Milenomics Mileage Run- Buy Miles for Better than Free?

Safeway stores have a promotion going on until 10/8/2013 where if you buy a Mastercard or Visa gift card worth $100 or more you’ll receive a coupon for $10 off of $10 in groceries.  These deals have come and gone over the course of the summer.  If you haven’t done this deal before it is may be the cheapest Milenomics Mileage Run (MMR) you do.

You can buy a $500 reloadable Visa and net 500 UR/SPG/AA/XYZ Miles.  The cost is $5.95-$6.95.  However the coupon a print for $10 off of $10 in groceries. 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.  

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.

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 things will get easier.
  • 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.

-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.
Store your information in a similar sheet to this.  (Click to visit the document)
Store your information in a similar sheet to this. (Click to visit the document)
  •  Calculate the cost of liquidating the gift card and include that in your purchase fee, but subtract the coupon since you’ll use it to offset your grocery spending. 

What to do with all the cards? Cash them out by any and all possible techniques. Still you shouldn’t buy more than  you’re comfortable floating for weeks/months.

A New Milenomics Term: 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.

Read more about the deal at the source:

HT to Slickdeals.

DM me on Twitter, or leave a message here if you have questions.

About the author

- 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.


    1. $468.11 worked for me. 😉 During the last version of this program (Mastercard only) the variable loads worked as well, even though it was supposed to only be $100 cards. Two months ago during the Visa version of this promo it did not include variable loads–only the $100 and $200 cards. You’ll want to verify at your local store. Let me know how you make out.

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