Today is our last chance to get 15 points per dollar when shopping at Sears through the Southwest Airlines shopping portal (Rapid Rewards Shopping). In the post “Sears 15X: Leveraging the deal” I showed a number of ways to capitalize on this promotion. Today, I will do something a little bit different…
My goal today is to find items at Sears that I can buy and re-sell for minimal loss. First, I’ll buy eGift cards for 15X Southwest points, and then I’ll double-dip: I’ll use those gift cards to make my purchases. Overall, I should earn 30 points per dollar for my purchases. My overall goal is to earn enough points for a companion pass (110,000 points) for as little out of pocket loss as possible.
I will update this post multiple times today as I make progress.
UPDATE 1 (8:30 AM EST): Currently I’m researching Sears.com to find good deals. My goal is to find expensive but small and lightweight electronics that can be resold easily and for minimal loss. From past deals, I still have almost $500 worth of Sears gift cards, so I’m planning to buy $3500 worth of new gift cards and then buy at least $3850 worth of merchandise. The gift card purchases should net 52,500 Southwest points, and the merchandise purchases should net another 57,750 for a total of 110,250 points.
UPDATE 2 (9:30 AM EST): Well, BoardingArea is down so I haven’t been able to publish this post, but I’ll keep on plugging away. So far I’ve found one item that looks like a great candidate for resale. I’ll keep looking to see if I can find at least one more so that I can minimize my risk through diversification. From past experience, I know that eGift cards take about an hour to arrive and usually involve a call from Sears’ fraud department so I’ll get started on that part right now…
UPDATE 3 (10:05 AM EST): OK, I bought $3500 worth of eGift cards! Now it appears that BoardingArea is running again, so I’ll try to publish this, and then I’ll continue to research what to buy.
UPDATE 4 (12:20 PM EST): I now know what I want to buy. I only found one item that I’m sure I can resell for a reasonable price, so I’ll go with that. I have about $700 worth of personal purchases to make as well. In total I’ll buy $3200 worth of the re-sellable item and $700 worth of items to keep. The only problem? The gift cards haven’t arrived yet! I’ve never seen them take longer than an hour before. I did get an email saying that “additional processing time is needed.” I’m guessing Sears is getting a lot of gift card orders today. If mine don’t arrive soon, I’ll call them.
UPDATE 5 (12:50 PM EST): Ooh, this is interesting! I finally got a call from Sears’ fraud department (they always call to verify online gift card orders). The guy asked me if I was buying the gift cards for the Southwest points. I said yes, and I asked him if he could verify that this order qualifies for points. He said yes! Nice! I asked him if he could verify whether physical gift cards also qualify, but he didn’t know. He suggested calling customer service. If you’re thinking of buying the physical cards, consider calling customer service first and let me know how it goes!
UPDATE 6 (2:05 PM EST): I received all $3500 worth of eGift cards and I successfully made two separate orders. The first order totaled $3386 and was made up entirely of items I expect to sell. I paid this order entirely with gift cards. The second order totaled just over $800 and is made up of stuff that I’ll keep. I paid this order partly with gift cards and partly with my prepaid Amex card with which I’ll earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points (see “One card to rule them all”).
With both orders, I tried to apply the code MAXFREE4, but both times the system said that the code didn’t apply to my order. I then tried a code I had been sent via email, but that didn’t work either. I didn’t really need free shipping on these orders (although one item did cost $3 for shipping), but I did want to get 2X ShopYourWay Rewards points. Oh well. Did anyone else have success with this code?
A note about ShopYourWay Rewards: I had about $90 in rewards on my account which I was able to apply to the first order. By the time I placed my second order, I already had additional rewards available from the first order. This was a great way to save a few bucks! By default, you earn the equivalent of 1% back in rewards when you make qualifying purchases at Sears, Kmart, etc. Buying gift cards doesn’t count for these rewards, but using them does.
FINAL UPDATE? As far as I know, update 6 was the final update for today. I’ll continue to read and answer comments though. I’ll also follow-up in future posts with results from this shopping spree.
I’ve done this before. In February the British Airways shopping portal briefly offered 36 points per dollar when shopping at Nordstrom. To capitalize on that deal I bought and sold $4000 worth of electronics and raked in over 140,000 BA miles. You can read about that deal in my posts “How Amazon paid me to collect miles” and “Round trip to Hawaii for $125!”
Similarly, in December, the Ultimate Rewards Mall offered Sears at 10X for one day. I happened to be doing a mileage run that day, but luckily all of my Delta flights were fully equipped with Wi-Fi. So, on that day I bought and used gift cards to increase my take to 20X and I purchased over $2000 worth of electronics that I later sold. On that day I earned close to 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You can read about that deal in my posts “Mileage Run Shopping: Buying 162,000 Miles for $500” and “Mileage Run Shopping Results.”
When buying and selling items as I’ve done, you should generally expect to lose money on the deal. Unless you’re lucky enough to be in a sales-tax free state, you will have to pay sales tax on each of your purchases; you may have to pay for shipping to your home; you will have to pay for shipping to the buyer; and you will have to pay seller fees if selling through EBay or Amazon. I’ve been lucky enough to keep my losses to about 20% or less in previous deals, but to be safe I think it’s a good idea to assume you will lose about 25%. Be careful, though, you could lose even more!
Why is it OK to lose 25%? The miles earned are what makes it a deal! The loss due to buying and selling can be thought of as the cost to buy those miles. With this current deal, if the double dip works, and we successfully earn 30 points per dollar, then a 25% loss will amount to buying miles for .83 cents each. Southwest points are worth much more than that, so that’s a great deal!
If you’re interested in doing this, read my post “Hunting for deals” to see how I go about finding the best items for re-sale.
Cautions and Risks
Everything written in this post carries some risks. Don’t do this unless you are prepared for the worst. Here are a few obvious risks:
- You shop through the portal, but don’t get any points. To minimize the chance of this, please see my post “How to ensure your portal points”.
- Purchases of gift cards don’t receive points. I think this is unlikely, but it is possible since I’ve never tested this portal.
- When selling merchandise, you may have trouble finding buyers.
- When selling merchandise you may find merchant fees and other costs to be higher than expected.
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