6 Hours Of Labor – Gift Card Churning

Last week, I had tweeted about a stack of gift cards

It was 72 in all, and I finally slugged through it and the entire process took 6 hours. It was literally painful. My shoulders were aching from perching over my desk to package all the cards.

I broke down the activities of entering each card one by one into Cardpool and that took 2 hours. This part takes a while because of creating individual orders and saving the PDF’s. Fortunately, I did it on Windows and multitasking using the Alt+Tab keys made it quicker. Downside to that, I don’t have a PDF creator and had a ton of files I had to open individually and print. On the Mac’s it’s very easy to open up all of your PDF documents and click and drag into another document and you have 1 giant “bounded” PDF documents in one file. Then printing it makes it easier.

The toughest part was 4 hours to pick and pack all the cards. I separated all the cards into 5 envelopes. I decided to split them because I didn’t want to put all my eggs into “one basket” because the contents would have been $13,000 worth of gift cards.

Gift Cards


I could have made 19 total orders and got the top left box that cost $12.65 to ship and all the cards would have comfortably fit inside.

The Process

When I am doing any activity that does not require much critical thinking, my mind wanders. While packing everything, I couldn’t stop thinking about this post from Miles for Family about closing up shop. Blogging takes a crap ton amount of time. Researching takes a ton of time. Manufacture spending for yourself takes time. Then selling all these gift cards that took 6 hours was laborious. This 6 hours didn’t include the time of unpacking, sorting, and scraping that junk that hide the PIN numbers. That stuff that covers the PIN makes a huge mess and leaves a trail of crap all over my desk every time, no fail.


The worst part? I’m not even sure if I’ll be getting extra miles from the portals. The process has changed. When I placed all the orders, I was under the impression it was status quo so I placed some orders looking for some cash and miles. If everything lines up, it was worth it. If it doesn’t, it’s time to look for a new avenue.

26 comments… add one
  • I love your gift card churning posts. And, as a sometimes churner, I have had my share of issues. But, is 6 hours worth your time for this? There are so many things that can go wrong, especially with Cardpool. I have stopped using them because they take forever to process anything.

    • Cardpool is the best among other buyers, try giftcard.com or saveya and you’ll see the difference.

      • For this churn, the 6 hours wasn’t worth it. I’m still no sure I’ll get paid for it. Which makes it entirely worse since the average cost is approaching 20 cents per point. At $8,000 we’re looking at a $1600 loss. The other $5,000 were a different brand and I received my points for it already

  • Looks like you edited this post while I was reading it… I hit the comment button and everything below the pic went away… all that stuff about it being too much work.

    I really think you’re on the right track reflecting on the work aspect – you can’t just say “I make all my money on the buy” and ignore the sell side. You need to attain a rate of return that adequately compensates you for the time you put in.

    With some businesses the “magic” is that at scale the roi increases faster than the workload, but with gc churning the workload and roi seem to scale pretty linearly.

    • I totally agree with you, I’ve put a lot of focus on the buy side and finding the deal. A lot of the cards that I’ve sold in the past were quick and painless, 1 hour tops for $10,000 worth because of the interface is much better to upload on Giftcard Zen.

      In future posts, I hope to cover more on the sell side.

      PS. Not sure what you meant about the things below the picture as I did not edit/update this post after going live

  • I have been chatting with a reader who also does GC churning, and I keep thinking about getting into the business, but I hear stories like this and makes me want to stick to reselling. How much profit did you make per hour? I’ve been wondering if reselling is more lucrative than GC churning. GC churning lets you liquidate and restart faster at a much lower margin than reselling. I think I spent 2 hours yesterday packing and dropping off packages yesterday at a pretty low margin too.

    I feel you on the blogging part. Blogging takes up an hour or two per day that could be spent on doing MS or doing other enjoyable things.

    • I still keep thinking GC churning is easier than reselling because you don’t have to deal with returns, scammers, and unhappy customers. I haven’t used FBA so keeping an inventory in my apartment is really difficult too, especially holding it for months at a time waiting for it to sell. But I totally understand about the work…last night I spent 2 hours entering 35 cards into GCZen and I hate silver scratch off stickers now!!! I ended up using a screwdriver to lift the stickers off or scratch them off if it wasn’t a sticker, haha. I also hate glue dots now…

      • Like Eu mentioned, I like GC churning because I am afraid of the same reasons mentioned during reselling.

    • Sorry, missed answering your question on profit/hour. It’s typically a loss with each gift card churn as I am trying to accumulate all the miles and points. Generally speaking, we’re looking at most 1 cent per point.

      I am not arguing the fact that gift card churning is expensive compared to other methods, but this method works best if you’re in a city where it’s a tough environment or no access to Walmarts.

      For me, all I need to do is pack up all the gift cards into a couple of envelopes and visit my favorite clerk at the post office. He and I connect pretty well. I’ve gotten him a couple of Starbucks gift cards (under $10 because of the USPS rules on gifting to postal employees) and coffee and donuts a few times.

  • What do you mean you have no PDF creator? There’s tons of free tools available like FreePDFxp or Nitro Reader. There’s also online tools which let you merge multiple PDFs into one, or split them up whichever way you want.

    • JB – I was able to save all the orders as single PDF documents. When I went to go print them, I had to open each PDF document and hit print 42 times.

      On the Mac, there’s this easy and free to collate all the PDF’s:

      There’s a few web apps for websites that do the same thing, but I don’t trust it since it has my address on it for the return labels. (I don’t trust a lot of things)

      Had it been in 1 PDF document, I could hit print one time, and the printer will print out all 42 pages.

      • Don’t you have a paperport? Its superb in stacking PDF files.. As easy as couple of clicks.

  • Hopefully no potential future employer ever reads this. It’s like watching a first grader try to run a business.

    72 cards should only take you an hour and that would include removing the sticker and glue from the back. You said you could have done 19 orders which I take to mean 19 different brands. Odds are that most of those brands could have been e-cards if not on cardpool then on zen or raise.

    If you want to engage in business activity without business tools that’s fine, but a flat bed scanner, adobe acrobat pro, OCR and this
    would have saved you hours of your life.

    • The reason for 42 orders vs 19 is to separate all of the gift cards into different packages so not all $13,000 is in one package in case of loss.

      Cardpool is giving away free money for postage because they give you a regular stamp. If you combine the stamps from all the orders onto one package, you can have subsidized priority mail. With Cardpool, they were offering the best rates and charge a “convenience fee” for submitting electronic gift cards. That is now a non issue after this post has gone live.

  • Helpful information, but could work on decreasing the condescending attitude in presentation.

    • I agree with what Kyle and Ouch said but OTOH if you don’t like what CTP has to say or how he says it, why are you reading his blog?

      • Sorry, I wasn’t clear. My comment was directed at Kyle. CTP’s post is great. 🙂

        • “Hopefully no potential future employer ever reads this. It’s like watching a first grader try to run a business.”

          “If you want to engage in business activity without business tools that’s fine”

          Completely unnecessary. The rest of his comment was helpful but there’s no need to intentionally condescend people while helping them.

  • Ah, but bloggers wouldn’t know that anyone was out there, some days, if not for the people who live to make themselves feel better by talking down to others!

  • “Cardpool is giving away free money for postage because they give you a regular stamp. If you combine the stamps from all the orders onto one package, you can have subsidized priority mail.”

    How does this works? Do you cut the stamps from each order and paste them into one order?

    Also, what’s the average time cardpool or gift card zen take to receive the cards? I sent some GC this saturday and I am wondering when am I going to know they received them.

    • There’s a post about how to use the Cardpool stamps, just check the archives. 🙂

      I literally live next door to Cardpool and it still took 5 days to reach them. GCZen is still on the same side of the country and it took about 5 days to reach them. Sometimes, USPS First Class Mail can be slow…but technically it should take 2-5 days depending how close you already are.

      • Thanks EU, I’m really surprised that your turn around time is so slow despite the close geographic region. Was this using their normal $.69 stamp? Did you try doing priority mail?

        @GoodMXGuy here’s the latest post you can read up on it.


        For me, using the aforementioned method, about 4 days turn around and on the 5th day I have the funds in my account to restart the cycle

        • I just got bulk seller status with Cardpool so I’m hoping things will be faster. 🙂 Yes, I was just using one 69c stamp, and only had a small handful of cards so I didn’t do priority mail. I’m sending in a small box to GCZen and after that I think I’ll probably stick to Cardpool. Is it true that as a bulk seller you no longer have to ship the cards in anymore? It’s all accepted electronically?


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