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As I shared earlier in the year, I am working harder (or smarter?) to earn miles and points. I was coasting for a bit with what I had in the bank and the miles/points and what we were earning pretty easily through travel and everyday credit card spending. That was good, and probably quite adequate if our travel patterns were more similar to a “normal” family, but as we made some big redemptions and the balances got smaller, I needed to shift my earning back to a higher gear for a bit. So, we’ve gotten a few new rewards credit cards, maxed out the first quarter 5x on the Freedom, etc. Nothing crazy, but doing a bit more than coasting and just picking the low hanging miles and points fruit. All that said, no matter how many miles I need/want, I’m too busy to do anything that takes too much time or involves too much risk.
Enter Evolve Money. I’m not sure where I first read about Evolve online, but it was a recent post by the Frequent Miler that nudged me that final inch to try it for myself. It sounded like an easy way to earn more points that didn’t involve driving all around the world looking for reloads, tying up big chunks of money, going to WalMart, or doing something that I wasn’t comfortable with. It was just a way to pay some bills online with a debit card (and/or gift card that works like a debit card) that effectively resulted in roughly 7x points for paying bills I had to pay anyway.
Like all things in the miles and points world, I’m sure this is subject to problems down the road, no loner working one day, etc…however for now it is a tool that is going in my earning arsenal. Here are the basic steps I went through to use Evolve Money.
1. Buy Visa style gift cards somewhere you earn a category bonus. Personally I bought mine this time at Staples.com with a card that earns a bonus on office supplies for 5x and then added an extra 2x by going through a shopping portal. You could potentially do even better than that for Staples, but that’s the route I went for this time.
2. Use the debit style gift card to pay bills on EvolveMoney.com. They have thousands of bills you can pay online, but certainly not all of your bills you need to pay will be located there. They have big ones like Bank of America mortgage, but I decided to start small with my J. Crew and Pottery Barn bills since they were both easy options. I also saw some of my utility providers, USAA, insurance providers, and a lot more. I would have no problem finding some bills to pay here, but I don’t want to pay things that are too complicated, so I just bought two $100 Visa gift cards from Staples.com and scheduled $100 payments to J. Crew and Pottery Barn.
3. I used my address for the billing address on the gift cards and they went through without a problem. I will add that I tried to use a different prepaid gift/debit card last week and it failed, but the ones I ordered from Staples worked just fine.
There was no cost to pay the bills for two day delivery via Evolve Money, but of course there was a fee to buy the gift cards from Staples. The two $100 gift cards cost a total of $13.90 in fees ($6.95 each), and for that amount I earned a relatively easy 1,400 UR points. You can defer your out of pocket cost further by buying when a cash back portal has a better return for Staples.com, getting larger denomination gift cards somewhere so you can’t paying a fee every $100, using a savings program like Visa Savings, etc. This was really just a test more than the way I would want to do it regularly since paying just under one cent per point isn’t great…though honestly it’s not too bad either if you know you redeem them for well over that. It’s certainly a way better price than you can buy them for directly from the airlines or hotels.
While I plan to use this method from time to time (especially when the opportunity presents itself to do this for less than I did on this test), this is not something I would recommend for beginners. However, if you have been in the miles and points game for a while and want to start increasing your earning a bit, then this can be one of the tools to help do that. Since there is a cost and small time commitment, I wouldn’t go this route unless you need the miles and points. If you are good with what you can easily get via credit card sign-ups, online shopping portals, and everyday credit card use then I would stick to those method for now.
If you have used Evolve Money I’d love to hear your experience!