Manufactured Spending

Free Miles at Macy’s

Update: Please see this post for an update on Macys’ official policy and tips to avoid violating it.

Since the Office Depot/Vanilla Reload/Bluebird deal has more or less died for many of us, there has been a scramble to find the next big thing. I’m happy to report I’ve found a way to earn 2-6 points per $1 AND get your money back.

In high school I worked at my local Macy’s department store and there were a few things I learned about Macy’s policies that had slipped my mind until recently, when I had a giftcard and couldn’t find anything to spend it on.

I remembered that Macy’s lets you “credit” giftcards to your Macy’s credit card. It was drilled into our heads that “this does not count as a payment – it’s just a credit to your account!” Once the giftcard is applied (assuming you have a zero balance), you can call up Macy’s credit card customer service and request a refund check.

What does this have to do with points and miles?

Right after that little conundrum was solved, it hit me that this could be a lucrative way to earn free points and miles. Here’s how its done:

1. Get a Macy’s credit card. Either in store or online. If you have a family member or trustworthy friend with a Macy’s card, you can just use theirs.

Macy's credit card


2. Buy Macy’s giftcards at any office supply store, grocery store, or drugstore. This will earn you 2-6 points per $1, depending on which card you use.


Hilton HHonors American Express                                            6 points per $1

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card                                 3 points per $1


American Express Premier Rewards Gold                            2 points per $1

Hilton HHonors American Express                                       6 points per $1

Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card                            3 points per $1

Office Supply Stores

Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Business Card           2 points per $1

Chase Ink Classic                                                                      5 points per $1

Chase Ink Bold                                                                              5 points per $1

Chase Ink Plus                                                                              5 points per $1

3.  Head to your local Macy’s store and ask the cashier to “credit” the gift card to your Macy’s credit card. This was very common when I worked there, though I wasn’t trained on how to process this transaction until a customer inquired about it. If you run into a clueless cashier, ask him/her to call a manager and explain that other stores do in fact allow this.

4. Request a check. Once your return posts, call the Macy’s customer service credit line and request a check for the remaining balance.

5. Pay off your balance. Use the funds from the check to pay off your credit card and enjoy the free miles you earned!

Double dip:

  1. Buy a Macy’s giftcard from a bonus category retailer.
  2. Use the giftcard to purchase something online via a shopping portal.
  3. Return the item in store, ask for the refund to be credited to your Macy’s credit card.
  4. Request a refund check and use it to pay off your card.

Alternative: Instead of buying a giftcard, you could also do the following:

  1. Buy something through a shopping portal that also earns you 2-6 points per $1.
  2. Return the item in store and ask for the return to be credited to your Macy’s credit card.
  3. Call Macy’s credit card services and request a refund check.
  4. Pay off the original credit card.

I don’t know if you’ll lose out on your portal point this way, but it’s worth trying if you don’t have one of the above mentioned credit cards.

As usual, I highly recommend you do this in moderation. I’m sure Macy’s will put a stop to it fit if it happens frequently. Also, I would test this with a small giftcard (i.e. $25) first.

Disclosure: I do not earn a referral for any of the credit card links in this post.

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  1. Interesting! I’ll have to try this out with my old Macy’s Amex.

  2. I know someone with a Macy’s card. I never really cared for Macy’s, but this would get me in the store!

  3. Congrats to you for thinking of this. The list of which credit cards could earn the most points was useful.

  4. Man, after reading FM’s “Where to draw the line,” this one is pretty close to it. Almost similar to his example of buying something from the store and returning it for cash back. Don’t get me wrong; I love the post and the ingenuity around it, but not sure if I’ll try it. Plus, I don’t think Macy’s credit card services would be happy about sending you $1,000 checks every month (not really scalable) I do remember I once made 2 payments to my Macy’s card and I had a negative balance of $25 or so. After 3 months of inactivity, they mailed me a check for $25, so you may not need to call in after all if you can float the money.

    • I agree. This isn’t a sustainable long-term strategy and I wouldn’t do this in large amounts on a monthly basis. But I think it’s a good way to meet some credit card spending and top off your mileage account.

    • I think buying something and returning might be, but the “crediting gift cards to check” thing isn’t really over the line. Many states have laws that state that merchants must refund gift cards under a certain balance, and Macy’s itself has it in their T&C where you can credit gift cards to your Macy’s account and ask for it back.

  5. And remember that when you return something to Macys that you bought online, that merchandise has a serial tag that contains order information. So the store will indeed know you are returning something you bought online regardless of how you want the refund credited. This is how they track online purchases to determine if certain online purchases will earn extra points through online portals. Obviously if you return something, Macy’s will not authorize the online portal to award the extra points.

    • Macys will close your credit card after the second or third large overpayment refund request, as confirmed by multiple sources who have thought of this years earlier.

      • Can you cite these sources? I’m writing an updated post and want to include links, if there are any.

      • AlohaDaveKennedy

        Good Cardinal Fang does seem to visit the Macy’s parish to hold The Spanish Inquisition and burn the credit card heretics.


    Macy’s cards are redeemable only for merchandise and in-store services at Macy’s and (US only); they may not be redeemed for cash (except as required by law) or applied as payment or credit to any credit card account.

  7. I have legitimately made purchases from Macy’s via the AA portal and have returned some of the items to a store. The points were never awarded for the returned items.

  8. Sounds like irresponsible journalism. geesh

  9. Oh lord. I’d say there’s precisely zero chance that this will be used in moderation. You should know that there’s a subset of FW/FT types who just don’t do moderation. This will get killed off like all the other deals.

  10. I love earning points/miles, but this is very irresponsible. Excessive returns not only will get you blacklisted, but it costs retailer’s money. In turn, they will need to find ways of cutting back, which means either employees are laid off or costs are passed on to other legitimate customers.

    Familiarize yourself with the Retailer’s blacklist.

    • PointChaser

      Thanks Mark. I’m aware of the blacklist, which is why I recommended keeping it under $5k. I realize some people reading this might misconstrue it as “Go to Macy’s and return $5k worth of stuff”, but that’s not what I meant. I know some people are going to overdo it, which is why I threw out $5k as an absolute maximum. I’m certainly not going that far, and I hope others won’t either.

  11. I doubt that it will make a difference, but I have notified Macy’s about watching out for such returns. Now that New Year’s eve is over, I hope to spoil some parties that are not that good. Please do not do this.

    • PointChaser

      I suggest we all abandon our point-earning efforts and focus instead on contacting every corporate office in America to inform them of the injustices they are subjected to.

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