A Free Double Dipping Points Tool: How to Take Advantage of Plink Rewards

I buy lots of gift cards at my neighborhood Staples store. Some of those cards are sold at face value meaning that a $50 Starbucks gift card costs me $50. This rewards program is a way to make money on those gift cards, in addition to earning points for the purchases. And it’s a way to reduce the cost of the fees for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards.

What’s more, making online purchases from stores like Sears will earn credits towards miles or gift cards that are stackable with the other miles and points and discounts you can use there.

I hadn’t even heard about Plink until Frequent Miler blogged about it, and it took several times seeing online mentions before I focused on it.

But it’s free and easy and takes just a few moments to set up, so it’s worth paying attention to. Here’s a basic primer on how it all works.

How Plink Works

Plink is a shopping rewards program that works automatically. You sign up for the program and then link a credit card, and then qualifying purchases made with that credit card will earn you points in the Plink program. There’s nothing more to do to earn the points.

In this way it is similar to Rewards Network, the program that used to be known as iDine and Transmedia before that, you sign up and earn miles in your favorite frequent flyer program for dining and it’s all based on using a registered credit card to pay for the transaction.

The nice thing about this system — in addition to being entirely passive, you do not need to remember to do anything — is that the rewards are on top of whatever other rewards you’ll earn from the purchase.

So if you go through a mileage shopping portal you will earn the points from that portal and you will earn points from Plink. And of course you’ll also earn points from your mileage-earning credit card.

And since Plink points-earning is based on net purchases, using a coupon code won’t disqualify you from earning Plink points. You’ll just earn points on the actual spending charged to your registered credit card.

What’s more, they’re just tracking spending with a given merchant and not what you buy so you will even earn Plink points for buying gift cards.

You Get Points Just for Signing Up

Signing up and linking a credit card earns you 500 points, which is worth for instance a $5 Amazon gift card. So that’s $5 free even if you don’t ever use Plink. But since it’s free and automatic you’ll likely use it and earn more than that.

The signup bonus points do not post instantly upon linking a credit card, but should show up after an hour (or less).

Setting Up Your Account

Setting up an account is easy, you can do it with Facebook or Twitter in addition to manually and you’ll just need to add an email address.

Then you’ll be asked to log into your online bank account. You choose the bank that issues the credit card you want to link to Plink, enter your user name and password, and then will confirm the credit card you want to use. (If you have more than one card account linked to the user ID, you’ll select that card.)

Then you have to add merchants to your Plink ‘wallet’. Initially you can only add three, and those will be the ones you earn Plink points for shopping with. In other to expand the size of your wallet and add more merchants you will need to complete transactions that earn Plink points or refer other people to Plink.

How You Earn Points

You earn points by spending money on your linked credit card with participating merchants that you have added to your Plink wallet.

A sample of current merchants:

  • Staples
  • FTD
  • Sears
  • Advance Auto Parts
  • Champs
  • Dollar General
  • K Mart
  • Gap
  • 1-800-Flowers
  • United Artists Theatres
  • Edwards Theatres
  • Regal Cinemas
  • Burger King
  • Quiznos
  • Outback Steakhouse
  • Red Robin

Some of these will be useful to you, others not, which is why having a limited number of stores in your Plink wallet should be fine.

The number of points earned at each merchant depends on how much you spend, and isn’t a certain number of ‘points per dollar’ but is a set amount based on spending thresholds with each transaction. For example,

With Staples you earn:

  • 50 points when you spend $15
  • 125 points when you spend $30
  • 300 points when you spend $60 or more

With FTD you earn,

  • 400 points when you spend $35
  • 750 points when you spend $60 or more

With Sears you earn,

  • 50 points when you spend $12
  • 125 points when you spend $25
  • 300 points when you spend $50 or more

Since a Plink point is worth a penny (in gift cards) in most cases on the redemption side, that’s a $3 effective rebate on a $50 Sears purchase (6%), a $3 effective rebate on a $60 Staples purchase (5%), and a $7.50 effective rebate on a $60 FTD purchase (12.5%).

Redemption Opportunities

The 500 points you get just for signing up and linking a credit card are enough for a $5 gift card to Amazon.com and Walmart, or a $5 Tango card or $5 in Facebook credits.

There are redemption opportunities at the $10, $15, and $25 levels and there are apparently going to be options for $50 and $100 coming as well.

Additional merchants you can redeem for credit with are:

  • iTunes
  • Regal Cinemas
  • Overstock.com
  • Barnes & Noble

Tango cards are interesting because they’re redeemable for gift cards with several merchants like Starbucks, Target, Home Depot, Groupon, Pottery Barn, Zappo’s, and SpaFinder. You can also redeem them for cash, after an administrative charge and shipping charge (you’ll take a haircut that’s over 10% as a result).

You can also use your points to make a Red Cross donation, or redeem them for airline miles with:

Alaskan Airlines Milage, American Airlines Advantage, Frontier Early Returns, Hawaiian Miles

I prefer AAdvantage miles myself, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, but I’ll take what they give me!

Unfortunately, the website doesn’t tell you anything about the redemption rates for airline miles. Frequent Miler reports them as:

1000 Plink Points = 240 airline miles/loyalty program points
2500 Plink Points = 600 airline miles/loyalty points
5000 Plink Points = 1200 airline miles/loyalty points
10,000 Plink Points = 2400 airline miles/loyalty points

That’s pretty brutal, it’s a consistent 4.167 cents per point (with each Plink point worth a penny). I wouldn’t spend that much for miles.

You Can Earn Referral Credits, Too

Sign up using my referral link, and if you wish you can leave your own in the comments to this post as well. It doesn’t cost anything to the person signing up to give credit to a referrer.

Each successful referral earns 100 Plink points, worth about $1.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

You want to get as close to the threshold for the biggest rewards with each purchase, without going over by too much. If I’m buying gift cards at Staples, I might pair a $50 Amazon card and a $10 Starbucks card to hit $60. Often going over will be unavailable, such as if you’re buying a $200 gift card. But I wouldn’t want to do two $50 cards in the same transaction if I can break up the transactions and get to $60.

If you’re referring someone in your family, or anyone else that would entail using the same computer as an existing Plink user, be sure to use a different browser or browse in incognito mode. Otherwise the referral credits won’t post.

You are allowed only one Plink account associated with an email address. Now, some people will sign up for multiple accounts using different email addresses so that they can register more than one card, although I believe even there you’ll only be able to have one account linked to a given bank account login.

Even those folks may still want to change the card associated with an account every now an then (fro instance if one account gets targeted for a bonus.)

If you want to change the credit card associated with your Plink account, wait until any outstanding points post, as changing the card associated with your account before points post will cause you to lose the missing points.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Signed up 2 days ago, I didn’t know about the 500 pts for signing up and until now, however I did not get them…Did I miss something? Thanks

  2. Pretty sure most if not all of the bank online access agreements you sign make you promise not to give your login to anyone. Too risky for me.

  3. I’ll have to give this some thought. I don’t like giving up my login info but at the rate my wife spends at Gap it could pay off nicely…

  4. Gary, will you please share your thoughts about providing log-in info on-line? This flies in the face of everything we’ve had beaten into us about on-line security.

    I signed up yesterday, but it’s been bothering me ever since.

    Thanks

  5. AMAZON STRATEGY: Sign up for Plink here: http://fw.to/GB9i3CF / Tie your Plink account to your Chase Ink credit card and add Staples offer / Buy Amazon or Kindle Gift Cards at Staples (as close to $60 per transaction as you can get) using your Ink card and earn 5x Ultimate Reward points per $ plus 300 Plink per transaction / Load Amazon credit into your Amazon account / Click through BeFrugal http://goo.gl/VRalQ5 any time you order from Amazon to earn 4-8% cash back / If you value 5 UR points @ 10 cents & Plink @ 1 cent & average 6% cash back, you’re getting a 21% discount on Amazon purchases! Merry Christmas!

  6. If I am not mistaken, Staples is limited to 10 transactions per month. I am also linked to a business card, so get a rebate with that as well. A two hundred dollar Visa will get around $5.10 back with the two links. Not free, but better than eating the total fee on each one.

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