UPDATE #1: My TopCashBack.com account went from “pending” to “payable”. So the cash back with Visa gift card purchases from Staples worked!
UPDATE #2: The terms in many of the shopping portals now exclude you to earn cash back/points on gift card purchases at Staples. Going forward, you may not receive the cash back/points.
A few weeks ago I posted that Staples is now selling $200 Visa gift cards online. The benefit of this is that you a) do not need to go to the store (and sometimes they aren’t available in store), and b) can possibly earn additional points/miles by going through an online shopping portal.
When this news was announced I went ahead and purchased ten $200 gift cards for a total of 2,069.50 – $2,000 worth of gift cards and an addition $69.50 in fees (each $200 gift card comes with $6.95 in fees). I received the gift cards in the mail about 10 days later.
The process to unload these $200 gift cards:
- Activate each gift card – some gift cards take up to 24 hours to activate while other ones were activated right away. No idea why this was the case. The process for activating the gift cards was easy although annoying as I needed to do it for each individual card.
- Unload the card via Amazon Payments – I used three accounts to unload the Amazon gift cards. My account, my husbands account, and my dads account. I do not have my dads account set up to a bank account so I only use his account to pay people, not to accept payment. Since Amazon will shut down payments that transfer money back and forth between accounts, with my dads account I paid both myself and my husband $500. I then paid my husband $500 from my account. This was the maximum amount I could do as all three accounts hit the $1,000 limit. This allowed me to unload 7 gift cards fully and half of another gift card – so $1,500 in total.
Online shopping portal results
I went through the TopCashBack.com shopping portal to purchase the gift cards. At the time of purchase they were giving 3% cash back on all Staples.com purchases (e-gift cards excluded). While the cash back amount is not yet payable, it does show as “pending”. This makes me believe that the purchase was reported and that I will eventually see the 3% cash back – although still not 100% sure. The terms do not state that physical gift cards are excluded, only e-gift cards, so it should work.
While I do not have concrete data on other online shopping portals, one reader did report this morning that they received a notice from Swagbucks that the transaction is being processed (you can read more about Swagbucks here). That is a good sign even though the marketing folks at Swagbucks did tell me gift card purchases do not count. We will have to wait and see if it fully goes three. Feel free to share your experience with other shopping portals in the comments section!
Earning 5x points
The real reason purchasing gift cards at Staples is because you can earn 5x points with Chase Ink cards at office supply stores. Since I spent $2,069.50 at Staples I received a total of 10,347 Chase Ultimate Reward points on this purchase. On the conservative side, I personally value these points at about $200.
- Paid: $2,069.50 for $2,000 value
- Cash back: $62.09
- Points earned: 10,347 Chase Ultimate Reward points
So ultimately I paid $7.41 to earn what I value at over $200 in points! Keep in mind that only points earned from a Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Bold card can be transferred directly to a partner airline. Points earned from the Chase Ink Cash and Chase Ink Classic card cannot be transferred directly, but instead can be transferred to a Chase Ink Plus or Bold account and then transferred to an airline.
Some things to know:
- While I believe the shopping portal will payout properly, I am not 100% sure yet. When making this purchase I had to be comfortable spending the money if the portal did not pay out. In my opinion, it is still worth it as I’d be spending $69.50 for over a $200 value.
- The Chase Ink cards are capped at the number of points you can earn with the 5x point bonus. With the Chase Ink Bold and Chase Ink Plus card you are capped at 200,000 bonus points ($50,000 spend) and with the Chase Ink Cash and Chase Ink Classic you are capped at 100,000 bonus points ($25,000 spend).
- There are other ways to unload Visa gift cards, such as Walmart and Evolve bill pay. However, I do not live near a Walmart and do not have many bills to pay through Evolve, so I do not go those routes.
- If you have the Visa version of the Chase Ink card, you can get 1% back by enrolling in the Visa Savings Edge program. This will help you save even more money. You can read more about this here.
- You can also get 5x points with the American Express SimplyCash card, but this card is only cash back.
Chase Ink credit cards that give 5x points at office supply stores:
- Chase Ink Plus card: Get 50,000 points after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months; $95 annual fee waived the first year
- Chase Ink Classic: Earn 20,000 points after you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months; no annual fee.
The Chase Ink cards have a limited time sign up bonus. You can learn more about this increased sign up bonus here.
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