When earning points just doesn’t make sense

We have been on the market to buy a new fridge for the house for a few days, and of course I kept gravitating towards Lowe’s, which not only has decent prices, but also allows you to maximize points by buying gift cards at office supply stores with your Ink card.

A $1,000 fridge would have earned me at least 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points if I had purchased the Lowe’s gift cards at an office supplies store, and maybe even an additional 3,000 to 5,000 points if I double dipped by going through the Ultimate Rewards portal and paid with the gift cards, but I also noticed that on October 29th, CardCash.com was selling Lowe’s gift cards at 8% discount, plus an additional 2% discount coupon code. The screen shot below is for illustrative purposes only, since the 10% off special is already over.

CardCash

My Discover card also has 5% cash back on online purchases for the current quarter.

Discover-cashback

So I went to CardCash and found 2 gift cards that would get me there. One of them was for $608 and the other one for $607 and some change, so the total value was $1,216. With the 10% discount, they came out to $1,095 (rounded). I paid with my Discover card, and since this was an online merchant, I earned 5% cash back on the amount paid, or $55.

When I received the cards, I went to Lowe’s through TopCashBack, which was paying 4% cash back on Lowe’s purchases, and I also used a Lowe’s 10% off coupon which I had received from our recent move. If you don’t have this coupon, you can find them on eBay for a couple of bucks, which makes sense if you’re making a large purchase.

I ended up settling for a fridge that cost around $900. After I applied the 10% off coupon, it dropped to $810, and with taxes it came out to $876.82 (free shipping).

Savings example:
Since I had money left over on the Lowe’s gift cards and that may confuse things, let’s just assume my fridge cost exactly $1,000 and I also bought exactly $1,000 in gift cards to pay for it, for purposes of illustrating how much you could save on this purchase.

Gift cards purchase:

$1,000  –   Lowe’s gift cards value
($100)  –   10% off from CardCash promotion
$900    –   Net cost
 ($45)   –   Discover 5% cash back (5% of $900)
$855    –   Net cost after first two discounts above

Fridge purchase:

$1,000 – Retail price
($100)  – 10% off Mover’s coupon
$900     – Net cost
($36)    –  4% from TopCashBack ($900 x 4%)
$864    –  Net cost after all discounts

Total savings:  $100 + $45 + $100 + 36 = $281

Percentage saved from originally price:   $281/$1,000 = 28%

As you can see, by following the method above, on a $1,000 fridge, I saved a whopping $281, or 28%. Now, savings like these don’t come by every day.

TopCashBack

There is only one caveat to these savings. The terms on TopCashBack say that “cashback is not eligible when the purchase is made with a gift card”. Since TopCashBack takes quite a while to pay up, as of the time of this article it is still too soon to find out if the additional 4% cash back will work. Even if it doesn’t, I’m still $245 ahead, or a saving of almost 25%, which is still an amazing return.

Normally, when redeeming points, anything above 3 or 4 cents per dollar (or 3% – 4%) is a great return (depending on the type of points). I’ll take a 25% return on my money any day of the week and twice on Sundays. While everyone has different goals and we all play this hobby for the thrill of traveling for free, sometimes it is nice to know that you have the option of saving a substantial amount of money if you already have too many points and not enough vacation time to spend them!

I’m curious to know what are other cash saving tips out there. If you would like to share your own tips, feel free to post them on the comments section below.

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