How I saved over $100 and earned bonus points on wine delivery during the pandemic
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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