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We are in full holiday mode around here with getting
Christmas New Year’s cards written, getting presents wrapped and mailed, finding last minute holiday goodies for C’s teachers, etc. and I wanted to just point out a few of the easy things we are doing along the way to get as many points as possible for these holiday to-do’s that so many of us share. I would also really love to hear some of the things you are doing as I am certain my brain is already full of tinsel and I probably am not thinking straight.
Last Minute Teacher/Mail Carrier/Office Gifts:
I abhor wasted gifts – you know the ones that ultimately just get tossed because they aren’t useful or interesting for the intended recipient. A good way to avoid that with folks you don’t know very well on a personal level like teachers, mail carriers, etc. is to just get them a small gift card. There are a million ways to get gift cards to save money and maximize miles, but if you are in a time crunch (like me), just cruise to a store where you will get a bonus from one of your rewards earning credit cards for the purchase. I bought a few packs of $10 Starbucks cards for C’s teachers at Office Depot, so I earned 5x with my Ink Bold. I could have bought them at a grocery store, drug store, etc., and used a card that awarded bonus points there as well. By the way, when you add up front office staff, teachers, assistant teachers, after care teachers, music teachers, Spanish teachers, etc. it gets crazy in a hurry, so keep that in mind when making gift decisions – wowzers!
I also got some little poinsettias to put the cards in from a grocery store, so another chance to earn bonus points!
While picking up the Starbucks cards, go ahead and pick up some stamps for your holiday cards (if you are masochistic like me and still send them out). I know that grocery stores and office supply stores both also sell USPS stamps, so you can earn bonus points for your stamp purchases without subjecting yourself to additional torture by visiting the actual post office. I was even able to get the holiday themed ones from Office Depot, so they look cute and earn points.
Hopefully you have already done this as last minute shipping costs can be insane, but if you haven’t (or if it isn’t crucial your presents arrive by 12/25), then you can still make sure you are earning points and/or saving money for your shipping needs. I personally just headed to FedEx Office and had them do all the work of packing and shipping some gifts. I really should have just ordered the gifts online and had them sent directly to their destinations, but that wasn’t possible with all of the gifts so we did it the old-fashioned way. I was quoted $150 for Express Saver delivery for one particular large gift. I said I would rather buy a flying reindeer to deliver it than pay that, so went with ground shipping that is still likely to get the gift there in time as of the day I shipped, but it wasn’t guaranteed. However, it was a ton cheaper, so I’ll roll the dice. I used my Amex Business Gold Rewards card so that I earned 2x Membership Reward points for shipping, plus I saved 5% via the Amex Open program.
I have done some other shipping this year at office supply stores, so I have earned 5x on my Ink Bold by going that route. Again, more points and much less chaotic than going directly to the post office. Also be sure to look for coupons before you go and ship – just today I have received coupons for shipping from Office Depot and FedEx. Here is a link for $10 off a $20 FedEx Express shipment and 15% off USPS and UPS Priority Shipping at Office Depot. I’m sure there are other similar offers out there from other stores.
If you are now leaning toward New Year’s (or Easter) cards rather than actual Christmas cards that arrive before Christmas then remember that you can often order them online at sites (like Vistaprint) that are available via many online miles and points shopping portals.
Order Online for In-Store Pick-up:
For many retailers it is now too late to order online and guarantee delivery before Christmas, but you can still maximize the value of earning points by shopping through an online shopping portal like Ultimate Rewards, MileagePlus Shopping, etc and selecting in-store pick-up. I have done this at Best Buy, Sears, Lowes, Walmart, etc. I never had any problem with this strategy, but I will say that the link to pick-up the item at Walmart was a tad insane, so just weigh the pluses and minuses.
Okay, what am I forgetting? What other tips do you have to maximize some last minute holidays items so that they earn as many miles and points as possible? Oh, and if you find an extra elf who is done with his present making for the year, please send him to my house ASAP.