Archive for the Big Crumbs Category

Stacking deals to increase your miles / cash-back bonus

Posted in American Express, Big Crumbs, Credit Cards, Deals, Evrewards, Miles, Promotion, Travel Tips, Websites with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2011 by getgowing

In 13 days, I will be arriving in Tokyo for my trip to Japan.  And after Japan, I’ll be heading to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the Netherlands.  Since there will be a decent amount of non-flying travel involved here, I want to use this trip to try out backpacking through these areas instead of lugging a suitcase around everywhere.  Last time I went to Japan, I was lugging two suitcases through the Tokyo subway during rush hour.  First and LAST time I ever do that again.  So I did my comparing, shopping, test-fitting, and was ready to purchase, what I think, is the perfect backpack for me.

Whenever I buy anything online, I’m not trying to just find the best price….I’m also looking to maximize my mileage earning potential (or cash-back bonus potential) while paying the best price I can find.

I first use Google, Yahoo, or Amazon to find what site has the best price.  In this case, was the cheapest, by about $39.  Next I take note of the other sites that were more expensive.  Many businesses will match, or even beat, a price a competitor offers for the same item.  Even if a business doesn’t advertise price matching, many times if you call them, they will do it for you anyway for the possibility of repeat business from you.

Now I have a pool of a few sites where I can buy my item for around the same cheaper price.  I next check to see if my credit cards have them as a vendor in their online shopping malls (like: ShopDiscover or Membership Rewards Shopping) where I can get extra points/cashback/miles just for shopping through their online mall.  Also I will check if any hotel or airline programs offer deals like 4 points/$ or 3 miles/$ for spending through their link of a site.  A GREAT site to compare all of these at once is!  It’s still in beta, but it compares all these deals so you can see how much bonus you can earn on your purchase, and handpick what you want to use. search for eBags

Lets say in this exercise, you are trying to maximize your mileage earning (instead of cash back).  Recapping:

  • Negotiated a cheaper price through price matching
  • Earning miles by making a standard purchase on your mileage earning credit card
  • Earn BONUS miles by making the same purchase through the airline’s website

So instead of buying in a brick-and-mortar store, you buy online, hopefully save yourself from paying sales tax, probably get free shipping, and earn a handful more miles doing so.





BUT WAIT, there’s more!

If you know in advance you will be making a big purchase, or if you don’t but are a habitual shopper, you should go through another site to reap some cashback rewards from a certain site, as well as all the bonuses from above.  That sentence was a little vague, sorry.  Big Crumbs (link is one paragraph later), offers cash back on purchases made through vendors on its site, even on purchases on eBay, and signup is FREE!  But where you can get a triple dip from this site is that they offer cash back on gift cards!  SO….

  • Using your mileage earning credit card, buy an American Express gift card from Big Crumbs(1.6% cashback)
  • Negotiate that price match to a cheaper price
  • Shop through your airline’s online shopping mall to earn bonus miles
  • Use the gift card to purchase the item
If you like what you have been reading on this blog, or even if you don’t, please help me out and use my referral link to sign up for Big Crumbs.  Just use my link or click on the banner below.  Besides gift cards, they have some crazy awesome rates for other vendors, like 36% return on fees from eBay, or other stores/services that give upwards of 40% back!  And as your cash back builds up, payouts occur monthly.  (Original post continues beyond the banner)

Lets make some assumptions to give you real world numbers.  Be forewarned – math intensive from here to the end.
You are buying a $1,100 TV.  You are able to price match it on a competitor’s website for $1,000.  Your mileage earning card earns 1 mile/dollar.  Your airline’s online shopping portal gives 5 miles/dollar for shopping through them.

Scenario 1 (buying with no regard to what I have talked about here):

  • Investment:  Spend $1,100
  • Return:  Gain 1,100 miles for using your mileage earning credit card
Scenario 2 (using these techniques to maximize return):
  • Investment:  Spend $1,000 + an hour of time for research
  • Return:  Gain 1,000 miles for buying a gift card on Big Crumbs.  Gain $16 (1.6% cashback) on  your $1000 gift card from Big Crumbs.  Gain 5,000 miles for buying through your airline’s online shopping mall.  In total = (1,000mi + 5,000mi) + $16 cashback = 6,000mi + $16 !!!
Scenario 1 vs. Scenario 2:
Scenario 1 you gain one hour of work.  Scenario 2 you lose one hour of work.  But you gain $116 and 4,900 extra miles.  Is an hour worth $116 and 4,900 miles to you?  I’d take a job that pays ~$116/hour in a heartbeat.

However, this is not what I did when I bought my backpack.  I chose a slightly different route.  Because of the recent British Airways Chase Visa credit card signup bonus I wrote about, I now have 100,000 miles with British Airways.  And I also have a plethora of miles with Delta.  Now, one of my new adventures that I want to take is a true long-haul First Class experience.  Delta doesn’t have any real first class in their fleet, and therefore doesn’t allow any first class redemptions on any partner airlines either.  That is not the case with my British Airways miles, however.  I plan on flying First Class on Cathay Pacific to Asia, which will cost me 150,000 British Airways miles.  That is in addition to the backpacking trip through South America that I want to take in Business Class on LAN Airlines which will cost 80,000 British Airways miles.  So I need to get to 230,000 miles on British Airways somehow.  (Let’s not forget the extra 50,000 Membership Reward Points I was given just for making a phone call!)  My options are:

  1. Spend on my British Airways Chase Visa credit card which earns 1.25mi/dollar
  2. Spend on my American Express Platinum card which earns 1 Membership Reward point/dollar
I can transfer my AmEx points to British Airways, 1 point = 1 dollar.  This would be a no brainer, since with my Amex I’m essentially only getting 1 mi/dollar vs. BA Chase getting 1.25 mi/dollar.  BUT American Express is running a promotion, now through July 31, 2011, where you will get a 50% bonus on any transfers to British Airways.  Now the AmEx gets 1.5 mi/dollar if I transfer before July 31.  So I’m going to be using my AmEx to buy my backpack.

The backpack costs $279 full retail.  And I found that most stores are charging that much.  I did find one store, that sells it for $239.98.  Sweet.  Now I have a significant price difference to get it matched to.  After contacting several stores, the best price I could work out is either from Eastern Mountain Sports, or eBags.  Both offer free shipping.  EMS has physical stores in my state and all the nearby surrounding states, so I’d have to pay sales tax on my bag.  eBags is online only, so free shipping and no sales tax.  I was able to negotiate EMS’s price match lower, so that after sales tax, I would be paying the same, about $239.  I went with eBags because you get a 5% rebate on all purchases which you can redeem on a later purchase with them.  Not sure if I will ever use them again, but at least its something more than EMS offers.

At this point, I have all I need to come out ahead of the curve with this purchase.  BUT, if I shop through American Express’s Membership Rewards shopping mall (but also requires the use of my card attached to my account, not a gift card) I can earn 4x bonus Membership Reward points!

So I could earn 4 MR points/dollar, with a transfer bonus of 1.5 mi/point, comes to a whopping 6 MILES / DOLLAR!  I already feel like a million bucks.  BUT…..I actually will get even more points than that.

The price match guarantee policy for eBags is that you buy your item first, then if you find the same exact item in stock from another site within 10 days of purchase, they will reimburse your credit card the difference.  So I will still get the 6 mi/dollar for the original purchase, then get back $39.02 for the price difference.  Here’s the math:
Investment = $279.00-$39.02 = $239.98
Return = ($279.00 x 4 MR shopping mall bonus) x 1.5 AmEx/British Airways transfer promo = 1,674 British Airways Miles
Overall miles per dollar = (1,674 / $239.98) = 6.975 Miles / Dollar

I think I did pretty well compared to just using the British Airways Chase card at only 1.25 Miles / Dollar.  Now in actuality, American Express will probably take away 39 Membership Reward Points ($39.02 rounded down) because it thinks that the $39.02 reimbursement is a return.  In that case, I will only earn:

($279 x 4) – 39 = 1,077 points
(1,077 x 1.5) = 1,615.5 miles = ~1,616 miles
which would bring my overall to 6.73 miles / dollar.  Still a good deal.
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