By David Lin
This article aims at assisting you to maximize your rewards and savings when you make purchases, both online and local, through a fairly simple and reusable strategy.
There are varieties of saving opportunities out there: coupons, discounts, rebates, rewards, etc. One could potentially save a lot of money if she/he could just take advantage of all of them. However, it would be a lot of work to sort them out and keep track of them. It is not easy when considering several limiting factors: ever-changing product-specificity (mostly for things you don’t really need), many different expiration dates, non-predictability, and dis-allowance to combine. Now imagine if there’s a new saving method that is free of any of the above limitations. It will be like a dream come true, right? Well, guess what? Today, this dream will turn into a reality as you read on. Here, we will show you a new strategy that doesn’t have any of the shortcomings above.
The major strategy employed here is to “piggyback”, to stack, or to combine several reward programs or saving opportunities on a single purchase, to save a lot of money. It’s not product-specific, meaning you can save while buying whatever you want. It doesn’t have an expiration date, so you can buy and save whenever you like. And you may be surprised to find out that not only can you apply this saving strategy online, but you can also apply it to most – if not all, of your daily shopping at local stores, including grocery. We will show you how you can combine several saving opportunities in just a few clicks, and it’s a method that you can use over and over again to save a lot of money on your future purchases.
Piggyback Strategy in a Nutshell
What to do: The overall strategy is actually quite simple. Just buy discounted gift cards on eBay (e.g. Walmart, Target gift cards, etc.), then use the discounted gift cards to make all your regular purchases at the stores, both local and online. That’s it! Easy enough! Even a caveman can do it, right?!
What you will get: In this simple strategy, several rewards/savings programs will be naturally combined to maximize your total savings. These programs (and their saving powers) are:
- Gift Cards on Sale (2-25% discount)
- eBay Bucks (2-4% reward credit)
- Credit Card reward program (1.67% cash back)
- BigCrumbs or Ebates (0-20% cash back)
- Store Discount or Coupons (0-15% off, 50-75% off for Daily Deals)
The total savings can range from 5.67% to a handsome 45%. If combined with a good Daily Deal, the total saving might even be up to 125% off! I know, the world is upside down!
Five Ways of Savings to Combine
Let’s briefly go over each of the individual rewards programs to be combined. I will focus mainly on tips to fine tune on each of them, and therefore maximize your overall savings. Links to more details of each program are provided just in case some of you are not familiar with any of them. One thing noteworthy is that all these programs are all FREE.
1) Gift Cards on Sale
When people think of gift cards, they normally think of sending or receiving it as a gift. However, the Piggyback strategy completely breaks this stereotype. When you begin to gift yourself with discounted gift cards, you will suddenly see a whole new world of savings open up before you. Am I exaggerating? Not at all! Using discounted gift cards to buy everything you would normally buy anyway makes them all become discounted items. Even if you just buy gift cards at face value, you can earn 3.67% back already through eBay Bucks and PayPal Extras rewards (see below). This is not bad, but what makes it really good is the fact that you can find discounted (2-25% or more) gift cards on eBay on a daily basis.
Now, please just take a moment, follow these links to eBay and see it with your own eyes how much money people have just saved on these gift cards of Walmart, Target, Home Depot and All Gift Cards. How would you describe what you just saw? Astonishing? Unbelievable? Outrageous? But it’s all true! It’s happening daily and right now before your very own eyes. These are just “Buy It Now” prices, so you could save even more if you don’t mind bidding on auctions (just remember to keep your cool).
To assist you in making the most of this incredible saving opportunity, we’ve developed a web App (web based server-side software tool), GiftFinder. It provides all sort of functions to help you make the most-informed shopping decisions on eBay, initially just for gift cards and now for everything else as well.
2) eBay Bucks Rewards Program
Regularly, you can earn 2% of reward credit for purchases you make on eBay (see eBay Bucks FAQ for more details). Occasionally, eBay may announce a double- or even triple-eBay Bucks Day. Plus, sometimes eBay may invite you to a personal double eBay Bucks Day via eBay Message. When you see them coming, you may want to concentrate your purchases and pay for them on these promotional days to earn 4% or 6% of rewards. Buying gift cards during these special days is an excellent idea, especially if you don’t have anything in particular that you need to buy on eBay at the time. Buying gift cards, with the only exception of “eBay gift cards”, does generate eBay Bucks rewards as well.
3) Credit Card Rewards Program
While spending the money you are going to spend anyway, you can recover a small portion of it if you make the payments with a good reward credit card. To achieve the saving purpose, you would want a card that offers bonuses redeemable as something that you would really use regularly, such as cash back or popular gift cards. It should not limit the amount of reward you can earn. In order to work with the Piggyback Strategy, this card must be added to your PayPal account.
PayPal Extras or eBay Master Card may be the most suitable ones for the purpose here. They offer 2x bonus points which translate to 1.67% cash back. In comparison, other cards (e.g. Chase Freedom, Discover CashBack) may offer up to 5% of rewards on certain shopping categories (changes quarterly), but they only provide 1% reward or less for shopping on eBay.
4) BigCrumbs or Ebates
Before you go to a shopping website directly, it pays, literally, to stop by some rebate websites like BigCrumbs and Ebates first. These websites offer cash back rewards, for simply a click on their “Shop Now” button before you visit any of their 1500+ affiliated online stores, and then shop as usual. Comparing to the tedious traditional paper rebate procedures we used to follow, this is another dream come true. Don’t be surprised when you find out that many of your favorite online stores are on the list with a big percentage of cash back reward. Popular online stores like Walmart, Target, Home Depot and more are all listed there (except eBay and Amazon). I know how it feels if you’ve never heard of these rebate websites before, regretting about not having discovered this sooner, and that years of cash back that could have been yours are all gone! But it’s never too late to start earning rebates now.
There are two things that are worthy to be mentioned here. With BigCrumbs, you will “typically” earn rewards when you pay for your purchases with a gift card, but not when you buy a gift card. Also, both BigCrumbs and Ebates cannot guarantee rewards when you use coupons found elsewhere. Click on “Help” on their websites for more details.
5) Store or Website Coupons or Discounts
Another good news is that all of the above savings, except BigCrumbs and Ebates, can absolutely be combined with any manufacturer coupons or other discounts/coupons provided by the stores. The reason I can be so sure is obvious. The stores, online or not, have to accept a gift card at its face value (like cash) no matter how much discounts and rewards you have already received when obtaining it. And certainly no one would have any problem combining cash spending with a coupon or discount. Actually, it will appear to the stores that they are not making any combination of discounts at all.
In addition to the coupons you can find locally on stores ads and newspapers, you can also find coupons on eBay or try searching for websites that offer free online or printable coupons.
Last but never the least, when you get to a shopping website, the first thing you may want to do is to check for their Daily Deals. If they happen to be offering something you need, you will likely save a lot. An outrageous 75% off is not unusual.
Is This Strategy Legal and Ethical?
When we find a huge bargain almost beyond reasonable, we may say, “It’s a steal!” or “Is it even legal?” as a way of speech. But seriously, it’s very important, especially for the highly conscientious people, to know that what we are discussing here is not at all stealing from the merchants, but instead helping to increase their sales, and overall helping with the economy (see below). All that has been discussed here are completely legal and complying with all the policies, and moreover satisfying all conscience.
How Is This Helping the Economy?
One major factor that worsens the economy is that during a recession people think they are poorer than before and try to cut spending, making it harder for others to make money. The stock market plunges as companies get fewer sales. The consequence is that everyone ends up being even poorer than before.
Breaking this vicious cycle is not an easy thing, but we all play a part and can contribute a little to the solution.
I propose that the “Piggyback Reward and Saving Maximizing Strategy” can help stimulate the economy. When people get maximized savings and cash back rewards on most if not all of their purchases regularly, they are more willing to spend and also they are able to buy more. This in turn makes it easier for others to make money. Also, the stock market goes up when companies get more sales. The result is that everyone will become wealthier than before.
When we all get and also give, the economy grows. When the economy grows, we have a good life. Therefore, let’s all team up and get, and give, and grow, and all have a great life together!
Copyright ©2012, David Lin. All Rights Reserved.