Saturday, August 30th 2014

Gift Cards From Office Supply Stores Outsmart Spending Categories

by Jason Steele

I recently visited an office supply store and saw a large rack of gift cards for sale. Nothing unusual there. I then remembered that I hold an American Express Business Platinum card. It offers 5% cash back on purchases from office supply stores. That got me thinking. Immediately, I noticed two different gift cards from companies that I would likely do business with. The first was Southwest Airlines.  Certainly 5% off of a Southwest ticket would be something, especially for my family of three.  The next card that caught my eye was from the Home Depot.  I would certainly have to consider this when it came time for my next major project or appliance purchase.

Is It Worth It?

At best, I might value my rewards from my Capital One Venture rewards card at 2% or maybe 3% from my Starwood.  I would then have to weigh the additional percent or two against the hassle of purchasing the cards and using them.  I also should consider the risk that the gift cards are not used.  While I don’t think I would lose them or forget about them, I am sure a large percentage of cards end up that way.

This trick can be applied at grocery stores when they are being rewarded at a higher rate by spending categories. Playing the reward card game is all about the percentages. We obsess over a new card that offers a slightly higher returns and there are so many cards that offer increased rewards for different categories of spending.

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