Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Earn 12 Miles Per Dollar for Shopping at Sephora

I recently needed to stock up on some skincare essentials and wanted to share how I made the most of the recent shopping experience. By planning ahead, and thinking strategically I was able to maximize my miles and points earning on a Sephora.com purchase in order to get over 12 miles per dollar!

Step 1- A trip to the grocery store to buy gift cards. I figured I would spend a little over $100 on my upcoming purcahse so I bought 2x $50 gift cards from my local Safeway. They are currently running a double Gas Rewards promotion, so the hundred dollars I spend earned me 200 points in that program. 200 points translates to 2 Gas Rewards worth $.10 per gallon each the next time I fill up. It is limited to 25 gallons, so that works out to a savings of $5 next time I visit the pump.

I also used my Chase United MileagePlus Select Visa which earns 2x's miles at the grocery store, so my $100 purchase earned 200 miles.

Step 2- Picking a shopping portal by visiting evreward.com. Typically United's portal Mileage Plus Shopping is my automatic go-to for Sephora purchases because I like United miles. They usually offer 4 miles per dollar (note- evreward sometimes gets things wrong) and occasionally offer up to 8 miles per dollar during the holidays and other random times throughout the year- in fact they just did...and I missed out on it. Damn. If I went this route my purchase would earn me 400 miles. Chase Ultimate Rewards offers 5 points per dollar and I confirmed that is correct. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold/Plus card you are then able to transfer points to MileagePlus (among others) at a ratio of 1:1 in increments of 1000, so this choice would theoretically earn 500 miles.

The next option that caught my eye was 8% cash back through Ebates and that where a little creative thinking came in handy. 8% of $100 is $8. It costs $7.90 to buy 2 Vanilla Reloads ($3.95 per $500) at CVS. $1000 worth of Vanilla Reloads would earn me 1000 MileagePlus miles by using the same United credit card again. In this case, instead of paying for the Vanilla Reload fees out of pocket, I am reinvesting the money I earned through the cash-back portal. That's how I figure I end up with 10 miles per dollar. Add that to the miles I already got at the grocery store and I end up with 12 miles per dollar on my Sephora purchase. The extra 10 miles per dollar is based on the assumption that you are able to find/purchase Vanilla Reloads and know how to/have a way to cash them out. Of course, there is always the option of just keeping the $8.

Picking a shopping portal on evreward.com
Step 3- The fun part is actually when I get to go shopping. Sephora offers free shipping on orders over $50. They also let you select up to 3 free samples on all online orders. I strategically split my $100 purchase into 2- $50 purchases to maximize freebies. This month is also my birthday, and as a member of Beauty Insider, I got a free gift. Add that to a couple promotional codes I was able to find, and my takeaway was 6 free samples (designer perfumes and skincare), 1 deluxe (large size) sample of Tarte BB cream (using code BRONZEBB), a free birthday gift (I opted for some Jack Black shave cream for my husband to try), and a grab bag of even more skincare samples (SKINSAMPLER). I also earned over 100 Beauty Insider points, which I will save for a later free gift.

Check out the freebies in my basket!
So of course my purchases didn't come out to an even $50 (well one did, but there was tax) so all said and done I spent another $16. That went on the United credit card earning me an additional 16 miles.

The total miles and points haul for my $116 Sephora purchase:
  • 200 United MileagePlus miles for buying $100 worth of Sephora gift cards at the grocery store
  • $5 worth of Safeway Gas Rewards
  • 1000 more MileagePlus miles once I use my $8 cash back from Ebates to buy Vanilla Reloads
  • 16 MileagePlus miles for the balance I paid on my credit card after I using my gift cards
  • 100-and-something Sephora Beauty Insider points
I hope this real-world example of how to shop creatively will help you the next time you have a routine purchase that needs to be made. Of course, I would never advocate going out and buying stuff just for the sake of earning miles, but if there is something you are planning on purchasing anyway, a trip to the grocery/office supply store ahead of time to buy gift cards paired with using a points/miles/cash back shopping portal can earn you even more along the way. Obviously a bit more thought and a little more work goes into this approach vs. just walking into the mall and buying stuff and I normally don't bother unless my planned purchase is over $100. But hey, every mile counts right? It is really up to you to determine how much time and effort goes into your miles-and-points earning hobby. Your approach can be tailored based an what kinds of miles and points you are after, which credit cards you have, and/or any category bonuses those cards have.

For more on how to earn miles and points through shopping check out my previous posts here and here. If you are interested in signing up for Ebates, there's a referral code for that: http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=lcVj8H00Fh2h29Rw3kswjQ%3D%3D and I truly appreciate the support if you choose to use it. If you want to get in on a little referral action yourself, there is also a conga in the S.P.A.M. section on flyertalk. Either way, you can get a $10 gift card after your first $25 purchase. Happy Shopping!

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