Using MyPoints for Unnecessary Purchases

MyPoints is a website similar to Swagbucks that rewards you for reading email, printing and using coupons, performing internet searches and more. I’ve been a member since March of 2008 and during that time I have earned over 28,000 points. Using the points, I have “purchased” gift cards to a variety of retailers. Using MyPoints for unnecessary purchases is the perfect way to keep yourself from feeling too deprived when you’re on a tight budget.

The System

For me at least, the fastest way to accumulate points is through the messages that are emailed by MyPoints. These messages are often advertisements for various companies. The link will take you to that company’s website to check out their product. The messages also sometimes link to survey sites. You can earn points for participating in surveys. Several years ago I read a blog post (I can’t find the original post – if you know what I’m talking about please let me know so I can give credit) about MyPoints. The post detailed a system for using MyPoints with Gmail. With this system, you can participate on your terms and keep MyPoints from invading your life with their numerous emails. When I signed up for MyPoints, I gave them an alias gmail address, something like “myaddress+mypoints@gmail.com.” Then I setup a filter for all messages addressed to that address. Each of these messages are set to “Skip the Inbox” and apply the label “MyPoints.” This keeps messages from showing up in your inbox; you can instead access them from the label “MyPoints” to the left of your inbox. I periodically go through these messages. I try to do this once a week but don’t always do it that often. Messages do eventually expire, which means that if you click on an expired message you will not earn any points. Depending on which browser you are using, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, you can set the links to open in a new tab in the background. Using the “J” and “K” keys, you can go to the next/previous message. Once you have clicked on each link you can then browse through each tab.

Other Ways to Earn Points

Another way to earn points is by Printing and Redeeming Coupons. If you already find yourself printing coupons at Coupons.com, this is a way to earn points at the same time. You earn 10 points for each coupon you print and redeem, plus and additional 25 bonus points for every 10 coupons you print and redeem from Coupons.com. They also offer points for SmartSource and CellFire. You can also earn points by completing surveys listed on your MyPoints home page. They also offer points for click-through shopping and web searches. I still prefer BigCrumbs for click-through rebates and Swagbucks for searching.

Redeeming Points

Once you have accumulated a number of points, you can start redeeming them. I recommend examining the Rewards page before you decide which gift card to “purchase.”  There is a often a huge difference between the price of gift cards. For example, currently a $25 gift card to Amazon will cost you 3,950 points, while a $25 gift card to Gap is 3,450 points. The general rule of thumb is that the higher the mark-up at the store, the less expensive the gift card. You should also pay attention to sister stores’ gift cards. For example, currently a $25 gift card to Gap is 3,450 while a $25 gift card to Old Navy is 3,650. I have never seen a Gap gift card that could not also be used at Old Navy or Banana Republic. Also keep sister stores in mind when you can’t find a card available to a store. In the past, I have found West Elm cards when they did not have Pottery Barn cards available.

You aren’t going to make a ton of money using MyPoints but over time, for a little bit of work you can fund your shopping habit. I have used my points to purchase gift cards at a variety of retailers, including a $100 Pottery Barn card. They definitely help out when I want to purchase clothes or housewares. Accumulating points would also be a great way to supplement your gift purchasing budget.

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