Lesson 4: Buying the best deal takes some planning

Deals often come up unexpectedly, but you still need to analyze them.

I once found a good deal on Staples for $50 Aeropostale gift cards at 20% off right after 2016’s Black Friday.

Obviously that deal is long gone, but I’m going to show you the steps I took, so that the next time you find out about a deal, you can replicate these steps.

It doesn’t matter if you are going to resell to a bulk buyer or a marketplace, you are going to want to get the best deal you possibly can.

Here’s how it went down.

When I checked on Raise, the Aeropostale card was out of stock. Was this going to be a sweet spot deal or a red flag? I just had to find out.

At the time, the bulk buyers weren’t showing any interest in Aeropostale, which explained why there weren’t any alerts or notifications from them yet.

But I had a hunch that I might have stumbled on a sweet spot, and I got a little bit excited.

Actually, saying I was “excited” was putting it mildly. I was giddy with glee, since I had a Chase Ink Plus card with a $5,000 minimum spend to meet and the chance to earn a 5x office supply category bonus with Staples.

But then after I did some research, I saw that there was actually very little demand for the card, both on Raise, but also from the bulk buyers.

My excitement cooled. I mean, COME ON!

Despite being discouraged, I decided to take a chance anyway.

So I bought one $50 Aeropostale card and listed it for $46 on Raise just to test the market.

It took a few hours for Raise to verify the details, but once the listing went live the card sold.

In minutes. Not hours, not days. Minutes!

Supreme excitement level: Unlocked.

I ended up buying 60 of these cards, and every card got sold during the week of Cyber Monday within 7 days.

I got paid about $42 for each card which meant a profit of $2 per card and a total profit of $120! Better yet, the $2,400 took me almost halfway to meeting my minimum spend of $5,000 and closer to the 70,000 Chase bonus points that came with meeting the spend.

The 5x category bonus was also something to behold, as it earned me 12,000 Ultimate Reward points for just a $2,400 spend.

The icing on the cake was that all the money was back in my bank account the following week. This was long before payment was due to Chase thus allowing me rinse and repeat.

My second round was less profitable, because other people (including the bulk buyers) caught on, resulting in many more Aeropostale cards getting listed. I had to offer steeper discounts to get the cards sold quickly.

Good thing I got my first round in early!

In this lesson, I’m going to walk you through every step I took buying the Aeropostale giftcards from Staples. While this example is specific to Staples, it would be similar for other retailers too.

By the end of this lesson, you will have the ninja skills you need to get closer to your minimum spend thresholds!

Start with a Rebate Portal

Even if you aren’t ready to buy a gift card, you should have an account set up with a rebate portal like TopCashBack, Yazing, Ebates, or others.

In this case study, I’m going with TopCashBack because it was offering an improved 3.5% Staples rebate during the 2016 Thanksgiving season.

I say MIGHT because when you are buying giftcards, it’s never a sure thing that you will earn a rebate. That said, you definitely will NOT get a rebate if you don’t start with the portal, so what do you have to lose?

Logging into Staples.com

Clicking on the “Get Cashback” button will open up a new window that will launch the Staples website (below). If you have an account, you would sign in here. If you don’t, you’re going to want to create one preferably before your actual first purchase.

Finding the deal

If you need a refresher on how to sniff out deals, go ahead and review the “finding the deal”  section now.

In this instance, I found about the deal because I was subscribed to the Staples newsletter. That was how I learned about the 20% discount on only the Aeropostale $50 gift card. I followed the links and entered “Aeropostale Gift Card” into the “Enter Search Term” bar and the following popped up.

Adding The Deal to The Cart

Since my single card experiment already told me that the Aeropostale cards would sell despite the discouraging market research, I decided to grab 3 of the cards.

This is the maximum Staples will let anyone buy with the 20% discount IN ONE ORDER. This is important, because there is nothing stopping you from completing the purchase, and going back for seconds. Or thirds. Or fourths.

I selected “3”, clicked “Add to Cart”, and the next screen confirmed the discounted price below. Always make sure you are seeing the discount before proceeding!

From here on, I just completed the transaction by following the prompts – it’s pretty simple.

Look out for an email confirmation from Staples immediately. Then, a day or two later, an email from Blackhawk Network should arrive, linking to a webpage containing the gift card serial and PIN numbers.

Tip: If you don’t receive an email in a timely factor, be sure and check your “junk” or “spam” folder. Some prices are time sensitive and you want to sell as soon as possible.

Make sure to copy that information and paste them into the spreadsheet that we’ve provided for you.

Sadly, No Rebates This Time

Remember I was hoping for rebates? No such luck this time. The purchases posted on TopCashBack a few days later, but exactly $0.00 was reported. I chose not to contest it because the terms and conditions actually said that gift cards don’t earn rebates (see below):

This was a let-down, especially since just a few days earlier, I had gotten the rebate, which I had gotten paid out for.

So that was my experience buying e-gift cards on Staples.

Maximizing the category bonuses

One of the best things I liked about this deal was that I was able to get 5x the number of Chase Ultimate Rewards points because the card I used, the Chase Ink Plus, had a 5x bonus for office supply stores.

Since then, I’ve also bought Gap and Applebee’s e-gift cards from Staples too always with a 5X card like the Chase Ink Plus or the Amex SimplyCash Plus. I’ve also bought physical iTunes gift cards from Staples.

Staples is not the only place to get gift cards, of course. There are also sites like Best Buy, NewEgg, and PayPal Digital Gifts, among others where good deals can be found.

All right! Now that you’re done buying the best deal and getting gift cards, let’s make sure we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot by losing them.

This is especially a concern if you decide to buy a lot of cards.

That’s why we recommend that you read up on the module on how to keep track of your cards which just happens to be the next lesson!

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