Published on January 11th, 2017 | by Chuck35
Seashells: Website for Buying First-Hand Gift Cards at a Discount
[Update 6/29/18: Seems Seashells went out of business.]
Seashells Gift Cards
Shopseashells is a site to buy discounted first-hand gift cards in any denomination you choose. They sell many top brands including Amazon, iTunes, Lowes, Nike, Home Depot, Hotels.com, Macy’s, Domino’s, Bloomingdale’s, CVS, and hundreds more.
Two Tiers of Discounts
Before we dive into the exact discounts offered, it’s important to note that there are actually two separate discount tiers offered by Seashells: one for credit card purchases and one for bank account purchases. Bank purchases always earn exactly 2% more than card purchases.
When you visit the site, it shows the bank discount. So you might see Nike at 9% off, for example, and get excited, but that’s really 7% off when paying with a card.
If you’re signed in and only have a card linked as your payment method, it shows the lower card rate. If you aren’t logged in or if you have a bank linked it shows the higher bank discount.
For the sake of this post, I’ll always reference the lower card rate and is not the default rate you’ll see on their site. I’m guessing most of our readers will usually prefer using a card, either since they have a 2% cash back card or they’ll be using other cards they value more or meeting spend requirements.
Discount range from 0% – 18%, depending on the brand. Here are some sample rates at the lower card cash back offer:
- Amazon 1%
- Nike 7%
- Lowes 2.5%
- iTunes 4%
- Overstock 4.5%
- Sephora 5%
Note: Shopseashells is a sister-site to the Seashells app which rounds up your purchases to buy gift cards which we reviewed previously. The two sites are entirely separate, and you’ll have separate account credentials for each one.
How it Works
Select the gift card you want to buy and choose your payment method. You can store multiple credit cards and bank accounts in your login. With each purchase you can choose which card or bank to use. Bank accounts need to be confirmed which can sometimes be done instantly and sometimes not, depending on the bank.
When you make a Seashells purchase, the cash back doesn’t come off the price of the gift card directly. Instead, the cash back is credited to your Seashells account. You can apply the balance to a subsequent purchase or cash it out directly to your bank or via Paypal. There is no minimum required to cash out.
Once set up, I found it simple, quick, and easy to use. After purchasing a gift card, it shows there instantly on the website and it also shows in an email sent immediately upon checkout.
An excellent feature of the site is that you can buy gift cards of exact amounts, like $5.87 or whatever. This is very similar to the MPX app which allows exact amounts.
There is often a minimum denomination the gift card must be, usually $5. With Amazon, there is no minimum.
An important thing to note is that in order to checkout you’ll need at least $10 in your cart. So you can’t actually checkout a $.01 Amazon gift card or a $5.42 Nike gift card, but you could add to your cart a bunch of small gift cards which total $10 and then check out.
There’s a signup bonus of $5. Not sure if it’s worth signing up just for that, but ultimately you can get a $10 gift card for Amazon or wherever and pay just $5 utilizing this bonus.
There’s also a referral bonus of $5 for each person you refer who makes $20 in purchases within 30 days. The new member gets the same $5 bonus whether using a referral or signing up directly – when they add your referral code during signup, they give you $5 too.
If you want to buy me a coffee, use my referral code: ejkCNLJR during signup and make a $20 purchase. Thanks.
Pets, minor children and imaginary friends don’t qualify, nor do referrals to friends or housemates who don’t actually do their own shopping via their own account on ShopSeashells.com.
Seashells reminds me a lot of the MPX app in that both are instant delivery and both allow us to choose exact denominations. Some people will prefer cash back while others will prefer miles. Anyway, they don’t have exactly the same cards so keep both in your arsenal. Remember to check these sites and other second-hand exchanges to make sure you always get the best deal.
The biggest question to me is how much volume Seashells will allow. There are some resellers or business owners, for example, who are very interested in a steady marketplace to buy discounted gift cards in bulk without having to deal with second-hand cards. Exact denominations is an added bonus.
If Seashells will allow volume buying, this might be a good option for some of these people. If they are more like Mygiftcardsplus and make an issue out of any sort of volume, they won’t be too useful. I spoke to the Seashells team and they indicated that there are security limits in place which gradually rise over time. Hopefully, they’ll allow scaling on seasoned accounts. They’ve also told me that you can call in and it might sometimes be possible to raise limits manually.
Keep in mind that you are losing credit card protections by buying a gift card first so don’t use it when the protections are important.
I tested out AT&T and INK to see how it codes, but neither earned bonus points. I don’t know if you can use Visa/MC/Amex gift cards to pay.
Hat tip to Diane