A New Trend: Mall Gift Cards

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Simon and Glimcher

Mall gift cards have been all the rage, since they were posted about in this Flyertalk thread. They’re so popular, because they only cost $2-$2.95. That’s a lot better than the normal $4.95-$6.95 most of us are paying for gift cards at supermarkets and drug stores, however, I would not always advise buying these. Here’s why…

Every report I’ve seen, said these gift cards are categorized as “miscellaneous” or “other”. Sadly, I haven’t been able to test this myself, since I don’t have any of these malls near me. Since these purchases are categorized that way, the maximum reward percentage is 2X or 2.2X (Barclaycard Arrival). If you don’t have a 2X card, like me, then the max you can get is 1X, which is not a great return. Let’s look at the numbers:

Mall Gift Cards

Reward PercentageGift Card ValueFeePoints EarnedCPP
1X$500$2.955030.59 cents
2X$500$2.9510060.29 cents
2.2X$500$2.9511060.27 cents

Office Store Gift Cards

Reward PercentageGift Card ValueFeePoints EarnedCPP
1X$200$6.952073.36 cents
2X$200$6.954141.68 cents
2.2X$200$6.954551.53 cents
5X$200$6.9510350.67 cents

Supermarket/Drug Store Gift Cards

Reward PercentageGift Card ValueFeePoints EarnedCPP
1X$500$4.955050.98 cents
2X$500$4.9510100.49 cents
2.2X$500$4.9511110.45 cents
3X$500$4.9515150.33 cents
5X$500$4.9525250.20 cents
6X$500$4.9530300.16 cents

As you can see, 1X points on mall gift cards is not that great. It is, however, better than 1X anywhere else and 5X at office supply stores, if you don’t calculate VSE into the mix. If you do, the CPP for 5X is 0.57 cents. Personally, I’d max out my Blue Cash Preferred at 6%, then buy points at Staples for 0.57 cents. When I do get a 2X points card, I would gladly buy these mall gift cards, if they were near me.

The fees vary from store to store. Some people have reported $2.95 fees, others $2.50, and others as low as $2.00. Regardless, they’re at least $2 cheaper than grocery store gift cards ($4.95), which is a decent deal as we saw above. However, if you do not have a mall near you, the only other way to acquire them is via shipping. The shipping/fee price is $5.95 Those fees hurt, when you can easily pick up a OneVanilla at CVS for only a $4.95 fee. The CPP at that price would look like this:

Mall Gift Cards Shipped

Reward PercentageGift Card ValueFeePoints EarnedCPP
1X$500$5.955061.18 cents
2X$500$5.9510120.59 cents
2.2X$500$5.9511130.53 cents

So, I wouldn’t suggest buying those cards unless you have no stores that carry gift cards near you. I’d be shocked if that was the case.

Adding a PIN
Simon Malls and Glimcher both sell Amex and Visa versions of gift cards. The Amex versions DO NOT have PINS. The Visa versions, do. All you need to do to add a PIN, is called US Bank via the number on the back of the card.


Bottom Line

  • If you have either of these malls near you and you have a 2X card, buy these for sure!
  • If you have either of these malls near you and you only have a 1X card, look at your other card’s rewards and the tables above, to see what works best for your situation.
  • If you don’t have either of these malls near you, don’t bother having them shipped. The fees are not worth it.

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