At Middle Age Miles, one of the things we like to do is experiment with various methods to earn more points and miles, and report back to our readers, in hopes that the information we share will help you live your travel dreams for less.
In that spirit, we want to report on our experience with a recent one-day-only promotion run by GiftCards.com (GC.com) on Columbus Day (10/14/2019). The deal looked like it could be mildly profitable, plus it would help us generate spend on my Barclays AA Aviator Silver card that would help me toward big-spend thresholds that would ultimately result in re-qualifying for Executive Platinum elite status on AA this year.
Basics of the GC.com Columbus Day Deal
The deal itself seemed pretty simple. For all Visa gift card (VGC) purchases on GC.com on Columbus Day, you would earn 1% of your purchase amount in G-Money Rewards. So, for instance, if you purchased $1,000 worth of VGCs on GC.com on the designated day, you’d earn $10 in G-Money Rewards.
G-Money Rewards can then be used to get a discount on a future purchase on GC.com. So, we’d spend some money now, collect the G-Money Rewards, and apply them toward our next purchase of VGCs or Mastercard gift cards (MCGCs) on GC.com.
The promotion was particularly interesting because purchases of VGCs and MCGCs on GC.com do not typically earn any G-Money Rewards. The promotion would allow us to get an extra 1% discount on VGCs/MCGCs, which was enough to entice us. We needed to generate additional spend on my Barclays AA Aviator Silver card anyway, and this deal would allow us to do so while also making a small profit.
Full terms and conditions of the promotion were as follows:
We were anxious about whether the deal would work correctly, but we proceeded to give it a try. Even if it didn’t work right, we’d get some spend on our AA card at a modest cost and have a good story to tell Middle Age Miles readers.
Our Purchase and Strategy
For starters, we went through the Rakuten shopping portal (formerly Ebates) to get to GC.com. Using our Rakuten account that earns Amex Membership Rewards (MR) points, we could earn 1 MR point per dollar spent at GC.com. (The 1x earning applies to the cost of the gift cards themselves, plus the purchase fees, but not to shipping fees.)
Next, we structured our order to maximize the amount of our purchase. GC.com has a limit of $2,500 per order, and this limit includes purchase fees (but not shipping fees). To maximize the deal, we would purchase 4 VGCs of $500 each, and an additional VGC of $465. Including the purchase fees of $6.95 per card, our total would be $2,499.75 (which became $2,507.71 after adding the $7.96 charge for Trackable Shipping).[I actually made a mistake in the order. On the $465 card, I accidentally ordered a MCGC rather than a VGC. So, instead of getting $24.65 in G-Money Rewards, it seemed like we would get only $20. Oops.]
There was no promo code to be applied for this promotion. It seemed like GC.com would just know that our purchase contained VGCs and was made on the date of the Columbus Day promotion. Because there was no promo code, we felt better about the likelihood of actually receiving the portal rewards from Rakuten (many GC.com promo codes, like free shipping codes, invalidate portal rewards; beware).
G-Money Rewards Initially Didn’t Track, But GC.com Customer Service Came Through
In the next couple of days after our purchase, we watched the G-Money Rewards section of our GC.com account. Within a day or two, we could see that our purchase was reflected in our account, but it was showing zero G-Money Rewards. Given that we had not received any confirmation that the promotion was attached to our order, we were concerned.
So, a few days after our purchase, we followed up with a message to GC.com through the “Contact Us” section of the GC.com website. GC.com customer service took about 3 weeks to fully resolve our issue, but their communication was good and we did receive $24.65 in G-Money Rewards.
Here is the timeline:
- Oct 14 – Purchase on day of the Columbus Day promotion
- Oct 17 – We sent a message to GC.com through the “Contact Us” section of the GC.com website
- Oct 17 (same-day) – Email from GC.com acknowledging receipt of our message
- Oct 18 – Detailed email response from GC.com – case escalated to a higher-level team to investigate
- Oct 19 & 29 – Short follow-up emails from GC.com – still working on case
- Nov 4 – Email from GC.com customer service agent – case resolved; G-Money Rewards will post in 1-2 business days
- Nov 6 or 7 – G-Money Rewards posted to our GC.com account
- GC.com actually posted $24.65 in Rewards, even though we were technically only entitled to $20 because of my mistake in ordering one MCGC when the promotion only applied to VGCs
It required extra effort on our part to follow up and receive the rewards from this promotion, but to their credit, GC.com customer service was good – they communicated well and they resolved things in our favor.
We saw a few comments on a Doctor of Credit article where other people’s rewards from this promotion did not track; hopefully they’ve either followed up and gotten credit like we did, or this article can help them get the issue resolved and collect their G-Money Rewards.
At this point, the G-Money Rewards are in our account and available to use on any gift card purchase on GC.com, including on a VGC or MCGC.[Also worth noting – our cards arrived within 5 days, and we had no issues liquidating them.]
Rakuten Points Also Tracked Correctly
As we mentioned earlier, we were mildly concerned that Rakuten points might not track correctly, in that the GC.com Columbus Day promotion might invalidate the portal rewards – but we weren’t overly worried about this given that there was no promo or discount code that we had to enter at checkout on GC.com.
As it turned out, our Rakuten MR points tracked correctly, and they’re currently pending in our Rakuten MR-earning account:
At the end of the day, this promotion worked to earn the rewards we’d hoped, although it took some extra effort on our part. When the promotion didn’t auto-apply correctly, GC.com customer service did a good job of resolving the issue, although it took about 3 weeks to get everything rectified. We were happy that the promotion stacked with Rakuten shopping portal rewards.
Soon, we’ll use our G-Money Rewards to discount another VGC/MCGC purchase. We have our fingers crossed that we’ll also earn Rakuten MR points on that transaction to bump up our profit on the deal a little bit more.
We hope that this article has been helpful – perhaps for a few people who had trouble getting credit for the GC.com Columbus Day promotion, but more importantly, to help all of our readers strategize for the future in case similar opportunities arise. We’re always on the lookout for more ways to earn points and miles to travel for less!
Do you have any experience with the GC.com Columbus Day promotion or other similar GC.com promotions in the past? Please share your data points with us in the Comments – thank you!
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