Yay or nay to Discover shopping portal?

I mentioned briefly a few months ago how it’s very important to check the price of  specific store gift cards  before shopping there  with your Chase Freedom ( when it’s a bonus category). Yes, 5 percent back in Ultimate Rewards is a nice incentive. But can you do better? Additionally, one of my readers mentioned Discover IT card and its shopping portal, which very often gives the highest payouts. I would have to agree on that. If you shop online often, this card has a lot of advantages. It is on my list of “keeper” cards.

In fact, I received a postcard from Discover a few weeks ago, which  mentioned that till February 14th, some purchases would get an extra 5 percent in cash back. There were quite  a few retailers on the list, but the only ones I would be interested in were Starbucks  (bonus increased to 10 percent),  Kmart (10 percent) and Sears (10 percent).  Would it be worth it to make your purchases through Discover portal and get the extra 5 percent?

First, the obvious. Don’t buy things just for cash back. Ask yourself, do you truly need it, or does the allure of the points makes you do things you otherwise would not do? If the answer is yes, you need it, here is how you could find out if you should buy it through Discover or any other shopping portal . First, go to EVreward to make sure Discover portal indeed has the highest payouts. I did that and the answer was yes for all the above-mentioned retailers.

Then go to Giftcardgranny and see what the gift cards go for. I checked, and Sears and Kmart cards were being sold at 4.5 and 6 percent off respectively at the time I looked. I also searched for Land’s End gift cards as well, because they are valid at Kmart and Sears. There was one at 10 percent off, but only for 25 dollars. The rest were going for 7 percent off at most stores. So Discover shopping portal would be the way to go if you are making a larger purchase.

Before you buy anything, though, check Fatwallet and see if you can find any online coupons to those retailers, though sometimes that can negate the bonus points. In my experience, Discover almost always pays it in spite of coupons, though YMMV.

When I checked the price of Starbucks’ gift cards on Giftcardgranny, I saw that they were being sold at 19 percent discount on Raise. You can get an additional 2 percent off by clicking to that store from Topcashback site. I also saw Points and Pixie dust blog mention that you could buy those at 22 percent off on Cardcash (the store was not listed on Giftcardgranny). So Discover portal is not the way to go in this case.

The same principle goes for Chase Freedom. Sometimes it’s worth it to maximize bonus categories or shopping portal promotions; other times it’s not. Always compare and do the math. One exception: it makes sense to go with specific airline or credit card shopping portal  when you are trying to top off your account for an award. But whatever you do, don’t buy 1500 dollars in gift cards to iTunes or Starbucks  with your Chase Freedom. Almost never worth it!

P. S. Chase BA Visa offer of 100000 miles is back. More in my “Best deals” page. Thanks to my reader Hua for pointing out that application doesn’t seem to work. They may fix it, so keep trying.

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