A Day In Gift Card Reselling
Yesterday an opportunity for reselling gift cards presented itself. Staples is selling iTunes gift cards at 15% off, but the market has been kind of saturated with them. A company I sell to opened up some space to buy these cards. Additionally, a digital coupon deal at Kroger stores on Carter’s gift cards presented an opportunity.
Some Success & Some Frustration
I have three Smith’s (Kroger) stores within 1.5 miles of my house and a Staples about 3 miles away. Since I didn’t have a ton of time, I plotted out an ideal route to hit these four stores as quickly as possible. The day went fairly well, but there were some bumps.
At Smith’s #1
My wife was tagging along with me and we went into Smith’s #1 (one block from our house) cautiously optimistic. This store randomly denies gift card purchases with a credit card, but we have mostly had success with merchant cards. On the rack were 20 Carter’s gift cards, so we split them up 10 & 10. My wife had the tougher job since she had the baby as well! 🙂
Result: Success! In and out in 15 minutes. $2,000 purchased.
Smith’s #2 is the second closest one to our house. After having such an easy time buying volume at Smith’s #1, my wife and I decided to have her go in and try to buy all of their cards so I could watch the baby. It is much less stressful that way. She bought all 19 cards they had in stock.
Result: Success! In and out in 10 minutes. $1,900 purchased.
On to Staples
At Staples we had a similar strategy. She would go in and try to feel out their limit (this store is wildly unpredictable with their limits) while I waited with the baby. Depending on what she was able to buy, I would then go in and buy more.
Result: Success!?! The good news is my wife emerged with 15 X $100 cards and 10 X $50 cards. The bad news is it took almost 30 minutes! It was a holiday and thus busier than normal and they called to authorize her credit card. Unfortunately we were running low on time, so I decided not to go in and spend another 30 minutes.
Feeling confident about the first two Smith’s, my wife headed into the 3rd store to buy them out. Unfortunately our streak of luck was over. The manager at that store said “cash only” and went on to say that it was “corporate policy” which we all know isn’t true.
Result: In and out in 3 minutes. $0 purchased. 🙁 #FAIL
What We Earned
In the end, we spent about 90 minutes driving around and buying gift cards.
Here is what we earned:
- $78 profit from selling the Carter’s cards.
- $98.35 credit card rewards from using our BofA Cash Rewards card at Smith’s.
- 8,500 Ultimate Rewards points for the iTunes cards by using a Chase Ink Plus at Staples.
- 7,800 fuel points ($7.80 per gallon off in gas. Can be used up to 35 gallons and only $1 off at a time.)
Assigning a Value
The fuel points are tough to value, but I think we’ll be able to use all of them. Thankfully Smith’s is pretty much the cheapest station around here except for Costco, so the savings is close to $1. To calculate their value, I’ll figure a 15 gallon purchase X $7.80. That gives me a savings of $117. Given that fuel points expire at the end of February, I think we have enough now for our own use and thus I won’t assign them value for any purchases going forward.
As for the Ultimate Rewards, I’ll value them at 1.5 cents each. That valuation works for me, however feel free to assign your own.
So here is how it looks now:
- $78 Profit from sale
- $98.35 Credit card cashback
- $127.50 (8,500 UR)
- $117 (Fuel Savings)
- Total “Profit”: $420.85
Considering we spent about 90 minutes shopping plus another 30-45 minutes entering the cards and on bookkeeping this was a somewhat fruitful venture. My wife and I were together already running errands, but this truthfully could have been done by one single person in the same amount of time.
I chose $100 denomination cards simply because that is the denomination I had reserved space to sell. The cards are variable load so I am looking at the possibility of selling higher denomination cards in the future since the card inventory is a big limiting factor.
The annual spending year just reset on my Old Blue card, so I decided not to use it for these purchases since it would not have earned 5%. Instead I used a BofA Cash Rewards which earns 3.5% cashback (thanks to my Platinum Honors status) on the first $2,500. To keep things simple I kept using it for 1.75% on the small amount above $2,500 in order to avoid splitting up the transactions.
Finally, I should note that it takes weeks for me to get paid for these cards, which means I am floating the cash. Thankfully this wasn’t a high amount of spending and I was able to sell all of these right away meaning I’ll get paid in two weeks or so, but the biggest thing you need to be aware of is float. I am comfortable floating this money (and more when needed), so that wasn’t an issue.
There is definitely some frustration with gift card reselling and stores making up policy and/or having more restrictive policies of their own, but taking advantage of deals like these can be lucrative if you have the patience and ability to float some funds.