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