I can’t remember when or why I got a Banana Republic credit card. I think it was one of those days where we were buying a bunch of clothes, probably several hundred dollars, and they ask “do you want to save 10% on your order today?”, and back then I probably was happy to give up a hard inquiry on my credit report for maybe a $30 or $40 discount. But anyway at some point I got the card, which basically offers 5% of spend at Banana Republic / Gap brand stores in the form of vouchers for use at their stores, and 1% everywhere else. Not very exciting at all, and you can do better than the 5% back just by using a Chase Ink at Staples to buy Gap gift cards and earn 5x Ultimate Rewards. So this card serves little purpose in the average wallet.

However the reason I absolutely love this card is the ridiculous promos they run. For the past couple of years they have run targeted promos in the last two months of the year where they offered 200 bonus points (worth $2 in voucher) for each transaction during a two month period. I got targeted last year and I distinctly remember getting the flyer in the mail and scouring the fine print to see some minimum transaction size or upper limit on the number of points you could earn, but those terms just weren’t there. A little trial and error and SlickDeals interaction quickly taught me you could do 20 transactions a day before your card locked out. You could in theory call in and have them lift the lock, but I figured 20 a day is a healthy number to go with. And so last year for all of November and December I paid my water utility bill $0.01 at a time, earning around $2,400 in vouchers for use at Banana Republic / Gap. Of course we only ever redeemed those vouchers when there was at least 40% off, and in one case managed to spend a bunch when Banana Republic online was mistakenly allowing multiple discounts to stack, giving us 64% off. So overall we bought nearly $5k worth of clothes at Banana Republic, Gap and Athleta in 2013 that actually cost us maybe around $50. It was without a doubt the best deal of 2012!

So imagine my disappointment when I got the flyer again this year… but finally they worked out to cap it at 5000 points, or $50 value. Well at least they still let me play in the sandbox, even if they had removed most of the sand. I figured the marketing guys finally got their act together and read about the concept of anti-selection. But then today, out of the blue, I get an email from them with a new promo:

 

BRPromo

One can only assume their marketing department thinks the world is made up of normal people, who maybe have a handful of transaction over $75 they would want to make in any given 10 day period. What they clearly did not bank on was people relatively proficient in techniques of manufactured spend, who see this as an opportunity to earn 13.33% cash back on spends of exactly $75.

There are significant limits. First of all, you need to be targeted. If you have a BR card, check your email. Looking on SlickDeals it looks like some people have different offers such as $10 for $100 or $10 for $150. It seems after the abuse I gave them last year, they are daring me to do it again with the best offer this year!

The next limit is just 10 days, with just 20 transactions a day without having to escalate through customer service. Now last year this was easy to manage with lots and lots of small transactions. But 20 x $75 transactions puts you at $1,500 spend a day. My BR card only has a paltry $4k limit, so I am going to need to be paying down the card on a very regular basis.

So how best to take advantage? There are numerous way I can think of. I first considered Amex gift cards via TCB. But that’s a lot of little Amex gift cards to deal with. In the end I decided on a non-free but very easy mechanism – Google Wallet. While you do pay 2.9%, you are still coming out way ahead. Essentially each transaction earns you $10 and costs you $2.11 so a net profit of $7.89. Do that 20 times a day (which would take you maybe 30 minutes a day to do between loading and unloading) and you end up with $2,000 to spend at these stores at a cost of $422. There are other techniques that can certainly get that cost down to zero or even below, but I don’t think there is anything as convenient, so this is the path I am taking.

Hopefully you got the email, and if you don’t have this card it is definitely one to keep in the back pocket while they have clowns running their marketing.

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  • Julian

    Wow, CC arbitrage at its best! Unfortunately I closed my BR card ages ago. Thanks for sharing though, it’s an entertaining read and good reminder to always keep ones eyes open for arbitrage opportunities!

    • MilesAbound

      Hi Julian … yes it is definitely a niche card, though fortunately no annual fee so an easy one to keep open. They just seem to have a habit of running crazy promos

      • sam

        Hi, How you are able to recycle credit line by paying coz when you pay they don’t release credit line and their credit line is so low they give when you apply.
        Thanks

  • AMOL @POINTSTOPOINTB

    Interesting — I shop at GAP and BR but always skipped the store CC for miles/points CCs. Seems like it’s too late to get it to take advantage of these “end of the year” sales but maybe I’ll look into it for next year.

  • Great info, I had no idea they ran promos like this–I just may sign up for this one. My BBY credit card has been a great deal, and I’ve been wondering about what other retail cards might be good to sign up for.

  • JM

    Do you know what the subject line of this email was? I have this card but never use it so the promo emails are set to be automatically deleted. I need to recover them from my trash folder to see if I received the email!

    • MilesAbound

      Sure the message subject was “Earn bonus Rewards with your BananaCard” and the sender was “BananaCard

      • JM

        Thanks. Do you know how long it took on the last deal to receive the vouchers in your account? Was it as soon as the charge posted, or when your next statement was cut? My first round of charges posted, but I see no rewards other than the normal 1 point/$.

        • MilesAbound

          JM – it actually takes a long time. The bonus rewards post when your statement posts so you have to wait at least until then. However when they do post the most points that convert into rewards in one month is 25,000 (i.e. $250). If you have more than that amount, then the additional points will carry forward and be given to you $250 a month at a time. So in my case it looks like I will reach 190,000 in bonus points on this promo, or $1,900, which will take 8 months to fully “vest”.

  • MilesAbound

    By way of update I am using Google Wallet. I send my wife $72.89 each time, with the $2.11 fee that comes to exactly $75. It is very quick, can do 10 payments in less than 5 minutes. So each $10 is costing me $2.11. Managing the credit limit is going to be the hardest part as you can only make pull payments up to your balance, and your balance does not increase until payment clears which takes a couple of days. So by Monday morning I will already be right at my credit limit. Lesson learned to try get a bigger limit on this card for future idocity from the issuer

    • Devon

      I’ve not used Google Wallet much even though I’ve had the account for a while. Does my wife need one to accept and deposit the money to bank account if I did this? Is idea to resell merch?(cause we can only use so much BR things plus the $2.11 out of pocket costs)

  • I got a BR card for my wife, plus I signed up for a Brooks Brothers card for myself to see how widespread GE’s generosity is. Further details as events warrant.

  • JM

    I can already smell trouble with this promo. After having successfully completed 66 $75 Amex GC purchases, I gave up on trying after a while because of the constant card-freezes. Although the Amex purchases were approved, some still haven’t posted to the account. The ones that did post reference the wrong transaction date (and one that is outside the promo window). My statement closes on the 16th so we will see what happens then.

    • MilesAbound

      Managing the credit limit was tough given the transaction amounts. Also my last 20 transactions also seem to have posted one day late. However looks like the rest posted properly and I expect to have made over $1k on this deal

      • JM

        I’m hoping to clear about $150 cash (from TCB) and $750 in BR gift certificates. Now I need to liquidate my Amex GCs. Any suggestions other than using them at CVS to purchase VRs? I’d prefer not to go the online route and give up $1 per card, but it might be easier than the VR route.

        • Devon

          Did you just buy $75 amex gift cards since the fees are waived? And what about the shipping cost? Thx

          • JM

            Yes, the fees are waived. I signed up for their premium shipping plan and got free shipping for 90 days.

  • Andy F.

    I’m not pretty sure about the ~$50 ‘actually cost’. Does it refer to the cost of manufacturing $2400 voucher?

  • T

    My last 20 transactions posted with the wrong transaction date too but otherwise all was smooth. However my new statement posted today and no bonus points (aside from the 5000 for a different overlapping promo). Hopefully they post next month. Have they posted for anyone?

    • MilesAbound

      I just had the same thing. Last 20 posted a day late, but more worryingly no bonus points posted. I am on vacay now until the 30th but am going to follow up with customer service when I get back. Will keep you posted

    • MilesAbound

      Here is what CS said via SM: “Thank you for your recent inquiry regarding your Banana Republic Visa Card, and the opportunity to be of service to you.
      Please allow 1-2 billing cycles from the end date December 2, 2013 of promotional offer to receive bonus points on your card account.
      We appreciate you as a valued Banana Republic Visa Card customer. If you have any questions or if we may be of further assistance, please contact us via the Online Message Center.” So let’s see what happens

      • T

        Was looking at my bill and the bonus points must have posted since my total just went up over 100000 points. Thanks Banana Republic!

        • MilesAbound

          Yep mine just posted too, all 117,000 of them! It did cost me $352 in fees, so that basically means I bought $1,170 in BR/Gap gift cards for $352 – not a bad deal 🙂

  • MilesAbound
  • Travis

    Very interesting.

    I consider myself financially savvy, so I stay away from those store credit cards. You made me rethink my strategy.

    thanks!

  • al613

    Here is the list i found of GE cards, but I don’t see banana there, only gap. Are gap promos similar to banana?
    https://www.gecrbterms.com/gecrbterms/

  • al613

    Here is another list with banana on it: http://www.gecapital.com/en/our-company/retail-partners.html

  • UA1K

    I have a BR Luxe card and the periodical deals are killer, at least the ones I take advantage of… 50% off here, 30% off there. Even with a $100 fee it would more than pay for itself every year.

    • al613

      How do you get this card? Is fee really $100 per year? any other benefits?

      • MilesAbound

        There is no fee for the BR card

    • MilesAbound

      There are often stackable discounts that can get you 60% off… and then you end up paying the residual with free vouchers – sweeet!

  • The comment from Zach is spam–I got the same comment at the same time on a BR credit card post but it was from “Joe”. This “Do it for the points” site is now on my naughty list.

    • MilesAbound

      removed…. i seem to be getting hit up for more spam these days

  • T

    I finally spent all of my points from last year’s promo. I felt like it was from October, but I guess November. Hopefully we get it again in a month.

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