Manufactured Spending

My Failed 11% Cash Back Experiment

For the past few weeks I’ve been dropping hints of a possible 11% cash back opportunity that I was testing. I thought it over, it seemed plausible, and I shared it with a few folks who were excited to hear the final result. Well I finally put it to the test and it did not work out. Here was the idea:

Step 1: Use the most lucrative shopping portal + credit card combo to generate 6% cash back on American Express gift cards.

Step 2: Use American Express gift cards to buy Visa gift cards

Step 3: Load Visa gift cards onto Bluebird

Step 4: Open a Target REDcard (debit version). The Target REDcard is a discount card that links to your checking account and offers a 5% discount on all shopping done at Target. You need to present a check in order to open a REDcard. I ordered my free Bluebird checks and used them to link Bluebird to my REDcard. That part worked.

Step 5: Use Target REDcard to load the American Express for Target card and get 5% cash back.

It was all fine and dandy until I hit Step 5. I tried to load $400 (out of the $700 in my Bluebird account) onto the Target REDcard, but a tiny receipt printed out, stating the card type could not be used for that transaction. I tried adding a pack of gum to the transaction and the same tiny receipt printed out. The experiment was officially a failure.

It would have been pretty awesome to generate 11% cash back had this worked, but I’m sorry to say it won’t be an option. For now, we’ll have to suffice with 6% cash back by going through a portal. Barclay has yet to reinstate American Express Gift Cards into the Rewardsboost portal, but there is a simple solution to that if you want to rack up Arrival miles. Use your Barclay Arrival Plus Card in conjunction with one of the 4% cash back portals (BeFrugal, Lucky Rewards). You’ll only earn 2% in travel rewards from your Arrival Plus card, but at least there is still the opportunity to pair it with a portal for another 4% cash back. I treat my Arrival miles like my travel savings account. It would have been ideal to just get 6 Arrival miles straight, as I tend to spend cash back elsewhere if it’s not tied to a mileage currency.

Anyway, that’s my simple strategy since my 5-step experiment failed. I know several people were excited to hear about it, so I’m sorry to let you down. Keep hustling and maybe you’ll stumble upon the next great manufactured spending idea.

Disclosure: I will earn a referral fee if you sign up for BeFrugal using the link in this post. Thanks for your support!

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  1. You can get the cashback percentage you were going for with a slightly different method. Buy stuff at Target using the REDcard to get 5% back and then pay the bill through Evolve with VGC you bought with AGC through a cashback portal. Or use a the old BC to buy Reloadits at 5% at a supermarket and load TMo to pay the REDcard via Evolve.

    Netting so much cashback at Target is why I try to do most grocery shopping there.

    • PointChaser

      I’d have to pick up the credit card version of RED (I have the debit now), but it would definitely worthwhile considering how much shopping I do at Target. Thanks Scott!

  2. How are you buying VISA gift cards with AmEx gift cards? I tried buying from gift card mall but my order was cancelled

  3. Not sure why you’d bother with linking BB to the Red Card – use BB for BP to close that loop and create a second loop with Red and a normal checking account. Don’t see any good reason to mix the two. But in any case, I thought it was pretty widely known that Red -> AFT was closed off long ago. And it wouldn’t be 11% net anyway – AGC shipping fees, VGC purchase fees, AFT load fees.

    • PointChaser

      The reason for that was because the gift cards I earned 6% cash back on (before factoring costs) were loaded onto Bluebird. That was the cheapest unloading option, regardless of whether this set up worked or not. Cycling it through Amex for Target would have netted me the extra 5% cash back. Factoring fees on $1,000 ($3.95 in Amex card fees + $7.90 in Visa gc fees + $3 load fees + $10.50 in ATM/unload fees = $25.35) minus $110 in cash back would have netted $84.65 in profit.

  4. Lots of people have tried this before, a quick read through the AFT thread would’ve shown that the redcard doesn’t work for loads.

  5. Darn! I was hoping it would work. William C, if you spent as much time writing your blog as you do commenting on everyone else’s, it would save you from having to hire a staff writer.

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