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Even my two year old knows that two scoops of ice cream are much better than one, and miles and points junkies know that two scoops of points are better than one. This is often referred to as the “double dip”. The way it often works is you go through an online miles and points portal (think United MileagePlus Shopping, Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal, etc) to purchase a gift card to your chosen retailer. Often, but not always, this is an electronic gift card that gets delivered within minutes to your inbox. Next, you use that gift card to shop via the online shopping portal to make your desired purchase.
If this works, you receive points on the gift card purchase and points on the actual purchase. Double the points. Double the fun. Technically it was also double the effort, but double almost no effort still equals almost no effort.
What’s the catch? Well, the catch is that it only works with selected retailers. If you read the terms in the online shopping portal it will often say something like “gift cards excluded” or “gift card purchases excluded” or something like that. Sometimes that means purchasing gift cards won’t earn points, sometimes it means paying with gift cards won’t count, and sometimes it might mean that anything involving a gift card won’t count. There is some increased risk with doing this that you will wind up empty handed with no points at all. However, this is also a chance that you will end up twice as happy at the end of it all than you otherwise would.
I keep an eye on both the Milepoint gift card thread and the Frequent Miler Laboratory from time to time to see how various “double dips” are going. When I think about it, I also run some of my own gift card experiments. I get particularly interested in the double-dip when a retailer has a very high payout via one of the shopping portals. For example, recently a certain department store was offering 10x via the Ultimate Rewards portal through September 4th. (Edit – looks like it was actually extended through the end of the month, so anyone who logs into the UR portal with a Chase Freedom Visa can still get in on this). We happened to need a new grill at that time, so it was the perfect time to try out the double-dip. I first bought an e-gift card for roughly the price of the grill.
Within a few minutes I had the gift card in my inbox and went back through the Ultimate Rewards portal to use the gift card (plus a few extra dollars) to purchase the grill. There was free shipping for orders of $49 or more, and by some magical occurrence the grill was delivered to our home the next day. Were they just waiting down the street with the grill knowing I was about to order it? It was spooky fast. Then, about five days later I see this beautiful email in my inbox.
This meant that the “double dip” was successful and I earned 20x points on a purchase that I needed to make anyway. Instead of getting in the car, driving to the store, finding the grill I wanted, waiting in line, chasing my toddler around, and paying for it with a card that would likely just earn 1x and get me roughly 110 points…I didn’t have to go anywhere, and I earned about 2,200 Ultimate Reward points. As I often say, for my family it is all about being strategic about the everyday things that you do so that the points really start to add up. Just earning a 100 points here and there probably isn’t going to get you anywhere very fast, but earning 2,000 points here and there will add up in a hurry. The quicker the points add up, the quicker that your family will have enough points to redeem for the adventures that you seek.
Do you ever partake in the points “double dip”? What are some of your favorite “double dip” situations?
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