Break even MS?

Old Nov 29, 15, 12:00 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2014
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Break even MS?

So many changes in the MS landscape...if you are mostly out of big bonus signups, any thoughts on best low cost/no cost/small profit MS strategies? Looking at all options-gift card reselling? Anything with currency or gold? Interested in any current stories/ideas!
stakes2014 is offline  
Old Nov 29, 15, 3:48 pm
  #2  
 
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Originally Posted by stakes2014 View Post
So many changes in the MS landscape...if you are mostly out of big bonus signups, any thoughts on best low cost/no cost/small profit MS strategies? Looking at all options-gift card reselling? Anything with currency or gold? Interested in any current stories/ideas!
INK is my favorite. 4 cards can generate over 1MM miles a year for about $6k.
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Old Nov 29, 15, 4:12 pm
  #3  
 
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Originally Posted by stakes2014 View Post
So many changes in the MS landscape...if you are mostly out of big bonus signups, any thoughts on best low cost/no cost/small profit MS strategies? Looking at all options-gift card reselling? Anything with currency or gold? Interested in any current stories/ideas!
you're on the right forum. now start reading! all the answers are literally on the first page
odin99 is offline  
Old Nov 29, 15, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by chaser123 View Post
INK is my favorite. 4 cards can generate over 1MM miles a year for about $6k.
wow, i salute you if that was all on $200 vgcs!

thats 1,000 of them!
lumangoy is offline  
Old Nov 29, 15, 5:11 pm
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Originally Posted by odin99 View Post
you're on the right forum. now start reading! all the answers are literally on the first page
And highly useful answers are on the second page and the third page, with it getting to be a dearth after that. Just because it's not heavily discussed doesn't mean that it doesn't work.

As to the topic at hand, I was envisioning something different. Like, breaking even after points are accounted. For example, buying a $500 card with a $5 fee and then redeeming the points at 1% for $5 to break even.

Obviously, for most people, that would not be worth the time or effort. However, that could be immensely helpful when you have a large minimum spend to meet or when you're trying to meet a large spend bonus (e.g., spend $30 000 in a year, get a travel together ticket on British Airways).
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Old Nov 30, 15, 11:35 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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Other than meeting sign-up minimums and other spending targets, all my MS activity goes on 5% unlimited cash back "Old Blue" accounts.

$500 GC at a grocery store:

Cost: $505.95
Cashback: $25.30
Net cost: $480.65
Typical net profit: $19.35 per card after $5.95 card fee
Typical net profit per $10k spend = $387

I say "typical" because that assumes you are paying full gift card fees, which might not be the case. Our local grocery store gives a 1% discount to members of the Booster Club of the local high school, so my net cost per $500 card is only $500.89, for net of $482.20 on $10k spend at that store. Another grocery chain gives gas discounts on spend there, so that would come off the cost column. (And never mind all the free hams and turkeys at Christmas and Easter.)

But lets assume I wasn't so lucky...

Even if I intend to use MS activity for travel, I find it easier and more efficient to use the 5% cash-back money to purchase plane tickets, hotel, etc than to try to generate a lower return in travel points on some other credit card. On a recent trip to the Caribbean a round trip ticket for my selected dates was 50,000 United points... or $730 cash.

Forgetting sign-up bonuses and starting with ZERO points/dollars, look at what that ticket would cost if you used various cards to MS your way onto that flight...

UNITED MILES
$50k in United Visa Spend + $595 out of pocket costs in card fees for 100 $500 cards, which then requires you to liquidate ONE HUNDRED GCs

CHASE UR POINTS
$10k in Ink spend at Staples + $297 out of pocket costs in card fees for 50 $200 cards, which then requires you to liquidate FIFTY GCs

BARCLAY ARRIVAL POINTS
$33k in spend on a Barclay Arrival card + $392 out of pocket costs in card fees for 66 $500 cards, which then requires you to liquidate SIXTY SIX GCs

OL BLUE CASH BACK
$18k in spend on an Ol' Blue card with ZERO net out of pocket card fees and only 36 $500 cards to liquidate.

Far more cost-efficient and time efficient. How long would it take you to liquidate SIXTY SIX visa GCs... to save $340 on a plane ticket compared to the value of your time. You'd probably be earning less than minimum wage on the time you spent going to Walmart every day for two weeks.

PLUS... since I will use the money to purchase the tickets from the airline there are no black out dates, seat availability is good, I can use that airline's credit card to book the flight to earn those miles too (or a Barclay card and then use those points to pay that bill, or purchase the tickets through the Chase travel portal, or use an AmEx to buy the ticket... and points to pay that bill), the actual flight miles/segments flown will count towards status, the flight can be upgraded with a handful of points, etc.
RJP3 is offline  
Old Nov 30, 15, 2:38 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
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This example highlights the importance of knowing the redemption value of your points. In this example, a 50,000 mile ticket costs $730, so the value is 1.46 cents per mile. This is a horrible value and a good case of where using cash back would be better. However if you can get 3-4 cent/mile or mile, mileage or transferable currencies are better than cash back.

Also the United card has a 10k mile bonus for 25k of spending in a year.

Originally Posted by RJP3 View Post
Other than meeting sign-up minimums and other spending targets, all my MS activity goes on 5% unlimited cash back "Old Blue" accounts.

$500 GC at a grocery store:

Cost: $505.95
Cashback: $25.30
Net cost: $480.65
Typical net profit: $19.35 per card after $5.95 card fee
Typical net profit per $10k spend = $387

I say "typical" because that assumes you are paying full gift card fees, which might not be the case. Our local grocery store gives a 1% discount to members of the Booster Club of the local high school, so my net cost per $500 card is only $500.89, for net of $482.20 on $10k spend at that store. Another grocery chain gives gas discounts on spend there, so that would come off the cost column. (And never mind all the free hams and turkeys at Christmas and Easter.)

But lets assume I wasn't so lucky...

Even if I intend to use MS activity for travel, I find it easier and more efficient to use the 5% cash-back money to purchase plane tickets, hotel, etc than to try to generate a lower return in travel points on some other credit card. On a recent trip to the Caribbean a round trip ticket for my selected dates was 50,000 United points... or $730 cash.

Forgetting sign-up bonuses and starting with ZERO points/dollars, look at what that ticket would cost if you used various cards to MS your way onto that flight...

UNITED MILES
$50k in United Visa Spend + $595 out of pocket costs in card fees for 100 $500 cards, which then requires you to liquidate ONE HUNDRED GCs

CHASE UR POINTS
$10k in Ink spend at Staples + $297 out of pocket costs in card fees for 50 $200 cards, which then requires you to liquidate FIFTY GCs

BARCLAY ARRIVAL POINTS
$33k in spend on a Barclay Arrival card + $392 out of pocket costs in card fees for 66 $500 cards, which then requires you to liquidate SIXTY SIX GCs

OL BLUE CASH BACK
$18k in spend on an Ol' Blue card with ZERO net out of pocket card fees and only 36 $500 cards to liquidate.

Far more cost-efficient and time efficient. How long would it take you to liquidate SIXTY SIX visa GCs... to save $340 on a plane ticket compared to the value of your time. You'd probably be earning less than minimum wage on the time you spent going to Walmart every day for two weeks.

PLUS... since I will use the money to purchase the tickets from the airline there are no black out dates, seat availability is good, I can use that airline's credit card to book the flight to earn those miles too (or a Barclay card and then use those points to pay that bill, or purchase the tickets through the Chase travel portal, or use an AmEx to buy the ticket... and points to pay that bill), the actual flight miles/segments flown will count towards status, the flight can be upgraded with a handful of points, etc.
pointchaser93 is offline  
Old Nov 30, 15, 4:32 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,320
Originally Posted by RJP3 View Post
Other than meeting sign-up minimums and other spending targets, all my MS activity goes on 5% unlimited cash back "Old Blue" accounts.......
You conveniently left out the new, unstated OBC cap which destroys your intended argument. The better answer is utilizing different methods for full value. I.E. MS on OBC to cap + other MS methods.
MileageGoblin is offline  
Old Nov 30, 15, 7:05 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 201
Originally Posted by MileageGoblin View Post
You conveniently left out the new, unstated OBC cap
Actually, I inconveniently left it out. As I just posted in another thread, I wasn't aware that it was now capped until today! My life got super busy about a year ago and I stopped frequenting the forums and/or reading paper statements so missed the announcement of the change.

I just recently hit the month after my anniversary on my uncapped Ol' Blue. Actually, got caught unaware... as I hadn't been on the forums for a while and missed the announcement of the cap going in place. Didn't realize it was happening until I saw my most recent statement and came here to play catch-up.

For retrospective data, I'd been doing $30k to $40k a month for the past two years or so. Accordingly, I blew WAY through the cap last month which was actually "reward month two" for me before now realizing I was only earning 1% on the last $20k or so. Guess that's what happens when you take your eye off the ball. Oh well, in the grand scheme of things I did pretty well with it.

What's next?

Last edited by RJP3; Dec 1, 15 at 9:30 am
RJP3 is offline  
Old Dec 1, 15, 9:19 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Posts: 130
A couple of notes...

- Staples offers $300 VGC now online with better return. Roughly, 33 cards, $270 fees or so, shipped to your door. If you jump on a promotion these stores often have, the fees can be wiped out for a portion at least by going to the store.
- if you have a good cycle/liquidation path, 50 or 100 cards is not intimidating. I liquidated 9 cards last night at a WM Kate, took me 9 minutes max. WM BP is 4/minute probably, PPMC -> Serve or VISA Buxx is from the couch, etc. Liquidating the equivalent of 60 cards isn't a barrier once you find your rhythm.
- I don't have one but would agree, OBC does sound like the bomb as the kids say up to its cap.

Originally Posted by RJP3 View Post
Other than meeting sign-up minimums and other spending targets, all my MS activity goes on 5% unlimited cash back "Old Blue" accounts.

$500 GC at a grocery store:

Cost: $505.95
Cashback: $25.30
Net cost: $480.65
Typical net profit: $19.35 per card after $5.95 card fee
Typical net profit per $10k spend = $387

I say "typical" because that assumes you are paying full gift card fees, which might not be the case. Our local grocery store gives a 1% discount to members of the Booster Club of the local high school, so my net cost per $500 card is only $500.89, for net of $482.20 on $10k spend at that store. Another grocery chain gives gas discounts on spend there, so that would come off the cost column. (And never mind all the free hams and turkeys at Christmas and Easter.)

But lets assume I wasn't so lucky...

Even if I intend to use MS activity for travel, I find it easier and more efficient to use the 5% cash-back money to purchase plane tickets, hotel, etc than to try to generate a lower return in travel points on some other credit card. On a recent trip to the Caribbean a round trip ticket for my selected dates was 50,000 United points... or $730 cash.

Forgetting sign-up bonuses and starting with ZERO points/dollars, look at what that ticket would cost if you used various cards to MS your way onto that flight...

UNITED MILES
$50k in United Visa Spend + $595 out of pocket costs in card fees for 100 $500 cards, which then requires you to liquidate ONE HUNDRED GCs

CHASE UR POINTS
$10k in Ink spend at Staples + $297 out of pocket costs in card fees for 50 $200 cards, which then requires you to liquidate FIFTY GCs

BARCLAY ARRIVAL POINTS
$33k in spend on a Barclay Arrival card + $392 out of pocket costs in card fees for 66 $500 cards, which then requires you to liquidate SIXTY SIX GCs

OL BLUE CASH BACK
$18k in spend on an Ol' Blue card with ZERO net out of pocket card fees and only 36 $500 cards to liquidate.

Far more cost-efficient and time efficient. How long would it take you to liquidate SIXTY SIX visa GCs... to save $340 on a plane ticket compared to the value of your time. You'd probably be earning less than minimum wage on the time you spent going to Walmart every day for two weeks.

PLUS... since I will use the money to purchase the tickets from the airline there are no black out dates, seat availability is good, I can use that airline's credit card to book the flight to earn those miles too (or a Barclay card and then use those points to pay that bill, or purchase the tickets through the Chase travel portal, or use an AmEx to buy the ticket... and points to pay that bill), the actual flight miles/segments flown will count towards status, the flight can be upgraded with a handful of points, etc.
dethkultur is offline  
Old Dec 6, 15, 11:39 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: DCA
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I agree, Staples 300 VGC is probably the easiest way to break even while MSing.
Ralf83 is offline  
Old Dec 7, 15, 9:26 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Originally Posted by Ralf83 View Post
I agree, Staples 300 VGC is probably the easiest way to break even while MSing.
The $300 VGCs are certainly cheaper from a points per dollar standpoint than the $200 VGCs but neither are as economical as using your Ink to purchase a $500 VGC at a gas station, even with the lower category multiplier.

$200 VGC works out to $.0067 per point
$300 VGC works out to $.0058 per point
$500 VGC works out to $.0049 per point

The main down side is liquidation: The gas station VGCs are usually OVs which can't be easily loaded at WM and will require a larger volume of total liquidation for the same number of points earned.
DeaconY is offline  
Old Dec 7, 15, 9:36 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: South Florida, USA
Posts: 184
Originally Posted by DeaconY View Post
The $300 VGCs are certainly cheaper from a points per dollar standpoint than the $200 VGCs but neither are as economical as using your Ink to purchase a $500 VGC at a gas station, even with the lower category multiplier.

$200 VGC works out to $.0067 per point
$300 VGC works out to $.0058 per point
$500 VGC works out to $.0049 per point

The main down side is liquidation: The gas station VGCs are usually OVs which can't be easily loaded at WM and will require a larger volume of total liquidation for the same number of points earned.
The cost of liquidation also counts! If you can only liquidate 1 OV at a time (at a Family Dollar, for example), and driving there and back is 10 miles, or half a gallon, then that extra ~buck also counts, and raises your cost from $.0049 to $.0059 per point. It's also a heck of a lot easier driving to WM and liquidating $2500 at a time once a week or so!
markr33 is offline  
Old Dec 7, 15, 11:38 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
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Originally Posted by dethkultur View Post
I liquidated 9 cards last night at a WM Kate, took me 9 minutes max.
I don't think this is entirely accurate. Even on the fastest kiosk that I've used, it takes a minute and a half per card. Further, if you're using $300 cards in 9 minutes, you'd have tripped the $2K limit. So add in waiting for the timer reset and the drive to walmart, it's more time consuming than you are making it out to be.
sam_goh is offline  
Old Dec 7, 15, 12:12 pm
  #15  
 
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Originally Posted by DeaconY View Post
The $300 VGCs are certainly cheaper from a points per dollar standpoint than the $200 VGCs but neither are as economical as using your Ink to purchase a $500 VGC at a gas station, even with the lower category multiplier.

$200 VGC works out to $.0067 per point
$300 VGC works out to $.0058 per point
$500 VGC works out to $.0049 per point

The main down side is liquidation: The gas station VGCs are usually OVs which can't be easily loaded at WM and will require a larger volume of total liquidation for the same number of points earned.
How is the gas station better? A 300 from staples is 1500pts. A 500 from a gas station is only 1000pts.
On top of that...the volume per month is more with 300's. let's say you load only one Serve a month. So that's a max of 10 500's which would be 10k pts. You could load 16 300's (with some left serve room left over) and end up with 24000 pts.

So how again are 500 at gas stations better?
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