Posted by Chuck on December 28, 2016
Credit Cards

Published on December 28th, 2016 | by Chuck

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Does Cashstar Carry Over the Merchant Coding for Rewards?

Cashstar Merchant Coding

Do e-gift card purchases from Cashstar carry over the merchant coding of the gift card purchased and earn bonus points in bonus categories like dining or travel?

In general, it won’t carry over the category bonus of, say, dining or travel. Importantly, however, it does work (sometimes?) to earn 3x rewards on the new Chase INK Preferred card. And I also got 5x with INK Plus on a Staples e-gift card.

Cashstar comes through in Chase Blueprint as “Miscellaneous Services”, in Amex it shows as “Merchandise & Supplies – Internet Purchase”, and with Citi it shows as “Business Services, Not Elsewhere Classed”.

Cashstar Data Points

Update: INK Preferred no longer earns 3x at Cashstar.

INK Preferred Tests

@moarbetter shares with us that two Cashstar purchases – a Cheesecake Factory gift and BedBath&Beyond gift – earned 3x on the INK Preferred card as part of the travel/shipping/advertising/telecom category. A reader tells us that it works for Best Buy gift cards too. Presumably, all gift cards purchased from Cashstar will earn 3x with INK Preferred.

It’s probably considered part of the Advertising category. This makes sense being the Cashstar is essentially an advertising type of business who runs the gift card sales of a given retailer.

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When looking more specifically in Blueprint on the Chase site, Cashstar comes up consistently as Miscellaneous Services.

INK Plus Tests

I tested out buying from Cashstar a Staples e-gift card, an Office Depot gift card, and a (random) Panera gift card using the Chase INK Plus card. The Staples gift card worked to earn 5x while the Office Depot and Panera did not.

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-1-47-34-pm

The Staples success is really weird: they all come up in Blueprint as Misc Services, not as Office Supplies, yet the Staples earns 5x and the others don’t.

It might be that the merchant Staples is specially coded to always earn 5x, overriding any other coding. Or maybe Cashstar is coming through as telecom somehow, and thus earning bonus points on both INK Plus and INK Preferred due to that overlapping category.

I’m doing a bit more testing. Maybe we’ll get more data points from readers and figure out the mysterious coding of Cashstar.

Right now, we know that Cheesecake gift cards and BedBath&Beyond gift cards work on INK Preferred. And we know that Staples gift cards work on INK Plus while Office Depot and Panera gift cards do not. My guess is that all Cashstar purchases will work for 3x on INK Preferred and most Cashstar purchases will not work for 5x with INK Plus.

Other Cashstar Tests

There are a number of other tests I ran on Cashstar, buying a small gift card of each retailer to see how it codes.

I tried a Hotels gift card with Chase Sapphire and with Citi Prestige to see if it would qualify for the travel bonus category, and Dunkin and Panera gift cards to test the dining category. The Chase results come in fast and I can see that it does not count as dining or travel. This makes sense since it comes through as Miscellaneous Services. I also tested ATT to see if it will earn 3x, but it didn’t earn 3x. (Update 7/23/18: it’s now earning 3x.)

I tested BGR to see if it will earn bonus points for advertising. And Old Blue Cash to see if CVS earns a bonus. And Best Buy with Citi Dividend.

Ink Preferred

Also noted by @moarbetter is that eBay seller fees also came through as Miscellaneous Services and earned 3x with INK Preferred. This also sort of makes sense, and can be a nice bonus for eBay sellers.

Other things that worked for 3x: Netflix, Namesilo (domains), UPS, and Stamps.com subscription. Also Best Buy.

Related: Payments Workshop 

Amex Offers

Will an e-gift card purchase through Cashstar trigger an Amex Offer credit?

Conventional wisdom is that it won’t, and this is probably true most of the time. You’ll often see the Offer terms explicitly exclude e-gift cards for this reason.

It’s interesting to note that there were a couple recent examples where an Amex Offer was triggered by a Cashstar purchase. One such example was the Papa John’s offer; another is Carter’s. It’s worth keeping that in mind for the future.

[As an aside, some Cashstar purchases post to the credit card statement with ‘Cashstar’ or ‘CStar’ or ‘CS’ in the details, while others do not. Even those which mention ‘CStar’ have sometimes worked for Amex Offers so that doesn’t seem to be the defining factor. Again, it probably won’t work most of the time.]

Note that while most gift cards sold by Cashstar are e-gifts, but they do sell some physical cards too. For example, when selecting to buy a plastic gift card on dell.com, it routes you to Cashstar to complete the purchase. And the same is true for Subway.com and Hotels.com.

Dell is especially notable since there are often Amex Offers there. Being that it runs through Cashstar, it’s possible it won’t trigger the offer credit.

Conversely, some e-gift cards found on the Cashstar site redirect to the merchant’s own website, notably Starbucks and Nordstrom. In those cases, you should get the merchant’s regular coding. I’m not sure why they are found on Cashstar at all; probably the retailer pays Cashstar for the advertisement.

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Yuriy
Yuriy

Does INK Preferred code / credit transactions differently from Ink Cash (The no annual fee Ink card with 5X on office supplies, internet, etc.) ? Just wondering since I have the latter and not the former… Thx in advance for the datapoints!

Steve
Steve

Regarding the ones that redirect to the merchant’s own website: Nordstrom’s website for gift cards says “powered by nordstrom and cashstar”; so I think their relationship is more than just advertising.

Sophie
Sophie

Would cashstar gift cards count towards minimum spending for bonus?

Davezilla
Davezilla

I’ll have some DP in the next few days for cashstar Ikea

Dan
Dan

Any info yet on the Ikea transaction? Thanks

AB
AB

My $100 IKEA GC purchase via CashStar earned 3X points on Chase Ink Preferred on 11/25

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