I finally got around to reconciling all the AMEX offers I took advantage of in December and wanted to share what I hauled and the lessons learned. At the start of November, I had multiple AMEX Serve cards at my disposal and only subaccounts under 1 of those accounts. Then the #amexbestbuy offer popped up, and that’s when I immediately kicked myself for not having more subaccounts since Serve/Bluebird subaccounts can register for Amex offers. Since Best Buy sells $200 Visa gift cards, I could have easily made ~$20 per card. That’s when I immediately ramped up and got subaccounts for my other Serve accounts.
Total Haul –
Walmart $115 – This deal sucked because it only worked at Walmart.com. I actually forgot that at the beginning and spent $75 buying gift cards at a Walmart store only to realize that those purchases didn’t qualify. So I just bought $15 Walmart gift cards from Walmart.com. By the 3rd gift card, Walmart started to reject my orders due to a credit card authorization error. Then I found a workaround – incognito mode and checking out as a guest. This worked about 15 times before Walmart caught on and shockingly started to refund my money and actually cancel the gift card balances. Then they just started to auto reject the orders. $115 worth of free money at Walmart was still a win.
Best Buy $350 – Like I said, I should have hit them for much harder. I started off buying 5x$200 gift cards in store, and the register will let you split the payment over 4 cards of $250. The problem with this was that it was so hard to find $200 gift cards, and so at the end, I just bought Best Buy gift cards. And I did that because I found out that the register will actually accept Best Buy gift cards to pay for the $200 Visa gift cards. This will be cashier dependent.
Starbucks $50 – I don’t drink Starbucks so I sold the gift cards to my coworker for $25. I would have done more, but my Starbucks account got hacked (Google this because it apparently is an ongoing scam.)
Petco $175 – We have a dog that we take him groomed here. Petco actually disabled my account after 20 gift card orders or so. Eventually, they miraculously let me back in and I ordered the rest.
Office Depot $290 – Bought tons of Amazon gift cards, which I hope to turn to cash by reselling.
JC Penny $200 – Bought tons of ITunes gift cards, which I sell to a friend.
Toys R Us $60 – More iTunes gift cards.
Newegg $75 – Going to buy free after rebate software, and then sell them on Ebay.
Total – $1,315 of money earned from AMEX Offers. Please note that I still have thousands of dollars in gift cards that I’ll slowly convert back to cash. See, this is why you want lots of AMEX cards, authorized users, Bluebird/Serve cards, and subaccounts.
Lesson Learned #1 – Don’t add all 4 subaccounts with the same name in one day
Because my local Best Buy likes to check ID, I decided to add myself 4 times as a subaccount under my wife’s Serve account. You only need a new email address and a new phone number (uhh add 1 to the last digit). You will need a spreadsheet at this point to keep track of all this by the way. And now looking back, I should have added an initial on 2 of the cards. Here’s why – in my haste, I actually added 8 subaccounts for 2 Serve accounts in one day. When I checked my mail a week later, I had 8 envelopes that looked EXACTLY the same except for some numbers that differed on the outside envelope and the inside letter. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of it, but imagine one of those new credit card envelopes. I could not tell which of the 8 cards belonged to which account. I then sorted the envelopes in order, hoping maybe the 1st subaccount I added belonged to the lowest numerical envelope. WRONG! I then decided to go out to the Serve activation page and logged in as sub #1 and tried to enter 1 of the 8 cards. After 3 failed cards, the site no longer lets you try to add a 4th card. I had to then call and tell the CSR that I wasn’t sure which email address I used. She was able to activate the card, but that card was “bad” (more on that later). After I got the first card resolved, I then logged onto sub #2 and tried to activate 1 of the other 7 cards. I was able to guess 2 more correctly. Sure enough, by the 4th attempt, I was locked out again. Back to the phone call! So the lesson learned here is – add only 4 subaccounts on one day and it’s best to add an initial to 2 of them. That means you should be able to activate them just fine.
Lesson Learned #2 – Be organized!
On one Walmart order, I used the same AMEX card that I had used already. Dough! At Office Depot, apparently I only had $40 in my Serve account, and so the register said I owed another $10, which I paid using another card. Only today did I realize that since I didn’t spend $50 at Office Depot on that Serve account, I didn’t get the $10 credit. Dough! Another time, I swiped cards that I actually didn’t even register for the AMEX offer. Dough!
Lesson Learned #3 – It’s cumulative spend and not a 1-time spend
What I mean by this is that I spent $225 at Best Buy on one AMEX card. Well the offer says I had to spend $250 to get the $25 credit. So I went back a week later to buy a $25 gift card, and then qualified for the offer. So read the fine print. Usually, it’s cumulative spend and not 1 time spend.
Lesson Learned #4 – Read the fine print….sometimes
I had saved a $75 off $400 at Conrad hotels. When I used the card, I never got the ‘You used the offer’ email. Only did a reader tell me that the offer stipulated at a Conrad hotel “in the United States.” Dough! On the other hand, usually the fine print will say ‘excludes gift cards,’ but most of the time, gift cards will work. The only offer that I know that didn’t pay out for gift cards was a Ticketmaster offer.