Ebay Bucks, Gift Card Deals, & Timing Your eBay Purchases

Gift Card Deals on eBay

We often post about gift card deals on eBay and how it’s possible to stack the deal with credit card pointsportals and eBay Bucks.

Many of these deals are worthwhile even if you don’t shop at merchant offered since you can resell the gift card and earn a profit. The margins aren’t usually great, although it’s still useful for racking up credit card points, meeting minimum spend requirements, and even occasionally earning 5x rewards using an INK card.

Let’s talk about eBay Bucks…

eBay Bucks is the in-store rewards program of eBay which offers 2% back on virtually all eBay purchases. The most exciting part is that they regularly send out targeted offers to enrolled members which allow us to earn 2x Bucks (4% back), 3x Bucks (6% back), 4x Bucks (8% back), or even 5x Bucks (10% back).

Getting a 10% discount on all eBay purchases is awesome. And the fact that you can earn these rewards on third-party gift cards sold on eBay is even more awesome! This can really make the difference between failing gift card churn and a successful churn.

Buy Now or Wait?

When you see a gift card deal, do you hit the trigger immediately and make the purchase or do you wait? Being that eBay so often releases bonus Bucks offers, maybe it would be smarter to wait a day or two to see if you can grab the eBay sale with additional bonus Bucks. However, as we know, many of the eBay sales sell out quickly.

Is there any way to know how many gift cards are up for sale so that we can know whether to pull the trigger immediately and wait?

Yes, there’s a very easy way to know the exact amount of discounted gift card available. If you go to the eBay listing and enter in the purchase quantity of “20”, the system will give you a response, “Purchases are limited to — per buyer”.

ebay limit 3 9 input

Now try entering in “20,000” and you’ll see the system shoot out a different response, “Please enter a lower number”. This means that there aren’t 20,000 available for sale at all.

ebay limt 3 5000 input

The trick is to keep entering higher numbers until you see the latter response and then you know exactly how many of these items are available. And the number keeps getting updated as they sell.

[Pro Note: This info seems to be true only with regard to ordinary gift card sales, like $50 for $40. Occasionally, there’s a multi-buy sale in which you can buy, say, three $25 Staples gift cards for just $65. The above-mentioned idea doesn’t work there because the actual listing is the standard Staples listing and it’s just an external bonus offer, not tied to the listing, which is giving the $10 off.]

You can learn other methods to know the available quantity in the post How to See the Available Quantity on eBay Sales.

Bonus Bucks Schedule

Now we just need to get a method of knowing when eBay will send out bonus Bucks offers. Unfortunately, that info isn’t public and there’s no way to know exactly if/when a bonus offer is coming.


We can study trends. Looking at the trends of bonus Bucks promos over the past year, it appears that eBay sends out bonus offers 3 or 4 times per month. Since each offer goes on for two days typically, that means around 25% of the month could potentially have a bonus offer! It’s starting to make sense to consider waiting and not purchasing immediately.

Interesting exception…

The exception to the rule seems to be during months when we spend our Bucks. eBay Bucks certificates are issued quarterly: beginning of January, beginning of April, beginning of July, and beginning of October. The certificates are then valid for 30 days. In January, April, July, and October they don’t seem to send out bonus Bucks offers. (Since we’re spending our previously accrued Bucks, they don’t need to keep the program exciting by sending out bonus offers.)

There have been exceptions where they’d send out one or two targeted offers in these off-months. (This sometimes happens during the last week or two of the month.) These offers are sometimes targeted differently than the on-month offers, and often those who typically get Bucks offers don’t get these.


The other nine months of the year, the offers usually come out during the business week. Usually it starts on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Most months we’ll see four bonus Bucks promos, once per week.

The first week of the month seems to get skipped sometimes.


We’ll mention the obvious caveats:

  • not everyone gets every bonus Bucks offer
  • it’s possible that the Bucks schedule will change at any time or maybe it already changed
  • some months will vary from schedule due to holiday or other reasons

Timing Your Purchase

With the above information, we can start timing our purchases on eBay. If you see SVM offering BP gift cards at a discount and you know they have 19,000 available, set yourself a reminder to check back at 5PM and see what’s left. If there’s still 12,000 left, leave it and wait for morning to see if you get a bonus offer the next day. Specifically, if the dates align with the above-mentioned dates.

Of course, you’re taking a risk using this strategy. Just recently, there was a Lowe’s deal that I was keeping tabs on and it sold out faster than I thought it would. It went down…down…down…until it sold out. If I remember correctly, around 9,000 sold in under a day.

Any given deal may sell out faster than you anticipated which makes this approach some sort of risk.

Getting Targeted for Bonus Offers

How to get yourself targeted for bonus Bucks offers?

First, you need to enroll in eBay Bucks in order to get eBay Bucks – it’s not automatic.

Next, you need to opt-in for certain communications from eBay in order to get these bonus Bucks offers (along with a lot of spam). Go to “Account Settings” > “Communication Preferences” > “Promotions and Surveys” > opt-in for “General Email Promotions”.

For more info and other ideas to get yourself targeted, see How to Get Targeted for Bonus eBay Bucks Offers 

What Earns eBay Bucks?

Most items sold on eBay earn eBay Bucks. Here are the few exceptions:

  • eBay branded gift cards, both physical and electronic (third-party gift cards, both physical and electronic, do earn Bucks)
  • The Business and Industrial category on eBay
  • Bullion that is listed within the Coins & Paper Money category on eBay
  • eBay Motors (including Parts & Accessories)
  • Classifieds
  • Real Estate

The most common exclusion for most of us is the eBay gift card exclusion and you may also bump into the Business and Industrial category without even noticing.

Miscellaneous Facts

  • Minimum of $5 Bucks accrued in order to get a certificate. Otherwise, the Bucks are forfeited as the next quarter begins.
  • Max of $100 per item-type. If you buy ten iPads for $6,000 you’ll only earn $100 in Bucks, not $120. Separate the purchase into two transactions and you should earn the full $120.
  • If you buy  in one transaction $4,000 of one item and $4,000 of another item, you’ll earn the full $160 in Bucks.
  • Max of $500 in eBay Bucks per quarter. With these 10% Bucks offers, it quite feasible to hit this max.
  • The bonus Bucks usually come as a two-day offer. Often starts at 8 am PT (11 am ET) and ends at midnight PT the next day.
  • eBay allows you to have more than one eBay account, but only one of the accounts is allowed to enroll in eBay Bucks. We don’t recommend trying to skirt this limitation.
  • When you pay for an item with an eBay gift card, an eBay coupon, or even with eBay Bucks itself, you’ll still earn eBay Bucks on the purchase.
  • eBay bucks are valid for 30 days from issuance.
  • You can easily extend that 30 days by simply purchasing an eBay gift card with the Bucks; the gift cards don’t expire.

Other eBay/Paypal Posts

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Why were the estimated dates removed? I know they weren’t exact but I still referenced them often when trying to decide if I should wait for a promotion or just purchase my item because it’s too far away. Luckily I mostly memorized it but I’m just confused as to why you would go back to an old article and delete probably the most valuable information? Did eBay make you remove it?

William Charles

You’d need to ask Chuck why he removed it, eBay didn’t ask us to though.


I know this article is a bit old and probably not monitored but there is a much easier way to enroll in eBay bucks now. Simply click on help & contact on the top, search for eBay bucks in the search box, select the first result and click to enroll !


Random fact I’ve noticed… I returned an item after my eBay Bucks certificate was issued in October and since have had a negative eBay Bucks balance and HAVE NOT received any bonus offers for eBay Bucks since the negative balance. So if you have a negative balance you probably won’t get any offers for bonus bucks until that is cleared up. I’m hoping that in January when Bucks certificates are issued that they will reset me to $0.


For timing, if you are bidding on an auction during the bonus period, but the auction ends after the bonus period, do you still get the bonus?


There is so much to learn about ebay gift card purchases. Just when I start to get a system down they change the rules or ban me. I have been, blocked, banned and everything else. I cant understand why they dont want the business. I would like to buy a few thousand dollars a month when they are on sale or e bay bucks is at 5X but most tims I run into some type of issue. Does any one know of a forum that is strickly about purchasing all types of gift cards on ebay?


Two points I think are important. eBay Bucks bonus offers now require activation, used to be automatic enrollment if they sent you an offer. Second is watch the time if you aren’t on the left coast. I missed a large bonus (5x) because it was 10:30am here in the East and I didn’t even think about the time out West.


Where do the offers for Bonus Bucks show up? Is it an email or in my account “messages”

thanks for the excellent post


Wow, another classic article particularly with all the eBay action lately. Just another example why this site is in my opinion the best out there, bar none.


Great article, Very detailed! Thanks!

George Smiley
George Smiley

I’ve been cut off (permanently) buying certain gift cards from PayPal digital gifts after relatively low quantity ($600 for Groupon) purchased.

What are others experience with maximum? Is it widespread?


I have bad luck with Paypal digital gifts too. Sometimes they let me buy 1 (even if max per buyer is 3), or often none. I’ve successfully purchased $165 (amount I paid) in the month of June. In May, I paid $585.


How do you find out if you have been banned “permanently” from buying gc? I have bought a few gc this month and it seems I have been cut off also since when I check out with paypal, it won’t accept my payment error. In my experience, it will reset after some time but I don’t know the limit or reset time.