Posted by Chuck on June 27, 2016
Manufactured Spending

Published on June 27th, 2016 | by Chuck

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Maximize the 5x Freedom Category on Gift Cards at Wholesale Clubs

Here are some tips for maxing out your $4,500 of Freedom 5x category in 2016 on gift cards.

Maxing Freedom 5x Category

The Chase Freedom card offers 5x rewards at Wholesale Clubs on up to $1,500 each quarter this year, including Q2 which ends in a few days, Q3 which runs July through September, and Q4 which runs October through December. All told, we have $4,500 bandwidth which can earn 5x rewards in 2016. Let’s look at maxing this out with gift card purchases.

Note that you do need membership to shop at Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s. Samsclub.com allows you to buy without membership by adding a 10% fee. Sam’s also offers one-day passes in-store to try them out. And through July 4, Costco members can use their Costco membership card to shop at Sam’s at no cost at all.

Bear in mind that there are other categories alongside the Wholesale Category, and maxing out at Wholesale might not be necessary for you.

Buy Costco or Sam’s Gift Cards

First we’ll start with the most basic idea: If you plan on doing lots of regular shopping at Wholesale Clubs, you can max out your quarterly category by buying $1,500 of gift cards, thus locking in the discount on your future purchases.

All three stores sell their gift cards in-store. Only Costco and Sam’s sell their gift cards online, not BJ’s. You can contact them, however, and process a purchase of BJ’s gift cards without going into the store; hopefully, that will work to trigger the 5x too.

Buy Gift Cards for Gas

Another thing to keep in mind is that all these Wholesale Clubs sell gas too, usually at excellent prices.

While the Freedom category clearly excludes gas, it’s been noted that you can simply buy Club gift cards and use those to buy gas. This  works for Costco and for Sam’s (Sam’s or Walmart gas), and it might work for BJ’s too.

Buy Mastercard Gift Cards

Another option is to buy prepaid gift cards at Samsclub.com (some of you might remember this from the good old days). Currently, I only see the $200 denomination in Mastercard, not Visa or Amex. 

Any denomination less than $200 is probably not worth getting, and even the $200s are mostly useful for those who have an easy way to liquidate (PIN should work, from memory) or for those who place a high value on the points.

If you go in-store, you should be able to find $200 cards at Sam’s and possibly the others too. (Maybe there’s even $500 cards? Not sure.)

Buy Discounted Gift Cards Online

All three big Wholesale Clubs sell third-party gift cards online. Consider using that to max out the category-spend.

  • Sam’s Club Link They sell Disney, Southwest, iTunes, restaurants, and more.
  • BJ’s Link They sell Disney, restaurants, XBOX, and more.
  • Costco Link They don’t have typical gift cards for sale, more specific-use cards.

Milesforfamily made the observation that you can buy discounted gift cards at Wholesale Clubs, even online. For example, Disney gift cards are discounted by 5% at BJs.com and Samsclub.com also has them for the around the same. Pick up iTunes for 5% off or score a few percent off various restaurant gift cards at Sam’s. There are lots of other discounted options too.

And these discounts are all on top of the 5x points that you’ll get on the purchase.

There may be other ways to get better discounts on these gift cards, so consider your options. Check out the options at the above links to see if there’s anything that makes sense for you.

Use Sam’s Gift Cards for Walmart

Lastly, it’s worth remembering that Sam’s gift cards are interchangeable with Walmart gift cards. Even if you don’t shop at Wholesale Clubs, you can make use of the 5x category to buy up Sam’s gift cards for Walmart use. If you don’t have Sam’s membership, you might be able to go into the store with a relative or using a one-day pass and buy up $1,500 of gift cards to use at Walmart.

 

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AP
AP

Sams club has variable load 500 MC’s

annex1982
annex1982

I’m sure this variable load has PIN, correct?

Octavio
Octavio

You cannot buy variable MC’s with a credit card at Sam’s Club. It’s POS-enforced. Not sure about fixed-amount ones, though. And, they do have PINs.

Jags4186
Jags4186

If that’s true, it’s store dependent. I had no problem purchasing $500 MGC with credit card.

Octavio
Octavio

Was this recent? I literally just tried it and it did not go through.

avagyan
avagyan

Did you give them your SS#?

I went last week to pick up my membership card and tried to buy single $500 Vanilla. First they’ve got confused asked each other then manager came to help and after scanning my DL and asking all kinds of personal questions I’ve giggled when they wanted my SSN and refused to give it made them very angry lol. Then they’ve sent me to the membership desk where they’ve said cash only for all GCs.. I don’t know if they’ve pressed the wrong buttons but I have a suspicion that they were trying to apply me for their CC?! Also i thought the membership comes with $25 gift card, chicken and apple pie they won’t even tell me how to get these so I left empty handed. Costco FTW!

Octavio
Octavio

In my very recent case, less than an hour ago, I was not asked for any sort of personal info. The cashier asked me “cash or card?” I replied card, he scanned the gift card, I inserted my chip-enabled chase CC when prompted and I got a message saying ‘transaction cancelled’. I asked him what happened and he told me I had used an invalid tender and the system cancelled the payment. THEN, he said ‘oh wait, you cannot pay for this type of gift card with a credit card, that’s why the system cancelled it.’ I did not have $504.94 to pay in cash, so I just got a pizza/drink combo instead and went on my merry way.

Jags4186
Jags4186

June 16th I made 3 $504.95 charges at Sam’s.

XP1
XP1

@Octavio, is it like Walmart when it says “transaction canceled”, you have to insert the credit card a second time and then it will go through? I heard that is how the $500 VGC works at Walmart. You may have to convince the cashier to give a second try. “It says transaction canceled on my screen. Let my try again.”, “Opps, let me try my other card”, etc…

Prashanth
Prashanth

How do you liquidate $500 Vanilla MGC?

will s
will s

Like your thinking — and memory – Chuck, thanks for the post.

@ AP, re. the variable load $500 MC’s, haven’t bought one of them in a while. Are these metabank products and/or do they come with a pin?

Octavio
Octavio

They are the Vanilla/OneVanilla Mastercards issued by Bancorp. You select your own PIN at first use

Michelle
Michelle

I’m heading to Vancouver, BC on vacation and thought about purchasing a Costco cash card to save based on the CAD-US Dollar exchange. I won’t be able to use my freedom card since they only take MC in store. Anyone have experience purchasing the cash card in Canada and using in US?

Grant
Grant

Yes you get a great exchange rate for using cash card at pump in Canada. I have done that with cash card I purchased in US

Michelle
Michelle

Will I get the bonus exchange rate with the CAD purchased cash card at a US based Costco?

Vince
Vince

You can also check your AMEX offers (also email from AMEX) for a coupon for a Sam’s Club One Day Pass that will allow you to shop at Sam’s Club for a single day. Coupon is valid until 31 July 2016, but does not give any other benefits of annual membership (avoiding the 10% surchage for non-members). Purchases must be paid for in cash, credit or debit card (no checks).

IOException
IOException

Anyone can get a one day pass directly from the Sam’s Club website.

IOException
IOException

Hey guys, noticed something interesting. I made a $100+ transaction at Sam’s and wasn’t asked for a signature! Used the Freedom, of course, so it’s chipped.

Curious if this has ever happened to anyone else.

Octavio
Octavio

@XP1, the POS definitely said “transaction cancelled” on my end. I did not try to insert it a second time as I was not aware of the workaround especially since I haven’t tried to buy gift cards @ Walmart in a very long time. Plus the cashier told me that it was systematically cancelled b/c the tender was not accepted. I’ll give the “2 insertions” methods a try tomorrow and see if I fare any different. Thanks for the tip.

Lola
Lola

@Octavio Did it end up working for you? I’m thinking of going to my local Sam’s Club (SoCal) and trying it out.

Octavio
Octavio

@Lola – yes, I forgot to come back and post the result 🙁 XP1’s tip worked perfectly. I got the dreaded “transaction cancelled” on the first try of my second visit. The cashier started to tell me the usual “can’t pay for this with CC” while I was inserting my card a second time, and before he could finish the sentence I got the “approved” message. It was funny b/c he looked baffled.

Lola
Lola

Excellent news! I’m going to give it a try and hope that the cashier is not too alert that day…. 🙂 Thank you!!

Steve
Steve

I’ve had to do this when purchasing a local restaurant’s gift card at Sam’s as well. It said transaction cancelled then tried again and it went through.

Lela
Lela

Do the gift cards earn Sam’s Club “cash rewards” of 2%? T&C says not supposed to, but I wonder if they actually do or do not in anyone’s experience!

Tricia
Tricia

Do Walmart gas stations still give a discount when you use a Walmart (or Sam’s Club) gift card? Good way to stack discounts if so.

Yan Jie
Yan Jie

You go to QFC to buy money order to liquidate you your $500 Vanilla Master Gift Card. It’ll cost you $.75 for a $500 money order.

CaptainSave
CaptainSave

What is QFC? I tried buying money order at walmart but didnt work.

Yan Jie
Yan Jie

Quality Food Centers, it’s a food store, when you buy the money order, you need to tell the manager/cashier that you want to charge $500 using the gift card and the $.75 using another debt card or cash. Walmart won’t work because it no longer accepts Bankcorp Gift card.

Annex1982
Annex1982

I tried buying the $500 gift card during the costco membership promotion and could not go thru. The cashier kept rejecting it. The lady said that it’s most likely because I was using the costco membership promotion and was not allowed to purchase the gift card. This was in Cleveland areas.

Too bad this could not work. Let me know if someone was able to buy the $500 gift card during the costco membership promotion.

Perhaps, I should just join the Sam’s club membership…

Yan Jie
Yan Jie

The weekly membership ends on 7/4/2016.

misty
misty

Great info. Thank you!

Want to know if anyone is having trouble loading U.S. Bank M/C gift cards at Walmart?
I know the tricks that have worked in the past.. but now… no go at all….Visa cards are fine however.

Also…how to find Post #! ? Did not receive an email with link.

JJ-NA
JJ-NA

FYI for people mixing in Regular shopping at Sams Club along with GCs….all the cashiers have told me that I have to do gift cards in a different transaction than my regular purchases. So If I buy 2 GCs and my regular groceries I had to split them up into THREE (3) different transactions.

SDO
SDO

Are there any non-Bancorp Visa GCs available at any of these clubs? I have not seen any myself.

jackie
jackie

Sub

Don L

Is it possible to simply cash out the Costco Cash cards?

Haven’t tried, a little strange, but I could of swore I read that someone once

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