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Yesterday evening I wrote about a great promotion that Amazon is running. Specifically, Amazon is offering 20% off when you use American Express Membership Rewards points to pay for at least part of your purchase. (in other words, you’d want to redeem exactly one point to get a $0.01 discount) The maximum discount is $100, meaning this is valid for a purchase of up to $500. Note that for whatever reason not everyone seems eligible, though a vast majority of people do report being able to take advantage of the offer.
The process of taking advantage of this is easy:
- You first have to activate the offer by clicking the “Click to activate” button on this page (most people report being eligible for the offer, though some may not be)
- Then add eligible items to your shopping cart, which includes virtually anything that is sold and shipped by Amazon
- At check-out use at least one Membership Rewards point for your purchase (and that’s exactly what I’d do — I recommend redeeming exactly one point); be super careful when making the purchase, because it’s easy to accidentally redeem points for the entire cost of the purchase, which is a bad deal
Furthermore, in practice gift card purchases are eligible for this offer, though it is taking a few hours for them to process.
There seem to be two strategies that are most popular for taking advantage of this deal:
- Purchase a $400 Amazon gift card plus a $100 gift card with another retailer
- Purchase $500 worth of gift cards with another retailer, including options like Starbucks, Lyft, Uber, Southwest Airlines, Airbnb, Hotels.com, Whole Foods
On the surface you’d think purchasing a $400 Amazon gift card plus a $100 gift card with another retailer would be the best deal. While that’s generally true, the catch is that you can’t buy an Amazon gift card with an Amazon account balance. I generally buy Amazon gift cards at office supply stores in order to earn 5x points, meaning that I’m getting an 8.5% return on the purchase at that point (since I value the points at 1.7 cents each).
In other words:
- If I were to buy a $400 Amazon gift card plus a $100 gift card with another retailer, I’d be getting 20% off (which is great, but I can do better)
- If I were to buy a $500 gift card with another retailer then I’d get $100 off, plus I’d get what I value at an 8.5% return on the $400 I spend, since I can use my existing Amazon balance towards that, which is a further $34 off; in other words, I’m really paying $366 for $500 worth of gift cards, which is nearly a third off
So what did I do? I bought $200 worth of Starbucks gift cards and $300 worth of Uber gift cards, since those are both companies I’d spend money with anyway.
What’s your strategy for taking advantage of this offer?