Anatomy of the Staples $100 Gift Card for $85 Deal – My Approach & A Breakdown of the Math

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ebay staples gift card

Anatomy of a Deal

Over at Frequent Miler this morning I wrote about one of today’s eBay Daily Deals. For today only (these deals don’t usually last that long), Paypal Digital Gifts is selling $100 Staples e-gift cards for $85 with a limit of 5. That is a pretty good deal in and of itself, but I thought I would breakdown my approach and show you how you could go even further.

eBay Bucks, Portal Cashback & Credit Card Rewards

One of the great things about eBay lately has been targeted eBay Bucks promotions. Right now many eBay users (including myself) have been targeted to receive 4X eBay Bucks. Normally you receive a 2% rebate via eBay Bucks, however with this promotion that jumps to 8%. Pretty good.

Additionally, for some reason purchases of gift cards from Paypal Digital Gifts via eBay have been paying 5X Ultimate Rewards points when you pay with a Chase Ink card. Another nice return on investment.

Finally, both BeFrugal and Top Cashback are paying a 1.5% return at eBay. Not much, but it is better than nothing and when combined with all of the other savings, the math is very nice.

Preliminary Math

Let me walk you through the basic math of the deal with the rebates and savings I mentioned:

  • 5 Staples Cards @$85: $425
  • 8% Rebate via eBay Bucks: $34
  • 1.5% Rebate via Top Cashback: $6.38
  • Total Cost: $384.62
  • Points Earned = 2,125

All that is great, but what should you do with the gift cards. One option is to buy merchandise at Staples and resell it. If you want to go that route, the AAdvantage Portal is currently paying 5X AAdvantage miles at Staples to further your savings. Since I am not a reseller, I will forward you to Big Habitat for some ideas.

The other option (other than to buy stuff you need/want) is to resell the gift cards. To find the best rate I searched Gift Card Granny and found that a number of gift card resellers would buy the card at 86%. For a second I got excited, however for that rate they require you to mail in the physical gift cards. These are e-gift cards so that won’t work.

Fortunately I did find that Cardpool would pay me 81% for just submitting the codes online. (Update: You can also receive an additional 4% back by going through Top Cashback to Cardpool.) Sure I would be taking a loss on the price I paid at eBay, but overall I am still coming out ahead. It took about 15 minutes for the Staples e-gift cards to come via email and I was able to quickly go to Cardpool, enter the codes and checkout. They had confirmed the balances and mailed a check within an hour.

Final Math

  • Total Up Front Cost: -$425
  • Plus total proceeds from Cardpool: $405
  • Loss: -$20
  • Plus Portal & eBay Bucks: +$40.38
  • Plus Cardpool portal rebate: $16.20
  • Profit: $20.38 $36.58
  • Points earned 2,125

It is important to note that I spent a total of about 10 minutes to complete this transaction from beginning to end. It was as quick as placing an order, waiting for the gift cards to come via email and then entering the codes in Cardpool’s site. While the profit wasn’t substantial, it is still a very nice ROI considering the time spent.

Conclusion

Since I write about deals like this all of the time, I thought this post might be helpful to some of you. If you are interested in gift card churning, Chasing the Points has a very interesting series of posts about it. Did you buy Staples gift cards with this deal? Let me know in the comments and have a great afternoon!

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23 COMMENTS

  1. @Shawn –

    If only Paypal Digital Gifts would do those with VGC’s

    By the way, buyers can only pay for these with a credit card on EBay (through PayPal) when their PayPal account is at zero…then a buyer gets to select Credit Card as an alternative payment method; otherwise it will draw from a buyer’s PayPal account.

    • @ Shawn & John DELTA:

      Is it true that one’s Paypal account has to have zero balance in order to be able to use credit card alternatives? I have $400 in my PayPal balance connected to my eBay account so I am hesitating to pull the trigger. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

      • Yes you have to transfer out the balance before you can pay with a credit card. If there is a balance it will take the balance first before applying another form of payment.

  2. You can use a cashback site to cardpool which would give one 4% back and also you can request Amazon instead of a check from Cardpool and they would give you 6% extra. For me Amazon is the same as cash.

    • Somehow I missed Top Cashback for 4%. I looked at a couple of other portals and they had changed the language to show only for purchases. Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. Staples got strict with their gift cards. They don’t allow purchases of other gift cards (retail or Visa/MasterCard/Amex) or even postage stamps any more.

  4. FYI, you can also use the GoWallet app on iOS or Android to exchange your Staples eGift Card for a Gift Card Mall eGift Card, which you can then use to buy any of the gift cards etc that Gift Card Mall sells. Of course they’ll only offer you the same 81% that CardPool does, and you won’t have the option of going through a portal for more cash back.

  5. I emailed the people at the other GCM… giftcardmart.com and even though I didn’t meet their bulk selling requirements with this small order, they were happy to allow me to sell the cards to them electronically at 85.5% as long as I forwarded the paypal confirmation too.

    You can always call them if you don’t want to wait for a response too

    • While it does say on the listing that these can’t be used online, my experience is different. These are normal Staples e-gift cards, so I am thinking that language is leftover from when the Staples website didn’t allow gift cards to be used.

      I can’t guarantee 100% since I already sold mine, but I am almost certain these cards can be used on Staples.com.

        • I understand that, but terms are not always correct. (In fact, quite often the terms are wrong.) Up until recently Staples didn’t accept gift cards online, which is probably where the terms come from.

          I already purchased and received my cards. While I didn’t use them on Staples.com I can confirm they are normal e-gift cards just like I have received from every purchase ever. Previously I have used the same exact type of cards on their website.

  6. I activated the 4x ebay bucks, but my total bucks payout for 5 cards only shows $8.50. Have you already received the $34 in bucks for your purchase?

      • I signed for the ebay bucks with the hope that they would give me the 4x, but that didn’t occurred. Is there a way to receive that promotion? Right now I would get “You’ll earn $1.70 in eBay Bucks.” for one card.

  7. An interesting data point. I completed the purchase of 5 cards and sold them to cardpool. Today cardpool called and asked me a series of questions about the transaction before being able to process it. When she asked me why I wanted to sell them, I told them I decided last minute I didn’t want to buy a laptop from Staples that I previously had planned on picking up. The reason I said “last minute” is because she asked me how long ago I purchased the gift cards from ebay (was her other question) and I said “a few days ago” so I didn’t want to lie. The only thing I fudged was the laptop part. =/

    Was a minor annoyance but hopefully it goes through and won’t be an issue if I ever do this again. I’ve purchased many times through cardpool over the last 1-2 years, but never sold through them. I’m realizing that many of these deals aren’t as quick as the typical 5-10 minutes we initially think they’ll be. IME there always seems to be a few issues that surface so I typically allow for more time (mentally) to get it all done so that it’s not a frustrating experience overall.

    • The issue could be that this is the first time you have sold to them. I have sold to Cardpool before, so my transaction processed fine.

      Thinking back, I had a similar issue with them the first time I was selling. I believe they asked for a copy of my ID. There is a lot of fraud, so they are careful with new sellers I think.

      Those who do this a lot get bulk seller accounts which eliminates a lot of the red tape. Thanks Anthony!

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