Staples Is Selling $300 Visas Online & Why It Is A Bad Deal! (And a Good One!)

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staples visa gift cards 300

One of the more popular ways for people to generate Ultimate Rewards points has been to purchase $200 Visa gift cards at an office supply store with a Chase Ink card. Since Staples is the only office supply store that sells Visa gift cards online, many people often go that route for convenience. Recently Staples upped their game by adding $300 Visas.

Today I’ll break this deal down in detail and show you why it is good and why it isn’t. Let’s take a look.

$300 Visas vs. $200 Visas

staples visa gift cards 300

The old $200 Visas cost $206.95 while the new $300 Visas cost $308.95 each. Immediately you can see the fee as a percentage is better with the $300 cards. Let’s compare them in equal denominations:

  • 3 X $200 Visas = $620.85 = 3,104 UR = .0067 cost per point
  • 2 X $300 Visas = $617.90 = 3,090 UR = .0058 cost per point

By purchasing the $300 Visas you not only save a couple of dollars, but have one less card to dispose of. While you probably already knew this, the $300 cards are DEFINITELY better than the $200 cards, but are they a good deal?

Liquidation & Other Useful Information

Before we get to that, there are a few questions I should answer.

  • These cards are issued by Metabank. The pin is the last four digits of the card number.
  • You can only purchase up to $2,000 in gift cards in one transaction.
  • You can liquidate these cards to Serve and Bluebird at Walmart, Serve at Family Dollar and REDbird at Target.

Sample Ultimate Rewards Redemptions

staples visa gift cards 300

With that out of the way, let’s look at some sample redemptions and what they will cost. We established that with this deal you can purchase Ultimate Rewards points at .58 cents per point. Considering they are worth 1 cent per point for cash, you are definitely coming out ahead before accounting for your time. Let’s look at some popular redemptions to see what this means in reality.

Pay Yourself Back with Points

Some people generate points and then pay themselves back the fees in points. Here is an example:

  • Purchase $9,900 in Visa gift cards and generate 50,977 points at a cost of $295.35.
  • Use 29,535 points to pay yourself back at $.01 each.
  • Have 21,442 points left to spend however you want.

Basically you would be trading your time to liquidate 33 cards for 21,442 points. This course of action is generally not recommended, because Ultimate Rewards points tend to be worth more than $.01, but some people like to keep the cash.

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt is probably my favorite transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards at the moment. Let’s take a look at the cost of various redemptions on their chart.

  • Category 1 – 5,000 points – $29 in fees with $300 cards.
  • Category 3 – 12,000 points – $69.60 in fees with $300 cards.
  • Category 5 – 20,000 points – $116 in fees with $300 cards.
  • Category 7 – 30,000 points – $174 in fees with $300 cards.

Considering I have seen some category 1 properties going for $100-$150 and some category 7 properties going for $500+, you are getting a significant discount by generating points in this way.

United Airlines

United used to be a much better redemption option before they gutted their award chart. Let’s take a look at a couple of redemptions on United metal.

  • Roundtrip in Business Class to Europe – 115,000 miles – $667 in fees with $300 cards.
  • Roundtrip in Business Class to Japan – 140,000 miles – $812 in fees with $300 cards.

As you can see, the United flights are definitely a discount on what you would pay for the ticket, but aren’t necessarily cheap. You will be burning through a lot of cards to generate enough points, but it definitely is still a good deal.

Why This Isn’t a Good Deal?

So that math doesn’t lie. If you need to generate a lot of Ultimate Rewards points at a cost then this is a good method to do it. Remember though that you only earn 5X on up to $50K in spending per year at office supply stores with a Chase Ink card. If you have 4-6 cards like some, then the skies the limit, but if you only have one then you may be able to generate those points for free. Here is how:

Staples Rebates – About once every 6 weeks Staples has been running rebate promotions. Each promotion generally allows you to purchase $400 in cards at a negative cost. There is a limit of 1 per household, but most people should be able to use a home and work address. If they run 9 of these per year, then you can generate 9 X $400 X 2 or $7,200 in spend. (36,000 points.)

Officemax/Office Depot Instant Rebates – Officemax and Office Depot have run instant rebate promotions quite often this past year. Depending on availability in your area, you can often get these deals multiple times. Some people are able to spend $10-$20K over the week of a promotion.

Paypal Digital Gifts on eBay – Paypal Digital Gifts sells a variety of gift cards including eBay gift cards. Many times they sell these gift cards at a discount. Purchases from Paypal Digital Gifts code in the 5X category for Chase Ink and count towards your $50K allowance. Many times you can buy gift cards, earn 5X points and sell them for a small profit or breakeven. Another no or negative cost way to generate points.

Your Cell Phone, Internet & TV Bills – Most people probably spend $200-$300 per month between cell phones, home internet and television. Don’t forget that those expenses all earn 5X and count towards your $50K threshold. This is probably the most “no-brainer” way to earn 5X!

Why This Is a Good Deal!

For those of you who have multiple Ink cards and plenty of liquidation bandwidth, then this is a good deal because it allows you to generate points at a cheap price. Make sure to exhaust your free options first, because why should you pay for points when you can get them for free?

One other consideration is the number of points you have. The truth is that as your account balance increases, the value of the points to you generally decreases. If you reach a level where supply outpaces demand, then it is time to either travel more or take a look at your overall strategy.

Conclusion

Yes Staples is selling $300 gift cards and yes that is definitely a good thing. The math is improved over the $200 cards and these new cards are pretty easily liquidated just like the old ones. Before you jump online and start ordering, it is always a good idea to weigh your options.

This will be a fantastic deal for some, but there are also free ways to generate Ultimate Rewards points in limited quantities. No matter how you feel about these new cards, having additional options is a good thing and I hope they stick around for a long time. Now if Staples would only carry $500 cards. Is that too much to ask?

HT: Dan’s Deals


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41 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Shawn – love your deals and analysis but I believe you are missing just 1 thing with these $300 cards…Not everyone aims for business class tixs. Some of us, although dreaming of business class, still prefer economy, especially when flying overseas with families/kids. At $349 in fee costs (without any rebates, tricks, etc) for 60k miles on United for a flight to Europe that costs over $1500 during summer, this is still a great deal/saving option.

    • Your logic is absolutely correct. There are thousands of redemption options and I couldn’t cover them all. No matter how you look at it, the economics are good. My only point was to watch for free opportunities and accumulate what you will use. Thanks!

  2. This is the most comprehensive overview I’ve found on the recent news of $300 VGC at Staples. You covered the pro’s, con’s and also alternative sources for UR points quite well. It isn’t a one size fits all; whether or not this deal is valuable to you will greatly depend on your circumstances. Great post!

    I personally don’t have any interest in this deal. Even if I were to buy them, it’s too much legwork to liquidate gift cards. I left that train alone a long time ago. Going the Ebay/PPDG (and logistics in between) offer several dipping opportunities to gain UR points. We won’t be doing much travel between now and next Fall anyways and I’m already sitting on $200kish points.

  3. If you have access to gas stations that sell $500VGC or paypal card @ $3.95 then that is best (cheapest) way to MS ultimate points.

    • 1)very few gas stations sell 500.00 vgc or PPal cards with CC (even 7/11) and 2)which cc would you use? 5% gas cards are falling by the wayside except the Penfed, and that is only at the pump. And when I used to buy PP cards a 7/11 with 5% cat with Chase Freedom, (it coded as gas station) its a pain sending $ from PP to bank or friends. A quick way to get shut down.

  4. Your math is wrong in the “pay yourself back” scenario. If you purchase $9,900 worth of GC that would be $295.35 in fees. Correct?

  5. Big problem with the Staples and Office Max/Depot rebate promotions is that the stores sell out in about a day. It’s really easy to be a day late even if you’re not a dollar short. So you waste time and gas for nothing.

      • I’ve had more of an issue with the stores in my area no longer stocking ANY cards >$75 denomination. Very annoying.

        • It takes a day for you to run out? It takes like a FEW MINUTES for my areas. DAMMNIT dude. Office stores get raped 24/7 all the time. I have never been successful. Gotta keep it online MS to have higher success rate. I swear MSers are hiding in the furniture or in the back somewhere waiting for these deals.

          • Spoke to the manager at my Staples store. Said the second she puts them out, they are gone. She says she does not hold them in the back office, which is what I suspected. It doesn’t hurt to ask when they get new shipments in. For her, it was Monday, but that will vary between Staples I’m sure.

  6. Since we can only buy $2000 worth of gift cards per transaction. Is there a daily/weekly/monthly limit on how many transactions I can have?

  7. The ad says you need to buy Mastercard GF but I only see Visa on the website. Does that matter? Is all the info for the rebate on the receipt or can see can you see it in your cart. I don’t want to make a purchase and find out I don’t qualify for the rebate

  8. On what card? re:
    “Your Cell Phone, Internet & TV Bills – Most people probably spend $200-$300 per month between cell phones, home internet and television. Don’t forget that those expenses all earn 5X and count towards your $50K threshold. This is probably the most “no-brainer” way to earn 5X!”

  9. Do the office stores carry any brand of fixed amount $500 gc in stores? I want to switch over to GC’s for groceries/dining/daily spending over my current credit cards to generate more in the way of UR’s.

    • Office Depot carries Vanilla Visas that can be loaded up to $500, however those are cash only. Other than that, the highest denomination available in-store is $200 for $206.95 and of course you can now get these $300 Visas online.

  10. Is the $50k ink plus limit on the account or cards? I have 2 auth users, would that change my limit? I’m thinking about downgrading to ink cash to save on fees, and believe the limit is $25k. I assume the same rules would apply to cash, as they do to ink plus.

    Thanks!

    • Yes it is on the account. The authorized user cards count towards the same $50K. As you say, if you downgrade to the Ink Cash, then the limit is cut in half and works the same.

  11. Anyone get a shipping notice? I ordered Friday and my order is still processing. Does it normally take this long? Is it possible to cancel the order if it hasn’t shipped?

  12. HI Shawn,

    Thanks for the great post! Is there a convenient way to check in your Chase online account where you are at with regard to hitting the $50k cap? I can’t seem to find it anywhere.

    Thanks!

  13. Where does it show that Staples is 5pts/$1? I just logged into Shop Through Chase UR and it advertises 2pts/$1. I bought something from Staples in September for $150 and only got 300pts. Wha???

  14. Shawn, I bought one of these, it arrived, and I activated it without problem. But I checked my CC and there’s no charge. It’s been over a week, and I already have the VGC…is it possible they forget to charge me all together? 😉

  15. Greetings all,

    I have started to get into this world and then reading this blog primarily in a couple others in the past few months and have recently started my journey.

    I am legally blind as I was born with a rare eye condition and get SSDI payments. My fiancé went blind about three months after giving birth giving birth to our first child, Abigail. She now receive a partial SSI payment. Social Security is deemed us to be married although we’re not. Abigail is now 3 1/2 and we have a son who is one and a half years old. Abigail was born with my eye condition in Andrews was not. We live on a fixed income so I’m trying to learn as much as I can in this world to try to provide more for my family.

    We live in a rural area where we have a mortgage. Transportation due to a lack of family or support system with our biggest obstacle in life. While these blog post have certainly helped me and taught me a lot I am looking for someone going to be a mentor for me. When my daughter was born I got into coins and precious metals. About 7 years ago I was a power seller on eBay. I recently started selling again and am now a top rated seller with rarely nothing really to sell. With the exception of flipping coins now and then when I see a product is going to quickly so I’ll in the secondary value is on the rise quickly. I’d really like to learn about the reselling angle here.

    I don’t have a Chase sink or Bold CC but AU do have the Freedom. Does this work with your freedom credit card as well to a lesser extent? I will make a spreadsheet tomorrow doing the math with all my credit cards to see how it works out but thought I’d ask in case someone had to answer or advise.

    Is there any chance that these purchases of gift cards could come back is cash advance purchases?

    My fiancé and I have the Discover It and have been trying to do the gift card Apple Pay thing hoping that works out.

    Just trying to find ways to make additional income or make up you dollars we do have work for us and the credit we have work for us and seeking a mentor. I am not looking for someone to give me all the answers and do the reading, research and not give the key to it all be handed to me but a guide would be a godsend for us.

    We should be rich from the malpractice the blinded my fiancé but we made a crucial mistake of thinking the statue of limitations were routed in the state of your residence and not the state it occurred in. We live in Indiana which is two years in the operation happened in Kentucky which is one year.

    Sorry if this was in place for this post. I do want to thank you all for your time though regardless.

    I blame Siri for all the misspellings, grammar errors and anything else wrong with the post. Happy face. Thank you!

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