PSA: More Gift Card Purchases Appearing as Cash Advances, No Deal!

Bad news… for the second time in a few months I’ve been hit with a cash advance charge on my credit card for purchases of discounted gas cards on eBay. That’s not good!

I love sharing tricks and advice on this site to help visitors save money on their travel, Motorsport volunteering, automotive needs, etc. I’ve spent years trying out different techniques out there and they’ve helped me tremendously to save money and travel on a shoestring budget in all the time I’ve been unemployed (or underemployed for that matter). But it absolutely sucks when I get burned and wanted to share this post with others to prevent them from experiencing similar setbacks.

It seems that recently another seller on eBay has changed the way they are seen by credit card companies and as a result purchases made from those sellers are no longer considered as purchases. Which typically helps you earn frequent flyer miles, if you’re like me using an airline branded credit card. But instead count as a cash advances which actually results in a steep fee for the privilege of doing the transaction ($10 in my case) plus a steep double-digit percentage % for each day that the cash advance sits on your account until it is paid in full… I think last time this happened, my card billed me something like 20% or so. Which absolutely sucks! So that $7 dollars I saved on a $100 gift card purchase, now actually costs me more than I saved, a lot more. That defeats the whole purpose of buying discounted gift cards. SVM claims it was a glitch by someone else, not them, but they haven’t done anything to fix the mistake, and I’m out of money. It is a dirty business practice for them to make more money than they already are making from this transaction. I didn’t expect this from SVM because they are the ones that actually handle all gift card production for big brands like BP, ExxonMobil and Sunoco… cards that I buy often!

So that’s the end of the road for me with SVM. I’d rather pay at the pump than be screwed online again. You should be careful too!

I’ve posted about purchasing discounted gift cards for a few years now because it was indeed an awesome deal. I remember shopping on eBay buying $100 BP cards for $90 bux. That was great. Often eBay had a promotion, like $15 off $75 which brought the price of a $100 gift card down to $75. Then eBay had their eBay Rewards program which typically gave you cash back of 2% on the purchase, which was another $1 or two. But often eBay rewards multiplied the reward back 2x or 4x or even 8x… so sometimes I got as much as $8 back in a form of eBay refund some months later. Meaning the $100 gift card cost less than $68 bux. There were times when you could buy other discounted gift cards that were redeemable for gas cards. For example, often I’ve bought $100 Target gift cards at 10% discount. Which I then used on Target to buy eBay gift cards at 10% discounts, and then I used those eBay gift cards to buy various gas cards at 10% discount. Those were the good old days… 20% off, 30% even 40% which was amazing… What did that translate to at the pump? Well, considering 20% average discount on a $100 gas card, that means 20 cents off for every dollar at the pump, which meant that each gallon at $2/gal rate actually cost $1.60/gal which is significant savings. On a tank of gas for the Ford Explorer that waas $8 bux of savings. For the Miata it was $4, which was awesome. And furthermore it was possible to use the gift cards at gas stations on other purchases besides fuel, in their convenience stores.

I’m going to miss these savings but fighting the credit card company over cash advance fees, which they refuse to budge on because that’s how they make their profits, is not my idea of fun. So… voila! It was fun while it lasted, I’ll continue shopping for gas the old fashion way, by using my Gas Buddy app to find the best deal out there, and just pay with whatever payment method that gives me the most discount.

Be careful out there folks!

PS. I’m sure someone is going to claim that by my shopping around big businesses were losing money. That I would strongly disagree with. By buying discounted gift cards from SVM on eBay, both SVM and eBay made money. SVM sold me a product (at a discount) which they made just a little less profit on than selling that item at full face value, and eBay got their cut for facilitating the exchange. PayPal made their cut by my paying using their service, and my credit card company made their cut by making sure I gave my money to eBay through my visa card. Even the gas station made money because I purchased $100 gift card from their brand which meant I could no longer spend that money on other competing brands… BP gas cards couldn’t be used at Sunoco or Exxon or Mobil, and vice versa. So everyone involved made some money, and I saved. Win win! But now the GREED of some companies will mean they lost the business I gave them in the past, way to go!