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Looking for Your Opinion – Making Money from Credit Card Offers

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MyMoneyBlog shared an interesting loophole with Discover Card. For their Holiday Mall Promotion, they are giving away mall gift cards with your purchases. However, they do not say anything about what happens to those gift cards if you turn around and return the merchandise.

He tried it by making the purchases and getting gift cards and then returning the merchandise. He was able to keep the gift cards. It’s stirring up some debate over there as to how ethical it is to essentially make money from credit card offers.

Go take a look at the article here and come back.

You’re back? Great. Here’s my thoughts and feel free to share yours.

For me, I wouldn’t be comfortable with doing it. While my credit cards have made a lot of money from me over the years, I almost feel like I would be stooping to their level. They get me with the fine print sometimes, and while there is a part of me that would love to “stick it to them” I don’t think I could in this case.

However, they sometimes offer things like credit protector free for 30 days and give you a “gift” for signing up. They explicitly say you get to keep the “gift” even if you cancel before your free trial is up. In those cases, it’s a little different because they give the go-ahead to cancel and keep the free gift. I haven’t tried this yet, but I saw an offer for $100 in gas which I’m looking more into.

What are your thoughts?


9 Comments

  • Reply Flexo |

    For me, I think it’s too much work for the gift card. I don’t really think of it as an ethical question at all. The CC companies take into account this will happen occasionally. They pay for smart lawyers to think of these things ahead of time, and there’s no reason to assume that Jonathan was the first person to think of this scheme; again, CC companies pay for the smart lawyers. If the lawyers aren’t concerned (that is, if it’s not against the terms of service), then the CC companies must asume that a small percentage of people will do this and have figured it into their offering.

  • Reply kim |

    don’t bother with those 30 day free offers. The $100 in free gas in broken up into 4 – $25.00 coupons. They are dated i.e. JAN 07 – MARCH 07
    APRIL 07- JUNE 07
    AND SO ON
    I believe that if you cancel before 30 days to avoid being charged for their service, then the coupons become void.

  • Reply Tricia |

    Flexo – I don’t think Jonathan was the first one, and I should note that I don’t have anything against anyone who does it. With being burned by the credit cards a few times, I am hesitant to do anything with my cards except pay them off. I’m sure they probably are aware some people will do what Jonathan did, but I also wonder if somehow they will come back and say, “Wait a minute here…”

    Kim and Hustlermoneyblog – the offer I saw was one certificate, but I have heard of others like you mentioned. It probably depends on what card you have.

  • Reply 3 things about money |

    Like Tricia, I have nothing against nor any judgement of people who go for this kind of deal but for these kinds of things I always ask myself 3 questions. Is it legal (yes), is it ethical (depends), is it worth my time (no)? My take on it is that it kinds of skims the edge of my ethics, counterbalanced by my extreme disbelief that a CC company has either the intent to do anything ethical, the corporate values to support ethical behavior, or the expectation of same from customers. Whenever I engage in “what’s good for the goose is good for gander” behavior though, I feel skeevy. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about it too much because I hate malls with a passion and the idea of a mall card is like a passport to hell. So it isn’t worth it to me. YMMV.

  • Reply Matt |

    Personally I would have no problem keeping the gift card. CC companies have been using questionable tactics to make their money why not turn it around and make some money from them?

    As Flexo said I’m sure the card companies have thought about this and I think they’re mitigating most of their losses by the fact that most people simply won’t bother returning anything, it’s too much effort for the money. The people who do do it are truly few and far between.

  • Reply Golbguru |

    Like Flexo, I think it’s too much of a hassle for $100. On the ethical side, personally I wouldn’t do it, but I won’t have a strong opinion against anyone who does this (like ‘3 things about money’ says above)…everybody has a different yardstick to measure what is “ethical”. To each his/her own. 🙂

  • Reply James |

    yeah, I wouldn’t even mess with the credit cards. It sounds like a lot of hassle for only a very small return. Your time might be better spent on a second job or something along those lines.

    Best,

    James

  • Reply ASAP Credit Card |

    Take full advantage of credit card offers and credit card companies! Like you said, they’re more than willing to “stick it to you”. So… you shouldn’t feel guilty about taking advantage of the benefits they’re offering.

    For the most part, credit card companies are aware of the loop-holes. But they know most people won’t take the time or effort to take advantage of them. So in the end… they win anyways(as usual)!

So, what do you think ?