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How I Earn Up to 7.3% Toward Airfare Every Time I Shop at Walmart

Jan. 09, 2019
5 min read
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With a 2 and a 4 year old, our monthly budget can be intimidating. Day care, groceries, kids' needs, the mortgage, bills, headache medicine (for mom and dad), diapers, wipes — the list goes on and on. While Target is Mrs. Kerr's preferred shopping outlet, and I have the Target REDcard monthly balance to prove it, if we need something routine and need it cheap, I head to the Walmart that's five minutes from our house. I've perfected my strategy to earn Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards, which when paired with the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card and Wells Fargo Visa Signature cards are worth 1.5 cents each toward airfare booked through the Wells Fargo travel portal.

Double Dip With United MPX + Wells Fargo Propel

We regularly discuss the United MPX app and the ability it gives you at dozens of retailers to earn United miles for your everyday purchases. You link a credit card to the app, which is then used to buy a retailer gift card. You present the app-bought store gift card at checkout to pay for your goods, services or food. Walmart is on the MPX app, usually at a less than stellar 0.5 mile per dollar earning rate. While many may forego such a low earning rate, I have no problem taking an additional 20 seconds to use the app and earn the miles.

What's been really nice this year is discovering the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card recognizes all purchases made in MPX as United Airlines processed. Because the card earns 3 Go Far Rewards per dollar spent on travel purchases, I earn 3x points on all MPX app purchases:

As I mentioned, I have the Wells Fargo Visa Signature card in addition to a Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card card. That means my Go Far Rewards are worth 1.5 cents each toward airfare booked through the Wells Fargo travel portal. So, I earn 4.5% cash back toward flights with my Propel card on MPX purchases. If I paid Walmart directly with my Propel card, I would only earn 1 point (or 1.5%) back.

On top of the 4.5% back, we have the miles earned from the MPX app. TPG values United miles at 1.3 cents each, and with a 0.5 mile/$ earn rate, that is 0.65% back in the form of United miles. As a United cobranded card holder, I earn 25% bonus miles on all MPX purchases, boosting my total rewards on any in-app purchase to 0.8125% back in the form of United miles.

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At 4.5% and 0.8125%, that equates to my minimum savings of ~5.3% back on all Walmart purchases. I personally value United miles at much more than 1.3 cents/mile, so 5.3% to me is the bare minimum savings I recognize with this method.

Shopping Portal for the Triple Stack

If I don't need something immediately from Walmart right down the road, I'll go through a shopping portal and complete the online purchase with a Walmart gift card from the MPX app to compound the savings. Payouts for Walmart on points/miles shopping portals is typically pretty poor, and for straight cash back portals, there are category restrictions on the items you can buy to earn cash back.

My usual portals are the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which regularly earns 2 points per dollar at Walmart, or the Wells Fargo Earn More Mall that earns 1 point per dollar. I've had no problem having both portals payout when paying Walmart with a gift card. Also, if something is in stock at my local store, I'll shop through the portal and select in-store pickup to go get the item I need same-day and still earn additional savings. When there are 500 to 2,000 mile bonuses on the airline portals, they can be worth a look -- even if the per dollar payout at Walmart is low.

TPG values Chase Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents each and each Wells Fargo point is worth 1.5 cents, making my total return with the MPX + Propel + shopping portal triple stack 6.8% - 7.3% of Walmart purchases back in rewards to use toward airfare.

Bottom Line

Remember when paying for items with a gift card, you give up credit card benefits like extended warranty, return protection and price protection. If you want those protections for a large purchase, you should use a card that will ensure you have those benefits.

I understand that not everyone loves Walmart, but my goal at the end of the day is to provide for my family, and Walmart often lets me pick up routine items at the cheapest price. By stacking the above strategies and saving a noticeable amount every time I shop, I feel confident I've provided for my family just a little bit more.

Featured image by Image courtesy of Walmart
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.