Ebates is a cash back website where anyone can sign up and earn cash back on internet purchases when you visit popular online retailers such as Amazon, LivingSocial, Apple, and many more. What’s nice about cash back sites like Ebates is that you can use them to double dip with your miles/points earning or cash back earning credit cards.
Recently though, I blogged about the AMAZING 100k American Airlines points credit card sign up bonus that Citi is currently offering on the executive card. One of the two caveats to that card’s sign up bonus is that you have to spend $10k within three months. I can understand that is a hefty amount for many people, but that is why there are creative spending tricks to “manufacture” your spend without actually hurting your bank account.
One of those creative spending tricks is to purchase gift cards (such as Visa, MasterCard, or American Express ones) for yourself. You can either use the gift cards to pay off regular purchases for the next several months, or alternatively you can liquidate them through Amazon Payments (which allows you to send up to $1k per month from credit cards without any fees) or even through Square (which charges a 2.7% transaction fee for the credit card swipe).
For a limited time though, Ebates has a 2% cash back offer for all American Express Gift Cards purchased through the official American Express website. You can order gift cards up to $500 in value each and actually reap a little bit back in profit because of the cash back.
Let’s put this into perspective:
- A $500 American Express gift card comes with a $3.95 purchase fee.
- Purchase at least two $500 AMEX gift cards in a single order since you have to pay for shipping.
- Use promo code “FPVALAF” to waive the purchase fees completely.
- 2% of $1,000 is $20 in cash back you will receive via Ebates.
- You still have to pay for $8.95 for the shipping though, so you are only making a $11.05 profit.
- Once you get the cards, feel free to use them for purchases or simply liquidate them.
This is just one of many creative ways to help hit your spend requirements on credit cards that keeps the money with you.
The cons to this method:
- You can only liquidate up to $1k per month on Amazon Payments with credit cards (gift cards count as credit cards for the purposes of online purchases) without incurring any fees. This makes it a little difficult to liquidate large amounts of money unless you have a trustworthy loved one or family member who is willing to help you.
- Other liquidation methods such as Square will force you to take a transaction fee % hit. Sometimes the sign up bonus is completely worth taking the hit, and sometimes the cash back offer will counteract this hit. You want to be cautious about all of this.
- Having a solid cash flow is always better than a mountain of plastic gift cards. This method only works if you have liquid cash that you can part with for at least two weeks. (Time for the gift card to ship, and then time to liquidate and then transfer to your bank account.)
- This method does *NOT* work to get you out of debt. In fact, due to the high possibility of transaction fees when you liquidate, this method may get you deeper in debt if you are using borrowed money.
Personally, I prefer purchasing Visa gift cards since they come with PINs now, and can easily be liquidated directly to American Express Bluebird cards at most Walmart in-store Money Centers without incurring any additional fees (beyond just the original purchase fee of the gift card). However, having a decent cash back offer on a gift card is worthwhile as well if you are trying to aggressively earn points or trying to reach a spend requirement on a sign up bonus.
If you don’t have an Ebates account yet, I encourage you to sign up for one even if you aren’t planning on buying gift cards. Ebates is a great cash back website, and there really is no reason why you shouldn’t make sure to earn cash back or extra miles on all of your online purchases.