Credit card reward points and gift cards

My wife and I rarely pay attention to our credit card reward points and were surprised recently to find that we had over 200,000 points saved up.  Because of some recent reports of banks like Chase reworking their rewards programs and heavily discounting points so they are worth only a fraction if what they were, we decided it is probably a good idea to use up our points now.

I found an item that I wanted, a new Canon EOS SLR camera that would have cost about 140,000 points.  Just to be thorough, I decided to see how I might benefit from purchasing gift cards instead and purchasing the camera on  The camera retails on for just under $700 and I was able to purchase $700 worth of gift cards for just over 100,000 points, a nice discount.

I had no trouble adding each card to my account (9 cards total) for a credit, and then purchasing the camera using that credit.  Since I buy so much stuff every week/month/year from, having an gift card is about the same as cash for me, very convenient.

Interestingly enough, if I wanted to change my reward points into actual cash, none of the major gift card secondary marketplaces will buy gift cards.   But my rewards program offers many types of gift cards and it is easy to find one that can be sold.  For instance, a Toys “R” Us gift card can be sold for about 80 cents on the dollar.  In my case, getting gift cards is a better value because I will actually use them very quickly.

One other note:  I might have been discouraged from buying too many gift cards from my rewards program as the selector that allows me to chose the number of a given gift card denomination was limited to a maximum of five.  However, after having purchased the maximum amount allowed, I was able to go back a few days later and purchase five more of the same denomination.