Quick Deal: Get Paid to Buy Miles at Safeway 3/26-4/22

Credit for this one goes to #Milenomic Elaine who shared this deal via a comment yesterday.  We’ve covered these Safeway deals in the past here on Milenomics, a few times actually. With no signage in my store, and nothing in the weekly ad I took a chance and bought a card to test. Entering my store I saw the signs near the Gift Cards:

Spring Promo

“Spend $100 or more on Mastercard Gift Cards and earn $10 off your next shopping trip.”

I tried  this with a Variable load card and nothing printed. Next I bought a $100 card and the coupon did indeed print out, offering me $10 off my next $10 or more grocery purchase. I haven’t used the coupon yet–and in the past there have been glitches with coupons needing manager overrides to work properly. I’ll update when I use it.

So far the following is confirmed:

  • Works at Safeway – Elaine and MilesPointsandMaiTais
  • Works at Vons – Myself
  • Works at Tom Thumb – Reader Michael P.
  • Works at Randall’s.- Reader Haley
  • Coupon prints as part of a purchase using a previous coupon — Myself & Reader Elaine
  • YMMV Using a Coupon on another GC purchase — Various
  • Does NOT work on Variable Load -Myself

As information comes in via comments I’ll add to the above list. I believe this will work at all Safeway Branded stores, which include the following:

R.I.P. Dominick’s.

Without anything in weekly ads it is hard for me to say for sure that this is chain wide; but I’m nearly 100% sure it would be.

With that in mind a few things to consider:

  • This is only a moneymaker at the $100 denomination. Also your Time and Travel might wipe most of that out, so these aren’t the best way to earn Miles now that the Variable load cards are excluded.
  • These are Mastercard Gift Cards, which have a Gold Bow on a Red Package ($100)

$100 Mastercard

  • These cards are a pain to load at WM. You need to hit Change Payment, which will only be on screen for a split second.  After that press debit and you’re good to go.  Further compounding the trouble is the fact that the cashier will see the card process as credit and may hit cancel on their end.  Ask the cashier to give you time to change payment if you have trouble doing so before they cancel the transaction. 
  • The Float rule is key with these Mastercards. Being Stuck with these is not something you want to have happen. 
  • If you’re really stuck and can’t figure out how to liquidate these MasterCards, you could use them as debit and buy products which are debit only from other grocery/drug stores. 

What About Cash/Debit Only Stores?

Today’s deal isn’t exactly a great Mile-Maker, even thought it does make you $4.05 in free groceries.  That said treat it as a good way to do reconnaissance on Cashiers, and convert apprehensive cashiers into fans of yours.  $100 Gift cards on Credit are much less suspicious to cashiers than $500 cards. As you gain trust you can transition to those $950 Reloadits or $0 Fee PayPower Cards.

A good number of you have not been successful in finding a Safeway that will sell to you on Credit.  I’ve offered ideas in the past how to convert cashiers, but the best way to do so is to:

  • Start Small. This promotion is a great way to test cashiers, a $100 card purchase that works on Credit should be noted.
  • Be respectful, “Is Credit Ok?” Sometimes confronting the issue head on diffuses the situation.
  • Honesty. If they tell you Cash/Debit don’t say ok and then swipe your CC. If you do so, don’t be surprised if you just became “that guy/gal” everyone at the store knows to watch out for.
  • Have a Backup. You’re making money on this deal even if you aren’t earning miles.  Use your debit card to save the transaction.  Better to earn the $4.05 than to waste a trip to the store. 

As always, share tips and tricks here. I’m particularly interested in which stores this works at.

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. By coupon printing out do you mean a catalina coupon? The dates above match the catalina cycle. That would make it unlimited as well. I’ll test in my area tomorrow.

    Anyone looking for these sorts of deals would do well to find a coupon blog and check it weekly. Many have a two week preview of instore ads that can be very helpful. The catalina deals don’t tend to get leaked in advance, but get confirmed all over the country within a few days of a new “month” or cycle.

    I didn’t see anyone mention this weeks CVS offer that gave you back the fee plus a nickel on one of the prepaid reloadables. Coupon blogs had it posted weeks ago.

    1. Which prepaid reloadable at CVS is it? How long does the deal last? Does the coupon print automatically at the register upon purchase, or do you have to print it out at home first and bring it to CVS?

  2. Sam’s warnings are not to be ignored, but I haven’t heard of any cases where the $10 off coupon is refused. It clearly states the deal, and if the coupon doesn’t scan properly, they (cashiers/managers) always make it work. Sometimes they just ring up two $5 credits (perhaps a $10 credit is trickier to get the system to accept).

    I bought many, many of the MCGCs last time Safeway ran this offer since they helped make a minimum spend. Since I shop there anyway, I just split my orders so I could use more than one at a time. Occasionally I found myself looking for non-perishables to stock up on – even if you normally get TP, aluminum foil and plastic bags through Amazon or at Costco, free beats their prices anyday!

    Good luck!

    1. I did tens of thousands on these Catalina promos. The problem is scaling up – coupons don’t stack, so every $10 needs a separate transaction. I did hundreds of transactions as close to $10 as possible, but by the time I was done I was exhausted. I ended up with a mountain on non perishables. One good thing was I made friends with a few cashiers (we spent hours together). Two are my only remaining cashiers who will sell me PPower.

      But I wont be participating again as my stash of non perishables won’t be gone for months and getting rid of lots of $100MC is a chore. I’d only consider doing it again if you could do $500s (like last time).

    2. Thanks Elaine; I too haven’t had problems getting the coupons accepted, and I won’t be able to use my current coupon until I return from Costa Rica, so I’ll have to rely on other’s reports as to how well the coupons ring up. Managers usually do the same $5 General Discount x2 when I’ve had issues in the past. Aluminum foil and plastic bags are a good one–never goes bad, doesn’t take up much space, and something you can always use. I’m going to borrow that tip.

    1. I haven’t made it there yet to try multiple purchases. I’ll update the post when someone confirms or if I confirm myself. In past promos you’ve been able to buy an unlimited amount per Club Number.

    2. Nope. I got 6 today. They don’t need the rewards card at all since they sadly no longer earn fuel rewards.

  3. I only have one SW Club member number which I always key in. I got multiple coupons last time but haven’t tried it this time yet.

    BTW, if your SW has a Starbucks, always key in your SW # even if using the Starbucks phone app to pay for a drink, because you’ll get fuel points on the sale. And club members get free refills! I typically do a latte on the way in and a decaf coffee refill on the way out!

    And if you do not have a card making more than 1% at grocery stores and you do have a US Bank Cash+, you can get 2% on groceries by picking that category.

    1. You would need a sympathetic Cashier to allow such a purchase. Even when coupons haven’t explicitly excluded gift cards cashiers usually will deny. Some have been successful,but it is very much a YMMV situation.

      1. With almost any catalina deal you will not get the coupon if you use one on that purchase. The $ off next purchase coupons also exclude dairy and anything you need an ID to buy (beer, wine, smokes). Sometimes meats (except frozen) are also excluded.

      1. Haley,

        I used a coupon on groceries and bought another GC as part of the same purchase–another coupon did print.

          1. So every time I have done this I needed to get an override to get the coupon to go through. But I was also only adding $5-$6 in groceries, so are they going through without an override if you add more groceries?

            1. Haley: I’m not needing an override–and have bought as little as $11 using a coupon. In the past the threshold for coupons that required overrides was always around $20-$25. I’d theorize that your low $ grocery purchases are making the override necessary. Are you filling in the $10 with GC fees?

              Also, this comment is at the limit for nested comments, so you’ll want to start another one. No more replies will be allowed here.

    1. Depends. Which MasterCard do you want to know about? This is for any MasterCard over $100. They have a number of them.

      BTW, how lazy are you anyway?

  4. I’ve noticed that the catalina machine spits out the coupon prior to swiping my vons club card, or paying for the card.

    1. I’ve noticed the same… Even if the purchase with credit is declined you could probably still net the coupon. Be on your toes with this one.

  5. The coupon prints at Safeway in rural Arizona. I convinced the cashier to swipe the coupon immediately on a separate purchase towards a no fee Pay Power, but the register would not accept it.

  6. I used a $10 coupon from Friday on a Sunday purchase of 1 MCGC, 1 PP and $10 worth of groceries and it worked fine, giving me another $10 coupon. I immediately used that new coupon on a second purchase of 1 MCGC, 1 PP and $10 worth of groceries and it worked fine too. I came home with the newest $10 coupon and will use it tomorrow or the next day. The trickiest part of making sure I have $10 worth of stuff to buy each time.

    1. The trick is including slightly more than $10 worth of groceries along with the GC and the prepaid card. BTW you can use other coupons too – I ended up charging about $604 or $606 each time, depending on what other coupons I had in hand (for ex., buy one yogurt, get one free).

    2. Thanks Elaine. I had similar experiences, and had just updated the post before your comment to reflect this. I too have settled into a nice groove, very similar to yours. I buy $10 worth of groceries, one $100 MCGC, and a $500-$950 prepaid product (either a Reloadit or a Gift Card), earning me another coupon as well–a good number of miles, and negative fees. 🙂

  7. Off topic – my local cvs here in LA still sells onevalla up to $500. Are these easy to load into bluebird at Walmart? Also, there is a Walmart “neighborhood market” much closer to me. Will this work t that location? Thanks again – I’ve been reading an reading your blog for several days now. Really good info.

    1. LA:should work OK at both Walmart and the neighborhood markets. You can technically load a bluebird at any register, but I find when I’m trying to split between two or more cards the money center works best. One Vanilla should work fine, and the pin shouldn’t need to be preset. Whatever 4 digit pin you input should work and from that point on be the Pin for that card.

  8. To add to Sam’s answer, I have only loaded my BBs at a neighborhood Walmart. I find it best to go to the Customer Service Desk; they handle it just fine there and everyone is less pressured since there is rarely a line of people needing help (the time I went to a regular cashier with 2 BBs and 3 cards to load onto each, I was more anxious, concerned that the folks behind me might get impatient). But it did work fine at the cashier too.

    Today, after loading 2 BBs with $1000 in prepaid cards, I did my first MO using 4 $100 MCGCs. I forgot that there is a WM limit of 4 swipes and had initially planned to do 7, so the CSR had to void the transaction. We did it again for just $400, which went fine. I went across the street my bank to deposit it. I know, I know – I spent 70 cents for a measily $400 MO, but the point was to walk through the process and now I know just how it works. I will utilize it again next time I reach the BB daily limit and still have cards to swipe hopefully for an amount closer to $1000.

    BTW, does anyone know if the $100 MCGCs have a preset PIN, that is, thelast four digits of the card number….or just whatever PIN you put in first time you swipe? I’ve been calling each time to set the PIN and it’d be nice to shortcut those calls.

    1. Elaine: Unfortunately you’ll have to keep calling on the MC GC’s. Each bank handles their PINs differently. I think your $400 MO was perfectly acceptable… Even if you used the 4 MCGC’s to load $400 to your BB, and bought a $1k MO you’d still have spent the same amount, $.70. You unloaded $1400 for $.70, plus your time, and travel across the street. Also, bonus points for a Bank so close to your MOPO!

  9. Thanks for the info. Went to Walmart neighborhood market this morning and am happy to report success. Onevanilla worked as well as a us bank $100 visa I picked up for “research” 😉 for us bank had to call in to set pin. Only 2k more to go for citi aa 100k mile card

  10. Similar deal starting today, this time of Amex gift card purchase.

    Just went to used my last $10 coupon at Tom Thumb. A new offer printed on the Catalina machine. It’s for $10 off next shopping visit after purchasing a $100 or more American Express gift cards. Haven’t tried if variable Amex gift card will work. Valid 4/23 – 5/20

  11. Update: The printed offer showed images of the $100, $50 and $25 cards only. The $20-500 card is NOT shown.

    1. Haley & Michael: Amex GC’s are just so much more difficult to liquidate. I’ll be the Guinea Pig for a variable card–if those work it might be worth it since they could be liquidated via Paypower/Univision. If they work I’ll write a post, otherwise I’ll just reply to this comment.

    1. Haley & Michael: Amex GC’s are just so much more difficult to liquidate. I’ll be the Guinea Pig for a variable card–if those work it might be worth it since they could be liquidated via Paypower/Univision. If they work I’ll write a post, otherwise I’ll just reply to this comment.

  12. I was at Albertson’s in Portland on Monday and saw in their weekly ad an offer of $10 off the next grocery purchase for buying $100 in Visa gift cards. But when I took a $100 GC to the register, I was told I had to buy 2 $50s – a deal breaker due to the fees. I was in a hurry and didn’t bother to get more info or see if the clerk was misled, but if you happen to be at an Albertson’s you might want to check.

    While I am liking the $10 coupons on the MCGCs at Saefway, and have no trouble spending them, making $4.50 per $100 plus the points, they are a pain since you need to call to set a PIN each time and I hate wasting a WM swipe on just $100. I am glad the offer is done 😉 !

    If I remember correctly, you can’t load BB with Amex GCs. So it will be much less tempting for me,

    1. Elaine: He did inform you correctly–I didn’t write about the Albertson deal because the 2x$50 make it a money loser. 🙁 I agree with you about the Amex cards–not as useful since liquidating them is harder…but the $500 cards have some added benefits, if they work it might be nice after May 1.

        1. Colin: Gas rewards earned at my Safeway after May 1 are valid through the end of June. Rewards earned today expire at the end of May…

    1. Luchex: these Mastercard gift cards are always first detected as credit cards at Walmart. To get them to work is tough, you have to hit change payment, then debit. You have less than a second to do this… And if the store employee doesn’t know you’re doing that they can void the transaction before you have time to hit debit. Good luck. Their difficulty in being used is starting to cause me to avoid them… Too much attention. If you have a working money machine at your Walmart try that first.

  13. I must load everything at Customer Service since I only have neighborhood WMs. I just tell the clerk that I need time to hit the change payment button. I am always ready to do it fast, my finger hovering over the place the button will appear, but I think the clerk can do something at the register to allow you more time too, because sometimes the option does not disappear so fast.

    I’ve loaded perhaps two dozen of these at least, and find the main problem for me is they take up one of my four swipes for only a $100 load. Which ultimately means more trips to WM. Still, making $4.05 each time plus 2X – 3X points, depending on which card I use to buy them, is nice, especially since I am at SW anyway a few times a week – I buy PPs there.

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