July 19, 2012
Frequent Miler Laboratory experiments continue to roll on with a surprising amount of success. In the post “Laboratory Preparations” I described a number of experiments that were being launched. In each case, the goal was to see if I could take a merchant gift card and use it in-store to buy a different merchant’s gift card. In other words, could I effectively upgrade one gift card to another? One reason for testing this is to be prepared whenever discounts or points are offered for gift card purchases. If we know a card can be easily upgraded, then we can take advantage of gift card deals even if we don’t want to shop at that particular merchant. Since posting the details of the experiments, I’ve reported the results of a few of them, but not all. Here now, are the complete results…
Marshall’s doesn’t seem to sell gift cards from other merchants at all. Instead, I used my $25 gift card to buy a pair of $25 Nike sandals. They’re comfy!
Best Buy: SUCCESS
Best Buy has very few gift cards for sale other than their own, but they do sell Amazon Kindle gift cards which are really general purpose Amazon gift cards. I used my Best Buy gift card to buy an Amazon gift card without any problem. No questions were asked by the cashier.
Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBB): SUCCESS
As I reported in the post “Bed Bath and Far Beyond,” BBB has a large selection of gift cards, but few interesting ones (to me). I used my BBB gift card to buy a Visa gift card without any problem. No questions were asked by the cashier.
Just like Best Buy, ToysRUs has very few gift cards of interest, but they do sell Amazon Kindle gift cards. In my case, the Kindle cards were sold out, but they were offering a deal to get $5 back on $30 worth of iTunes gift cards. I used my ToysRUs e-gift card plus $5 of credit to buy the iTunes gift cards and they gave me a $5 ToysRUs gift card in return. Bonus: I went through uPromise to buy the e-gift card from ToysRUs and I earned 5% cash back (at least, that much is pending).
This was the only store in which I brought a gift card to the register, but was unable to buy it. The cashier tried, but the register wouldn’t allow it. She even called over a manger to see if she could get an override, but no luck.
Technically, the OfficeMax experiment included one failure and several successes. The one failure was (as expected) when I went through the Ultimate Rewards Mall to buy OfficeMax gift cards, I didn’t get any points. This is consistent with the Terms & Conditions. On the other hand, by paying with my American Express business card, I automatically earned cash back (see the post “10% off everything and 7% off everything else” for details). And, in two separate visits I was able to buy both an Amazon gift card and a $200 Visa gift card using my OfficeMax gift cards. In both cases, no questions were asked. Next week I’ll discuss some exciting ways to leverage this discovery. Until then, dust off your Amex business cards and have them ready!
Here’s how to find a complete list of upgrades that we have found to work (or not to work):
- Browse to the Frequent Miler Laboratory. For those who haven’t memorized the URL, you can always look under the “Resources” menu on any Frequent Miler page.
- Find the “Completed Experiments” table and type “upgradegc” (without the quotes) into the table’s Search box. The table will automatically filter to gift card upgrade experiments. To limit to successful experiments search for “upgradegc success”. Similarly, you can view failed experiments by searching for “upgradegc fail”.
If you have gift cards lying around unused, please visit the store in question and see if you can buy a more useful gift card with that one. Let me know the results and I’ll update the Lab results table. Thanks in advance!