THIS DEAL IS NOW DEAD: As reported by DealsWeLike (see comments), the Aadvantage shopping mall is no longer offering 10 points per dollar for Sears’ purchases. However, for those with Chase rewards cards, the Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping portal currently offers 10 extra points per dollar for Sears, Macy’s, and Kohl’s. Ultimate Rewards points cannot be transferred directly to Aadvantage miles, but if you’re shopping for Continental Airlines miles, Hyatt points, or several others, this might be a great opportunity. For more see my prior post 30,000 Continental Airlines miles for $2,000 Sears spend!
Since American Airlines announced an end to their previously very generous Million Miler program, people have been scrambling to find ways to bump up their Aadvantage miles before the rules change at the end of November. For those not familiar with this, I’ll summarize: Prior to the new rules taking effect, all Aadvantage miles a person earns through flying, credit card purchases, bonus awards, etc. count towards the person’s million mile status. Once a person reaches a million miles, they are awarded Aadvantage elite status for life. After November 30, achieving this milestone will become much harder because, at that time, only miles flown will count (with one specific credit card exception, but I digress). So, back to the rush for Aadvantage miles. People can buy miles directly from the airline, but the airline charges a hefty 2.95 cents per mile and limits purchased miles to 40,000 per year. In this post, I’ll propose an alternative. As I’ve posted before, the Aadvantage shopping mall, until the end of September, is offering 10 points per dollar for all Sears purchases. Even better, there does not appear to be any restriction against buying Sears’ gift cards. And, there is no limit to miles earned through the shopping mall. Here is an excerpt from their FAQ:
Q: Is there a limit to the number of AAdvantage® miles that I can earn through the AAdvantage® eShopping mall? A: No. The more you shop – the more you can earn! As a reminder, you cannot earn miles for taxes, special handling charges, freight or shipping costs, and any unshipped or returned products. In addition, please refer to the retailer offer page for complete information regarding eligible purchases for each retailer.
So, how can a person take advantage of this and buy miles for less than 1.6 cents each? Follow these two steps: STEP 1: Using an Aadvantage branded credit card, go through the Aadvantage shopping mall to Sears and buy as many gift cards as you would need to reach your mile target. You will earn 11 miles for each dollar spent (1 mile from the credit card and one from the shopping mall). So, if you want to earn 50,000 miles, simply calculate 50,000 / 11 = 4545. Round that up to $4600 and that’s the amount you need.
STEP 2: Sell the credit cards at PlasticJungle. PlaticJungle will pay 83 cents on the dollar for Sears cards. With the steps above, you will have effectively purchased Aadvantage miles for only 1.55 cents each! Let’s walk through an extreme example. Suppose I want to earn 1 Million Miles right away. I calculate that 1 Million miles divided by 11 miles per dollar equals $90,909. Let’s round that up to $91K. So I log into the Aadvantage Shopping Mall, click through to Sears, and put 182 $500 gift cards into my shopping cart. Of course I would have to have an insanely high credit limit and a lot of patience with Sears’ fraud department to pull this off, but hey, this is just an example. Once that is all done, I go to plasticjungle.com and sell $91K worth of Sears’ gift cards. I receive in return $91K * .83 = $75,530. That means I have spent, in total $91K – $75,530 = $15,470. In return, I am now a lifetime elite on American Airlines and I have over 1 million airline miles in my pocket. Not bad!
UPDATE: A post in Deals We Like indicated that the 10X offer may only be valid until September 23rd (so hurry!), and that the miles will post 8 to 10 weeks after October 8th. If this is true, it means that the miles will post after the Nov 30th cut-off date. On the other hand, they may be simply giving themselves plenty of “just in case” time to get the miles posted. If you’re in it just for lifetime status, you might want to pass. If you’re in it for cheap AA miles, then hurry!
[…] Plastic Jungle one way or another. For example, on September 22 2011, I published “Buy American Airlines Miles for less than 1.6 cents each. No limit.” In that post I showed how to effectively buy AA miles by buying Sears gift cards via […]
[…] offered the same 10 points per dollar for Sears and so I wrote a post saying that you can “Buy American Airlines Miles for less than 1.6 cents each. No limit.” In that post I suggested buying Sears gift cards through the Aadvantage mall and then […]
[…] I’ve written about how you can use them to meet minimum credit card spend; how to use them to buy airline miles cheaply; and how to use them to create a “perpetual point machine“. Frankly, it’s a […]
@Greg The Frequent Miler – just wanted to let you know that the 10 mile/$1 is over is now over as I speculated. Sears is now 3 miles/$1, Nordstrom 5 miles/$1, Groupon 8 miles/$1, and Overstock.com 3 miles/$1. I will be sure to let you know when another great point opportunity comes along!
@DealsWeLike, thanks for letting us know! I’ve updated the post accordingly.
Plastic Jungle won’t take $200 or $500 gift cards.
Mark, why do you say that? I just logged on and chose the option to “mail in gift cards” and was given a quote for $500 cards.
Gift card purchases are now only 3 miles per dollar
Sears still shows up as 10 miles per dollar. Just make sure to go through the Sears link NOT the gift card link.
Plastic Jungle is no longer accepting large Sears gift cards.
Joe, how large? I just tried $500 and it appeared to work (although I didn’t go through with the whole transaction).
@Frequent Miler – I really hope they go through soon! Have a lot of Norstroms purchases on its way and they took three weeks to post last time. I will let you know in less than two weeks if this order posts properly. The email I received was geared towards new subscribers on the program, so I am not really sure!
I’ve never had a problem with Nordstrom before and shopped them a lot. Nordies is my fave store. Must have booked over 100k miles with AA with them. Not sure you’ll get in for the MM deadline but your miles will get there eventually (mine have taken 2-3 months from buying to showing up in AA account)
This sounds good in theory, but as someone who has used AA shopping mall and Sears a lot… I know the majority of my orders never seem to show up and I have to contact the shopping mall to track my orders. So that weed whacker I bought in January did not even post to my account until May of this year…after having to send in my request to research. Same for other items I have purchased…I still do not know if this is a problem on Sears end or AA Shop Mall (aka Cartera!!). I don’t have this problem with other merchants like I do with Sears…I doubt you will see these miles by November let alone by the 1st next year!
Kelly, thanks for pointing out the risk here. With Chase’s Ultimate Rewards shopping mall I received acknowledgment of a Sears gift card purchase right away (although it was hard to find the acknowledgment on their site). However, I’m still waiting for acknowledgment of my Sears’ purchases from the Aadvantage shopping mall. I think the thing to do is take lots of screen shots and keep all receipts. You might not get credit in time for the million miler program (although I hope you would!), but you are likely to get credit eventually and 1.6 cents per mile isn’t bad on its own.
NICE WORK! I just bought my Nikon D700 for $2900 including taxes off your last post 🙂 I expect to recover at least $2250 after ebay//paypal fees and quite probably more. I calculate I am buying at 1 cent per mile on following basis:
1) I will get 1.5 miles per dollar (using an Citi AA card that got targeted for 50% bonus miles 🙂 )
2) I get 10 times for the gift cards
3) I get 10 times for the purchase
So I get 21.5 times spend so 62,350 miles, for a max cost of $650 (maybe less). $650/62,350 = 0.0104
I do like the ease of just selling the gift cards… but actually you could presumably sell them on ebay for more. I am guessing that is what these guys do straight after.