snapyou, it usually takes a week or so following the close of a given quarter before the VIP certificates are awarded. I'm almost certain a gift certificate can be used on a buy now offer, but you should confirm with the LL staff be email or telephone.
If you make VIP status, you will be notified via e-mail by ks. This usually happens within a week to 10 days after the quarter ends. By the same token, Sharon from customer service will send you a note with the $250 gift certificate attached which you can download or print. The gift certificates are good for auctions, mystery auctions and best-buys, but cannot be combined with any other certificates, like photo contest certificates, etc.