Jewel — Visa gift card madness — go now now now

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So you know how the Jewel buy $100 in gift card mall gift cards, get a Catalina good for a $10 Jewel gift card now stacks up to five times in one transaction? Check this out. Note: They could pull this at any time, do at your own risk.

  1. Buy a $500 Visa gift debit card. These have a $5.95 activation fee. Get back $50 — five Catalinas each good for a $10 Jewel gift card. You just made $44.05.
  2. Buy another $500 Visa gift debit card. Tell them you would like to pay the $5.95 activation fee in cash. Then pay for the second $500 Visa gift debit card with the first $500 Visa gift debit card you just bought. (Be sure to push the credit button on the swiper machine — if you push debit it will ask for a PIN.) Get back $50 — five Catalinas each good for a $10 Jewel gift card. You just made another $44.05, but this time you only actually spent $5.95 out of pocket.
  3. Repeat.

The activation fee is per card. So you want to make sure you buy one $500 gift card to maximize your savings, not multiple smaller cards. After the first $500 outlay, you are only paying $5.95 for each transaction and getting back $50 — however you will always still have a $500 Visa debit at the end which you can use pretty much like cash.

Note: You can only activate gift cards at the cashiers, so don’t go through self-checkout. This only works with Visa — Mastercard is not participating, and AmEx has a four-hour hold after purchase so you can’t roll the deal.

(Thanks, CW and for details)

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    • Joy says

      You still end up with your original $500, just as a Visa gift card…you can use them anywhere even online to pay bills. It also works in smaller increments. Say $300, that is still a $24.05 MM after the activation fee. $500 just maximizes your MM.

  1. MQ says

    Rachel, I thought you said GC catalina don’t stack. How come I only got one $10 coupon when I bought $500 worth of GC last week and now people are getting 5 x $10 coupon at checkout when they bought $500 Visa GC?

    • says

      They changed it — I mentioned it somewhere but maybe it was in comments. Because of the confusing wording I think they got enough complaints that it now stacks up to five per transaction.

  2. Jennifer J says

    Have to work til 5. Hoping that this is still running when I get off work. Even being able to do it once would be great.

    • says

      The Cats are to get a $10 Jewel gift card. Go use your cats to get the gift card, and that does not expire. Some stores will combine them on one gc for you and others will make you put them on separate $10 gcs.

      • Trish says

        Duh, that makes sense. I buy a $10 gift card, that being my $10 purchase, and use the cat to pay for it. Thanks for the clarification!!

  3. veronica says

    I was sweating bullets with this one! I did it once and got back $50 worth of thw jewel cats but when I went to do it again they said I couldn’t purchase a gift card with a gift card…. I’m just going to try another jewel and not tell them I’m using a gift card just swipe it through like any other card. Cross your fingers for me.

    • Pam says

      right…that is what I would do, and try to avoid letting them see the front of the card when you swipe it. I initially went to one store bought one, then went a couple miles down the road to another, paid the activation fee with either exact cash or with a Jewel gift card then the 500 with the previous GC

    • veronica says

      so did i, now how in the heck are we going to get all these jewel gift cards…i have 25 of them and it says you can only use 1 per transaction per day….im confused with the wording here.

          • veronica says

            one jewel only let me do 10 gift cards, then i went to another where they let me put $200. im glad i thought i was going to have to go to 3 jewels per day for the next 7 days and bring my husband along with me as another “customer” in order to redeem all of these.

  4. Teresa says

    I also was denied at the Yorville store. The card reader said not authorized. Clerk said because it was a gift card ( it says both gift card and debit card on it -confusing). Ended up with $1000 on gift cards. No biggie though -happy to have made $88 and won’t have to use the cc for awhile! Might go back and try it again!

  5. Stacy R says

    I just went to the Jewel on Schaumburg and Barrington Rd and it worked! When I walked in the store, I also spotted a Coors Lite $25 mail-in-rebate with $100+ in store purchase and 12pack bottle of Coors Lite purchase. The beer was on sale for $8.99, I believe. So combine it with the Visa gift card deal, and you just added about $16 to your $44.05!!

    I hope the mail-in-rebate works out even though all I bought was the Visa gift card!
    Thanks for posting this!!!

    • Michele says

      Thanks for the location info! I went to the Elk Grove location and tried it twice and it worked. I tried it in Wood Dale and it said not authorized. So I have to try this location a few times tomorrow. Thanks again!

  6. Jennifer says

    Just did it 2 times. 2nd time they got wise to me though. Not brave enough to try it again with another cashier. Manager gave me the shifty eye look. She’s Scary!

  7. Becky says

    Wow coupon chaos!

    I had the most nonsensical outing(s) today! I went to my normal store and bought the $500 gc with no problems and got the 5 cats. Then I got some groceries and tried to buy another/use the 1st gc and 1 cat (since I had more than $10 in groceries). I was told that I couldn’t use a gc to buy a gc. I didn’t feel like getting into the whole gift card vs. debit card debate so I just said “fine, take the card off, I’ll just buy my groceries”. SO she handed me my $10 jewel card (for using the cat) and I went on my way.

    I went to another store (to try again). This is where the chaos began! I again decided to buy about $10 worth of groceries so I could use up another $10 jewel card thing. I got some paper plates and some veggie straws (yum!). I get to the register with the young, male cashier. He was confused by the entire ‘paying with 2 different cards to buy groceries and a card’ thing, but he went along. I hand him a gc catalina and he gets really confused. I explained that I had purchased more than $10 in groceries (plates & snacks). He was fine with it, but clearly didn’t understand how the cat worked. He handed it and an empty gc to the self check lady and said here can you purchase a gc for me. She did and he came over, scanned it and gave me a total $10 less. So basically he thought the catalina was supposed to be usable then and there. I couldn’t argue because it was already done, so I just paid.

    Then I’m walking out and I realize that the plates didn’t ring up the correct price! So I go to the service desk where, of course, she gives me the 1st one free and the difference back on the 2nd! So in the end I have 8 catalinas worth $80, a $500 visa card, a $10 jewel gift card and free plates! (I spent $532.10 OOP and got 2 huge packs of paper plates, veggie straws, wierd, odd-sized batteries that I’ll never find a deal on, and a bunch of produce. Basically $32 got me $90 in gc’s, a bunch of stuff, and 2 activation fees!)

    • says

      I would have to say this is what is called “bucking the system” And you all wonder why the cashiers look at couponers like we are crazy!!! Do you really have to ask if this is ethical? What do you think?

  8. Dena says

    Well I’m a couponer and if I had an extra $500.00 laying around I wouldn’t have to coupon lol. But I don’t think it is very ethical to do this tens of times, almost seems like stealing and once they figure out what people are doing then ppl who only want to buy one won’t even get to. Just my opinion tho- to each their own.

  9. Julie says

    I did this 4 times. I did have 1 cashier tell me that I couldn’t buy a gift card with a gift card, so I just went to another Jewel. It does feel a little unethical, but only bc I don’t really know if their policy states that you can’t buy a gift card with a debit/gift card. If I knew the answer to that and it was ok, then I would do it as many times as I could. I don’t mind profiting from Jewel’s mistakes but I don’t want to profit from their cashiers’ mistakes.

  10. Julie Wa says

    I just did this 4 times over and it worked like a champ! I’m sending DH to do it 2 times tonight! I haven’t been paid since June, this is a HUGE blessing to our family this month!!! :-)

  11. alyssa says

    I feel bad about doing this but the manager was the run ringing me up and he was egging me on. ended up doing this 22 times made $1100 dollars for my jewel shopping trips in the future. I love “bucking the system”. dont worry i left over 30 cards for others and also ran into a few fellow couponers at my store who had the same idea. Definitely worth it

  12. says

    Guys — obviously don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with. Note, though, that this is a Visa promo. Visa pays, and Jewel wins. Jewel gets you spending extra $ in the store with those gift cards that you likely would not otherwise have spent. The deal is advertised: Buy $100 in gc get the $10 Catalina for a Jewel gc. You can use whatever method of payment you want to buy your gc — a Visa debit is a form of payment. Rolling it is just smart — the same way rolling Catalinas and paying little out of pocket is smart.

    • alyssa says

      yes I did. think i spent 505.95 oop kept rolling with an additional 124.95 in fees which i put on my jewel gift cards and walked out with 975.05 in jewel gift cards and a 500 visa gift card which i needed anyway to pay my car insurance.

      • melissa says

        Didn’t even think about car insurance. BAM! Perfect way to get rid of that $500 and justify that I was going to spend it anyway…

  13. says

    Alyssa, what store allows this? The one in Naperville at 75th/Naperville Rd does NOT and the one at Weber/Boughton in Bolingbrook apparently doesn’t even carry $500 Visa cards at all. So, just wondered address of where this deal might still be available tonight?

    • alyssa says

      I live on the wisconsin border. dont really want to rat out stores or possibly get them in trouble. I already know two of my local stores are already wiped out, had a friend go pick up a few and she bought the last four where i went.SORRY!! the next closest store to me is mchenry and i dont know if anyone has gone there or not

    • Charlotte says

      Thanks Jan for the update on those two stores. Saves me a trip out this evening. Too bad the Bolingbrook store doesn’t carry them. Though, it can be done on a smaller scale with $100-400 Visa cards.

  14. Sheila says

    I did it three times this afternoon and it worked like a charm. It was nerve-wracking and confusing, but the bottom like is that I walked out with a $500 gift card and a $150 Jewel card, so I guess I did something right.

    I don’t see how its unethical at all. Buy $500- get $50 back. I did that every time. Like Rachel said, it’s really no different from rolling any other cat deal, but on a waaaay bigger scale.

  15. Danzma says

    Did exact same thing, but with Disney gift cards. We’re taking a Disney Cruise next summer so bought 5 $100 cards to use towards payment. Disney is SO expensive and there are NO cruise deals to be had so saving even $50 is a big deal to me. Pays for a few pool side cocktails!

  16. kay says

    Kerry, was that Oswego? They asked for ID. Said anything $100 or over you need an ID to match the card – so I guess you can never pay with a Jewel GC there either (or the $500 you just bought) – because none of them have your name on them….That Jewel just makes up it’s own rules….

  17. Jolene says

    i tried at 1pm and my store was all out of the visa gift cards that you can put any amount on… so u guess they were letting people do it lol…

        • alyssa says

          When I was doing my transactions, another couponer who was there told me that the managers pulled them all at the fox lake store

          • smiley says

            Lake Zurich Jewel pulled all larger amount Visa’s today by 3pm. They told me at the service desks that “you can’t buy gift cards and get $1000 of free groceries with the same $500. Btw I only wanted do it twice. Happy I waas able to do that. I didn’t really think of their scenario until they said it.

          • smiley says

            Rachel, what service desk is saying is that you can do this, -would have to be 20 times lol, and get $50 in cats each time and that would net you $1000 of cats for the same $500 oop. It’s an exaggertion, I believe but, I guess people are doing this over and over.

  18. Kristy says

    I just went and did a few transactions…until two loud ladies came in after and started in with the cashier and manager. Why can’t people just go in quietly and be polite? Also, don’t forget the cashiers – I tipped my guy a $10 Cat. I know they’re not supposed to accept, but sometimes they really deserve an extra thanks :)

  19. patti says

    Kristy, I know you were being helpful but they can and very well will be fired if they’re caught accepting cats from customers!

  20. kay says

    so one of the Jewel’s I went to today will not take ANY credit cards to buy gift cards. So you can’t even do the initial transaction with a credit card.

    Can we start a list of stores that are allowing this deal? When does it expire?

    BTW Yorkville has somehow programmed their machines to reject the Visa’s – even when your press credit.

  21. maggie says

    I saw some cards that said “$20 – $ 500”. I guess you have to tell the cashier which amount you want to put on there. Do these qualify as well or only the ones that actually say only “$ 500” ????

    • says

      Those are fine. Just buy them and tell them you want to put $500 on it. (or whatever amount you want — $500 makes you the most, but it will work in any denomination of $100 — $100 gets back $10, $200 gets back $20, etc. but they all have the same $5.95 activation fee.)

      • PeteyB says

        Went to two jewel’s today. One had the $20-$500 pre paid visa and they say right on them, these are not gift cards…do these STILL qualify for the deal? Think the pre-paid are distinguished from gift card?? Also, they only had 2 $25 gift cards. The other Jewel was completely out. May try the Jewel closest to me within the hour.

  22. Stacey says

    My Jewel just had a police officer come; apparently some ladies were churning the deal. I’m happy I at least got 1 deal…I asked the cashier, “there’s nothing stopping you from continuously buying them w/ a cc, right?” and she said “no, there isn’t.” Without my asking she did put the entire $50 on one Jewel giftcard, btw.

    For those w/the cash and/or cc availability and who feel (re)using the Visa to buy the GC is unethical…that is an option. As tempted as the opportunity is, I’m in the “it’s unethical camp…” It may be legal, but it’s certainly not the intention of the company. Most likely Jewel is the big loser in this, not Visa, and we certainly don’t want the prices to get any worse than they have been lately!

    Between gas and groceries and other normal monthly spending (early Christmas shopping!), I could and most likely will buy 3-4 giftcards and still be $ ahead from the cats…

    • kay says

      Visa is footing the bill for the cats – it’s their promotion – not Jewel. It’s just a drop in the bucket for Visa considering their interest charges. Plus it’s a tax deduction for them – a marketing expense. And they make $5.95 on each card sold

    • Jennifer J says

      Wondering the same thing. I did this four times yesterday… two at one store (who at 5:30 pm had lots of the 20-500 cards) and two at another store who only had a few on the shelf. I may, or may not do this again. I need all the help I can get with the paycuts I’ve endured.

  23. Stacy R says

    In my opinion, this was no mistake by Visa or by Jewel. Any competent person who lists “excluding Mastercard, American Express, or Jewel gift cards” would naturally think “oh, there’s also Visa, huh”… On top of THAT, the promotion in the ad even shows examples of gift cards one might buy… VISA gift card is one of the 6-8 examples they are showing. So I highly doubt this was a mistake.

  24. Lynn says

    It’s not about the Visa being a mistake. It’s that Visa’s intention is not for you to roll the gift cards. If you want to be out a couple thousand or more and have it all in gift cards I think Visa, Jewel and you would win. I’m not sure why Jewel is making it difficult to cash in the Jewel gift cards one at a time. That is the risk you take. I’m not sure after last night Jewel will be letting you cash them all in at once. I’m not up for running to Jewel 10-20 times this week. As of late last night all 3 of my local Jewels were catching on and requiring ID and swooping your credit card to insure you were not rolling.

    • kay says

      well, we don’t know what Visa’s intention was/is – there is no way for Visa to know whether 1000 people bought the cards or if 100 people each bought 10 cards.

      not sure why Jewel cares unless there is/has been some fraud. The one store that will not accept credit cards for any gift cards at any time hinted that is why (the cashier was not sure) – maybe stolen credit cards were used to buy gift cards?

      and if you want to do the deal the only money of yours that is ‘tied’ up is the initial $500. – and it’s really not tied up you can use the gift card on anything you would use your debit card on. I use my debit card for everything, so no difference – just a different card. I may ‘tie’ up another couple hundred if i can’t roll the gift card – because I have bills coming due and I pay with debit anyway – so why not get free groceries at the same time?

      • Lynn says

        I realize that Visa has no way of knowing if you bought one or ten. But I can garentee that they did not do this promotion so we can buy ten and they pay Jewel for allof those Jewel gift cards. I’m sure their intent is to get new customers.

  25. jennifer says

    What really stinks though with this deal is my store in elgin, the manager will only let you redeem 1 cat per day for a gift card. I have 10 cats and they expire soon! with a toddler in tow i can’t go running around to all the different jewels to get my cats exchanged i’m going to try going to 2 jewels a day, one by my house and one by my work (carpentersville). for some reason at the elgin store she needed to scan my preferred card to cash in the cat…. is jewel tracking us like CVS does now?? urgh, i wish i could find a store that would put it all on one card.

    • Dennis says

      There are a few Jewels in the Elgin area. The one on Summit has never given me any problems. Also, if you’re in C’ville. The one on Randall Rd. is really good about this too. It may be too late now, but FYFR.

  26. lisa says

    I did this this morning at a few different Jewels but now have a stack of cats that I need to turn into the Jewel gift card. Could there be any problems in trying to do this at customer service? Could they say no?

    • Lynn says

      Yes they can. I would go early. The stores ate catching on and only allowing one a day. They probably don’t want to get in trouble with Visa who is paying for this promo.

  27. cbhoff says

    Just did it at 12pm Sept. 12 at the Broadway/Bryn Mawr store and it worked. I rolled the first one for the 2nd and got all 10 CATs on 1 gift card. Would have LOVED to do it another time but chickened out plus my heart was racing too fast for comfort :)

  28. kitty says

    Some stores have put all of the “$20-$500” cards at the service desk. If you want to buy one in the normal way, cash, check, credit card, no rolling, check at CS to see if they have them there.

    • says

      Saturday 9/17 – and it is still going, just no rolling. You can buy a GC and still get the cats, you just can’t buy another GC with the GC and so on.

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