February 17, 2012
Last month I bought a $500 Walmart gift card on EBay. When it arrived, I was afraid I had been scammed. Read on to see why I bought the card, why I feared trouble, and how I protected my purchase…
To buy the $500 card, I spent $485 worth of EBay gift cards that I had purchased at Kmart using Sears gift cards. The Sears gift cards had been purchased at Sears.com through the Ultimate Rewards mall for 10 points per dollar. Are you with me so far? When I purchased the $500 gift card on EBay for $485 I earned $9.70 in EBay bucks that can be used for future purchases. My goal now is to turn the Walmart gift card into about $470 cash. In the end, I will have spent $30 in exchange for $24.70 in EBay credit ($15 left over from the gift card and $9.70 in EBay bucks) and 5000 Ultimate Rewards points (worth $65.50 in Fair Trading Prices). Since I’m sure I’ll use the EBay credit soon, my final tally will be to have spent $5.30 in exchange for 5000 Ultimate Rewards points. That’s an excellent return, but arguably more trouble than it’s worth. Anyway, you now know why I bought the Walmart card.
The card took almost a month to arrive. I have no idea why the seller took so long, but be prepared if you make similar purchases! Worse, when it arrived it looked weathered and used. The rectangle on the back that hides the pin code had already been scratched off. I was worried, of course, that I had been cheated. Had the seller spent all the money on the card already? I went to Walmart.com to check the gift card balance and was relieved to see that it had the full $500 amount on the card.
I was still worried, though. An unethical gift card seller could keep a copy of the card number and pin and, over time, drain the card of its value without the buyer knowing. I was worried that if I sold the card to a gift card re-seller, as I had planned, they might receive the card with less value than when I shipped it.
Luckily, Walmart is one of the few online merchants that will let you buy gift cards using gift cards. So, I used the questionable gift card to buy $500 worth of brand spanking new gift cards. I picked out cute ones, just because I could:
I could have bought one $500 card, but I bought 5 $100 cards instead. This way I can test out different card re-sellers to see who gives the best cash back and service when selling to them. Also, some won’t buy cards with more than $300 value, so the smaller denominations are better in that way.
The cards arrived promptly and in perfect condition. I’ve sold two already and hope to report back the results soon.
So, there you have it: gift card laundering at its finest.
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