Look, credit card sign-up bonuses are tightening up. My sad prediction is that most serious travel hackers will only qualify for 3-5 travel credit card bonuses per year, moving forward. Last year I signed up for 12 new credit cards earning over 250,000 points across various programs. It is not that simple any more, many banks **cough Chase and Citi** are now really restricting credit card churners. Time to resell some junk!
We all want to travel for next-to-free
If we want next-to-free travel, we HAVE to begin thinking outside the box. But how in the world is eBay going to help you with free travel?
eBay, as you probably know, is one of the biggest P2P e-commerce sites in the world. Here is the not-so-secret secret, credit cards give you rewards when you spend money. If you can’t sign up for a dozen new travel cards, you have to make the cards you have (or the few you can still get) work BIG for you.
My, and every major eBay re-sellers’, go-to card is the Chase Ink small business card (read: “Chase 5/24 rule”). This card earns 5x Ultimate Reward points for purchases at office supply stores, cell phone bills, TV bills and internet bills. That means if you pay your $200 cell phone bill you will earn 1,000 Ultimate Reward points.
Say you have Southwest Companion Pass, you can fly one person free with you on any Southwest flight (even if you pay for the flight with points). If you are earning points with your Chase Ink card at 5x and then transferring the points to Southwest with Companion Pass (which is 2x), that makes your Chase Ink 5x earnings worth 10x! Southwest points are worth at least 1.5 cents a piece which makes your 10x earning worth even more of used for SW flights.
If you purchase $1,000 worth of eBay gifts cards (you’ll use these later to buy your goods to resell on eBay) at Staples or OfficeMax with your Chase Ink, you’d earn 5,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points (5x points on all purchases at office supply stores). Transferring those 5,000 Chase UR points to Southwest Airlines will allow you to purchase a flight worth roughly ~ $100. Southwest award flights are dynamic meaning the number of points needed corresponds to the cash price of the ticket.
With 5,000 Southwest points worth $100 towards a flight, Companion Pass makes those points worth $200. Backing up for a moment, a simple $1,000 purchase of eBay gift cards with Chase Ink can earn you $200 towards flights, if you have SW Companion Pass that is. Spending $1,000 on eBay gift cards for $200 in air travel means you are earning up to 20% back. Stop and think about that return rate for just a bit…
Buy gift cards to spend myself?
I feel like I am beating a dead horse now, you clearly understand how lucrative and flexible Chase Ink points are so I’ll leave it alone. The big question is, what do you do with the $1,000 in eBay gift cards you just bought?
It seems strange that you could buy an item on eBay for the sole purpose to resell that item for profit on eBay. It can be done however, I do it all the time. The key is finding items that are in high demand and require very little time/effort for you to list it and ship it. For example, I don’t buy used computers to resell since they are heavy to ship and they require a lot of time to clean up and list all the specifications/details.
This month I have purchased a total of 9x new Samsung S6 smartphones at $360 a piece. In order to maximize your earnings you should wait to spend/liquidate your eBay gift cards until eBay is running a “bucks promotion”. Every ~7 to 14~ days, eBay offers anywhere from 4%-10% in reward bucks. When liquidating your eBay gift cards for resell product, you’ll want to earn bonus eBay bucks in addition to the credit card points earned on BUYING the gift cards. You earn just 2% eBay bucks when there is no promo, meh.
What to buy and resell
If you bought three of the Samsung S6 smart phones @ $360 a piece during the eBay Bucks 10% promo, you’d earn $36 in eBay bucks per phone. Liquidating your $1,000 eBay gift cards would earn you up to $100 in eBay bucks. You can use those bucks quarterly ($500 max per quarter) to buy most anything on eBay minus coins/bullion/currency. Also, starting January 1st, 2017, you won’t be able to use your eBay bucks to buy gift cards, you’ll have to spend your bucks on something else you don’t need!
Oh but wait – there is more. When buying pretty much ANYTHING on eBay, make sure to click on a cash-back portal (First before checking out) from this list. You can earn up to 1.3% cash back or you can earn one British Airways point per dollar spent. British Airways points are special because the number of points needed for an award flight are solely based on the distance of the flight.
If you purchased $7,500 worth of resell goods on eBay in three months through the British Airways shopping portal, you’d earn 7,500 BA Avios points. 7,500 points are enough for a one-way flight on American Airlines or Alaska Air. The flight must be under 1,150 miles direct. This 7,500 point deal would work for flights between, Miami and New York, Chicago and Dallas, Phoenix and Seattle. (and many others)
Keep in mind, your British Airways shopping portal bonus points are IN ADDITION to points from your credit card spending, eBay bucks, and the cash profit from the goods you resell. (you ALWAYS want to make profit, even if it is minor)
As you see from my fancy-pants illustration, there are four earning stages when you resell. Here they are:
1. Your earning from a shopping portal, just for making a purchase on eBay, you must click on their link FIRST
2. eBay Bucks when they are running a promotion, typically 8-10% on the higher end
3. Points or cash-back earned by making your credit card purchases online (made even better when using your Chase Ink for buying eBay gift cards at Staples/Office Depot at 5x, as discussed)
4. Resell profits when you buy and resell intelligently and quickly, don’t let things rot online
I mentioned previously about my purchases of Samsung S6 cell phones to resell. Here is the four “resell earning stages” played out in my real and very recent buy/sell scenario. I will work the earning steps backwards for this example.
I bought five Samsung S6 Edge Plus smartphones, brand new in retail boxes, three gold and two black. Each phone was $360 so I spent a total of $1,800. I received all five phones in just three business days, brand new in box. I listed the phones right away and sold all five in four days. I sold the two black phones for $400 each and the three gold phones for $415 each (yes, I sold them for profit on the same site where I bought them for $360, don’t ask, just smile).
Also, see how important the demand for a certain color plays into your profits? Three gold phones earned me $45 more than if I’d bought all black phones.
2x Black phones $800 total
3x Gold Phones $1,245 total
$2,045 in sales before fees
-$28 in shipping costs
-$159.51 in eBay and PayPal fees
Total net profit after all fees: $57.49
I know, $57 isn’t much cash. Better news is that I only spent about an hour total from listing the items (I do bulk listings to save time) and throwing shipping labels on them. USPS picks up the items for free from my home or work.
3. Credit card earnings:
I purchase eBay gift cards at Office Depot with my Chase Ink card. This card earns, like I mentioned, 5x Ultimate Reward points at office supply stores (up to $50,000 per year). Be aware that most stores will limit you to $2,000 in gift card purchases per day due to money laundering policies. That said, by purchasing $1,800 in eBay gift cards at 5x points, I earned 9,000 in Chase UR reward points.
Those 9,000 Chase UR points are worth a bare minimum of $112 if used in Chase’s travel portal (you can book air, hotels, and cars like cash). By transferring those 9,000 points to Southwest with Companion Pass, they are now worth about $325 in Southwest flights (if you fly with your companion with you). For my earning calculation of this “resell scenario” I won’t count the value with companion pass, I will simply calculate the 9,000 points at their lowest value of $112.
2. eBay Bucks:
I was able to purchase the $1,800 in phones when eBay was running a 10% promotion. eBay buck promotions are targeted which is why I created multiple eBay accounts to increase my odds of being targeted. Now, I don’t have to be a math major to see that I earned $180 in eBay Bucks at a 10% rate on $1,800 in purchases.
Remember, you can use these eBay bucks quarterly to purchase almost anything on eBay. To me, eBay bucks are almost as good as cash. Almost. Keep in mind you can only earn $500 eBay bucks per quarter, per account. You can indeed create multiple eBay accounts to keep the bucks rolling in once you cap one of your accounts out!
1. Shopping Portal Bonus:
I earned 1.3% in cash-back through a shopping portal on the $1,800 in purchases. That gets me $23 in cash-back, and yes, that is straight cash-back. They will mail you a check or send it to your PayPal.
Let’s add it all up shall we
4. Resell profits: $57
3. Credit card points: $112
2. eBay bucks: $180
1. Shopping portal bonus: $23
$372 in cash/travel/eBay bucks
Obviously the amount of perceived earnings depends on how you value each currency. I can get a ton of value out of Chase UR points and Companion Pass so my realized earnings here is well over $400. If you don’t value eBay bucks much and don’t travel a bunch, your earnings in the scenario may be closer to $300.
Do you think it is worth spending an hour or two selling five phones on eBay to earn $372 in rewards/cash? I have dialed-in the eBay game so finding deals, listing, and shipping is rather easy, and it can be for you too!
I hope this encouraged you to jump-in and starting earning free travel and extra cash in your spare-time. If you did this resell scenario three times a month, in theory, you’d earn over $1,000 in travel/cash/rewards. Can you imagine how often you’d be able to travel earning like this in your spare-time?