How to cheat Discover’s Deal of the Year… Or not


When Discover’s Apple Pay promotion first appeared, it seemed too good to be true.  Not only did Discover promise to give cardholders a 10% cash back bonus for Apple Pay purchases through the end of the year, but they also confirmed that the deal stacked with Discover’s Double Cash Back deal (currently limited to new cardholders).Cheat Discover  Combined, the two deals make it possible to get 20% cash back from any store that accepts Apple Pay.  Plus, you’ll earn whatever your Discover credit card earns anyway.  With the Discover It Miles card, that means another 3% (1.5%, doubled).  With the Discover It card, it means another 2% (1%, doubled) or, if your spend is at a Department store this quarter, you would get another 10% (5% doubled).

All of the above is still true, but early in the promotion Discover announced that gift card purchases do not qualify.  We initially hoped that Discover wouldn’t really enforce that rule, but our hopes were soon dashed.  Discover now flags every Apple Pay purchase that might have contained gift cards and puts the burden of proof on the consumer to show that they did not buy gift cards (See: Discover’s Deal of the Year results are in. The gift card rule IS being enforced).

There’s no question that the Discover Apple Pay deal is still a good deal for those with legitimate purchases.  Without gift cards, though, it’s not easy to maximize the deal’s $10K spend per card allowance.  In other words, the “Deal of the Year” is now merely a really good discount on in-person purchases.

Scheming for alternatives

Those who like to buy and sell merchandise must love this promotion.  Sure, there’s an unfortunate need to keep track of receipts in order to prove that you didn’t buy gift cards, but the up-side is pretty big.  It’s not unusual for people to find items on sale that they can resell at a profit.  In those situations, the Discover Apple Pay deal combined with the Double Cash Back deal can increase profits considerably.

While I’ve dabbled in reselling recently, it’s not something I really enjoy doing.  So, instead, I’ve racked my brain to come up with alternatives.  Since I have two Discover cards (Discover It and Discover It Miles) I could buy $500 Visa gift cards from a store that lets me split tender.  I could ask the cashier to enter in strange dollar amounts like $273.16 and $231.79.  Then, maybe these purchases will escape the notice of Discover’s gift card sniffing employees.  But… people have reported having purchases (real purchases, not gift cards) totaling just over $100 flagged as gift card purchases.  Chances are very good that these purchases would be flagged too.  And, since the receipts would clearly show the gift card purchases, I’d be out of luck.

Other ideas I’ve considered involve buying and returning items.  The general idea would be to buy items with Apple Pay and return them in a way that refunds to something other than my Discover card.  The beauty of such approaches is that I would have receipts in-hand showing actual purchases.  But…. but…. but…  All of these options cross my line.

Using as intended

Cheat DiscoverIf you haven’t read my old post, Drawing the line, please take a couple of minutes to do so.  In that post I asserted that schemes involving buying and returning merchandise cross an ethical line… for me.  If you’re OK with buying and returning, then you may be able to find a way to maximize the Apple Pay deal.  Personally, I’m not going to do it, but I won’t judge harshly anyone who does.  I have no doubt that many things I do are far across ethical lines for some.

So, personally, I think I’ll give this “Deal of the Year” a pass.  Sure, I’ll take advantage of the deal anytime I can use Apple Pay for purchases I actually need.  But, I don’t plan to go out and buy unneeded things (gift cards or not).  Just as there’s nothing wrong with passing on other great deals (price mistakes, huge credit card bonuses, checking bonuses, etc.), there’s nothing wrong with going easy on this one.  For once in my blogging life I plan to “use as intended”.

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