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The Curious Case of Petco Gift Cards: Calculating Time vs. Savings

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amex offers petco analysis

Buying Many Many Petco Gift Cards

If you read this blog long enough (or many other good ones) then you will come across a ton of great deals. Some of the deals may not be for you and some are going to be no-brainers. Then there are the ones that are good, but require some amount of time and effort invested in order to see a worthwhile return. I recently ran into one of those and thought I would share my thoughts on the matter.

Petco Amex Offer

There recently was an Amex Offer for Petco. Unfortunately it has reached its maximum number of subscribers, but I know many of you who have automated your Twitter accounts will have it on your cards. Anyway, the deal is simple. Spend $10 at Petco and receive a $5 credit. 50% off is great, but the denomination isn’t.

Filling a Need

My first thought when I see deals like this is to utilize them by purchasing gift cards. I don’t need to spend anything at Petco right now, but I will at some point. By purchasing gift cards now I am locking in 50% off. We also have a beautiful dog who needs grooming and our local Petco does a great job. It really is a win win. Except, when you remember that I had to place a bunch of separate $10 orders.

Running a Test

amex offers petco analysis
My beautiful Fiona.

To test how long each purchase would take, I made a couple of test purchases back to back. Even though portals exclude gift cards, I decided to use the Alaska portal to see if I could hit their holiday bonus. I’ll save you the suspense. They never paid and it didn’t work, but I found I could checkout in about 60-90 seconds for each card. Not terrible.

I should provide a caveat here though. I am fast on the computer. For some people it would take longer. Anyway, after running my test I had some time so I plowed through each of my Amex cards until I had reached my desired number of orders. At one point my Petco account locked up. I thought they were shutting me down for suspected fraud (after all I was using a different credit card on each order), but it turns out changing my name to my wife’s in the profile messed it up.

Time Vs. Value

Now it is time to figure out if this whole ordeal was/is worth it. Here are a few factors I consider:

  • I like endeavours like this to provide me a value of at least $100 per hour.
  • The Petco expenses I have are recurring. In other words, I will spend money on pet grooming whether I do this or not. This isn’t a luxury expense.

So I paid 50% of face value for my Petco cards, but I don’t quite see it as 50% off. I could purchase Petco gift cards for 25-30% off face value from a reseller. There are a few downsides to that. Holding cards from a reseller is a risk and the discount over time can diminish depending on the inventory. It still takes time to place purchases from resellers too, so the time spent would be less but not nothing.

Was It Worth It

This deal was right on the margin for me. First off, it was incredibly repetitive to place so many orders. There definitely was a frustration factor. What put me over the top was the realization that I was locking in savings on mandatory expenses. Our dog likes Petco more than the local groomer and our experiences there have been good. For those reasons I absolutely believe it was worth it, but it certainly is on the line and very close to the $100 per hour mark.


When you are looking at Amex Offers or other deals that require a lot of time, it is important to figure out what works for you. In my case I had the time and the need for these cards so it worked out, although I could see an argument against it as well. I’m sure most of you have gotten halfway through a deal when you realized the time and effort involved simply wasn’t worth it. I was close with this one.

As we move into the next month where the “deals” will be coming hot and heavy, remember to go at your own pace and to fully consider what you are getting yourself into. As for my beautiful dog, she is happy with my decision and loved her recent trip to the groomer!

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Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I love this analysis. I am constantly trying to determine whether or not a deal is worth the time and trouble. My analysis is further complicated by the fact that I make a lot more per hour than I can ever make at this game. But, I hate my job and I love saving/manufacturing money. So, I add to my calculation whether or not the ms activity is more enjoyable than work. It’s an enlightening exercise.

  2. I clicked through the AA portal and all Petco GC orders tracked for me, I placed 12 orders at 3x.

    $120 in GCs, plus CC rewards, plus 360 AA miles…can’t really beat it.

    To boot I clicked through TCB when purchasing my dogs food (4 large bags for a 25lb shih tzu will last probably a year) the purchase tracked for the amount BEFORE the coupon code that I used so I am getting a little over $20 back on the back end.

    After all is said and done about $40 for a years worth of dog food…no brainer.

  3. Nice conclusion man.

    I like your thoughts on “Time Vs. Value”. You can never leave that out. However, I will just reiterate that you do have a pet. Your pet likes Petco. The Petco expenses you have are, in fact, recurring and “required”. Therefore, the decision making tree pretty much stops there and you should do it.

    The only reason why you wouldn’t is because you can get way way better with more efficiency elsewhere. Otherwise you got a 100% win here man. No regrets. 50% discount is SOLID man. 25-30% off face value from a re-seller is headache. Lets not forget your own experiences for GC reselling. These Petco GC are straight from the source. Peace of mind is worth a lot bro.

    • I agree it was worth it. Not the best deal, but 50% off expenses I have anyway. There are a ton of deals like this coming around. Hopefully posts like this give people ideas to look a little further into the deals they come across.

      • Definitely bro! Really enjoy the ninja tricks series. I use that as a reference guide to make sure I follow a similar model for various purchases. Hope youre killing it out there. This week has been nuts.

  4. I didn’t do this but instead used BofA’s 10% rebate and shopped through UA’s pets mart 10x deal for dog food and will get the UA bonus. Did the same for 15% rebate at petco. You may still get the Alaska points but can take weeks for them to post the bonuses. We often buy dog food this way and just stock up.

  5. I read the terms and it said the offer was not for e-gift cards. Did you buy physical cards or did e-gift cards trigger the $5 back too? Thanks for sharing your experience!

  6. Is there a reason you didn’t do this deal in store? I went in and got 2 $50 gift cards in 2 transactions and had them do split payments on 5 amex cards per transaction. Had DH do it at a different store with no problems – probably less than a minute per swipe – the terminal was a little slow….

    • I have a lot of cards and it is about a 15 minute drive away. It would have probably taken me about the same amount of time, so I prefer not to have to deal with someone questioning me. (Although I wouldn’t be doing anything wrong.) There is definitely nothing wrong with doing it in-store.


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