In Episode 8 of our Manufactured Spend Data Points (MS DP) series, we discussed successful online liquidation for US Bank-issued Visa Gift Cards for low fees using the DoxoPlus subscription feature at Doxo.com. At this time, these cards are no longer working with Doxo. If you purchase US Bank-issued GCs at Kroger, please be aware that you will probably need an alternative liquidation method.
Even with this change, however, MS using US Bank-issued Visa or Mastercard Gift Cards from Kroger with online liquidation can still be profitable.
Discussion & Analysis
The DoxoPlus subscription on Doxo.com was the lowest-priced online liquidation method we had found for Visa or Mastercard Gift Cards (VGCs and MCGCs). For a subscription fee of $9 per month ($3.99 for the first month), you can make up to $2,000 in payments through Doxo. Only certain payment methods are eligible for fee-free payments through DoxoPlus, including payments using bank accounts and “normal” bank debit cards but excluding credit cards. We experimented with many different types of VGCs and MCGCs, and we found that VGCs issued by US Bank, which we purchased at Kroger, worked for fee-free liquidation through DoxoPlus. Effective liquidation costs were quite low at 0.45% ($2,000 in payments for $9 in fees). This method worked reliably for about 3 weeks in late July & early August 2019.
Unfortunately, as of the past few days (dating back to August 19 or 20), VGCs issued by US Bank have no longer been working on Doxo. Not only are the US Bank-issued VGCs not working for fee-free payments using DoxoPlus, they don’t seem to be working on Doxo at all. We have received a variety of error messages, including a couple of payments that initially appeared to process but were then canceled by Doxo within a few minutes after submission.
Middle Age Miles reader/commenter PJ also reported the same problem, helping to confirm what we were experiencing.
We have tried numerous work-arounds, and nothing has worked. We even tried using a US Bank-issued MCGC instead of VGC, and that didn’t work with Doxo either.
It seems clear that something changed on the US Bank end. The US Bank GC registration website was out of service early in the week of August 19-23. When the website came back into service (Aug 21 or 22), it had a different interface.
It’s not clear whether something also changed on the Doxo end with respect to processing of US Bank-issued GCs, or whether the US Bank changes just resulted in these GCs not working with Doxo. Since we know something changed with US Bank, it seems that this was the culprit – that is, the US Bank changes had the effect of their cards no longer working with Doxo. Also, it’s not like the US Bank GCs stopped working on DoxoPlus but still worked on regular Doxo with its regular exorbitant 3.5%+ fee; the US Bank cards stopped working altogether (it seemed like Doxo couldn’t verify them at all). However, there’s no way for us to be entirely sure about this.
To us, it doesn’t seem likely that US Bank-issued VGCs or MCGCs will resume working on Doxo, at least not any time soon. We had 3 DoxoPlus subscriptions, and we’ve already canceled the one that was coming up for renewal. One of the other subscriptions has a few weeks left, and we’ll test US Bank-issued GCs again before it expires. We’ll report back if we have any success.
On the bright side, the MS method discussed in MS DP Episode 8 is still useful, even with more expensive liquidation. US Bank-issued VGCs and MCGCs can still be liquidated through Bravo for a 2% fee. Thus, if you purchase a $500 US Bank-issued VGC or MCGC at Kroger using an Amex Gold card linked to Dosh, the math will look like this:
- Total fees = $15.76
- Purchase fee = $5.95
- Bravo liquidation fee (2%) = $9.81
- Dosh cashback at Kroger (5% with $10 cap) = $10.00
- Net cost = $5.76
- Points earnings = 2,024 Membership Rewards (MR) points (4 * $506)
- Worth about $30.36 at our baseline value of 1.5 cents per MR point
- Profit = $24.60
- Or, alternatively, you’re “purchasing” 2,024 MR points at a rate of 0.285 cents each
Do you have any additional data points on using US Bank-issued VGCs or MCGCs with Doxo since August 20? If so, can you please share the details in the Comments? Thank you!
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