IRS Economic Stimulus Check Promotions: 10% Bonus at Albertson’s, Kroger, K-Mart, Sears, and More

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The economic stimulus checks are coming! Before depositing your tax rebate at the bank, it might be a good idea to see what retailers will offer you for it. While I don’t necessarily like the idea of treating this extra money as different from any other money (a dollar is a dollar), you might as well take advantage of the promotions if it doesn’t change your intended spending patterns. Although some of these require an economic stimulus check, others work with any tax refund check.

Even if the big names like Kroger and Albertson’s don’t ring a bell, read the lists below carefully for a store that is near you. For example, in Portland, Oregon there is the popular Fred Meyer chain, which I didn’t know was part of the Kroger family.

Supervalue Inc. Supermarkets – 10% Bonus
Including Acme, Albertsons, bigg’s, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop ‘n Save and Shoppers Food & Pharmacy. From their press release:

Customers who are interested in growing their refunds should bring their government-issued economic stimulus or tax refund checks, along with government-issued identification, to customer service counters at their local stores between May 2 and July 31, 2008, to purchase store gift cards in $300 increments, not to exceed $1,200 per household. Each gift card will be loaded with an additional $30, to bring each gift card total to $330.

Kroger Co. Supermarkets – 10% Bonus
Including Kroger, Baker’s, City Market, Dillons, Fred Meyer, Food 4 Less, Fry’s, Gerbes, Hilander, Jay C, King Soopers, Owen’s, Pay Less, Ralphs, Smith’s and QFC stores. From their press release:

Kroger customers who are interested in exchanging their refunds or economic stimulus checks should present their check and customer loyalty card at their local store’s Customer Service center from May 2, 2008 through July 31, 2008. The program is limited to one offer per household with a limit of $1,200.00.

Kroger tax rebate promo

Sears, K-Mart, and Land’s End – 10% Bonus
I was going to buy a Martha Stewart futon from K-mart just last week… From their press release:

When customers bring their stimulus checks to a Sears or Kmart cash register, they can convert the amount of the check into gift cards, plus receive a bonus gift card worth an additional 10 percent. To be eligible, the amount of gift cards purchased must be equal to the full value of the stimulus check. The gift cards can be redeemed at any Sears, Kmart or Lands’ End retail stores or online at or The promotion is scheduled to last from May 14 to July 19, 2008.

Radio Shack – 10% off $50+ Purchase
Targeted at the “underbanked”, but if by chance you want something from there… Personally, I’ve only bought a headphone splitter from there in the last 5 years. Their press release.

Customers who use their checks to pay for purchases above $50 between May 4 and July 12, 2008, will receive a 10 percent discount on their purchases. Any amount left over from the purchase will be placed on a Vision Silver Prepaid MasterCard, which can be used at any place that accepts MasterCard.

Via Reuters, Fatwallet, and Consumerist. Oh, Staples has a page of special offers like $50 off $500 spent on computers, but nothing specifically tied to a stimulus check. Anyone else?

Don’t lose those $660 gift cards!!

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  1. while it is important not to change your spending habits, it is also important that these gift cards dont influence you 2-3 months donw the line, when u kinda sometimes may see it as free money or gift cards that i need to spend off so i dont lose them etc

    For example, lets say you have a $500 kroger card. Candy at the store next to Kroger might be $1.00 while at Kroger it is $1.11
    Most likely you may end up buying your candy at Kroger. This is the danger many of us cant avoid.

    Many times too since it is a huge gift card, we tend not to carry it around with us and leave it at home, resulting in many trips to the store without the gift card. Happens to me all the time.

  2. Mike Hardin says

    I’m not sure how you’d do it, but it seems they would make some provision for those of us recieving the freebate via direct deposit. Maybe bring in your original bank statement, and they could highlight the deposit. Still wouldn’t work for me, since mine is being deposited to my HSBC savings account, and I don’t get an “original” statement from the bank, just the ones available online.

  3. I work at one of these grocery stores, and I have to say, many of our customers make our store the only grocery store they shop at. Certainly there are many who come in only occasionally, or people who only buy their produce and meat from us, or the cherry pickers, but a good percentage come in every week and do their shopping. This is a great opportunity for them. I am not sure what we are doing about the direct deposits, though, and I have been meaning to ask that.

    X-masy, I don’t know about your example. As I said, I am not sure how many people comparison shop since gas is so high (we certainly notice fewer cherry pickers these days). Is it really worth it to comb Krogers and the store next to Krogers for prices, and then shop at both? Most people would probably say it is worth the $.11 to save the time doing that. Most people are only going to comparison shop on big ticket items.

  4. I must say, I am one of those who doesn’t comparison shop groceries much. I usually go to either Safeway, Costco, or my local Asian grocery. However, I do wait for the sales cycles and stock up on things only when they go on sale at Safeway. A big family can go through $600 of groceries in a month.

    I agree that you should be able to get some sort of receipt for getting your money via direct deposit. Initially, I had thought that everyone got the stimulus in the form of check, but I see now that if you received your refund by direct deposit then your stimulus comes the same way.

  5. $330 in groceries at one store would last me a very long time. I am one of the above mentioned cherry pickers who shops the best deals at four grocery stores and two pharmacy chains. This month I spent only $160 on groceries for my wife and I. It could take me six months to use that much money at one chain.

  6. For chains like Sears/Land’s End as well as many others you can always buy gift cards with about 10% discount on eBay. This promotion makes little difference really.

  7. Darn, I think that my stimulus package will be a direct deposit, so I won’t be able to just sign over a check. Oh well…

  8. Seems like this is a great way to nickel and dime those same “underbanked” populations with gift card fees. And to give those stores a quick, one-time boost to their Q2 numbers.

  9. Kroger is letting anyone in on the 10% deal as long as they buy $300 gift cards, or so I heard.

  10. A thoughts and a question:
    1- I would worry that the stores would use this as an excuse to raise/keep prices high on their most popular items. It’ll hurt us all, then.
    2- Wonder if there’s a way to compare paying down a CC at a lower interest rate to getting one of these cards. Certainly better than savings account if you’d use the card wisely!
    WHAT MAKES more sense? Pay down 5% CC or get GC that might take you 2 months to use? Somebody…..??

  11. Me and my direct deposit. Oh well.

  12. I made too much to get the stimulus rebate check. But if the companies involved are adding the 10% to anyone buying the same amounts in gift cards, I would hop on that bandwagon with the stores I most fequent.

  13. be careful of carrying huge gift cards too…..any company in this market can close shop with zero notice or file chapt 11 protection that makes giftcards invalid. ie. Sharper Image etc.

  14. I’m actually going to take advantage of this deal, but in a smart way. 🙂 Right now, we know 2 things for sure:
    1. The inflation is rising.
    2. You get an extra 10% (ir, basically, free $60) is you give your check to them.

    The best thing to do is to either buy something that’ll last you a while – like canned goods, before that “something” goes up in price, or to buy something that’s always going to have the same value.

    personally, I’ll spend all $660 on the so-called “forever” stamps: one such stamp is all it would take to send a letter, even when the postage price goes up (on May 12th, actually).

  15. Yeah, so is anyone getting a paper check? What’s the point?

  16. Stamp price increases have historically been well below the rate of inflation so stockpiling $660 worth of forever stamps is not a great inflation hedge. You’re better off buying I-bonds with your rebate check if you want inflation protection.

    Can you buy other store gift cards (e.g., Home Depot) with Kroger gift cards? I know Kroger sells other retailer’s gift cards, I am just unsure if you can use a gift card to buy a gift card.

    If you can, this would be a great way to get additional money back for a ton of stores/restaurants.

  17. Don’t forget that retailers like Kroger also sell giftcards to other stores as well. Lets say for example that I receive 1200
    I can use that to get the 1200 in Kroger gift cards and then turn around and purchase gift cards for my favorite restaraunts as well as a single large visa gift card. ( I believe the admin fee for one is 3.95). Also, don’t forget that since you will have exceeded the 750.00 in one month on your Kroger plus card, you would then in turn be eligible for .50 off per gallon of gas. It would take some planning but one could really benefit.

  18. Trannylicious says

    Oh, rats! Just yesterday I bought a new pair of Reebox Crosstown DMX walking shoes on sale for $44.00 at Sears.

    Sears: Keeping America Running!

  19. I just talked to my local Albertsons store, they were told with Direct Deposit they would still do the gift cards.

  20. Anyone know how long the 10% Kroger deal will last? I’m thinking one could take advantage of the 10% deal more than once. Rather than tying up a large amount in gift cards for a few months I’d rather buy them in smaller increments each month. For example get $600 each month instead of $1200 all at once.

    Don’t foget to use your rewards credit card to purchase the Kroger gift card(s).

    We also spend enough each month to take advantage of the .50 off per gallon of Kroger gas for 4 fill-ups. This usually saves us an additional $45 each month.

  21. Austin Chu says

    Ken, the Kroger 10% offer ends on July 31, 2008

  22. Great Post! My Dad and Mom recently got thier checks in the mail, went to Kroger and placed the gift cards on Ebay. Right now, some other people are doing it also and I’m seeing $330 gift cards go for about $320ish so if people aren’t a fan of the gift cards, get one anyways and just sell it on Ebay. You can get an extra 20 on top of it 😉

  23. Austin Chu says

    HA, that’s actually a great idea. That’s how you leverage the economy. Ebay is saving our economy.

  24. I know some people have been able to get these gift cards with direct deposit. I’m pretty sure Kroger is doing it. If you have one of those credit cards which give 5% cash back for groceries, you could pay $1140 for a gift card loaded with $1320 after the cash back from the charge.

    As long as that doesn’t make you buy a lot more stuff than you otherwise would, that seems to be a great deal. But if you don’t have the discipline to avoid changing your spending habits, then maybe not so much.

  25. Brittney says

    I just bought one of these giftcards yesterday at Kroger, and we didn’t even have a record of our freebate. We used our debit card. The woman at the counter said we couldn’t use a credit card, but cash or debit or check. We had heard only a part of the commercial on the radio, and didn’t hear all the details about the economic stimulus…

    Now I’m wondering if the $300 total goes toward my ‘purchase’ amount and will give me a gas discount. =)

  26. I have tried it on two grocery stores (Meijer and Jewel Osco), although they have a fine print saying that max per household is $1200, but in practice there is no limit. They don’t even check your IRS letter/check/direct deposit statement.
    You can use your credit card to buy those gift cards…. With Amex Cash Reward, I get another 5% for shopping at grocery stores…
    This is an easy 15%!!
    Then you can buy another store gift cards (shell gas card, restaurants, and even ebay gift cards). With ebay gift cards, then you can buy another discounted gift cards that got sold on ebay.

  27. I was at Kroger this weekend and tried to purchase a $660 giftcard for $600 and they told me I had to give them the actual stimulus check. Well obviously, I did not get a stimulus check, I received it by direct deposit. I called the corporate customer service number and they told me I needed to write the local store a personal check. However, our local ads read “NO PERSONAL CHECKS”. So in my area of Central Illinois, there is a lot of confusing regarding this program. My opinion right now is that it is not very stimulating to me. I will try again and if it does not work, the money will just go into savings.

  28. money scammer says

    I just got my cards this weekend.. got $1,200.. had to call fraud department to get it through. They didn’t ask me anything but for my Kroger Plus card. I used my citibank driver’s edge card which has a promotion for 6% on grocery.. so that’s 10% from Kroger and 6% from citibank.. 16% return.. better than Phil Town baby. they didn’t didn’t ask for anything other than credit card and kroger plus.. if you wanted to keep getting the cards I imaging just keep signing up for K. Plus cards. Now if I could just convert the K. gift cards to cash I would keep buying them on my card for a $120 + $72 = $192 per $1,200 transaction.
    I was able to buy an Ebay gift card with the gift card but they are small amounts.. the visa cards have activations fees.. yuck… any idears?

  29. I like it… I shop every week two or three times at Albertsons. You are right, that you have to be aware not to change your spending habits, but this is an instant 10% gain – I have no problems with that.

  30. As far as price shopping goes, my wife just looks at all of the adds and makes a list of the sales on items we need that are going on at the various grocery stores. She then takes her list to Walmart. All you have to do is tell the cashier that the same product is listed for such and such a price at whichever competitor and they will match it. We got 10 boxes of cereal for 10 bucks. I think we saved around $15. If you hate Walmart, you can always ask the cashier at the grocery store that you like to shop in if they do price matching. Its a great way to save!!

  31. Leon J & Therese C.Tessier says

    To whom it may concern,

    I received a letter today telling me that my stimulus check is going to be $600.00 that makes no sense to me.First of all we were told all along if your a couple and file income tax together you are going to get $1200 dollars now my husband got a letter today telling him the check is $ husband retired in1994 and pay’s taxes out of his pension check ,I still work and have filed with my husband for the last 50 years and we are supposed to get $600.00 I borrowed $600.00 to pay bills because of the $1200.00and now I will have nothing left when I pay the $600.00 .Therese Tessier

  32. I tried to get the 10% discount with my stimulus check at my local Lucky’s (formerly Albertson’s, which is owned by Supervalu) and the customer service agent looked at me like I had lost my mind and said there was no such promotion. I’ll bring in a copy of the press release next time and make sure I talk to a manager. Anyone else running into problems?

  33. Thanks for providing one of the best money blogs out there.

    As far as taxes, I want to add the individuals with back taxes will never be able to retire as their tax debt will just explode with penalties and interest. Individual taxpayers with back taxes should resolve their back tax problem and seek a professional for tax relief. Individual taxpayers could get a fresh start by resolving their back taxes through different programs.

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