BoA + Raise Cash Back = Big Savings

I think that gift cards are of the devil. They are easy to lose. When I receive them as gifts, I typically sell them for a loss on Raise.com. Maybe that makes me a horrible person, but I’ll take $18 in cash over $25 to a retailer I don’t visit.

I realize there’s a bit of irony when I admit that I use gift cards almost exclusively in my real life. Why?

  • Costco gift cards open up the door to 5.25% BoA cash back at Costco (+ 2% executive) thanks to BoA cash rewards.
    • (Gift cards earn me an extra 1.75% thanks to utilizing BoA’s 5.25% online category at Costco.com)

At retailers like Walmart and CVS, it can become even more lucrative:

  • Walmart gift cards purchased at Raise.com gives 2.5% cash back (as of today) + 1% if you use ebates/rakuten + 5.25% BoA ≈ 8.75% cash back.
    • The (digital) Walmart gift card can be loaded immediately onto the walmart app so you don’t need to print anything off.
    • (Gift cards earn me an extra 3.5% thanks to Raise.com + ebates/rakuten)
  • CVS gift cards purchased at Raise.com gives 3.5% cash back (as of today) + 1% if you use ebates/rakuten + 5.25% BoA ≈ 9.75% cash back.
    • (Gift cards earn me an extra 4.5% thanks to Raise.com + ebates/rakuten)

 

In recent months, Raise.com has basically killed the secondary gift card market (for select retailers) by selling the full face value of gift cards to consumers in exchange for “Raise cash” back. What in the world is “Raise cash”? As of today, I have $6.08 in Raise credits to be used towards future purchases. I accrued those through a former purchase. If I wanted to buy a $250 gift card to Walmart, it’d cost me $250-$6.08 = $243.92 this time, but I’d earn a $6.25 credit for my next purchase. Kind of weird, but that’s how they do it (presumably to keep you coming back to use the service).


Walmart gift card. 2.5% discount highlighted in top left. $6.08 balance shown on top. 1% Ebates/Rakuten cash back shown in top right. 5.25% BoA discount not shown.

 

 

Similar gig with CVS. Not all retailers do this “cash back” thing with Raise.

 

 

Conclusion

7.25% off of every Costco purchase + 8.75% off of every Walmart purchase + 9.75% off of every CVS purchase adds up, particularly when we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars of spend for our family of 7 (groceries, meds, etc.).

Gift cards can be a pain to deal with, but much less so with apps/digital wallets. For high spend retailers (Costco, CVS, Walmart in my case), it seems like the extra effort is worth it.

 

Notes:

5.25% BoA cash back described here: https://frugalprofessor.com/best-credit-card-rewards-strategy-2019-edition/

12 thoughts on “BoA + Raise Cash Back = Big Savings”

  1. Raise/Rakuten/BoA combo is amazing for Walmart. Thank you for sharing!

    My favorite offer currently is 10% cashback on Walgreens (I get amazon GC) and grocery stores with the cash app. Max discount is $7.5. I get a new offer every week.

    Reply
    • How do you get the 10% on Walgreens? Is it the BankAmeriDeals through BoA’s portal?

      Is there a purchase limit to the Amazon GC at Walgreens? Do you have to go in person or can it be done digitally?

      Reply
  2. In my experience, Walmart’s online prices are significantly higher than in-store. A box of diapers that’s $19.53 before tax at a nearby store is listed at $23.32 online. Because of this, I don’t shop Walmart online.

    I hadn’t been buying Walmart gift cards from Raise because I didn’t want the trouble of dealing with a digital gift card in store.

    Thanks to this post, I now know I can load digital gift cards in Walmart’s app. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Happy to help! And if I didn’t make it explicitly clear in the post, your understanding is exactly correct. You can use the gift cards through the Walmart pay app in store.

      Reply
  3. Great post, FP! I will look into using Raise more often.

    *******************

    Here’s my set up:

    1. Straight Cash Back $0 AF Cards

    5.25% BOA Cash Rewards x3 (Online, Drug Store, Gas) – eligible for 4th card in December

    10% Discover Q categories thru Q1 2021 – hope to combine my 2 Discovers in 2021 and do this trick again

    5% US Bank Cash + on Utilities, Gym Membership – hope to get 2nd Cash+ card for streaming and cell phone

    2% Citi Double Cash for any non-category spend over $15K not covered by Hyatt card below.

    2. Keeper $AF Cards

    Primarily hotel cards, where the free night certificate value > $AF by $100-$160. Only makes sense if you can use the hotel night.

    Chase World of Hyatt probably the most valuable straight hotel card, because you get 2nd free night at $15K spend. Free nights are worth 15,000 points. Points are worth 1.7 cents. So it’s an extra point per dollar on spend, meaning I earn 2x or 3.4% on the first $15K spend for non-category items, and 3x or 5.1% on restaurants, gyms, flights and transit. Plus it comes with some travel insurance like lost luggage if I use it to book a flight. I chose Chase Hyatt over BOA Premium for my non-category spend because 3.4% > 2.625% and the free night means I profit $160 from just having the card whereas BOA Premium I just profit $5 if I use the airline incidental credit.

    Another outstanding card for travelers is Amex Hilton Aspire if you can use the $250 resort credit. While it costs $450 a year, I get $850 a year in benefits from having the card. Keeper.

    3. SUBs for Big Purchases

    I owe about $8K per year in real estate taxes. So I like to open new cards with nice SUBs in December. It costs me 2.5% to pay my taxes with cards, but my SUBs dwarf that fee. Usually earn 20% or more. Now most of these are “points” and not cash back.

    Some of these SUB cards have nice rewards. Amex Gold appears to be a loss leader for Amex. I earn 4x at restaurants and grocery stores. Amex points are worth at least 1.7 cents, so that’s nearly 7%. The card costs $250 a year, but I get that down to close to $30. I use the $10 food credit each month at the Shake Shack near my house, and I use the $100 airline incidental credit.

    4. Retention Bonuses

    For my $AF cards, I also check each year after the $AF hits for any retention offers. Sometimes it works.

    5. Checking Account Bonuses

    I also try to open a couple of checking accounts per year for the bonuses. Make $500-700 a year doing that.

    **************

    So my set up is not 100% cash back. It’s a mix of cash back and points.

    Reply
    • How do know when you’ll be qualified for next B of A cash reward card? You mentioned December as though it’s a sure thing. I’m trying to apply for 1-2 more but not sure what route to take … thanks

      Reply
      • Here’s my timeline:
        * Nov 2017: Premium Rewards + 1st Cash Rewards (same day)
        * Feb 2019: 2nd Cash Rewards
        * June 2020: 3rd Cash Rewards

        Here’s Mrs FP’s timeline:
        * Jan 2018: 1st Cash Rewards
        * Feb 2019: 2nd Cash Rewards

        Not sure what is typical or not. My credit score is in the neighborhood of 840 +/- 15. Mrs FP’s is about 10 lower. Not sure if that helped.

        One oddity is that my fourth BoA CC was not met with increased credit; it was simply reallocated from other cards. Weird, but fine enough because I’m not going to put over $2.5k/quarter on any cash rewards card.

        Reply

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