It’s Back! Get Paid to Buy Miles At Safeway 11/6 to 12/3

Update: I’ve successfully bought multiples under 1 Vons Club account.  Also I’ve had to have manager override to use the coupon on a $11 purchase–but it was accepted with the override.  Push for acceptance, they can do a “general merch” $10 coupon.

I held off posting this yesterday because I wanted to personally test it. I’ve confirmed it live at my Vons, and so I feel comfortable posting about it.

Right now Safeway (and Vons) have a buy $100+ in Mastercard Gift cards, get a coupon for $10 off of your next shopping trip.  The gift card costs $5.95, and the coupon offsets this.  In addition I verified that this works on Variable Load cards by buying a $489.22 Mastercard at my local Vons. I did receive a $10 off coupon for this purchase. This is similar to the deal that was going on in Sept/Oct, but this time you must buy a Mastercard Gift Card (not Visa!).

You can buy a $500 reloadable Mastercard and net 500-1000 UR/SPG/AA/XYZ Miles.  The cost is $5.95 but you get a $10 off coupon good for your next purchase.  That doesn’t mean $3-$4 in real profit for each of these deals. Hidden costs include the cost to liquidate ($.70), the cost to drive there, and your time, taking your T-Rate into consideration. It is possible with a close Safeway, or a Safeway and good Drug store in the same shopping center to make money on this deal.  You could end up with a net negative CPM for this deal.  

Leveraging This Deal Even Further

For another day and a half (or until they sell out) Groupon is offering a $10 Starbucks Card for $5.  Deal is dad, the rest of the info here is still valid for any other groupon purchase so I’ll leave it in.

Groupon employs an address match for determining if an order is a duplicate.  Anyone who’s tried to buy multiple Groupons knows that after one or two your address is flagged and orders are cancelled.

We can get around this address verification and leverage this deal further using the gift cards we buy at Safeway. Register them to multiple addresses on the site:



Sign up for multiple groupon accounts (maybe using 10 minute email accounts), and use each to buy your $10 card.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  You’ve got a mile printing machine–with the $10 for $5 starbucks cards covering almost the full $5.95 purchase fee.

Putting the Numbers Together

  • Buy $500 Gift Card– net 500-1000 Miles (depending on Bonus Grocery Category). With a CB card earn $15-$30.
  • Pay $5.95 for Gift Card Fee
  • $10 coupon off future order
  • $5 in Free Starbucks from Groupon.

Net gain 500-1000 miles + $10 coupon + $10 Starbucks Card for $5.95 + $5 at Groupon, your time, and travel to Safeway store.

Potential issues:

-You Safeway might not allow you to use a credit card.

  • Solution #1:A well known technique is to try a different cashier.  A Milenomic technique is to come up with a random amount for your card.  For some reason $473.22, $389.11 or $492.74 just doesn’t set off alarms as much as $500 exactly does.  As your cashiers get to know you things will get easier. Today a cashier I have never had luck with allowed my purchase via CC–she was happy to see the coupons are back as well.
  • Solution #2: Buy from the store manager. Tell him/her you’re interested in  the promotion and be honest about your plans to buy a ton of gift cards. Finding the right manager can mean you’re set for a very long time.  Since the last few deals I’ve become the “Gift Card Guy” which I’m fine with, so long as they keep selling to me.

-You might go nuts and  end up with AA from your CC issuer.

  • Solution: Never use just one card.  You should space out your spending on multiple cards.  The above tip, to buy varied and odd amounts on each cards also helps.  10 charges of $505.95 will be easy to spot.  10 charges, each for a different value are a little bit more subtle.

-The closest Safeway is far. Too Far.

  • Solution: Remember back to your T-Rate as well as our Mileage Cost tracking primer.  Use the spreadsheet to see if buying these make sense for you.  Try to fit these into a trip you’d already be taking.  When you go and use the coupon, make sure you buy another card, maximizing your purchase, and minimizing your trips.  BE EFFICIENT.

This post is by no means a full MMR primer, but I do I want to cover potential issues before you go out and buy these cards.  Milenomics is about being smart, and never too greedy.  Remember, Bulls make miles, bears make miles, pigs get slaughtered.

Remember the Float Rule

The float rule comes into play with all MMRs. The float rule states that; If tomorrow your ability to cash out [these purchases] went away would you have serious issues with paying your credit card bill? If the answer to that question is yes–you bought too many.

If you’ve had luck finding these, post in the comments.  And remember–take the miles you need, and then switch to cash back.

– Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I’ll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.