January 30, 2012
Through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, Magazines.com currently offers 40 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. Ever since lovetofly reported on Milepoint that he partially succeeded in double dipping Magazines.com, I’ve been trying to find a way to turn that 40X bonus into 80X by buying and redeeming gift cards through the online mall. Initially, both lovetofly and I partially succeeded: we received full points for our gift card purchases, but only half points for our magazine purchases (using the gift cards).
Double Dip RIP
I tried purchasing magazines with one year subscriptions (rather than the two year subscriptions originally purchased), then I tried purchasing magazines through a second portal, then I tried sending my wife a magazines.com gift card so that she could redeem it through the Ultimate Rewards Mall. Unfortunately, all of these experiments failed. I have consistently received 40X points for purchasing e-gift cards, but not since the first experiment have I (or my wife) received points for using gift cards. So, I’m officially closing down the magazines.com double dip experiments. Unless someone comes up with a new secret twist, I’m going to assume that the original double dip was a fluke or a bug that has since been fixed.
Still a Good Deal
Despite not being able to double dip, it’s worth noting that 40 points per dollar is an incredible bonus by itself. Magazines.com will match competitor prices (hat tip to WillRunForMiles), so if you’re in the market for magazines, you don’t have to live with paying extra for those extra points. If you’re interested in books, they carry those too. Note that the terms and conditions prohibit getting points for books, but you can circumvent that very easily by buying yourself a gift card first, and then use that to buy books!
40 points per dollar is an interesting bonus amount because buying magazines.com gift cards is equivalent buying Ultimate Rewards points for 2.5 cents each. 2.5 cents happens to be the same price that Chase will charge to sell you points directly! If you buy directly from Chase, you have the advantage of getting points instantly, but you are limited to 5000 per month. If you buy indirectly through magazines.com you will have to wait up to a month to get the points, but there is no limit to how many you can buy.
Improving the Deal
If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you will get an annual 7% bonus on top of any points received from the Ultimate Rewards Mall. So, the 40 points per dollar becomes 42.8 points per dollar. This translates into buying points for 2.3 cents each, which is less than Chase charges! Next, if you use your gift cards to donate magazines and books to schools, libraries, or hospitals, you might be able to itemize these charitable gifts on your taxes and save as much as 30%. If so, that would lower the purchase price all the way to 1.6 cents per point. (Note: I am not an accountant so please do not take anything I say as tax advice!)
If you’re in the market for magazines or books, I doubt you could do much better than this. Go through the Ultimate Rewards Mall, and buy yourself a magazines.com e-gift card. Then, go through the mall again to buy what you want (you never know, they might mess up and give you double credit!). You will get at least 40 points per dollar, which is a terrific bonus. At the fair trading price of 1.31 cents, a 40 point bonus is equivalent to a 52.4% rebate!
If you’re interested in buying Ultimate Rewards points regardless of whether you get books or magazines, this might be a good option for you. No matter what, I wouldn’t recommend buying points unless your are sure you can redeem them at a higher value than what you paid. If you need the points immediately, then your only choice is to buy directly from Chase. If you don’t think you’ll need them for a while, I’d recommend waiting for better opportunities. If you need the points soon, and can afford to wait as much as a month to get the points credited, then by all means jump on this opportunity!
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