back of the card that you can call to set one up. Then you can use it as a debit card, which you can then load to your Bluebird account. We talked a little bit about this when we talked about meeting manufactured spending the other day. These can be used the same as the Vanilla Reloads – you load them to your Bluebird account and use your Bluebird account to pay bills.
So often, people like to talk about the time it takes to do this, and it’s true that it does take some time. But in this case, I think the time is worth it. It took me about 15 minutes to go to OfficeMax twice (tragically the OfficeMaxes in Cincinnati are not conveniently located…). For those 15 minutes, I got $40 plus 6000 Chase points. What’s the value of a Chase point. Well, it depends. Nominally they are worth 1c each, so that would be $60. When you consider all the transfer partners (United, Hyatt, Southwest, etc.), many people value those about 2c each, which would be $120. But you could also transfer those points to British Airways and use them for a free flight to New York (among other places)
I did a quick check for one-way flights from Cincinnati to New York and they are running about $300 right now. So… I would say that it’s worth it!! This deal I believe is good through the end of this week.
I had been hearing commercials on the radio about a deal at Radio Shack if you turn in 5 workable electronics. In these commercials, they advertise that by doing that you get $25 off a new Fitbit, which didn’t seem like anything to get excited about. But after a hat tip from Frequent Miler, I saw that the deal is actually just a $25 gift card, which makes it more interesting.
Apparently you can pretty much trade in just about anything. You can read more details on what Frequent Miler did in the post above, but it looks like they take down your drivers license number (I guess to make sure you only do it once), though there were also some reports of being successful using a passport as well (for a 2nd $25).
If you’re like me, you’ve got tons of old electronics sitting around, so this could be a good way to pick up a free $25. You can sell a Radio Shack gift card for about $19 according to Gift Card Granny. Most Radio Shacks also sell gift cards to Amazon or other useful places. Or if you want you could actually, you know, BUY STUFF AT RADIO SHACK?!!? 😀
I haven’t taken advantage of this deal yet, but I plan to (at LEAST once!). This deal runs through February 28, so you have a bit of time on this one.
What do you think – are these deals worth doing?