Mid October Laboratory News


image_thumb4Its been just slightly over a month since I last posted a Frequent Miler Laboratory update (see “The Latest Laboratory News”), but there are a few interesting new nuggets I want to share…





In August I relayed a report from a reader who succeeded in double dipping at Groupon.  He went through TopCashBack to buy a Groupon gift card, and then went through TopCashBack again to use the gift card.  Both times he received 5% cash back.  The Discover card portal, though, has been offering 15% cash back, so I asked readers if anyone was willing to try a double dip there.  A reader who goes by “Frequent Grouponer” gave it a shot… 

FrequentGrouponer received the full 15% cash back for purchasing a Groupon gift card, but no cash back when using a gift card.  He tried a variation in which a portion of a Groupon purchase was made with a gift card and the rest with a Discover card, but only the part made with the Discover card was given cash back. 

So, where does that leave us?  It looks to me that the trick is to buy Groupon gift cards via the Discover portal, and then use them through another portal like TopCashBack or the Ultimate Rewards Mall (which currently offers 5X to Sapphire cardholders).

Triple dip future: Occasionally Groupon has deals for discounted merchant gift cards.  Wouldn’t it be cool to triple dip: 1) Buy a Groupon gift card via the Discover Portal (15% back); 2) Redeem the Groupon gift card in order to buy a merchant gift card via the Ultimate Rewards Mall (5X, plus the Groupon discount); and 3) Go through the best available portal to the given merchant to use the merchant gift card…

Crate and Barrel

Jeanne at Heels First tried out the classic double dip through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  She bought a Crate & Barrel gift card and then used it.  Success!  Jeanne receive points for both purchases!  Crate & Barrel currently offers 3X through the Ultimate Rewards Mall (which becomes 6X with this technique).  Or, you could try the double dip via uPromise, which currently offers 5% cash back for Crate & Barrel (which could then become 10%).


IrishTiger bought a PetCo gift card at a discount via eBay, and then went through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to PetCo to use the gift card.  IrishTiger received 7X points for the purchase!  Note that PetCo is now down to 5X in the mall.  Check GiftCardGranny.com to find the best current discounts for PetCo (and other) gift cards.


We have two bits of news about RiteAid:

  • A reader named Rich successfully upgraded a RiteAid gift card, in store, by using it to buy a Shell gift card! 
  • I succeeded in buying a $500 Vanilla Visa card with a credit card (this should be of interest to people with credit cards that give bonus points at drug stores)


I’ve been busy at Walgreens:

  • I successfully upgraded Walgreens gift cards, in store, by using them to buy a $500 Vanilla Visa card. 
  • I succeeded in buying a $500 Vanilla Visa card with a credit card (no surprise given the bullet above!)
  • I tried to buy a Vanilla Reload card with a credit card at two different locations, but the register rejected the very idea of it in both cases.


Experiment Suggestions

Do you have any experiment ideas you’d like me (or other readers) to try?  Let us know!

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Shanda Wardwell

Furthermore this crisis is not over yet, and has not yet been described scientifically in a proper way by the time I write this comment. That is why I am not going to use recent situations as an example of the threat of the dependence on Russian gas in the EU, even though it may possibly serve as the best one. The threat however does exist and the recent energy crisis is not the only proof of it.

[…] Here are some lab results that have been compiled since my last post on the subject in October (see “Mid October Laboratory News“) […]

Real Biz

FM. What have you done to unload Visa debit cards? Do you know of a prepaid debit card that uses actual pin for debit purchases?


Real Biz: The easiest option I’ve found is to load onto the Target Amex and then withdraw at ATMs.


When making a purchase through the Ultimate Rewards Portal – how long does it take for points to post? And do the points post on the same cycle as the credit card statement closing date? Or on their own?



Currently, I am trying to buy some stuff from sephora through ur mall by using gift certification. Hopefully I can receive the points.


No. I receive the point for gift cartification. But I did not receive the points for physical card .


Great updates! I’ve been experimenting myself. “My” Target no longer accepts Target gift cards to load the Amex for Target card. The audacity! lol They might have caught onto this after the Target gift card “special” a while back. (and I may bear a bit of the resposibility… mea culpa) I suppose I’ll have to buy something with my one remaining gift card and then try to return it for cash. Will that work? Or wait for Black Friday.
“My” Lowes doesn’t allow buying gift cards with the Lowes gift cards that I “received” (loaded up on) with the Michael’s Father’s Day special. Probably old news. Doesn’t matter because I have lots of building material purchases these days. The 10% moving discount is still working but may be winding down.
Interesting to hear that there are some Walgreens accepting CC for reload cards. I will have to venture out a bit.


@david: You could use Serve to offload the prepaid card’s but “Serve” is known for closing accounts with such activity and the bad part, it sends the money back to the original card from where you transferred :((.


@frequent churner: Thanks!

frequent churner

Allen – I’ve gotten points for going through UR mall but using Nordstrom gift cards to pay. You can buy them at office stores and get your 5x from there.


Does anyone have any experience with Nordstrom gift cards? Is it possible to earn UR points by buying gift cards and then again when using them?


Tried using BBB card downtown Manhattan to buy another gift card it was rejected!


I can answer Pottery Barn… the e-gift cards are processed differently than a purchase and have never paid out points for me. I have received points for using them, but not buying them. It is possible that the physical gift cards are different as I haven’t tried that yet. However, you can often buy PB gift cards elsewhere (grocery stores, etc.) and earn points that way and then use them online. I’m actually writing a post for tomorrow AM that talks about another Pottery Barn bonus when shopping via the UR portal.



Besides AP, what other mechanism can I use to meet my spend requirement using my Delta Amex?

Do you know is Amex considers buying Visa Debit GC (silver) as cash advance.

Amex –> Visa GC –> Load to Serve — > Transfer to Party X –> Drain



Have you tried to buy a Vanilla Reload using a Walgreens gift card? The timing of your post is impecable. I was at Walgreens this weekend and have been meaning to email you to check if that is possible.


MidTierStatus: No, I haven’t tried that. I’m pretty sure that if credit cards won’t work then gift cards won’t either, but it would be worth a try.

david: Buying Visa gift cards or reload cards in-store is not considered a cash advance with Amex, Chase, or CitiBank (those are all the ones I’ve tried). For simplicity (and doing good), I prefer to run up Delta card spend by making loans through Kiva. It takes a while to get all of your money back, but so far I haven’t had a single default. See this post: https://frequentmiler.com/2012/05/31/minimum-spend-requirements-kivalens-to-the-rescue/

mommypoints: Thanks for the info! I’ll update the Lab

Jason: I’m surprised! Were you rejected by a person or the register?

Frequent Miler

Interesting that different Walgreens have different policies!
Sharon: just to be clear, the Sephora physical gift card earned points but the e-gift card did not? Is that right?


@Jack yeah I didn’t realize I was in the minority. I won’t be surprised though if I walk in today and get the ‘cash only’ message, ha. Maybe they just hadn’t updated their cash register software yet at these stores. Or maybe it really is up to the individual store. One policy the register did have is only 1 reload can be purchased at at time, it’ll complain if they tried to scan another. The cashiers (and even a supervisor) would sometimes ring two up for me in separate transactions to get around that, but the last time I came in the store manager came out and said employees got ‘written up’ for doing that (lol), their store policy is only 1 reload can be sold per customer (per day I guess).



my Staples sells $25 and $50 groupon gift cards… they are all the way at the bottom of the rack.


@Cam – jealous of your success. I only went to three stores and figured that was the way they all were. Now I feel like going out and testing more. LOL. It now sounds like something that is coded at the store system level rather than a chain level.


@walgreens shoppers – I have had the same experiences reported above. I have bought variable load prepaid visa and amex gift cards and loaded them with credit cards but I visited several walgreens and their cash registers will not allow cash purchase of vanilla reload cards.


I have three Walgreens nearby me. Two of them allow purchasing Vanilla Reloads with credit card. I’ve bought many and the store clerks know me by name. At the third Walgreens just a couple miles down the road, the register says cash only. So there is definitely some discrepancy amongst stores for whatever reason, or maybe they are slowly rolling out the policy. Incidentally when I attempted to purchase a Netspend reload pak at the same Walgreens that allow Vanilla Reloads with CC, the register did require Netspend as cash only.


I bought an Amex Prepaid card at Walgreens and was required to load something on it. I loaded the minimum $25 on it using a credit card with no problem. So, I just assumed you would be able to purchase the reloads for it on credit card as well. I’m disappointed to read that you can’t.

frequent churner

I’ve tried 5 different Walgreens stores, and a few CVS and every time the cash only policy is coded into the register, and only applies to reload packs. I’ll keep trying a few more, and maybe some convenience stores, but it’s looking hopeless.


I bought both sephora gift card and e gift certification at sephora.com on the same order. But I only receive the points for gift certification. I am not sure I can get points when I use the gift certification. I will try it today.


@Jeff I didn’t know Office Depot sold Groupon gift cards. Do you know if Office Max or Staples has them? Might be at grocery stores too.


I tried buying a Pottery Barn GC through Chase UR. I did NOT receive points for the purchase of the GC. Not sure if you would receive bonus points through UR for using the GC because I used the GC in stores (because shipping was too expensive) so no bonus points at all for me 🙁


Surprised that Walgreens system is smart enough to differentiate between Vanila Visa and reloads.

Regarding Groupon double dip, I recently noticed Groupon gift cards at Staples which presents another double dip opportunity for those with Ink Bold.


Any success double dipping with pottery barn?


FM – do you think that MoneyPack (that is sold in Wallgreens, CVS, and some gas station) has the same issue – you have to use “cash only”? My wife got an offer from AMEX prepaid (it was in the welcome package when she got Amex prepaid card directly from AMEX), that they cover service fee ($4.95) when she reload AMEX with MoneyPack. So, I thought to buy MoneyPack with my credit card to help myself with spending requirement.


Just a note on the Crate and Barrel tip, they verify Gift Card Purchases of over $99.99 over the phone, but take a while to call. It ended up taking me a while to get verified since I purchased late at night and had to speak to them the next day.

frequent churner

FM – you got the non-reloadable card at Walgreens, right? I think their register codes everything that requires cash loading as “cash only” but maybe all fixed value cards are ok.


frequent churner: Yes, I got the non-reloadable card at Walgreens.

Sergey: I’ve never found any place that will take credit cards for MoneyPaks.

christina: I haven’t tried. Has anyone else tried Pottery Barn?

Don T

FM, how did you buy the original Walgreens giftcards?


Don T: I bought through Mr Rebates or something like that in the hope of getting cash back. I didn’t get the cash back though.