Safeway Gift Card Promotion Debriefing

Here at Milenomics we don’t stop discussing a deal just because it has ended.  In fact we can learn more about the deal after it ends than while it is going on usually.  People are less likely to mention their tips and tricks publicly during a deal for fear of ruining it.  After the deal is over we can share openly and not worry about reprisal.  The Safeway gift Card Deal ended last night, and so today we’ll debrief.

As we’ve discussed here twice the Safeway MMR deal allowed you to come out ahead, with negative cost for the miles earned.  This allows you to drive down your average cost per mile and pad accounts you need more miles in.  There are some good general tips in both of the previous two discussions on this deal, be sure to read them if you get a chance.

Experiences and Issues

I was successful in almost all my purchases of these Gift Cards.  The reason for this, I believe, is that my cashiers are starting to really get to know me better. Three successive rounds of these deals over the summer have them knowing me as the Gift Card Guy. One joked with me “how much on this one, 462.77?” to which I replied, smiling, “Close, $474.84! ha!”

I had two incidents where I was shot down for buying, interestingly enough both were for $100 cards.  One was at the store closest to my work–I happened to be there for something else and wanted to pull a coupon to use it.  Cashier snapped “How are you paying for this?” I said Credit, and she snapped Back “These are Cash or Debit only.”  Remembering “a Tale of Two Purchases”  I said Debit was fine, and paid with debit.  The second one was early in the morning at my regular store, but with a cashier who I know has sold me them for credit before.  I’m not sure why that sale was cash or debit only.

When I’m testing out a new store or new cashier I like to buy $100 cards.  The reasons are twofold: First, if I get shut down and told Cash or debit only they’re low enough in value that using my debit card doesn’t mean much to me.  Secondly I feel that they’re less work for the cashier, they just scan them, don’t have to ask how much you want on them or anything, leading them to allow the credit card purchase to slip by.

When a cashier has told me cash or debit I always complete the sale. Walking away just seems far too sketchy to me.  Cashiers talk amongst themselves, and I don’t want a reputation as a possible scammer.  The good part about this Safeway promo is that it allowed you to test out cashiers and stores with little real risk–if I bought a $100 card to try and was not allowed to purchase on credit, I still made the purchase fee back, plus a couple dollars from the coupon.

Speaking of those coupons, I found no resistance in breaking my orders up and using them multiple times per shopping trip.  I did have trouble finding items to buy that weren’t 2x the price of other stores.  Fortunately the Just4U app from Safeway had some decent deals available to help.

These promos are like prospecting sessions.  Because your coupon covers the purchase fee and then some you can use these purchases to dig around and find the right stores, and cashiers who will become your friends for the rest of the year.

Visa or Mastercard?

I stuck entirely with Visa cards for this promotion.  Which did you go with?  I find Visa’s to be much easier to liquidate at WM.   I can’t see a benefit to buying the Mastercards, but if you did find a benefit to them, please share.

How did you do with this Safeway deal?  Any troubles/tips for fellow readers?  These debriefing sessions are a time for us to let it all out, not to brag, but to help each other.[rule]

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. I can’t remember how it all started out but this has been year 2 they have these promotions. By now I pretty much know the cashiers that will allow me to buy variable GC with credit, the ones that will allow me to buy fixed GC with credit. I have not seen any around here (4 safeway’s within 5 miles radius from my house) that does not allow fixed GC with credit.

    Usually if I see a new cashier (I try to avoid them, but if the lines at my favorite cashier are too long I’ll experiment with a new cashier) here’s what I do:
    1) Try with a variable GC, load some < $500 ($500 will require manager override, which takes time and we all know that the less people involved in the transaction, the better)
    2) If cashier says cash or debit only I would tell them I did not bring that much cash with me and I would come back later (no mention of debit – just pretend I didn't hear it)

    1. Forgot to mention that I also prefer Visa. But right before this promotion was the Mastercard promotion and I bought MC’s during that promotion as well. Had to call in for PIN but other than that things went ok. Although I did have one card that would not cooperate and had to be liquidated through the jungle

      1. Yes, during the MC promo I also bought them. I agree with you: better than nothing, but not ideal. Visas are just so much less headaches. Thanks for the comments Andrew

  2. I did well, both in terms of miles and cash back. I only had one cashier tell me she thought it was cash only for the variable load cards. I told her I bought one the day before and it worked fine. She agreed to let me try. It worked 🙂 Smiling and being nice helps.

    If you still have coupons left over and need to stock up on coffee there is a Starbucks grocery challenge until 10/19 where you can earn bonus stars, a free tall coffee, a free food item, and a $10 e-gift card by collecting the codes on specially marked bags. Coffee is currently on sale for $6.99 ($5.99 if you use the $2/2 coupon found on the Starbucks website)

  3. FYI. MasterCard GC’s… can use them to pay for your car insurance online. I do this with the gecko company, no problem. I also use them to pay online college tuition for my daughters. No need to go to WM! The only issue is that it does take some time to pay $200 at a time. (These are the one’s from office supply stores that give 5x on certain cc’s.). It was a bigger pain last winter when I got $50 MC GC’s from OM for $45 and paid with 40 of them………..That was the buy $100 in GC’s get $10 off. MThe idea was to cover the $4.95 fee on two cards, BUT someone at OM hard coded it into the register as $10 off each card, opps……….

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