A New Roof Almost Gave me a Round Trip to Europe – My Strategy

I’m always on the lookout to get more points for my husband and I to travel.  My friends good-naturedly make fun of me when I even charge my .99 cent Coca Cola with the credit card that gives me 3 times points for dining.  Rather than get one point, I’ll get three.  I know that doesn’t sound like much but as my grandmother used to say “Watch your pennies and the dollars will follow.”  I feel the same way about my points.

With all the rain that we have had here in the Mid-Atlantic area my roof developed two leaks.  While I was initially disappointed that we would have to spend a lot of money, I decided to turns those lemons into lemonade.  How could I get points for getting a new roof?

All roofers here want cash and I could purchase VISA gift cards and convert them into money orders to pay the roofers but I wanted more than one point per dollar.

I called Lowes to get an estimate of what the roof would cost us.  Since we had two skylights in the roof, we decided that we would replace those as well.  We did that because we learned when a few years earlier that when a skylight on a separate roofline cracked that you have to replace the roof when you replace the skylight.  These skylights on the main portion of the roof are about 20 years old so replacing them seemed like a prudent thing to do.

The estimate came to about eleven thousand dollars. We signed the contact to have Lowes do the roofing and replacing of the two skylights and we added into the contract that we would be paying with Lowes gift cards.

First thing I thought of was my need to purchase as many Lowes gift cards that I could.  I went into my friendly Staples with a bag of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to give to the store manager.  He knows what I do and does help me.  He gave me all the gift cards he had.  He then offered to stop at another Staples near his home and take what they had and bring them to his store for me to purchase.  These purchases were with my Chase Ink Business credit card which give me 5 times points on anything I purchase at an office supply store and that includes gift cards.

With the gift cards that I had, I was still short about four thousand dollars.  I decided to go to a Staples about 45 minutes away but before I went, I called and asked if they had any Lowes gift cards and how many they had.  The manager said he had plenty and not to sorry about it.  I arrive at that store and went directly to the gift cards.  The manager came over and asked if I was the one he spoke with.  Unfortunately they only had about two thousand dollars worth of gift.  The manager asked why I didn’t just supplement what I needed with VISA gift cards.  When I mentioned that they had a $6.95 activation fee he offered to waive the fee on the remaining amount that I needed.  Wow, I never had that happen before and it was about $70 that he was waiving.

I spent the morning before going in to Lowes to pay, scrapping off the silver strip that covered up the pin number so that would not hold us up at the register.  I had 97 gift cards so that took awhile.

A register was saved to do just my order.  It took about 45 minutes to enter all the gift cards and by the time it came to print out the receipt, the register froze.  Apparently it had timed out.  The poor sales lady had to call tech support and they wanted her to credit back each gift card which she refused to do.  They were able to look further and see in their records that the gift cards were applied and that my sale was paid – they just didn’t have a receipt for me.  I easily solved that by having the store manager write on my order form that my order was paid in full, sign it and date it.

Thought this took awhile, I ended up with 55,000 Ultimate Reward points, almost an economy flight.

I’ve told this story several times and people are amazed at how many points I have and at times they seem envious.  Truth be told, I do put work into getting these points and in this experience with the roof, I spent time going to different stores to get the gift cards, scrapping off the silver strip, and spending about an hour and half at the store paying the the roof.  It wasn’t difficult, it just took time and many people couldn’t be bothered doing it.  If you want options when you travel, if you want free/discounted hotels, free flights, choice of economy or business/first then this is a hobby you should get into or at least a little more knowledgeable when yo make purchases like I did with my roof.  Rather than earning 11,000 points I earned 55,000.  It is relatively inexpensive to do what I do but it does take time – nothing is free and I’d rather spend my time than my money to go where I want and stay where I want.

What are your thoughts?

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7 thoughts on “A New Roof Almost Gave me a Round Trip to Europe – My Strategy

  1. This is a great example of combining knowledge and focus in maximizing credit card rewards. I applaud your determination in getting the most points on your roof job. As you pointed out you there several things you had to do and it wasn’t simple, but it really only took you a few hours if your time. Thanks for giving all the details.

    Btw, you’ve been hitting it out of the ballpark with the blog lately. Glad you’ve gone back to the regular posts.

    1. @Leslie, I would think it would still apply but I needed them quickly and did not go through online ordering. I very rarely order gc online and just don’t think about it. I have a friendly Staples in my town and since I bring homemade cookies to my store manager, he likes to help me.

  2. Excellent.

    You are lucky to have an Ink card. Wish we had gotten this when we were still working and my husband might have been able to justify it for unreimbursed expenses related to his work. But, I’ve read all the blogs, and with the scrutiny that Chase has lately put some people through with new businesses with no income, we know we really don’t have any viable claim to a business, and we aren’t ready to jeopardize our relationship with Chase, especially by fudging on an application.

    Haven’t done any MS since Vanilla GCs and Target. Where we live MSing is a bit tough (1 Target, 1 Walmart with no kiosk) but back in the Vanilla/Target days I heard from them that there were some people hitting them hard. Good for you that you have stores and banks where you have been able to establish relationships to enable your MSing.

    1. @Marilyn – I have applied for all of these cards after I was retired. I do have a rental unit that is my business so it really is legit. I do Simon malls when I travel – the closest one is 125 miles form me. I have not done the mail order Simon Malls gift cards. I too do not want to jeopardize my relationship with Chase so I do not hit hard and every. I tend to spread out my gift card purchasing.

  3. That is just brilliant, congratulations!

    So the MF strategy of purchasing VISA gift cards and converting them into money orders is still allowed say when you need to reach the minimum spend in the first 3 months of opening the account? is it risky? what are your thoughts?

    1. @Julie, I still do the MSing with the gift cards and money orders. Never do them in trying to reach minimum spend with AmEx though. I think the credit card companies are wising up and I’m not sure I would use it to reach minimum spend. My bank knows what I am doing, I didn’t want to be showing up all the time with the MOs having them wonder. Also one of the stores that I use quite a bit to liquidate also knows what I do since I have spoken to the store manager. I just play by their rules of how much 8 can do in a day

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