How I Spun that Best Buy iPad Deal Into Thousands of Points/Miles at No Cost Using Ninja Tricks

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staples price match ipads rewards
Photo by Andars.

Making a Great Deal Even Better

Yesterday I wrote about Best Buy’s Black Friday in July sale on iPads. Specifically I mentioned the 64GB iPad Air 2s which seem to be a sweet spot in the lineup. Those particular iPads sell on Amazon for about $550-$560, but Best Buy was selling them for $474.99.

The deal did go away yesterday, but came back this morning so I think you might see them return tomorrow as well for a brief time.  This morning when the deal returned, I decided to use some ninja trickery to make the deal even better. Lets take a look.

Staples 110% Price Match Guarantee

Last month Staples introduced a new 110% price match guarantee as part of the back to school season. While it sounds better than it is, they basically will match the price of a competitor plus add 10% to the price difference. So lets look at the iPad Air 2 64GB Space Gray on Staples.

staples price match ipads rewards

 

With the price being $474.99 at Best Buy, the difference is $64.01. With the 110% price match, the price of the iPad at Staples should be $468.59. Great deal so far, but lets see how we can make it better. First off, by ordering from Staples, I will receive 5X Utimate Rewards points with my Chase Ink card and 5% back in Staples Rewards. (You may get as little as 2% in rewards depending on your membership tier.)

staples united
4 United miles per dollar!

Of course, there is also portal cashback. While Staples isn’t currently listed on Discover (for double cashback), I noticed that the United MileagePlus portal is offering 4X points per dollar today. But wait, it gets better! They are also offering a “Back to School” promotion with a bonus of up to 4,000 miles. The bonus is tiered:

  • 500 bonus miles for qualifying purchases of at least $125
  • 1,750 bonus miles for qualifying purchases of at least $600
  • 4,000 bonus miles for qualifying purchases of $1,500 or more

Getting the Price Match

Update: Best Buy’s sale has come back into stock, but Staples is now denying the price match, because it is considered “Special Event” pricing. It seems this example won’t work (although it was dead when I published this), but the overall strategy is good any time you find a sale at a retailer that Staples will price match to.

So now that I had my portal strategy, it was time to get going. Before making the purchase, I decided to hop on Staples chat to verify they would honor the price match. This is the best way to go since you can confirm everything before ordering and then keep the agent on chat while you place the orders. Once the orders are placed they will instantly adjust the price.

staples price match ipads rewards

After getting on chat I submitted a price match for both the Gold and Space Gray iPads. I explained that I wanted to purchase two of each. Unfortunately they denied my request for the gold iPads and only approved the match for 2 of the grays. I would have fought them a little harder, since I wanted to hit the $1,500 threshold for the United portal bonus, but just after approving the match, the iPads went out of stock on Best Buy’s website.

Since I didn’t want them to change their mind, I asked the chat agent to wait while I placed the order. After going through the portal, I signed in, placed my order, went back to chat and told him the order # and I received an email for the price adjustment within a minute. The new price per iPad was $468.59 or $506.55 including tax. Perfect!

Reselling

staples price match ipads rewards

This version of the iPad currently resells on Amazon for about $560. I have been doing some selling through Amazon lately and know that iPads sell quickly. If it goes for $560, then I would net about $525 after fees. It is more than likely that the price will drop. At $541 I would break even cash wise. That is what I am expecting to happen. Even at a slight loss I still make out. Lets look at why.

Add Up the Rewards

Lets look at the rewards earned on this transaction:

  • Ultimate Rewards: $1013.10 (price after tax) x 5 = 5,066
  • United Miles Portal: $937.18 x 4 = 3,749
  • United Miles Bonus: 1,750
  • Staples Rewards Earned 5%: $46.86

So on a $937.18 purchase I made 5,066 Ultimate Rewards points, 5,499 United miles and $46.86 in Staples Rewards to be used later. Lets try to quantify that, although I know values are a bit subjective. For the values, I say Ultimate Rewards are worth 1.7 cents each (a value I have been personally using for a long time) and United miles are worth 1.5 cents each.

  • Ultimate Rewards value: $79.66
  • United miles value: $82.49
  • Staples Rewards value: $46.86
  • Total value: $209.01
  • Rebate percentage: 22.3%

Wow! That is efficient. Especially for something that I am expecting to sell at cost. Also, keep in mind you could do even better by purchasing Staples gift cards at a discount. This past weekend discounted cards were available on eBay and I have purchased them for as much as 40% off.

Conclusion

I know this all sounds a bit complicated, but I spent about 15 minutes on chat purchasing these iPads. If I decide to resell them, it will take about 15 more minutes to pack them up and ship them off to Amazon and then they do the rest. I am hoping the deal returns so I can get at least two more to max out the United portal bonus, but even with things as they stand, I did pretty darn good.


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33 COMMENTS

  1. I am not familiar w/ AMZN reselling so I curious what happens if whoever bought that ipad decided to return it?
    Who bears a financial responsibility?

    • I do a fair amount of Amazon selling myself, if you send the item (ipad) in new condition, and they return it after they open. You can charge them a 15% restock fee. Amazon allow you to do that. Although you’ll likely to be hit with a negative feedback.

    • Mike that is a good point. I have experienced a small percentage of returns which does have a very small effect on my calculations, however it won’t make a tremendous difference. iPads tend to have a low return rate, but that is always a possibility.

      On Amazon if a customer decides to return something they have 30 days. If it is opened it can be resold as open box or used which would mean about a 10% hit. (Which would still put me in a good position on this deal.) Best case they return it unopened and Amazon will resell it.

  2. Hail to the Master.

    (I didn’t know you could do price match with a chat. Always thought one has to go to store and give a print copy of the price from another retailer, in this case, Bestbuy. Thx Shawn.) Ur the man!

  3. so I am thinking about doing this on the AA promo for 3,500 bonus points for $1,000. With one IPAD total coming to $506 including tax, does that mean with both it will exceed the requirement? or is the $1000 shopping requirement net? thanks

  4. Hi Shawn, thanks for sharing. But a word of caution – reading thru T&C, it says : “Contact with Staples for price matching, sales assistance, etc. will likely cancel eligibility.”
    Any experiences on clawbacks?

  5. Just tried the exact same thing as they were back in stock at Best Buy, and this is what I got from staples chat

    Unfortunately, we are unable to complete the price match request at this time due to product is on black Friday sale on competitor’s web site.

  6. just requested the price match on staples and was denied because bestbuy’s price is considered promotional pricing.

    • It seems like they have clamped down. This is still possible with other sales though. Its always good to be on the lookout. It is unfortunate because a sale price is a sale price.

  7. This is great information, thanks for selling.

    As an amazon seller, is there a way you can tell what products are actually selling (as opposed to looking at what is listed which hasn’t been sold yet)?

    Thanks!

  8. 3 strikes and I’m out with 3 different chat sessions. All stating Black Friday promotion is a special event and not subject to price match.

    • Yeah it seems like they have shut down all price matches to the Best Buy sale. I even tried again and was shot down. This strategy still works for a ton of other sales though. Something to keep in mind going forward.

  9. Another factor – don’t forget about giftcardwiki. If you wanna still make use of the BB offer make sure to buy a BB gift card first at a discount – maybe could get a ecode quickly? Not sure.
    Also – they are about 10% discounted for staples – so if you wanna just make some cash back anytime staples has an awesome sale that extra 10% can be huge increase in profits margins

    • Yeah the issue I found with Best Buy cards is that the higher denominations are discounted only about 2%. All of the cards that are 5-6% off right now are small denominations.

      As for Staples, you could definitely go the route of discounted gift cards. I actually stock up on Staples gift cards during eBay sales, etc. and then use them in situations like this. I decided not to complicate this post with those details (although I did mention discounted gift cards at the end), because I wanted to present something that just about everyone could reproduce. Thanks Jesse!

  10. i told staples agent my friend got the price match this morning the agent is asking me the order number

    that will be very helpful for everybody.

    • Sorry. I’m not going to post my order # online. Now that everyone has asked them to match, they have decided to quote their terms. Unfortunately this particular deal is dead, but the tools I used will apply to many more deals down the line.

  11. I really like posts like these because I can utilize the theory on other products and promotions.

    Thanks a lot.

    Although, I will note that a n00b would take too much time in executing this transaction and thinking this through. Since youre pro, its really cool to hear how fast and straightforward it can be. I hope to be at your level one day and I really hope this becomes 2nd nature as I do more of these deals.

  12. I thought any purchases made through the United sales portal requires purchase with a United co-branded card. Am I mistaken?

  13. Don’t forget that you can price match in store. If you print out the best buy page you likely will get it as they are just gonna see price and can’t really tell it’s a huge sale for just a few days. You would lose the portal CB but still would make out well.

    • Last time I tried that at stapes, the galaxy tab 4 I was going to buy, was out of stock at gamestop by the time I got to staples, should have just bought it when i saw it at gamestop on line. Manager said item has to be available to purchase at the time of price match

  14. I have been taking advantage of their $150 off iPad Air 2 models this week and managed to get my account flagged by Staples as being a reseller. I called and they will no longer allow me to buy Apple products (at least through their website). I haven’t tried to do it in-store yet, but I’d lose out on any portal benefits. It was good while they let me do it.

    • Yeah I have heard of this happening to others as well. No one seems to know what the number is that flags the account. Apparently Staples and Apple have a contract that limits how many products each customer can buy. From what I have heard you can still buy in-store, but as you say you lose the portal rewards.

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