My 10% Discover Card cash back bonus

Maybe this image hasn’t turned out very sharp (I was using my cellphone camera) but it won’t stop me from posting it here because this is a letter I received today from Discover Card. In it there are 7 Sharper Image gift cards $80 each — the cash back bonus I accumulated over the past 2 years.

Discover Card 10% Cash BackI use my Discover Card exclusively at gas stations because it pays a flat 5% back on each gas purchase. Now, the most inquisitive readers will quickly calculate that 7 by $80 is $560 which would mean I have spent over $10,000 on gas over the 2 years. This is not so. In fact I spent just around $5,000, roughly $200 a month.

What is the trick? The trick is that with Discover you can use your cash back bonus to buy gift cards at some places for half the face value and Sharper Image store happens to be one of them.

I picked Sharper Image because I am a geeky kind and I love all the cool stuff they sell however you don’t have to. Here is the complete list of their partners. From these, here are those that sell their gift certificates at half the price:

  • Big City Chefs
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Crabtree & Evelyn
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • Great American Days
  • Holland America
  • Hollywood Video
  • Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
  • Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmetâ„¢ Grills
  • Lenovo
  • Lobster Gram
  • MobileCraze
  • Mrs. Fields
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • PGA TOUR Ticket-to-Golf!
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Samsonite
  • Sharper Image
  • Sprint
  • Ultra Diamond Outlet

I will spend some of my cash back to buy this digital camera (to replace the one my daughter broke during our trip to Ukraine) and will probably sell the rest using one of these gift card selling services. After all the math is applied, my cash back essentially comes to a flat 10%. What do your cards pay you? Please share in your comments!

For more information on what other cards I have and how I use them, please read my earlier post: Have a credit card — will save.

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11 Responses to “My 10% Discover Card cash back bonus”

  1. 1 XynamaX Jul 31st, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Save up more and get a nice SLR camera. Yes, they are bigger, but if taking pictures is your thing, then you might as well get a nice camera.

    I picked up a Canon EOS30D a couple months ago and found that the quality of SLR’s is far superior then any point & shoot. I had a Casio once (the slim 3mp, I think it was the EX230 or something), but found that the pictures were too grainy. If you look at the lens, you’ll see why. It’s tiny.

    Get a nice SLR and a good lens to go with it and you’ll find yourself wanting to get more creative with your photos..

    As for cashback, I use Amex Blue. I prefer that my cashback comes back in cash or a credit on my statement. The last thing I need is another gift card…


  2. 2 SR Jul 31st, 2007 at 9:08 am


    I just looked into the Discover card you used and its says you only get 5% for the first $1200.00 spent on Gas and the you get the regular 1% after that. How did you get 5% on ALL you gas purchases?

  3. 3 Yan Jul 31st, 2007 at 10:05 am


    I hate to think that my daughter could have dropped an $1000 SLR camera instead. ;-)
    I don’t have any camera right now and since we like to travel a lot, a point-n-shoot’er is my first choice.

    As for the cash back, this card offers cash by default, but you get better value if you buy gift cards at stores where you plan to shop anyway.


    It looks like Discover changed the terms on me while I was on vacation. I dug out this old thread at FW finance forum discussing the change:

    What can I say? This was a “too good to be true” kind of deal and now I will have to look for a replacement. $1200 is just too low of a limit.

  4. 4 XynamaX Jul 31st, 2007 at 10:54 am

    That’s why you should get your daughter one of those “disposable” digital cameras :)

  5. 5 Neal Rapoport Jul 31st, 2007 at 2:50 pm

    Hey, good deal on that credit card. I use the disney one, but recently reached their annual limit, so my wife got a disney one too. Its like 1% back, but we go to disneyworld, land or cruise often.
    I could think of a few things to get at sharper image if you can’t find anything. :)

  6. 6 Alex Aug 5th, 2007 at 11:51 pm

    Hey…were you able to stack up all your Sharper Image gift cards? I have a few that I would like to stack, but rather than trying it out first then attempt Plan B, would be nice if I know if it will work. That way I can move on to Plan B and Plan C ….

  7. 7 Yan Aug 6th, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Alex, I am sure you can use more than one gift card at a time (for the same purchase). They are just like cash. Have you ever had a problem?

  8. 8 Yan Aug 7th, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Just got back from the Sharper Image and now I know what Alex meant by stacking up gift cards. Discover have changed the terms of this program and now on the back of each card it says “Limit one card per transaction”.

    Now, do you know what it takes to still stack them all up? For me it was getting on good hand with the sales manager, and (important!) agreeing to buy the extended warranty. They like it very much! ;-)

  9. 9 Karen Jozsa Aug 8th, 2007 at 2:16 pm

    i AM interested in redeeming my cash back bonus points on a cruise vacation. Please tell how to redeem for air fare and cruise. thank-you

  10. 10 Alex Aug 11th, 2007 at 11:40 pm

    Tried it out today and no go for me. There was some warning popup in the system and the manager didn’t budge. What a bummer. Online won’t let me stack either. Suck. Did they try to talk you out?

  11. 11 Yan Aug 12th, 2007 at 1:36 am

    I said that I just found out about one card per transaction thing and now will not be buying the camera. The guy simply offered to “wave the restriction” so I agreed. This is certainly YMMV kind of thing. When I asked why there is a limitation, he (sales manager) said “I don’t know why Discover is doing it”. It sounded like it wasn’t Sharper Image.

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