The Pitfalls and Dangers of the Home Improvement Gift Card (HIGC)


Earlier this week, the four letter acronym HIGC popped up throughout the blog-o-sphere and Twitter-sphere. The Home Improvement Gift Card can be a great way to accumulate a lot of points and miles. For example, buying a $500 HIGC at Office Depot using your Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus credit card will net you 2,500 Ultimate Rewards points because of the 5x multiplier on Gift Cards at Office Supply stores.


Million Mile Secrets highlights on his latest blog post that “The Home Improvement card is supposed to be used only at Home Improvement stores. It is VERY possible that at some point you will NOT be able to use the Home Improvement card elsewhere.” He also advises readers to “buy a small amount first and test to make sure you can load it at your Wal-Mart BEFORE buying larger amounts.  You do NOT want to be stuck with large amounts of Home Improvement cards which you can’t use.”

This can be a very addicting hobby and I warn those of you who are doing this to do so in moderation. I read through all the comments in Million Mile Secret’s latest blog post and have highlighted some interesting comments left by his readers.

AZTravelGuy writes,

I love that people play this game in high dollar values but fear getting stuck with $500 or $1000, unable to float that until liquidated some other way when things inevitably go pear shaped. If you have low risk tolerance why would you ever play a high risk game? I’ll tell you why: greed. Too many people see this is a way to get something for nothing – many of whom shouldn’t even be doing this if they’re that averse to the risk.

Arlan writes,

Hi, I called the home improvement card number and spoke to a customer service rep to see if this was ok to do. He said it probably was not and he would let his manager know.

Gary writes,

It’s probably the people who will go to OD and purchase 10K of these things that will get this deal killed quicker than those of us going and buying $500-1K at a time.

John writes,

Spot on Gary. It’s the single transaction stack of gift cards purchased that sets off the bells and whistles, not the casual miler looking to get miles for a car payment. Apparently if you read a forum and you figure out what HIGC (tough one) you ‘did the work’ and deserve to steal the riches.


This deal will not last long and will be killed fast, just like Vanilla Reloads and the $500 VISA Gift Cards at Office Depot. I’m not sure how they will implement this, but most likely they will take the PIN functionality away from the Home Improvement Gift Card. If that’s not possible, there will probably be a memo out to Office Depot to pull all the cards from the gift card rack as a temporary solution. You don’t want to be stuck with the Home Improvement Gift Cards that you won’t be able to liquidate. Of course there are alternatives to liquidating such as eBay or even using the HIGC themselves. Buyer Beware.


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9 Comments on "The Pitfalls and Dangers of the Home Improvement Gift Card (HIGC)"

  1. I think Arlan’s post was sarcastic :p

    They won’t take away the PIN functionality especially after they put it in. It’s a general use card (can be used at multiple unaffiliated retailers) so it makes sense that there is a PIN available. Liquidation won’t be a concern. The concern is that OD will stop selling it with CC. Which is exactly why I bought as many as I could :p

  2. One of the ODs I went to today was out of them. When the employee checked the SKU on the computer, she said it looked like they were not restocking the item, as it showed next restock date of 2099.

  3. VR’s in OD were around for months and months and months. It wasn’t until it was blogged about by every blogger that it died 7 days later. Very close correlation there….

  4. Help me understand something here. Lets say you are a retailer, you sell something, anything really. All the sudden there’s massive interest in what you are selling, its selling like crazy, you cant keep it in stock. Instead of being thrilled to death your reaction is OMFG this product is selling like crazy, we have got to stop people from buying it now !!!!!!!!!!!!! I dunno I just find it funny. I am not actually in this game, I don’t have a local OD but I read the post about Vanilla and this and I don’t understand why a store would find out something is selling like crazy and then think “oh s*it” and do everything they can to pull it. I don’t get it, a sale is a sale. There must be a reason stores carry gift cards in the 1st place, yes? They must be paid a percent of the sale I assume. So they sell these, they get their money no matter what right. I’m struggling to understand why they would care how they are being used. So people are not using the home improvement cards as they should, this is OD’s problem because …..

    • My suspicion is that it has nothing to do with logic of selling more. It is to do with paranoia about arousing suspicion from either the FBI (money laundering) or homeland security (funding terrorism). These are monetary instruments.

      Even the ignorant manager would freak out if suddenly for no good reason these started selling like crazy. Instant suspicion is that you (the store) is getting scammed somehow.

  5. Arlan writes,

    Hi, I called the home improvement card number and spoke to a customer service rep to see if this was ok to do. He said it probably was not and he would let his manager know.

    These type people kill the deals just as fast if not faster. People who get in the game not reading and learning what to do and what NOT to do, kill deals also. NEVER, NEVER make phone calls, that is a Deal KILLER!!!

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