Featured image courtesy of Mike Mozart
I absolutely love reward programs offered by retail stores like Best Buy, they are an offshoot of airline mileage and hotel programs. What does that mean for you and I, it means that there is always a way to maximize them!
Best Buy rewards are “bucks” that you can use for online or in-store purchases, think of them as Best Buy gift cards. For every $250 spent you receive a $5 reward voucher, which doesn’t sound like a lot, I know. It does add up however, last month I bought close to $2,200 in Samsung phones (10 of them) that I later sold on eBay and made a profit of $1,100+. Just from those phone purchases I scored $45 in Best Buy bucks. In no time, I had already spent those $45 Best Buy Bucks on some clearance Beats headphones that only cost me $34 out-of-pocket.
About a week later I got two more $25 reward vouchers from buying a couple of Apple laptops [to resell] which were about $700 a piece. I wasn’t ready to spend the two vouchers yet so they sat in my account. A couple of days later I saw a deal on some At&t prepaid phones that I can usually make a quick $30 a-piece on, so I bit. After you buy an At&t prepaid phone you can email At&t and request a free unlock code, once unlocked, the phones are worth more since people can use them on cheap carriers like T-mobile.
I placed an order for two of the prepaid phones (limit two) for a sub-total of $124 and I applied my $50 in vouchers making my out-of-pocket total only $74. I can sell the two phones “unlocked” for about $99 a piece so I would essentially be cashing out my vouchers and making a small profit. I would bring in $180 total after eBay fees, minus my $74 out-of-pocket, I would be able to pocket $106 cash. That is all great and dandy except Best Buy cancelled my order of the two phones.
Yep, they cancelled my order 5 minutes after placing it and said ‘they could not verify’ my information. Okay, well I used the same card I always use for BB purchases. I was shipping the phones to the same addresses as my billing address. I decided to give it another shot and use my PayPal account since those are pretty sure-proof. Five minutes later, auto cancelled using PayPal. What the french-toast?
I called Best Buy and the CSR said that there is a flag on my account and it would take a 10 day manual review in order for them to lift it. I am guessing they are checking my account to see if I am abusing their terms, could be that I spent $3,600 with them in 30 days. Best Buy is known for shutting down resellers so I am hoping that is not the case.
Pissed off after two auto-cancels and a 10 day freeze, I logged into my account to print off my vouchers. If they did think I was reselling (why would they think that?) I wanted to spend my $25 vouchers ASAP. Much to my excitement, my two $25 vouchers had turned into $100 vouchers. I didn’t realize it at the moment, but each time I had my order cancelled the vouchers were doubling in value.
I went and looked at the details on my second transaction through PayPal and each voucher was indeed showing $50 being applied, even though they ultimately cancelled the order. I was speeding through the checkout process (didn’t want the phones to sell out) so fast I didn’t even notice they had already doubled from $25 to $50 each. After the PayPal order failed they must have doubled again to $100 each.
Both charges had already refunded and I was left with two $100 Best Buy vouchers. Did I use them? Do you even have to ask… I work .7 miles from a Best Buy and I ran over there on my lunch. Before I started shopping for clearance items I asked customer service if they could scan the vouchers and make sure they were correct (they each read $100 clearly). They gave me the green light and I went cruising the shelves. I found a pair of Beat Studio headphones that were normally $300 marked down to $149. I also snagged me a R7 360 video card for my PC, on clearance for about $110.
You see, each voucher has to be used in its entirety otherwise you lose the unused funds. My $25 vouchers were long gone so what was a broke man to do? Anyway, I walked out of there with a $54 set of noise cancelling Beats headphones and a $16 video card for my PC.
Does Best Buy know there is a glitch when vouchers (at least in my case) are used on cancelled purchases, on that I have no clue. I could have in-theory kept placing orders since the CSR told me they would automatically cancel them until the flag was removed (who knows how high the vouchers would have gotten to). I wasn’t trying to exploit the system so I didn’t place any mock orders. That said, when my $25 vouchers became $100 vouchers due to their actions and with no prior knowledge on my part, I am going to spend them faster than you can say, “Do you have these marked-down Beats in any other color?”
Here’s the kicker, I later noticed that they had the same sale price on the prepaid phones at Best Buy’s eBay store, only this time the limit was three instead of two. I bought three of the phones in their eBay store for $60 each and earned a couple of eBay reward bucks too. No cancellation through eBay, thanks Best Buy!
In closing, I ultimately received $250 this month in Best Buy vouchers and made a total net profit of roughly $1,275 from purchasing goods valued at $3,600, just from Best Buy. For those of you who don’t want to create reward accounts and spend the 30 seconds registering your phone number/email, what could you be missing out on? Oh by the way, because I spent over $3,500 I am now a Best Buy Elite Plus member which nets me 25% more rewards, free two shipping on any item, and a 45 day return policy. Holla!