Earning miles for free with eBay!

One of the questions that we are constantly asked is “How in the world do you travel so much?  Doesn’t it cost you a fortune?”  Surprisingly the answer is “It doesn’t have to, no…” which usually leads to a much deeper conversation on generating points and miles for free, etc, which in turn gets the glazed over look on people’s eyes and zoned out stares.  We know, we’re used to this, but for those of us in the miles and points world it’s an all too common occurrence.

eBay Logo

eBay Logo

I wanted to take a moment to share with you one of the ways that yesterday we were able to earn 1,200 miles for less than zero, for actually a profit of $8.45.  While $8.45 is nothing sexy or exciting to write home about, deals like these happen all the time, and if you’re on the look out for them, it’s an amazing way to earn miles and points for free, if you’re willing to do just a little bit of leg work!


One of the easiest ways to earn cash from your online purchases is via a website called TopCashBack.  If you’re new to the concept of online portals, allow me to explain how they work.  If you want to buy something on eBay for example, you could open a browser, type in eBay and go to their website.  OR… you could go to TopCashBack, find eBay, click through their link, and then that will take you to eBay.  Congrats, you just used a “portal.”  eBay offers a slight kickback to TopCashBack for directing you through their site, and that kickback is returned to you in the form of a cash back payment, in this case for eBay it’s currently at 1.1%.  I’ve seen websites routinely offer upwards of 10-15% for purchases that you make through their website, all for doing the shopping that you were going to do in the first place!

If you’re new to TopCashBack and haven’t signed up, here’s my referral link.  We’ll each earn $10 when you sign up, so thank you in advance!

eBay Bucks

eBay has their own rewards program which returns usually a 2% rebate on your purchases through eBay.  They often run a 3-4x promotion, which means you could earn 8% back on your purchases!

Reselling Gift Cards

There are many websites out there that will take your unwanted gift cards (from places like Red Robin, Banana Republic, and Shell Gas Station, etc) and give you cash!  Just simply sign up, fill out the form, and send in your gift cards.  You’ll get either a PayPal reimbursement or a check in the mail, and you’re done!  One of the best sites to find out who is offering what is www.GiftCardGranny.com.  There you can see all the sites and who will pay you what for each gift card.  For this example I’ll be using ABC Gift Cards, one of my favorite because of their ease of use.

The Math

Here’s the dirty part, the math.  Lets get right to it.

76 Gas Cards.  12 @ $100 each = $1,200 (paid with credit card to earn points)

8% rebate from eBay = $96.00

Final Cost = $1,200 paid now ($96 later) = $1,104.

ABC Gift Cards Resale = 92% retail value ($1,104)

TopCashBack rebate (1.2% of $1,200) = $14.40

Therefore, we paid $1,200 now, we’re getting back $1,104 from ABC Gift Cards.  The $96 “loss” is made up by the eBay bucks.  We’re making $14.40 from the TopCashBack eBay portal. 

So, you ask, how do I come up with $8.45?  It costs $5.95 for me to go to the post office and ship ABC Gift Cards the package priority mail with tracking, so total profit is $8.45

And there you have it!  It really is that simple to earn miles for free.  It’s the old adage of Buy Low Sell High, but sometimes finding those opportunities is easier said than done.  Usually, we’ll find one of these deals a week and are able to take advantage of them.  If you found a deal like this every week, you could earn in a year 62,400 miles, for free, and in this situation, a profit of $439.40.  That’s enough miles for a coach ticket to Europe or Asia on most carriers, or a couple of domestic round trip flights for free as well!  Not too bad at all!

Please hit us up in the comments section with questions that you may have and stay tuned for more updates on how to earn miles for FREE!

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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    • I’ve had a couple of people in Argentina sign up, so I think that you can sign up for sure!

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  1. You could have easily made another 2000-3000 miles by adding more step to your purchase.

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    • Which step is that?

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      • Go through mpx app to buy ebay giftcards at 2miles per dollar 2.5 if you have a united credit card then do your normal steps you do. If you have an att card it will earn 3x thankyou points on mpx purchase as well. And if you have a presitge card can redeem for 1.6 towards paid fares on american as well.

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  2. there is no 8x ebucks every week. And if you keep buy 12 gift card (usually there is a limit of 3 or something), your ebay account will be in danger.

    And if you count in your time/labor, you do barely better than minimum wage.

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    • I beg to differ. I get eBay bucks offers at least once a week. Many are targeted, and I’ve purchased plenty of gift cards. I think that like all things, you need to do this in moderation. You’re right, there is a limit of 3 gift cards PER TYPE. So buy 3 of gift card A, 3 of gift card B, etc… you’ll be fine. Just play within the rules

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      • recent bonus ebucks date are:
        6/6, 6/8, 6/20, 6/28 . and twice are 6x and twice 8x.

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        • There ya go! Like I said, about once a week 🙂 Thanks for confirming!

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  3. The bigger problems with this are:

    A) You are capped at $500 in eBay bucks PER QUARTER. So if you did this 5 times on one account, you’re basically done for the quarter if you’re counting on the eBay bucks to make you whole. Definitely couldn’t do it weekly at this level – no 60k miles a year and $400 profit the way you’re suggesting. I buy and sell plenty and make tons of miles every year, but the way you presented it is no possible.

    B) eBay has been known to cancel your eBay bucks without notice or justification. Another boarding area blogger just recently wrote about how eBay took away the full $500 eBay bucks certificate and refused to explain what he had done wrong. So caveat emptor on counting on your eBay bucks. I’ve always gotten mine, but I no longer pursue deals where I have to count on the bucks to be profitable as their terms clearly state that they can refuse to honor them for any reason and refuse to explain why.

    C) I’ve always gotten paid on the GCs I’ve sold, but I personally know people who have gotten screwed on GCs that ABC said had no value. If you Google reviews of any of these gift card sites, you’ll find people who have complained of the same. While it hasn’t happened to me, I know it is a risk to condisder. I think you should present it as such. I don’t send in more at once than I can live with losing as I know there is always some level of risk. I accept that risk. I just think you shouldn’t present it as an easy, risk free 60k miles a year. If you did this every week, you’d be likely to get burnt somewhere along the line eventually. If you were really able to generate that many miles and cash profit, you could afford a little burn now and again. But I’m careful with how I present a strategy that includes risk when I know risk tolerance varies.

    Just my $.02.

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    • Your 2 cents is totally valid. In regards to A) Sure… you’re capped. But I know that two of my family members do it, so if we do max it out, that’s still a hell of a good ROI. B) Sure, and bluebird screwed me overnight and left me with a bunch of GC’s too… it’s all part of the game C) I can’t speak to that, just like you, and I’ve sold for 2 years and not a single time have had a problem. And everyone’s risk tolerance is different. We probably have heard of people who fill their living rooms with reselling items (which is WAY too risky for me) but they do it. Some people also invest in Beanie Babies 🙂 I like your points, and I take them to heart. But even if you do just 10% of this, it’s still an awesome deal, no?

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      • A good deal, yes. The 60k+ miles you’re presenting it as? Not possible. If you presented it as a way to earn ~24k miles a year per person with some risks involved, that’s one thing. You presented it as an easy breezy 60k miles and $400 in profit. That’s just false. I like to think that most travel blogs I read are more accurate than that.

        My point on risk is that I think, as any kind of blogger, it’s irresponsible to say “Look at how you can easily earn $X/X miles” without also saying, “But there are risks X, Y, and Z.” Your profit calculations totally depend on eBay bucks – which aren’t a guarantee and are particularly at risk it you’re buying $1200 a week in GCs from eBay. Is this a nice way to make an easy 1200 miles now and then? Sure, it can be. But if they invalidate your eBay bucks certificate, you’re instantly down eightysomething bucks. That’s not at all like serve shutting down and you having to find another way to use $10k in usable Visa GCs. Serve was a loss of convenience. eBay bucks could be a loss of all of your profit and some of your savings in this case.

        For the record, screw the living room – I’m one of those people filling a few storage units full of things to resell each month. It’s a fantastic way to earn a lot of miles – but I wouldn’t tell someone about how it’s done without also mentioning the risks associated with returns/scams/etc. The people who are familiar with the risk of losing their eBay bucks or losing their GCs in the mail or the other risks associated here already know how to buy $1200 in GCs to resell. The target market for your blog post is people that don’t know how this stuff works, so I think it’s a shame to oversell the value with a bogus 60k mile + $400 claim without explaining how many accounts you would need to pull that off and how you may lose in this game.

        A good way to earn some miles? Yes. A well written post that explains the full picture (risks in addition to rewards) to someone who didn’t know how to earn miles this way? No. I mean that as feedback to consider going forward.

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        • I find it ironic that someone who is filling up storage units is concerned about losing $500 in eBay bucks 🙂 To clarify, I say that “usually” we find a deal like this once a week, and “if” you found a deal “like this” you “could” earn in a year. It’s used for example purposes, not as a guarantee. You’re focusing on one sentence in the entire post, whereas the point of the post you’re completely missing. I do however appreciate a spirited conversation, and enjoy that you’re reading the blog 🙂 Thanks!

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  4. I’d be leery of selling to ABC as I think they are extremely shady and in my opinion, commit outright fraud against their sellers sometimes.

    Personally, I sell about 75% of my cards to gift card mart because they don’t treat me like a sheep that needs fleecing. They are small and don’t accept as many brands, but their honesty and open communication keeps me satisfied

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    • Really? Have you had any bad experiences with ABC? I just sent them two gift cards 2 days ago and already got a confirmation back and the $$ is in my PayPal account. To me, they’ve been the best. I guess YMMV, no?

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      • Sadly yes. And on three separate occasions, which is really my fault for believing “it’s a rare exception” more than once. They cost me about $1500.

        With ABC, it’s not if they screw you, it’s when.

        The people over there could not care less about you and it shows.

        Polar opposite experience with gift card zen and gift card mart, though zen turned off my bulk account because i had started selling to mart. Actually, this last week gift card mart announced their upcoming payout rates and gave a 3 day advance notice for decreases and some of my physical cards hadn’t arrived yet, but my account manager still honored the higher rate a week later because I had purchased the cards expecting to get the higher rate. To me, THAT is customer service

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