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The Plastic Merchant: Tips for Reselling Gift Cards Successfully

A lot of you have been asking me lately about The Plastic Merchant and where to buy merchant gift cards you can resell to them. If you get approved as a member, The Plastic Merchant is a great resource for manufactured spending. The company was founded by fellow points and miles enthusiasts who wanted to capitalize on our desire to earn miles at little to no out of pocket cost. The arrangement works so well because they’re able to get fraud-free gift cards while we earn tons of miles without having to leave the house. So which gift cards does The Plastic Merchant buy and where can you find them? It’s actually fairly simple.

Manufactured spending by mail

The Plastic Merchant buys nearly a thousand different types of merchant gift cards. In various denominations. All you have to do is login and look through their gift card list, sorted by highest purchase percentage. It’s important to note that The Plastic Merchant does not buy gift cards obtained from resellers like Raise. They have to be purchased directly from the merchant. The good news is that plenty of merchants run gift card sales, so you can buy tons of gift cards and resell them to The Plastic Merchant at a profit or while breaking even. 

In my experience, most of the best deals come from Ebay, Staples, Costco, Simon Mall, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Warehouse. The Plastic Merchant actually does an awesome job of informing members of gift card deals via email updated. Occasionally, I’ve found deals at Staples that The Plastic Merchant didn’t send notifications for. It’s totally understandable – sometimes things fall through the cracks. But that’s why it’s so important to periodically check for these deals yourself. 

Another important step in the gift card hunting stage? If you find a deal and check it against The Plastic Merchant’s purchase rates, put a certain quantity on hold. Don’t go crazy – you don’t want to reserve an absurdly high capacity and cheat other people out of a good deal. Instead, think about how many gift cards you can buy at that moment. Then put that quantity on hold. If you’re able to buy more gift cards later and The Plastic Merchant has capacity available, then go ahead and reserve more. But do try to be considerate of other people and of The Plastic Merchant’s trust that people won’t abuse the system.

The last point I want to cover is the type of gift cards to focus on. When I was focusing on churning merchant gift cards last year, I focused heavily on the merchants mentioned above. I’m not going to pretend I discovered them on my own – I learned about them from The Plastic Merchant’s email updates. Normally, the most popular gift cards were iTunes, Starbucks, Gap, and Nike. These were frequently on sale at places like Staples, Simon Mall, and BJ’s Warehouse. More importantly, they tended to be the cards with the highest payouts and could be purchased in large quantities. 

Those are my tips and tricks for successfully churning gift cards with The Plastic Merchant. Once the holiday shopping season gets going (i.e. in October), we’ll see a lot of great gift card deals. That’s probably when I’ll start churning them in larger quantities. And enjoying the fact that I don’t have to leave the house and deal with crazy shoppers to get in on these deals.

Do you have any tips for people looking to sell profitable gift cards to The Plastic Merchant? Which merchant gift cards do you usually churn? Please share in the comment section.

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Ariana Arghandewal

41 Comments

  1. Ariana, In percentages, how much of your mfg business is resale of gift cards, vs. dispose through money orders?

    Since alot of the merchant gift cards are smaller denominations, it would seem to me that mfg. points this way is cumberson, UNLESS, you never have to touch the merchant gift cards and transfer ownership to the Plastic Merchant.

    Just wondering

    • Some of the gift cards your purchase arrive lectronicslly, some come to you physically.

    • I haven’t done any in the last 7 months or so. I did about $23k in November/December last year which was about 10% of my ms activity during those months. It may seem cumbersome (and it sometimes is) but if you’re buying $100 – $200 gap gift cards in bulks of $1k+ it’s not so bad. Especially if you can liquidate them by simply copying/pasting the code online.

      In my experience the iTunes and Starbucks gift cards were a real pain to deal with because the codes are so hard to type up, not to mention all the plastic you have to tear apart. But if you’re buying in large quantities and earning 5x, it’s worth it because you don’t have to leave the house, deal with large MO deposits, etc.

      • If you have not done any in the past 7 months, why did u even post this article. Sponsored content? There were tons of payment related issues with bouncing checks, payment delays, rates always less than any other. It would have been great if you did some research before you wrote this. Do not encourage readers to fall prey to such scammers.

        • People have been asking about it. There were payment issues when I was an active seller too, but they were all resolved. I’m not advocating any activity or company here – I’m simply answering a common question about where to buy merchant gift cards for reselling purposes.

  2. Byron –
    I’m small time and managed to do 50k spending in six months, mostly UR, but added SPG, MR, and Alaska miles. All this with less than zero out of pocket, and no trips to WM. Most submissions are electronic. Less worry with Amex spending bonuses, etc.

  3. You have to start really slow. You need to keep good bookkeeping. You can get yourself into trouble if you are not careful. You need a liquid cash flow. That being said they are revamping their whole process in about a week.

    • I DO hope you are right. Ariana here did a nice puff piece for how wonderful TPM is…. without mentioning any of the serious issues and hazards. (like having to wait forever to get paid….. and the contant worry that your checks will get lost in the mail) Hope the revamping includes ACH payments (in a timely, raise, like manner, or better)

    • Yes – especially if you make enough profit, you need to report it on your taxes.

  4. I have yet to get any response (approval or denial) from The Plastic Merchant on my two application s spaced out by a year. My application answers are never one-worders, but do point out that I’m new to the reselling game. Anyone else in the same boat?

  5. I lost $2K in GC re-selling – it is VERY RISKY compared to regular MS via MOs. Lot of fraud issues, multiple times merchant zero out balances then you need to spend time calling companies to figure what’s happening with GC balances in process wasting multiple hours. I bought $2K GC from merchant, after few days they zeroed out balance for unknown reason. Now I’m stuck with no balances on GCs, I keep calling merchant everyday – no action. About to file CFPB complaint against merchant. I prefer regular MS route, if card is not activated you can go back to store where you bought it instead going in circles from one merchant to another. Also, in regular MS – you don’t have to worry about payments since you have your money in your hand either in VGCs or MOs form. BEWARE!! Multiple times GC bulk buyer late payments clogs your credit line on cards, you’ve no option but to wait for payment.

    Above experience is in general (not related to Plastic Merchant) – although I’ve heard about slow payments from Plastic Merchant while most of other buyers send payment electronically via ACH.

  6. Plastic Merchant doesn’t send via ACH because all the processors have shut him down. Also some of his checks bounced a few months ago, which he knew would happen (he said as much on Slack), but thought he could get money in his account in time to avoid. In other words, he was sending out payments without enough money in his account. That’s a crime, and if one of his sellers wanted to pursue that, he would be in major shit. Avoid this dude at all costs. How convenient that you would leave that out, Ariana.

    • I wasn’t aware of that since I’m not on his Slack group. I knew there were payment issues because of his processors, but was not aware of bounced checks. Again, I’ve never had issues with payments and during the period I was an active seller, they resolved all payment issues,

  7. I make at least $500/month (mostly UR) doing gift card arb. I have never heard back from the plastic merchant and have applied twice. I use all different channels of sourcing and selling using some of the big players – cardcash, raise, cardpool, giftcardspread.

    • Also to note – I have never manufactured spending using visa/amex gift cards as I have not figured out a way to liquidate them because I don’t live near a Walmart. If anyone has any ideas about that I am open to it. I only manufacture spend through retail gift cards mostly all egifts.

      • Zach, give us a general idea where you live. Maybe someone can offer an alternative to WM. Have you checked with your local grocery stores?

  8. I sold to TPM for a while and stopped. I can’t believe you’re promoting this guy.

    He’s had checks bounce. He’s hard to get in touch with. He shuts down his slack with no notice (the only way to reliably communicate or call out his BS). His rates are often inferior. ACH processors have shut him down so he has to mail checks, which are always conveniently postmarked late.

    Stay away, you’ve been warned.

    • Thanks for bringing this up, Dawson. This has not been my experience with TPG – they’ve always been quick to respond to emails and keep customers up to date about issues and how they’re being resolved. I have not found their rates to be inferior – they’re usually higher than other resellers. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to comment. It’s good to hear experiences from different users.

  9. BEWARE! Lot of risks involved in GC Reselling. Sometimes a gamble—much more than MO. I’ve lost more than I’ve gained out of that hobby. BEWARE!

    • I don’t think the risks are higher than MO. If your cards get hacked, you’re screwed either way. You also shouldn’t lose money if you file a claim with your credit card company.

    • I did GC Reselling for a while but it is very risky. Everything was fine until I had some bad cards that with no value attached to them and was denied a refund even with receipt. You also can have the sellers you give gift cards to not pay you and you have little to no legal ability to be reimbursed. I lost enough serious money to leave GC Reselling for good. Some people might find it alright but then again some people “MS” by investing in stocks without prior stock trading experience. SMH.

      • The same thing happens with Visa gift cards sometimes – $0 value cards show up in the mail or your mail gets stolen (I know two people this happened to). Your credit card company is your best friend in that scenario.

  10. You better make sure you have a backup plan if you sell to TPM. He has banned over 100 sellers with no prior notice, potentially leaving you holding thousands of dollars worth of gift cards you bought with the intention to sell him. If you don’t have other buyers, then you’re stuck holding the bag and taking a huge loss. This is not where you want to start your gift card selling career.

    Mike breach his contract and pay you late, and you dared to ask why? BANNED! No explanation. Do not challenge your master. Mike got drunk and stayed up all night again snorting adderall, woke up grumpy and hungover and didn’t like your joke in his slack channel? BANNED! He will ignore all emails asking why.

    It’s not a question of when will Mike screw you, it’s a question of how hard will you get screwed?

  11. Personally I could not be bothered with this mainly because I don’t like floating my money where I have zero control. I can see the benefit of TPM where you earn points for free or sometimes very little out of pocket but I’ll stick to VGC to MOs and cover the fees with 2% CB cards

    • There’s risk with all GC reselling but I agree the risks are lower with VGC’s than merchant cards. The rules are *always* changing. I did some GC arbitrage last summer before Ebay changed the rules about buying merchant GC’s with Ebay GC’s. I was lucky to unload my inventory in time at a modest profit. Target also recently changed their rules about buying merchant GC’s with Target GC’s. At least with VGC’s there are more options to spend them as a last resort. Still, there’s risk. I used to use USPS for MO’s until they stopped accepting VGC’s. Now I use WalMart, but they’re a lot less convenient. It would suck if WalMart stopped accepting VGC’s for MO’s though.

  12. Finally sensible comment, you’ve zero control – with VGCs your card numbers are not getting shared from one person to another in excel sheet over internet.
    With GC reselling, your card numbers are moving from one person to another. Also, buyers are very quick to push bad GC cards loss to you, I understand it’s biz for them. You’re either generating points at zero service fee OR eating 100% loss.

  13. As someone who hasn’t done GC reselling but is interested in it, I’d have preferred a brief comparison between TPM and other GC arbitrage venues. For instance a clarification as to why going through a sort of anonymous startup like TPM is better and more beneficial than the other regular open channels.

    It would have also been nice to see a bit more of that in comments from people who have GC arbitrage experience, but most comments seem like the usual scaremongering from people who see this hobby as zero-sum venue.

    Also Ariana, when you say “The arrangement works so well because they’re able to get fraud-free gift cards” what is this based on? Curious why this person has an advantage on fraud-free GCs, or their rate/price.

    • In my experience, TPM’s payout rates are much higher than other companies. They specifically target us for gift cards because they know we’re after points and miles, and that the chances of us selling them fraudulently obtained gift cards are low.

  14. I’m not too happy with Plastic Merchant either. I was approved last year, & started slow. Then I had to stop suddenly when my husband became ill and I became a full-time caregiver. Tried to log back in a few weeks ago–and my account seems to be “Inactive.” He has not replied to my request to re-activate. I sent another message to him today.

  15. I just signed up with PM and have sent them a few GCs to see how their service works. I made some errors importing the GC data and got immediate replies on how to resolve the problems. Unfortunately, I made an error in their favor with regards to an amount of a GC and have emailed them to try and resolve the issue. I have yet to get a reply.

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