Discover Card Holiday Mall Promotion: 10% Back + $100 Loophole?

Discover Holiday Mall BannerThe Holiday SeasonTM seems to start earlier every year. Discover Card has already announced their 2007 Holiday Mall Promotion, which essentially give you $20 back for every $200 that you spend at limited mall locations:

Head to one of over 160 participating shopping centers from November 1 – December 31, 2007, and you’ll get a $20 Discover Gift Card for every $200 you spend on your Discover Card*. Just take $200 in Discover Card receipts from any store(s) at a participating mall or shopping center to Customer Service (or the Discover Card Booth) and redeem them for a $20 Discover Gift Card.

The fine print version:

*Get a $20 Discover Gift Card for every $200 in purchases made with your Discover Card at a participating shopping center between 11/1/2007-12/31/2007, while supplies last. Original receipts must be presented to a participating shopping center’s Customer Service Desk (or the Discover Card Booth) by 12/31/07. Limit five Gift Cards per account during the promotion period. See Gift Card terms and conditions for full details.

Doing the math, you can up to 10% back this way if you manage to spend an exact multiple of $200, with a maximum of 5 gift cards ($100) for $1,000 in total spending per Discover card account. Not too shabby if you’re gonna spend that much anyways.

But during last year’s promotion, a reader happened upon a loophole: If you return your purchase, there is no requirement to return the gift cards (and still isn’t one this year). Maybe you found something cheaper elsewhere, maybe you just decided against buying yet another iPod. Now, you may have some ethical problems with taking advantage of this loophole. In that case, you can try to hand them back to the Customer Service clerk. But be careful, because if you end buying stuff again later, you might not be able get that $20 gift card back again since they don’t have any official mechanism to return the gift cards. Found via Fatwallet.

This would go nicely with the Discover More Card, or the Discover Miles Card which offers 12,000 Miles (worth a $50 gift card + $25 cash) for making one purchase a month for a year. Both also offer 0% APR balance transfers.


  1. BuildAndSucceed says:

    Interesting! I’m probably too lazy to do this one. I usually pay everything I can with my rewards card and by christmas I get gift cards from it to buy everyone gifts. lol


  2. You would think Discover would have closed this loophole after it was abused last year. I guess the corporation feels that as long as people have their card in hand they are going to use it. Sadly this is true for most Americans.

  3. Doesn’t Discover make money from this promotion (through transaction fees to the merchants) regardless of the loophole?

  4. This is how I funded all of xmas last year. I didn’t think they’d offer it again because the loophole was SO gaping. But yay!

  5. I used the Discover Miles card for 12 months and got the bonus 12,000 Miles plus used the 0% to the fullest by keeping the card maxxed out. I got away with $125 in gift cards easily (JCPenney GC & Red Lobster GC). Then used a 20% off coupon with my JCPenney purchase & also Red Lobster coupons for cheaper seafood!

  6. Last year we purchased restaurant gift cards at our mall (Chili’s & TGIFs). So we also earned the 5% cash back bonus (which they are doing this year) on our purchase.

    PLUS the restaurants were giving you a $5 bonus card for every $25 you purchased.

    So it broke down like this:

    Purchased $200 in gift cards, got $40 in bonus cards.

    Got $20 Discover Gift Card.

    Got $10 Cash Back Bonus reward.

    So spent $200, got $260 in gift cards then got $10 back.

    Not too bad.

  7. Sooo, if I drove all the way down to Baybrook Mall in Friendswood (the only mall in all TX that has this promo and an Apple store) and buy an Imac I’ll get $100 back? Fortunately I have family down there to make it worth my time to drive halfway across the state.

  8. I am waiting for my $60 reward after I spent $500 in the last 3 months on my new Discover. It was easy. I charged my husband’s expensive medication on it 3 times. The rep said the reward will show up Nov 19 on my online account. Will see.

  9. On its Web page directing card holders to participating malls Discover adds in an asterisked note ” … while supplies last.” A big run on those gift cards and the offer automatically cancels?

  10. Return all your stuff with empty boxes for an even better deal! People who do this have no excuse that there aren’t more programs like this.

  11. Kris, that is called stealing.

  12. Buying with the intent to return is illegal and is a felony in some states. Good luck to those whom will try to cheat the system.

  13. Jonathan I have had your blog in my rss feed for a long time and this is the first post ou have written that I really find bothersome. Returning the products after getting the gift cards is STEALING. Just because Discover doesn’t have a deterrent in place to prevent this doesn’t mean it is acceptable.

  14. This “Discover Card – return and keep the gift card strategy” reminds me of the old Costco return policy. People were taking egregious advantage of Costco’s super generous and unlimited return policy by returning expensive items like TV’s many years after buying it so they could shamelessly upgrade to a newer model.

    It’s technically permissible but seems to be a moral breach of the spirit of the promotion. Strangely, although I find this practice to be in bad faith, I have no problem condoning App-O-Ramas that take advantage of 0% balance transfer promotions. Go figure. :)

  15. JohnC – Yes, you would get $100 back in Discover gift cards.

    LSmith – Good point that Discover More card is currently offering 5% back on restaurants.

    TW – Yes, the 12,000 miles can be broken down in a variety of ways:

    $100 in Travel cashback + 2,000 miles left over
    $100 Gift Card to various stores
    $50 gift card + $25 cash + 1,000 miles left over
    $50 cash + 2,000 miles left over
    Looks like you got a good result too :)

    I’m actually trying to use the rest of mine up as a cash travel credit. If you travel, it’s the same as cash.

  16. I think the parallels to the Costco Return Policy are fair. That great return policy is why I buy a lot of stuff at Costco even if I could save a small amount by going elsewhere (buying online to save tax, for example). In fact, I just bought a new shredder from them the other day just for this reason.

    So, if I really did have problems with my purchase at Costco or the item did not work as expected, I would return it at Costco with no internal objections. Even it meant they lost money (which most returns probably do), I would not offer to pay the money they lost. (Again, there is no way for them to even accept such an offer?)

    But, if I bought an LCD TV with the only intent to return 6 months later and buy another one, I would personally not sleep well at night. So I wouldn’t do that. Everyone has their own moral line in the sand, but that is where I am at.

    Kind of like the Heroes episode last night :)

  17. RothNovice says:

    well put jonathan. Ethics is a line drawn on the sand!!!!!!!!

    Shooting people in Iraq is unethical. Paying taxes to a government that goes to war is unethical. Cheating income taxes is unethical…

    beating an orange light when u know u should have stopped is unethical….

    beating urself is unethical in some societies…..:)

  18. I read the links on using 0% cash back, but how do you get the cash in the first place. If you open up the card do you request the convience checks and then start from there?


  19. pip – see here:

    III. Application Tips and Getting Cash From 0% Balance Transfers

    Here I guide you through the application process while showing you how to maximize your profit. Finally, step-by-step instructions are provided on how to get your interest-free money.

  20. SavingEverything says:

    If you bought an LCD with the intent to return it 6 months later, and to repeat, you may be labelled as a “habitual returner”. And, this may not look good for your reputation as a faithful consumer. Ethical or not, you wont spend a dime in the end on new technologies. (In other words, you’ll be giving money to the bank for the item; you lose interest on that money; but, you have very nice TV or other item in your home for the time period within the return policy.) That’s not a bad idea. Too bad you can’t really do it at the big chain stores like Best buy or Circuit City or others.

    for Strabo, yes, Discover Financial Services (Discover Card) receives transaction fees for purchases from the merchant (usually 1-2%), and are not refundable if a purchase is returned… that’s the cost of doing business. for all, it’s not a loophole. It’s a way to get consumers into the mall; to get them to spend money; whether it’s at the mall, near the mall, or money to get to the mall (ie. gas.)

  21. Here is a related question. Maybe someone will know an answer.
    I got $2000 dollars on my only discover card under very low APR. If I purchase an item for $100, the the standard APR will apply. Here are some questions:
    1. After I charge $100, the standard APR will apply immediately without a grace period?

    2. If I return the item for a credit, will the $100 apply to my purchase or to my balance $2000 (which of course hase lower APR) ?

  22. worked like a charm, bought diamond earings for $1500, brought the receipt to the discovercard desk, got 5 giftcards and returned the earings a couple of hours later.

  23. Discover Card has sunk to a new low. Their 5% cash back BONUS that you have to sign up for. They will give you 5% for qualifying purchases, such as gas, restaurants, hotels etc. The group changes quarterly. The kicker is that you can only charge up to $300.00 for the 5%, that’s right you can get a whopping $15.00, which is only $12.00 more than you would have received at the 1% level. They give you the impression you can get up to $300.00 using the 5% BONUS program. What a scam!!!


  1. [...] from August 1 through September 7, 2008. The mall list is pretty short, tough. See this post on a similar promotion for more information. Don’t forget your buy 1 get 1 free movie tickets with Discover as [...]

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