UPDATE: hat tip to the frequent miler, the free shipping is ending on Sept. 22nd, so if you need to meet minimum spends on Chase cards, and want to go the gift card route, I’d do it before then.
Readers, here is another guest post by Andy. Given the popularity of his last one, I think he is doing a great job and hope you all hear from him on a regular basis. He is certainly teaching me a thing or two about credits cards.
Chase credit cards are one of my favorite credit cards to have, because of all the lucrative transfer opportunities that Ultimate Reward points (UR) afford. Transfer partners include United, Southwest, British Airways, Korean Airways, Amtrak, Hyatt, Marriott, and Priority Club, and you almost always get the best bang for your buck transferring to outside partners as opposed to booking travel through the UR portal, as this offers a flat 1.25 cents/mile when booking, whereas with transfer partners you can often achieve 2 cents/mile or more. The only cards that will allow to transfer to these partners include the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP), the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus card, or the JP Morgan Palladium (which is only offered to very wealthy people with a wealth management account at JP Morgan).
The three cards are all great cards to have, for their signup bonuses and their bonus categories, and I have both the CSP and the Ink Bold. The signup bonus for the CSP is 40,000 UR points after spending $3,000 in 3 months, and for the Ink Bold it’s 50,000 UR points for $5,000 in 3 months. The problem though becomes how to meet the minimum spend requirements. If you apply for both on the same day, like I did, you somehow have to come up with a way to spend $8,000 in 3 months without simultaneously bankrupting yourself. Today I will introduce the concept of gift card churning. What this means is, you buy gift cards using your credit cards, convert them to a debit card with a PIN, and either load a prepaid card, such as the American Express Bluebird, which you can then use to pay bills or transfer back in to your bank account, or you can purchase money orders, and deposit them into your bank account. The particular website I’m going to show you has no additional fee to buying the gift cards, meaning it costs you nothing additional, and can make you a boatload of money by meeting those minimum spends.
Go to the Chase gift card website, and if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll see that the shipping fee for the standard shipping option is temporarily waived. It’s been temporarily waived for at least the past 3 months, and doesn’t give any time frame for when it won’t be. Even if it did have a shipping fee, it would be worth it to meet your minimum spend, but with it fee-free it’s even better. Before you buy any gift cards, make sure you have a Walmart moneycenter nearby, especially one with a self-service kiosk (but it’s not necessary), or a US post office. Buy as many gift cards as you can tolerate (I bought $4,000 worth per month for 2 months). They will arrive in the mail – don’t worry about them being stolen. They are associated with you by both your phone number and SSN, so no one else can use them. You will call the number on them to activate them, then it will tell you it’s PIN. You can either keep that one, or press #2 and key in your own PIN. The PIN means that it’s functionally a debit card.
Once your gift card/debit card is activated, go to your nearest Walmart moneycenter. If they have a kiosk, you can load your bluebird card (up to $1,000 per day and $5,000 per month) and/or purchase a money order, they cost $0.70. If there isn’t a kiosk, talk to customer service. If there isn’t a Walmart nearby, you can purchase money orders at the post office, where it costs $1.20 per money order. You can alternatively use them to purchase Vanilla reloads at 7-11s or CVS, and then load those onto your bluebird card.
You can purchase the gift cards in $25 increments, so if you’re not comfortable shelling out that much money initially, you can buy a smaller-denomination one and test it. This website unfortunately honors only Chase cards, as I’ve tried it with other bank’s credit cards and it did not work.