I Caved! Why I Bought Simon Visa Gift Cards Online & How It Went

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Simon Visa Gift

My Experience Begrudgingly Ordering Simon Visa Gift Cards Online

I caved.  I bought Visa gift cards from Simon Mall online.  A bit over two months ago, I described why buying Visa gift cards (VGC’s) via online ordering didn’t move the needle for me.  However, a few things have changed since then.  Here’s why I decided to order from Simon online and my experience with the process.

What Happened?

First, since I shared my Simon online views, Gift Card Mall gutted portal rewards, including with my favorite portal, Rakuten Membership Rewards.  Long story short, GCM customers went from earning portal rewards on up to 60k monthly spend down to a 2k monthly spend limit.  Yikes!  The primary reason I loved GCM was because I could bring my VGC costs down to 0.055%.  Simon Online couldn’t get anywhere close to that cheap.  Regardless, GCM dumped me, and I planned to crawl back to my local Simon outlet.

But wait!  I discovered my local Simon outlet had reopened, but was not back to the normal of selling VGC’s.  Many hobbyists were and are in the same situation.  I touched base with management at my local outlet.  They were cordial as always, but they couldn’t even estimate when they would be bringing back the in-person VGC purchasing capability.  At this point, I recognized I couldn’t wait it out.  I needed to give Simon online a try.

Simon Visa Gift

My Simon Online Ordering Experience

I had previously rolled my eyes at the seemingly bureaucratic process for registering, ordering, and activating VGC’s with Simon online.  Once I came around to giving Simon online a try, I was admittedly refreshed by the not-overly-painful and actually-quick registration process.  Once I submitted the necessary info, I got email responses from Simon noting my registration completion on the same day.

The ordering experience was fairly seamless.  While I didn’t previously care about customizing cards, I did enjoy the option to do so now that I was in the middle of it.  After completing registration earlier in the day, I submitted my first order that afternoon.

I was pleasantly surprised at the consistent, informative email updates from Simon throughout the order fulfillment process.  Simon provided order receipt, completion, and shipment emails in a streamlined format.  Shipping speed was pretty quick.  I received the VGC’s four business days after the order.

Simon Visa Gift

The Elephant in the Room – Cost!

Simon has released several online promos since launch, but I haven’t avidly kept up with them.  For what it’s worth, I used the 20% off activation fees and free shipping offer this time.  I had no choice but to absorb the full processing fee of $10.

I made a small first order to experience the process.  Hence, I accepted a bit of elevated cost on this order.  All in, my VGC cost was 0.441%, not much higher than the 0.395% cost I previously paid Simon in-person.  While the Simon online cost was much closer than I expected to the in-person cost, it was still almost 0.4% more than my previous GCM cost.  Of course, I can drive these rates down a bit further with higher Simon online order amounts.  Regardless, whether I buy Simon VGC’s online or in person, I recognize the substantially higher VGC cost is the new normal, at least for now.

My Simon Strategy Moving Forward

Simon was a relatively small part of my acquisition strategy during the GCM heyday, but I will be more active with them in the near term.  Regardless, I’m not planning on Simon becoming my primary acquisition method.  Grocery stores continues to be my main go-to there.  I more than make up for high VGC fees at grocery stores due to permanent outsized earning rates in certain credit cards’ grocery categories.  It’s a bit more work than Simon, but that’s what the hobby is calling for these days, at least for me.

But how active will I be with Simon online?  It really comes down to two considerations:

  • Simon Online Promos:  My long-term use of Simon online primarily hinges on the availability of ongoing promos.  More specifically, the promo terms will or will not drive my spend there.  When my local Simon outlet opens for VGC purchases, the online option would need to provide clearly lower costs than in-person purchases.
  • Simon Outlet Availability:  When bulk VGC purchasing is back available at my local outlet, I plan to move more spend there.  I particularly value the ability to split payment across several cards during in-person Simon purchases.  For my situation, this capability trumps similar costs for online/in-person purchases.

Ordering Simon Visa Gift Cards Online – Conclusion

I previously wasn’t interested in ordering VGC’s via Simon online, but the capability is useful and the process painless.  Long term viability of Simon online is still TBD for me, but I appreciate the capability regardless.  Have you ordered VGC’s with Simon online?  What do you like or dislike about the process?

Benjy Harmon
Benjy is a fan of points, miles, and financial independence. An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently focuses on roaming throughout the USA expense-free (or close to it). He enjoys helping others achieve their travel goals, Disney-related and otherwise.

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26 COMMENTS

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26 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve done 8 orders online so far, each 22k-23k over last 2 months. Other than initial delay setting up online acct, everything has been smooth. Most orders I use my Citi DC cards, but I have used my Hyatt. Shipping seems to be 4-5 days to Arizona, which I’m not crazy about. But my local Simon mall, while open, also hasn’t started selling VGCs yet. And while there is add’l cost online, I save on gas driving 45 min round trip to my mall each week.

  2. I would like to start using some of my 2% credit cards: Citi DC, Fidelity Visa, PayPal MC, Barclay Arrival +.
    Any success with any of these cards for MS at Simon?

  3. Is there any problem using Navy Fed Credit Union credit card(s) for large GC purchases via either Amex or Visa? Not for sign-up bonuses, but just regular spend.

    • Bopeep,

      Don’t use Amex as they don’t pay out rewards with Simon. I don’t have any experience with Navy Fed via Simon, unfortunately.

    • I would not think NavyFed is any different then any other card. As far as I know NavyFed only has 3 cards. 1 is AMEX which cant be used at Simon for rewards, the other is basic card no rewards and they have a 1.5% cash back reward card. Im sure you could use the 1.5% card until they feel its overboard abuse and possible cut you but problem for me its only 1.5% im looking for cards at least 2% cash back such as PenFed, American Saving Bank or Citi double cash card.

        • Oh ya!! Thanks, thats great im all over it I need another 2% Visa card to replace my dead PenFed. I dont use Visa for anything else besides GCM so ill apply and dont mind use it until they cut me. Even when I go to Costco I normally pay with Visa GC that I purchased on sale with AMEX 🙂 every now & then ill use my IHG card when it makes sense for free rooms etc…and I have used IHG once before at GCM to earn needed points.

        • Charles, I found that NavyFed Flagship card 2x point (little harder to manage then cash back) on everything with a $49 pay to play annual fee, no other real benefits besides a worthless $100 global entry credit. Do you get a full 2% cash value when using point to redeem gift cards? You charge $10,000 = 20,000 points and you can redeem those points for a $200 GC or better if cash direct into your account? No other fees or gimics?

          • I did have this card last year and from what I remember it worked out to be 2% but I do remember that I could only sign up for Navy Federal CU if I have a relative in the military or retired military.
            2% cashback cards to consider besides NFCU with no annual fees:
            State Dept. FCU Prem. Cash Back+
            Signature FCU Visa Sig.
            I plan on looking into these two at some point.
            Another card you may want to investigate is the Discover It Miles card,
            1.5% and then an additional 1.5% after one year.

  4. I have been buying VGCs from Simon online for the past month and have appreciated the promo codes.
    I have been using a 1.5% cash back business credit card and buying $24K at a time. The net is $9.29 per card without any promos. I am going to start using my 2% cards but they have much lower credit limits. I figure if I do $4K that equals a net of $9.72/card; $5K equals $10.83/card; and $6K equals $11.56/card.
    I do like the process and it is easy, quick, and convenient. I usually get my VGCs within 3 days and appreciate the email notifications. The option to group the VGCs together versus opening each individual envelope for each VGC is a plus too.

    • You’re getting the 1k Simon cards and cashing out via money order at Walmart or something?

      I’m guessing putting your name on card helps with the gift card look some grocery chains hate.

      • Yes, MOs at WMT.
        I know several of the WMT employees at the Money Center and they understand that I am doing this for miles and points for travel.

  5. I also tried online making 2 purchases $10k+ & $19k+ using the 20% off promo that expired on 20 July. With that promo it brought down my fees to nearly the same as I was paying in store, although I was not aware of any other portal methods to reduce the price. Registration upon arrival was easy and I do like the fact you can put your name on the cards and choose the design. I selected red so they clearly stand out as different from the standard sliver $500 & $200 GC I also purchase from office depot & grocery. One of my ace 2% cards, PenFed cancelled my rewards earning, they said GCM purchases is consider abuse so I am no longer able to earn rewards on ANY purchase, that card now is now in my graveyard draw. Overall if I can keep the price same as in store purchase I prefer online just to put my name (As some Walmarts require your name) on the card and pick the color.

    • Mike,
      I was just considering using my PenFed card for Simon online VGC purchases. How much volume were you doing with GCM?

      • In store I was doing average of $60k a month ($20k every 10 days or so) less then 5 months between Sep 19 – Jan 20, but I did split payments that between my 2% PenFed & 2% American Savings bank cards. Last in store purchase was late Jan. 2 days after I placed a $10k+ online order in early July with PenFed I received a letter a not very kind letter in mail saying I was abusing the rewards program with a copy of their terms, not used for personal purchases etc… The letter was to soon after online order so surely it was a late letter from in store Jan. Regardless I was pisses since my $10k online PenFed order was a total loss (bad timing), card is now in graveyard but ill hold the free card just for the credit & history not to make a mark on my credit report if I cancel.

        • Just curious, anyone know or have data points if doing a split payment creates more flags with the CC? Are they able to see that I used other cards and the actual full purchase price? Is it better to make 2 x $10k purchases Vs. Single $20k using 2 cards?

          • Mike,

            Of course, not an issue on Simon Online since the site doesn’t allow that. But otherwise, I have no concerns splitting at stores.

  6. I have been approved but not yet bought any. for myself the best usage is probably for meeting SUP requirement or spending threshold (excluding AMEX) as you said the outsized return in office depot & grocery stores. hope simon will remain viable .

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