Monday, 21 July 2014

selling and buying way to award travel


                                 selling and buying way to    
award travel

Most of the major airlines and credit cards offer shopping portals that award you bonus points when you click through their websites first to do your online shopping. And these are the very best kind of points – points for things you were going to buy anyway. Instead of buying that pair of comfort-fit waistband Dockers at (did you really need to eat that whole box of Krispy Kremes?), you could buy the very same pants by going to the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal first, and then clicking on a link for Macy’s. Voila! You’ve just earned an additional three points per dollar. Assuming your credit card earned a typical point per dollar on its own, you’ve just accelerated your mileage earni by 400 percent! Nice.
Why settle for that?
Occasionally, online stores will run much higher bonuses for a brief time, perhaps a month or less. How high? Barnes and Noble has offered 10 points per dollar, Sears has offered 15 points per dollar, and in a spectacular holiday promotion, Nordstrom once offered an amazing 36 points per dollar through the British Airways Avios shopping portal. Sometimes, the bonuses themselves can be multiplied yet again, by a technique known as “double dipping” (no, this has nothing to do with Krispy Kremes). It may be possible to go through a website to buy gift cards, then go back a second time to use those gift cards to buy the actual merchandise – earning points each time. For example, I recently took advantage of a Sears 10X promotion in the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal to buy $1,300 in gift cards. After receiving the gift cards via e-mail an hour later, I went back to Sears (again, through the Ultimate Rewards portal) and used the gift cards to buy five tablet computers. For an hour’s effort, I generated (1,300 x 10) + (1,300 x 10) = 26,000 Ultimate Rewards points. That’s a free domestic round-trip ticket, folks.
Of course, now I’m the owner of five tablet computers. And a credit card bill for $1,300. Hmmm. This scheme may need a little work.
The “generate lots of miles” part of this technique is easy; you simply wait for a big bonus to come along – 10x or more is usually what it takes to get my attention – and then buy a bucket-load of stuff! Once you’ve made the purchase through the portal, you’ve generated your miles/points, and they’ll show up on your next statement. The trick is to get most, or all, of your money back. And heck, if you can turn a profit, then three cheers for free enterprise!
There are a number of options for selling merchandise online: Amazon, eBay, even Craigslist. My personal favorite is Amazon, because they just make it so darn easy to sell things. In fact, you can easily sign up for Amazon Seller Services, choose “Fulfillment by Amazon”, and Amazon’s website will handle all of the online listing, payment processing, and shipping details for you. After the five tablet computers arrived at my house, all I had to do was generate an inventory listing, re-send the tablets to an Amazon warehouse (in the same box that they came in), and I was done. It took a little over a week for the tablets to reach the warehouse, be verified by Amazon, and become available for sale. All five of the tablets sold in about three days.
After expenses and fees, I was out a total of around $145; I had generated 26,000 Ultimate Rewards points for a cost of roughly .56 cent per point. UR points are usually conservatively valued at two cents apiece; personally, I prefer to apply them towards international business class tickets, and can get 8-10 cents of value out of each point. So, put another way, I “spent” $145 to get over $2,000 worth of points. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.
Something else to keep in mind, if you decide to buy and sell, is the important matter of cash flow. While my scheme only “cost” me $145, I had to be comfortable with  of dollars onto my credit card, and waiting almost a month to get the money back. In my case, I paid off my card balance immediately, to guarantee that I didn’t accrue any monthly interest charges. Do you feel comfortable shelling out $1,000, $2,000, $5,000 at one time? Everyone has their own comfort level. It’s also important to remember that this technique is not without risk. What if you can’t resell those 46 limited-edition Crying Elvis plates from the Franklin Mint? What if a buyer wants their money back? What if the online shopping portal loses track of your points bonus?
Properly managed, these risks can be minimized. I’ll be writing many more posts on Reselling for Miles, and seeking to drive the cost per mile down as far as possible. And perhaps, occasionally, even turn a profit! Those Krispy Kremes won’t buy themselves.
The Mile High Canuck was born, as might be divined from his nickname, in the snow-covered wilds of the Great White North. Specifically, he grew up in New Brunswick, one of the Maritime provinces ... imagine Maine, with...
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