American Express regularly hosts terrific “Sync Offers” in which you get a statement credit after using an Amex card to spend a targeted amount at a participating merchant. For example, one current offer is for Sony: spend $100, get $25 back. But, what if you don’t have plans to buy anything from that particular merchant? I’ll share here a few ways you can still do well with these offers. First, though, please familiarize yourself with the earlier posts in this series:
- Maximizing Amex Sync offers. Part 1: sync multiple cards
- Maximizing Amex Sync offers. Part 2: extreme savings
Shopping elsewhere: buy gift cards in-store
If a store with a good Amex Sync offer sells gift cards to other merchants, then it’s pretty easy to get the Sync offer savings even if you intend to shop elsewhere. Here are a few examples of recent Sync offers in which this would work:
- Kohl’s, spend $50, get $10 back: Kohl’s sells gift cards to various restaurants and other merchants in-store. To capitalize on this offer you could simply go to Kohl’s, pick out a $50 gift card that you would actually use and buy it with the Amex card that is registered for this promotion. If you’ve registered multiple Amex cards, then buy multiple $50 gift cards and ask the cashier to ring up each one separately.
- Toys R Us, spend $25, get $5 back: Last I looked, Toys R Us sells iTunes and Amazon Kindle gift cards in-store. Kindle gift cards can be used for anything at Amazon.com so this is a way to get 20% off anything at Amazon (in case you missed the 33% off everything promo!).
- BestBuy, spend $250, get $25 back: Many BestBuy stores sell Amazon Kindle and even Visa gift cards in-store. This will only give you 10% off, but that’s better than nothing! Also keep in mind that gift card purchases should qualify for BestBuy
Reward ZoneMy BestBuy points and even ShopKick points (ShopKick is a smart phone app that awards points for shopping and checking-in at various stores – read more here).
Shopping elsewhere: buy gift cards online
Some merchants sell gift cards to other merchants online. And, some Sync offers are valid online only. Here are a few examples of recent Sync offers in which you could buy gift cards online:
- Walmart.com, spend $79, get $20 back (valid online only): Walmart sells a variety of gift cards online. Buy $80 worth with your Synced Amex card and you’ll get back $20. That’s a savings of 25%!
- Costco.com, spend $115, get $15 back (valid online only): Costco sells a few miscellaneous gift cards online. While $15 off $115 isn’t a huge discount (13%), they do offer some gift cards at a discount to begin with. For example, you can currently get two $50 gift cards to McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant for $79.99. Make sure your total purchase comes to $115 or more in order to trigger the $15 back.
Shopping elsewhere: buy and upgrade
Sometimes, the best way to get the gift card you really want is to buy a merchant’s gift card and then use that gift card to “upgrade” to a different one. Here are some examples of recent Sync offers in which this could be done:
- Walmart.com, spend $79, get $20 back (valid online only): Buy an $80 Walmart gift card online, then take it in-store to get the gift card(s) you really want.
- Toys R Us, spend $25, get $5 back: Buy a $25 Toys R Us gift card online via a portal (in order to get extra points or cash back) and then use the gift card in-store to upgrade to an Amazon Kindle gift card.
- Lands End, spend $100, get $25 back (valid online only): Buy a $100 Lands End gift card online via a portal (in order to get extra points or cash back) and then use the gift card at Sears to buy other gift cards (see “A year later, a new breed of Sears’ gift card racks spotted in the wild. The mystery continues“).
Make sure to check the Frequent Miler Laboratory for information about which merchants allow buying gift cards with gift cards.
Forget shopping: get points and cash for free
All of the above techniques assume that you want to end up with a gift card that you can then use elsewhere. What if you don’t want to shop at all? Stay tuned for the next installment in this series!
[…] Sometimes your credit card company or bank will offer automatic incentives for shopping at certain vendors. A good example of this is American Express “Offers for You” and “Amex Offers”. Amex sometimes offers deals such as an automatic $15 statement credit when you purchase $75 or more at Home Depot (the exact deals vary. This is just one recent example). In cases like these, you can go to the store in question and buy enough gift cards to meet the deal requirements and get automatic savings. For more concrete examples, please see: Maximizing Amex Sync offers. Part 3: shopping elsewhere. […]
[…] Maximizing Amex Sync offers. Part 3: shopping elsewhere […]
[…] Maximizing Amex Sync offers. Part 3: shopping elsewhere […]
Hi, thanks for the info! I never thought about buying gift cards in store. HUGE revelation. So, I recently got a $25 credit from Sync after spending $100 at JCrew. I WANTED to keep my items, but none of them fit, so I returned everything. In your experience, does Amex take away the $25? Should I buy a $100 gift card just in case?
Rita, sorry I never answered this! I don’t know the answer. Did you find out?
I used a registered AX card to buy $79 WM gift card and got the statement credit. Didn’t know about the exclusion, but it worked for me.
The walmart promotion specifically says that purchase of GC is excluded. Just an FYI.
I just bought two visa gift cards via the Wal -Mart offer. I got the confirmation email from Amex, so we’ll see if it goes through. I saw the verbiage about gift cards, but it was a little ambiguous.
Actually, it excludes “gift card reloads and prepaid cards” which I think means that regular gift cards are fine. I don’t think you can buy reloads online anyway (can you?). As to prepaid cards, it’s possible that they mean Visa gift cards, but I don’t think so. The terms seem to have been written for in-store purchases even though this deal excludes in-store purchases.
Can SHLD (Sears, Land’s End, KMart) gift cards still be used to buy 3rd party GCs at Sears? Anybody? There are anecdotal reports of people getting shut down at the register when buying at Kmart.
Land’s End is pending sale from the company, so you would be advised to cash them out ASAP.
How do the Amex offers work w/ AU cards? If I select the promo under my offers does that mean it only applies for the main card? Any way to get these to work for the AU card?
No, AU cards are not automatically enrolled with the primary card. If you do not see the offers under the AU login, then add the offers with twitter or Facebook.
This is a question that is aside from current topics. Hope you don’t mind.
I buy a lot of debit cards with credit card and then to cash into money orders from walmart and deposit into bank at the end. it is about 70K each month. It may look like unusual to the bank and the walmart store. If I am reported to and get audited by IRS, how do I explain? Will the 70k each month count as extra income and then pay tax on it? if the whole transaction counts as small business activity, Do I need to pay tax on the mileage points I earned? because from the ‘cash’ point of view, $500 gift card requires $504.95 to buy, I lose money. But if including the points I earn, I do make profit. Otherwise nobody will play these kind of game.
I can’t answer your specific tax questions but I will tell you that doing that much will put you in very high risk of being shut down by your bank. A better approach is to use those cards at Walmart to pay bills (including credit card bills).
Any results from the Frequent Miler Lab on whether a Costco Cash Card purchase gets the Sync credit?
No but I would be very surprised if it didn’t work
this was so useful – I hate Walmart and had no idea what I could buy there – now I have itunes and starbucks cards to give as gifts! Thanks for the suggestions!
Does JC Penney have a GC rack?
@Dainya it may say that they don’t qualify, but I’ve bought 5 physical gift cards from Lands End (going through Shop Discover) and not only have I received the 10% back from Discover, I also got the $25 credit from Amex. To top it off, last week there was a deal at Kmart if you spent $100 or more that you would get a coupon for $1 off each gallon of gas up to 20 gallons. So, I “spent” my $100 gift card on 2 Amazon cards and got the coupon. Essentially, my 1 $100 Lands End gift card saved me up to $45.
FYI Lands End gift cards don’t qualify for the AMEX promotion.
Not correct. Bought GC and received credit.
Ditto. I bought 2 $100 Lands End GCs, using two different registered AX cards and got the statement credit on each.
I just tried this w/ AX and Land’s End gcs…ordered e-gc and physical gc. I got the conf email for the phys gc, but none for the e-gc. I was able to call and cancel the e-gc, and then ordered a phys gc, and then got a 2nd conf email.
@Chimmy – I just picked up 2 $50 Lowes cards at Kohls using 2 Amex cards. I also saw Home Depot on the rack. I plan on combining the cards with a 10% off coupon I got in the mail for a home improvement project I have planned.
Thank you. I will pick up some Home Depot cards as gifts.
Land’s end deal says gift card excluded, though.
That’s true, but readers have reported that buying physical gift cards from Lands End works anyway (and you get portal points/cash too). I don’t know if e-gift cards will work
I bought a $100 and a $25 physical gift card on Costco.com and got the email from Amex for using my enrolled card, so I’m sure I’ll get the $15 credit.
I’m enjoying the series. The most useful bit was the multi-browser tab sign-up trick. Still kicking myself for not thinking of that on my own! I think I know what part 4 is. A couple of the sync deals have been nice little profit centers.
I am so glad that I read this! I didn’t realize the Walmart deal was online only. I went into the store and bought $80 worth of gift cards and didn’t get the credit. Just purchased $80 more online. Thanks!
Does anyone have an example of Kohl’s 3rd party gift cards that they sell? Any Home Improvement stores?
You rock! Thanks for doing this.