Thursday, February 7, 2013

Earning Shopkicks with Amex for Target

You know you're a miles and points junkie when you start working an angle that involves shopping for a Coach purse at Target. I know what you're probably thinking, "...but Target doesn't sell Coach bags". Allow me to explain.

I just recently found out about this new thing called Shopkick. Ok, so it may have been around for a while, but it's new to me and I guess it's pretty popular among moms (I see a lot of other moms doing it now). In fact, it was my mommy-friend Sarah who told me about it. Basically, it's a Checkpoints-like app that rewards you for shopping. Much like Checkpoints, you earn points for "walking in" to stores and scanning stuff. Then you also get "kicks" (their points currency) for flipping through "look books" and occasionally for spending money at their sponsor's stores too- No surprise there, most of the points available in this app come from actually spending money. Your kicks can then be redeemed for a variety of gift cards including itunes, Starbucks, Target, Best Buy, gas cards, etc. I admit it's a little out of my normal miles-and-points earning realm (no airline miles here), and you might be wondering how this is at all relevant to my travel blog. Keep reading. Besides, who doesn't like free stuff? I decided to check it out.

After Shopkicking for about a week, I began getting kind of frustrated by my slow progress- some of my scans didn't work and certain things (like the cameras at Best Buy) only earn points once every 30 days. Then, only 1 kick for flipping through a look book? Are you kidding me? I then figured out it would take me like a million years to get to 75,000 kicks for that $300 Coach gift card I decided I want from them. My excitement was quickly waning. I'm not one to complain about free stuff, but I began wondering if it was really worth my time.

As I mentioned above, most of the points from Shopkick are earned by actually buying stuff. I kept getting little pop-up screens in the app advertising "500 kicks for spending $50 at Old Navy" and "2 kicks per dollar and 1250 kicks for $125+ spent at Toys R Us". I actually did spend $50 at Old Navy and bought some clothes for my kid (which he needed), but aside from that, I don't really want to go buy goods I don't need just to get kicks. I'm sure lots of people do, and that's probably part of their business model. I began searching for a better way. Maybe, it's because I've been reading too much Frequent Miler lately, but the first thought that popped into my head was...I wonder which of these retailers sell gift cards, and not just any gift cards...ones that can be churned.

Best Buy does! They sell a $200 VISA or Mastercard gift card for $5.95 (Well, $200 plus a $5.95 fee). I don't remember which it was, but the important part is they have a debit card logo on them and can easily be cashed out using Serve or Amazon Payments (that is, if you're not already using AP for other stuff, which you should be). Best Buy was offering 1 kick per dollar and 1250 kicks for spending $200, meaning you could earn 1450 kicks for $5.95. At that rate the $300 Coach gift card would end up costing $307.76. Not a great deal, but at the same time you could rack up some spend on a miles-and-points earning credit card (That's where the miles and points part comes in and this starts getting relevant again). Of course there are limitations to this. The 1250 kick bonus is only on the first $200, and you can only cash out $1000 worth of debit cards using Serve in a month.

So this morning I walked into Target to buy some stuff that I actually needed when I noticed they were one of the earning partners for the day (the partners seem to change frequently but they're are identified by a little green credit card icon). 1 kick per dollar, 150 kicks for $50+, 350 kicks for $100, and 600 kicks for $150+. I didn't think much of it, made my necessary $14.88 purchase and left the store with 14 kicks. I then later went back to the store with my new Chase British Airways VISA card and bought a $500 American Express for Target prepaid starter pack, which I've been meaning to try anyway ($3 fee). It worked!

Frequent Miler is a true master when it comes to gift cards, racking up spend, all things churn-able, and he explains the AMEX for Target thing better than I probably ever could. It's kind of like Vanilla Reload, and basically just another way to manufacture spend on a (miles-and-points-earning) credit card. $3 load fee (up to 1,000 after the initial $500 starter pack) and $3 ATM fees- $400 daily limit (after 1 free trip to the ATM each month). It's an Amex card, so you can then use it for daily spend (like at Costco) or cash it out, however you please.

I earned 1103 kicks for my little purchase at Target today. In addition to the $3 purchase fee, it will cost another $3 to cash out the Amex card. At that rate (75,000 kicks divided by 1103 x $6) the $300 Coach gift card would cost $407.98, not to mention 68 trips to Target. Obviously not a great deal if I'm doing it just for kicks (pun intended). However, my new British Airways VISA has a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Avios points once take care of some minimum spending requirements (which in the case of this card, are pretty substantial). To get an idea of how much this is worth, one-way trips on American Airlines using Avios start at just 4,500 points. If you take that into account, the $6 "expense" now becomes a better deal. Moral of the story- I'm getting some extra kicks for racking up spend and earning miles that I probably would have been doing anyway.

Now comes the part where I advocate being rational, taking is slow, and not ruing the deal by being greedy. I am pretty happy with myself and the 1103 kicks I got today. I realize I'm not going to earn a new Coach bag overnight but at the same time, it's not going to take me "like a million years" anymore either. It's also worth mentioning that any bonus kicks you earn by buying stuff is held in an escrow-of-sorts (piggy bank) until after the retailer's designated return period is up. I don't actually get my kicks for another 60 days, another reason why Shopkick by itself if definitely not the next big miles-and-points thing. The Shopkick double dip is simply a small bonus to on top of other more lucrative miles-and-points earning activities that some of us do already anyway. I'm sure you could probably sit there and play with the numbers all day and night (I may do that for a little while after I finish writing this post) and come up with all sorts of more creative and better ways to hack Shopkick (just please stop short of jailbreaking your phone and spoofing-the-geolocator-stuff because that's too far). Anyway, say you're a guy or you're just not really into Coach purses...There are lots of other good prizes. For example, 500 kicks is also good for a $2 Target gift card; You could think of it as a little "rebate" to offset the cost of reloading your Amex for Target cards. You could also trade in for a GoPro (too bad I already have one), to go on a cruise, or even donate to a cause...the possibilities are almost limitless. Just be cool about least until I get my new purse.

If you are interested in joining Shopkick, or more importantly, if you found any of what I shared to be helpful and informative and want to sign up using my referral link, here it is- I get some kicks out of it and I truly do appreciate the support. Anyway, it's getting late so I'm off to bed...I think I'll be dreaming about the possibility of this deal coming up at CVS if and when they become a spending partner ;)

1 comment:

  1. Update on this:
    Shopkick no longer offers the “Buy and Collect” feature for Target with a linked card, so this deal is dead. They now force you to buy stuff through the phone app, while you are in the store, makes so much sense;), doesn’t it.