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How I saved over $100 and earned bonus points on wine delivery during the pandemic

June 27, 2020
7 min read
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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has forced many people to take a hard look at what line items in their budget are truly essential and what they can live without. I don't think I'm alone in deciding that a glass (or two or three) of wine after a long day of work falls into the essential category.

We've already taken an in-depth look at how to earn the maximum number of points for alcohol purchases, especially if you're stuck at home during quarantine. But today I want to walk through two specific purchases I've made to show you how you can increase your returns even further by stacking different deals and promotions together. Some of these deals only become worthwhile when you layer in multiple cashback and bonus point offers.

Before we dive in, I feel like I owe everyone a quick disclaimer: I'm not a wine expert, but with very few exceptions, I've been impressed with the quality of the wine I've received from many of these companies. Of course, it's hard to complain when you're getting wine for as cheap as 50 cents a bottle, but if you have strong preferences when it comes to all things grape, this may not be for you.

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Six wine bottles for $3 with Bright Cellars

Bright Cellars is a monthly wine subscription club founded by two MIT graduates who use a Buzzfeed-style quiz to gauge your wine preferences and refine your pairings over time. A normal monthly subscription costs $90 for six bottles (plus shipping, which cost me $8), but by layering two different offers, I was able to bring the cost down to just $3 for my first month.

In the same way that credit card companies entice new customers with welcome offers, most subscription services do the same. If you're new to Bright Cellars you can receive $45 off your first-month subscription, meaning you'll pay just $45 + shipping for six bottles. While $7.50 a bottle is already quite a good deal, I was just getting started.

Photo courtesy of Bright Cellars
Photo courtesy of Bright Cellars

Many different online shopping portals offer bonus points at Bright Cellars. Many airline shopping portals offer around 1,000 miles, though there are lots of great deals from cash back portals too. I zeroed in on Swagbucks, which you can see in the top right is now offering a $45 rebate (though it was $50 when I signed up).

Photo courtesy of cashbackmonitor

A few weeks after you place your order, you'll receive a rebate in the form of "Swagbucks." These can be cashed out for PayPal credits, Visa or merchant gift cards and other rewards. Each Swagbuck is worth one cent, so the 5,000 Swagbucks I received amounted to a $50 rebate.

Any time you participate in a deal like this, I would strongly recommend taking screenshots of the portal offer as well as saving your email confirmation from the merchant. Portals don't always credit correctly and if you need to ask customer support to make a manual adjustment it helps to have ample evidence on your side.

I paid my $53 bill with my Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express to earn 2x Membership Rewards points (earn 2x points on the first $50k in purchases per calendar year; then 1x), or 106 points total (worth $2.12 based on TPG's valuations).

To sum up, I paid $53 for six bottles of wine that should have cost $98. I then received a $50 rebate from Swagbucks and earned $2.12 worth of points on the purchase, dropping my final cost to just 88 cents for six delicious bottles. I especially enjoyed the Folk & Fable bourbon barrel-aged red blend, but all of these wines were delicious. I would have been happy paying ~$10 a bottle or more, but to get them for just 50 cents each (before factoring in my point earning) might just be the deal of the year for me.

Related: Wine-related credit card perks

A multi-use Amex Offer

When we talk about offsetting the annual fees on credit cards, we usually zero in on travel benefits and statement credits that can help you recoup the cost. When it comes to Amex cards, all you have to do is utilize two or three Amex Offers a year and you can break even on most Amex cards.

Since the pandemic began, Amex has made a concerted effort to add Amex Offers that help customers who are staying in and ordering more essential items online. One offer that caught my eye (and I promptly added to my card) was a $15 rebate after spending $50 or more at Winc Wines, up to three times.

Photo courtesy of American Express

Winc currently has a promotional offer for new members of $20 off your first box. At the time I ordered, Swagbucks was also offering a $15 rebate, though that's since expired. Now your best bet would be to click through to Winc through the AAdvantage shopping portal and earn 1,500 AAdvantage miles, worth $21 based on TPG's valuations.

Photo courtesy of cashbackmonitor
Photo courtesy of cashbackmonitor

A Winc shipment normally includes four bottles of wine, but given the $20 off credit and the free shipping I received as a new member, I had to add an extra bottle to get over the $50 mark. My upfront cost was $56.91, which I charged to my Blue Business Plus Card (the same one I saved the Amex Offer to), earning 114 Membership Rewards points worth $2.28.

Photo courtesy of Winc

Between the $15 credit from Amex Offer and the $15 I received from Swagbucks, my effective cost was just $26.91 for five bottles of wine, or ~$5.40 a bottle. If I decide to go back and use the Amex Offer again, the $15 rebate will essentially amount to one free bottle of wine.

Photo courtesy of American Express
Photo courtesy of American Express

Related: How to earn the maximum points for alcohol purchases

Bottom line

Just like credit cards, a lot of the best value in subscription services (whether they're for wine, meals, clothes or something else) is wrapped up in the introductory offer. As long as you remember to cancel after the first month, there's no harm in trying them all until you find one you like enough to stick with. By stacking intro offers and shopping portals, I've been able to consistently score good quality wine for ~$5 a bottle or less with no end in sight.

Featured image by Vicki Smith/Getty Images

Featured image by Getty Images

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees