Q. What was your deal TBB?
Speedway gas stations started selling Vanilla Reload cards. Yes you could purchase them with a credit card. Yes you could earn points. If you used use the Chase Ink cards you earned 2 points per dollar.
Q. Okay, so we can still do this at CVS convenience stores. So, what is the big deal?
The BIG deal was the ADDITIONAL points you earned for buying Vanilla Reload cards in the proprietary Speedway Rewards program. How about 20 points per dollar, how does that sound? Ok, let me break it down. I will keep the numbers VERY round. You buy 2 VRs for $1,008. You earned 2,016 Chase Ultimate Reward points for roughly $8 ($7.90 if you wanted to be really picky about it). Not bad huh? Ok, now here is the key to this deal. This earned you 20,160 Speedway Rewards points! At 25,000 SR points you can cash out with a $25 gift card (to many merchants). NO REASON to wait to receive the gift card, you can redeem INSIDE the store! Rinse, repeat. In essence, I was getting paid about $12 (per two Vanilla Reload cards) to earn 2,160 Chase Ultimate Reward points.
Q. Why didn’t you announce the deal the way Million Miles Secrets does it?
TBB does not kill deals. Are you serious this will stay alive more than a few hours when it is broken down in detail at a large blog like that? No way Jose! Then again, I am not selling anything here (subject to change). I could have had my Friday interview moment in that site a long time ago. But that would inject conflicts of interest (such as keep me from adding that blog to a certain blog list!). Even if I broke this for the benefit of increased traffic it would certainly lead to frustration and wasted time as you tried to get in it only to be denied (or harmed, i.e. Home Improvement gift cards, etc.)
Q. You are so selfish for keeping this to yourself!
The deal was spilled out to just two people, one a prominent blogger and the other a veteran hobbyist. Hints were given to get YOU to think about a little bit and not expect everything in a silver platter. After a while a few more were told as they showed proof of trying to solve the puzzle. Some figured it out and were told to keep it quiet, thank you! My point is: Deals like this have NO chance of staying alive while published online these days! Remember the Home Improvement gift card debacle? Anyways, it’s my blog and I do what I want 🙂 Other bloggers have a policy of outing/killing deals as part of their business plan. Not here, go there! Besides, Speedway stores are only in about 10 states, mostly in the Midwest. For most of you this was not feasible anyway. Hint: Speedway is owned by a bigger company and have more gas stations…
Q. Any other words of wisdom?
Yes, KEEP your eyes open at all times. Think how to maximize points 24/7. You will fill up with gas, get some additional points for it! I have had a Speedway Rewards account for a while, it’s no big deal at all. You can cash out for a large cup of coffee or a hot dog for just 900 points. Being a taxi driver and driving my kids to activities, I must admit, having this card saved me many times by being able to redeem points for a quick snack for free over the years.
Keep networking and develop close friends to bounce ideas off. Friends who will help you when they discover a deal. When you find something do NOT publish it online (unless it is part of your business plan), milk it as long as you can trying to stay under radar (you know, don’t be a hog!). Eventually, ALL DEALS die!
Keep working different credit cards, you do NOT need to get 2x all the time! Establish spending patterns and diversify your miles/points portfolio. Keep banks happy, it is a two way street.
Q. Is the deal dead?
Yes. For the past week whenever you tried to buy VRs with a credit card, the register responded with “Tender not allowed” message. I was hoping with November rolling in the computers may get back to their former state. It was a long shot I know. I just tried this morning, same message. So, it appears cash only. If you have a mileage earning debit card please try it. And, for God’s sake, enroll in the Speedway Rewards program…those hot dogs when you are in a rush, after you pile up on condiments and mustard, can be quite delicious lol.
Q. What gift cards did you cash out for?
Well it was pretty much all Macy’s gift cards. I think we have taken care of all Christmas shopping, they are all getting Macy’s gift cards! I also got some Amazon gift cards and I gave a few away in a contest I held in my blog.
Q. How would you use your points you earned?
Well, I won’t be redeeming for United miles after today’s devaluation massacre, that’s for sure! Do not ask how many, I do not like to brag about my charitable donations either!
Nice, I have been doing this for a while but on a smaller scale. I just refill my gas card there every month. They usually have 1,500 points per $100 spent on gift cards. The better value is 500 per $25 but that comes maybe 3 times a year. I’ve been looking for at least 6 months but no Vanilla at our Speedway.
They are everywhere in Michigan!
Nurse Traveler says
Thanks for sharing! Definitely need to keep the eyes open. No Speedways in the Northwest.
Ok. Prize is in the mail!
So who is going to be the first blogger to push UR cards in a post about the United devaluation?
The smart money is on TPG, who despite his exhorbitant staff, still hasn’t gotten around to covering it
The common man says
I am still shell shocked from my experience in the financial blogging conference how NORMAL dishing out aff links is! And some feel very touchy about it…they expect to get paid…did not really want to talk about conflicts of interest. Most did say only to do it for products you believe in. I guess experts believe the 50k (over 2 years) Citi thank you card is the best card offer in the past six months #shootmenow
I nominate Lucky’s recommendation for “The best thing you can do for now”.
Has to be the most ridiculous pimp of the day. Of course, no mention of the 60K UA offer which doesn’t pay him. I’d think that would be at the top of anyone’s list if advising on how to earn (and burn) UA miles before they devalue.
Yeah, just got to it. Along with the stupid Friday dining, change of how Chase shows how you earn the points per transaction…And then a reader had the balls to email how I did not include this blog in my Love (lol) or Like lists! This is why.
I was there this morning and accidentally found this deal. Although, no deal when debit card needed. I believe my Speedway had the 500 points per $25 sign up though. So now to figure out what that could get me.
900 pts gets you a pretty good hot dox or kielbasa or sausage. Load up on condiments!
I really like their coffee too, get x large for 900 points too! Plus u get a free one for every six coffees, all tracked on the SR card!
Eating a hotdog at a gasmart?? You like to live dangerously. Must be all that Greek seasoning that wards off botulism, lol.
Yeah, not the healthiest food, that’s for sure!
“Eventually, ALL DEALS die!”
Ink deals will live 4ever (as long as Chase takes good care of me).
You do not want to mess with Chase! lol
Yay! Finally—the deal is out! This was a lot of fun to follow along with. I liked the way you handled everything. It REALLY got me thinking and I actually “discovered” a new buying strategy myself in the process, but not nearly as lucrative. Sounds like you’ll be well-stocked on Vanillas for a LONG time.
Don’t know if you saw my reply to your tweet but AS has availability OGG-ORD 37.5kY/75kF. ORD is basically the only thing they got in the Midwest, but maybe you could make something work out of it. SPGs transfer too. AS keeps their Hawaii rates pretty high, but then, who doesn’t have steep rates these days? 😉
I don’t know much about AS. I really value my SPG points for hotels. Could I burn AA miles on AS on that route, have to call in? Or is the availability strictly burning AS miles.
I always sucked in burning. And right now UA sucks in burning!
Yeah I like the extra 5k per 20k SPG though :). Looks like AA wants 45kY/75kF, but you could get to DTW with them if that’s closer to where you are. I see UA F too. How hard did you look? 😉 Maybe you could do OGG-DTW as your free one-way then a whole other int’l trip somewhere later.
The AS flights must be at the low level to be booked with AA miles. Not available on my date.
Another Mark says
Well, someone spilled it somewhere. Probably not a blog though. Thru local Twitter followers maybe. I had been doing this for months. , I don’t have a speedy card and always turned down the offer. Thought it was just for gas purchases. Guess that will teach me. Anyway, about a week ago, I went to one of the stations that usually had dozens of cards and there weren’t any. The cashier said people had been buying them up for theparlor 2 days. I haven’t seen a card there since so I never associated this with your discovery. I should probably get a wellness card from another location i visit as you never know what may happen.
Double dipping is great 😉
Nick @ PFDigest says
Thanks! Even expired deals are worth reading about, since their techniques may be applicable elsewhere.
My only gripe is, how valuable were the Macy’s giftcards? I don’t really shop at Macy’s, and I don’t have any Christmas gifts to get anyone. Can you use the $25 gift cards to buy other gift cards, for instance?
Let me assure you that Mrs. TBB will put the Macy’s gift cards to good use 🙂
Doing the double dipping is just not my cup of tea, I avoid the mall period lol. This is Frequent Miler’s territory. Maybe he has done an experiment or two.
The Deal Mommy says
Macy’s offers HUGE value if you’re willing to work for it. Their clearance goes to an average of 90+% off with coupons and plus size designer and kids designer (my areas of expertise) do really well in the wholesale/resale market.
TBB I appreciate that you didn’t kill the deal, I got a few weeks out of it before it got shut down which is more that the brief return of $500 cards to Office Depot or the Home Improvement Card which I only had about a day each. Since your article on its demise is up I can un-protect mine now 🙂
Ok, thanks for being a good sport about it too. And good job figuring it out. No arrows needed 🙂
Gosh, your hints about seeing five figure rewards points on the receipt made me wonder but not in the direction of gas stations! We buy cash-only gas to save cents per gallon and my point-challenged husband generally fills the tank. Maybe I need to start spending time at more gas stations 😉 !
But, I must say, nicely done, especially sharing the wealth through a contest here – even if I just missed winning by one as I was 7 and Nurse Traveller 8, or perhaps it was the other way around. And she lives in the NW too. More fodder for a conspiratorial theory….
On the upside, although Amex remains silent, SPG welcomed my other half as a new cardmember today looks like so he is 4 for 4 in Wednesday’s churn. I am up for bat in mid November when my Chase branch will offer the CSP card, which currently he has but I don’t, with a $2000 spend in 3 months, earning 40,000 points plus another 5000 for adding an authorized user. I know, use ’em fast w/United, or don’t convert them to United points without really thinking it through and running some numbers.
Now, gotta see if my secret place to buy VRs will still take a CC. It did, despite rumors to the contrary, for months, but when I returned from Turkey a new clerk said no. Once I get the new cards I will see if my old, trusty clerk says yes or if the computers have finally caught up….!
Meanwhile, back at FT, which I have not checked but have heard has gone bonkers on the United news, I sure hope someone is reminding those going ballistic that this is indeed a first world problem and some of us actually fly coach quite successfully, and live to tell the tale.
Lesson: Keep eyes open for opportunities at all times, ya just never know 🙂
Sorry for being so close. Blame the computer Random Number Generator! Thanks for playing!
Great to hear on the SPG Amex success. Amex is usually easy.
The writing has been on the wall. I think the new program that will come from the AA-US merger will make UA’s changes look like peanuts.
Exit row seat is the new flat bed!
Nurse Traveler says
You can generally get the cash price if you buy that brand’s gift card. I buy them at my Kroger where I get $.10 off per gallon with a $50 gift card (2x) and I get the cash price at the pump.
Will give it a try!
Yes thanks for posting, always good to dissect a deal once it’s dead to learn about recreating. This one is a classic combo of being able to buy close to cash equivalent cards with an in-house loyalty program that gets outsized returns. I actually have a similar gig going right now but it’s almost completely non reproducable because the “points” I earn are only usable as credit towards my kids swim dues (the swim club has a deal with a local grocer where you get 10% of your spend credited to your swim dues and variable load gift cards work, so I get 5x on citi card for groceries plus 10% of spend back to swim dues. It’s real money – swim dues are like $200 per month per kid). These niche opportunities are great but cannot scale or suffer mass exposure. Of course some bloggers, notably MMS, trades killing the deal for exposure to his blog and the resulting traffic and conversions
We’re in the same area. Mind giving a hint which club or area (Pleasantville=Cary)?
You could have made a series of images telling people how to go to a gas station, how to get out of their car, where to stick the gas pump nozzle into their car, all with big red and yellow arrows.
Then I could have written in with comments like
Instead, you got greedy. For shame. As the kids say, SMH.
You are in great form today. I think I should bring back the filler “Weekly Gems from the comments!’
I think it would have more sense had you said George would write that comment himself with a phony female name.
Wow, been doing this for months and now you tell me it’s ended? I thought this one was common knowledge, but I guess not. Hope it hasn’t ended for me.
Ok. Let us know…or maybe not 😉
I’m hurt George you only told Greg and Dave. I’m hurt and angry. I would have flown to MI to do that deal. NOT
I think you over estimate the reach of your blog and underestimate the savvy of your readers. A blog with 800 readers is not going to kill a deal instantly particularly when many of the readers are savvy enough to keep their mouths shut. And it was regional only. No Speedway in South Carolina.
You are correct though. On the wrong blog (big readership, one of the criteria for success, remember 😉 , it would have been gone in a couple days.
What I meant to say is that it would have ended up on the bigger blogs soon there after! I have no illusion about the reach of my blog.
Regarding the UA award changes: The TREND is what has kept me from going the route you indicated…Exit row seats to Boise, Idaho just don’t “sell” as well as flat beds to the Maldives with caviar and champagne 🙂
hey now, we’re underrated here in boise! 🙂 but it will probably be 2085 before we are graced with a flatbed in BOI.
i followed your hints a bit, although no speedway’s here in BOI, was just trying to learn. without any CVS here i’ve been trying to figure out some of my own methods without much luck. i’ll go back through your hints to look for what info you were giving at the time. but a recap of hints and their meaning would be an interesting post for me (i don’t know if anyone else would like it though).
I can not go back and retrace my hints. Most were on Twitter, only a few in the body of blog posts. Several buried in TBB comments too.
“A blog with 800 readers is not going to kill a deal instantly”
It wouldn’t have been killed because it would get posted on a mainstream blog
It would’ve been killed because there are bloggers out there (cough “MMS” cough “TPG”) who use absolutely zero discretion and write a long exposition on it filled with arrows and dumbed down instructions (“here’s a picture of the gift card rack”) just for the traffic. They couldn’t care less that it will kill the deal or that they’re essentially mooching someone else’s work for their benefit
And then when the bloggers who have no discretion hump it to death, those bloggers (like Gary) who actually do use some discretion in these matters have no choice but to post it themselves
Considering that MMS largely grew on the back of stealing work from FT (remember the time he exposed every loophole found on FT and then went to FT to brag about it?) and Frequent Miler (can someone post that thread here again?), I applaud George for using the appropriate discretion here – and this is coming from one of the 800 “angries” who didn’t figure out the deal nor would have been able to capitalize on it anyways
The FT loophole I’m referring to above is the ones associated with PointBreaks
Aww man he stole from Frequent Miler? I gotta see this.
Stealing may be a strong word. A lot of the content in this space is recycled back and forth among, well, everyone 🙂
No, it’s not a strong word, if it’s true. Which in MMS’ case, certainly was true…
MMS timing was perfect – the heyday of VRs/GC at office supply and Chase’s big paydays for Ink cards. Pictures and arrows with Emily holding a clutch of cards in front of OD. Now she’s off doing 11 part trip reports to some third world hellhole with a beach. While D is burned out and is hiring “full time” pimps, er, bloggers to try and keep his legion of nitwit readers inboxes full of every imaginable CC offer.
Barking up the wrong tree. I have been trying for months and gave up on TBB sticking up for him endlessly like this.
He is hiring full time pimps because the one ghost employee (Drew M) and one unpaid employee(TBB) aren’t quite working out for him 😉
Why do you guys hate so much? 🙂
No argument about the timing of MMS. Rode the wave of the VR/GC 5x to establish a huge readership. And has been milking it. Lately the content is just awful, today we get two giveaway related posts.
Me, unpaid employee: LOL. I am not sticking up for nobody. Maybe that’s why the nice affiliate lady won’t get back to me. Apparently she did not like reviewing my site. I should shut up and be all nice to everybody, maybe alter my style to do that mega traffic draw Friday interview huh?
I don’t think you get it. Do it or don’t do it won’t ever make any difference. Even if I meet you in real life, I am going to pull your legs about being an unpaid MMS employee 😉 No anger, no hate, just call it like I see it (and I know you know it). Don’t make it any harder on yourself 🙂 This will also be part of the legacy, along with the good stuff of course.
Ok then 🙂
It was a fantastic deal, and I again thank you for not ruining it. Interestingly, none of the 5 locations I patronized were ever restocked. TBB, did your locations ever get restocked after your initial push?
Yes, most restocked. But the darn message “:Tender Not Allowed” still shows up when the card is swiped.
Well darn. I had thought of gas stations, especially right now since my US Airways Master Card has 3x for gas stations. I didn’t go over to Speedway across town. I checked others listed on the Vanilla website and none had them. Now I am mostly curious to see if they even have them. I live in Illinois and there are Speedways all over the highway between me and Chicago.
Can you imagine if I had posted that in the opening day of the Chicago Seminars…A giant sucking sound would have left the Holiday Inn for an excursion the local Speedways to clean them out lol.
Spencer F says
Don’t have Speedway out in my neck of the woods but it does remind me to check on another possibility to see if it’ll work. Plus I have to agree with TWA44 on that random number generator (just 2 off myself).
Yeah, the opportunities are out there 😉
Don’t underestimate your blog, the secret forums discovered it from your clues and they hit it big time. Some people just don’t need those dang arrows!
I have no doubt about it. That they figured it out like you. Some big hitters/hogs I would not want to be associated with. Oh well, it lasted longer than I thought!
How many UR did you earn? You can still get paid for earning UR. Just need to split the payment into optimal amounts to maximize rewards.
I earned enough to cover Christmas shopping and no need to be going to CVS for a while 😉
Hmm…that was a good hint…mind is churning…er, mean turning lol
@TBB, if you are ever in SoCal and learn about a new credit card trick, please let me know. Likewise, if I am every in Michigan and find a good deal, I would tell you and FM 🙂
Yeah, so we can all redeem coach non stop to Cleveland lol.
Ewww never! (sorry to those of you who live in or have ever visited Cleveland).
I want to know too! 😛
So many bloggers in Michigan, gives me hope of finding other deals locally. I’m still trying to fund my Alaska vacation next summer with points. Airfare Check. Hotels in process – IHG and Marriott. Now to figure out how to run a few others.
I’m hoping a certain huge Thrifty store has good gift card with cash back deals shortly. Those combined with the Blue should make for decent returns.