By Julian, author of Devil’s Advocate…
Despite the recent untimely death of Bluebird and Serve for many Frequent Miler readers, it can sometimes still be useful to purchase Visa or MasterCard gift cards at Staples. For those with a Chase Ink or an Amex Simply Cash, being able to acquire a gift card that can be utilized anywhere for 5x Ultimate Rewards or 5% cash back can still be worth some time and effort.
However, the long-running “gift card rebate-of-the-week” promotion at Staples remains the best time to buy gift cards and get the office supply multiplier. Fortunately Staples seem to offer this rebate practically on a monthly basis.
The $20 rebate offsets the fees for either two $200 cards ($13.90 in fees) or three $100 cards ($17.85 in fees), thereby making the extra points essentially free. Even if you simply use the purchased gift card for everyday spend as an alternative to your usual 1x earnings card, that’s 4x extra for any purchases you would make anyway.
Sometimes the rebate is for buying $300 in Visa cards and sometimes it’s for $300 in MasterCards. There’s no rhyme or reason to which one it will be in any given week — it just seems to depend which version Staples and the gift card issuer feel like promoting.
Similarly, the rebate has always been either a $20 Visa prepaid rebate card or a $20 Staples gift card, but you couldn’t choose between them. The “rebate of the week” specified which one you got and that was that.
A new Staples rebate choice?
During the most recent rebate week of January 3rd-9th, the advertised rebate was a $20 Visa Prepaid Card when purchasing $300 worth of Visa cards. As always, the rebate can be submitted online via www.stapleseasyrebates.com in a matter of minutes. Just type in the Easy Rebate ID from your receipt and your rebate is found instantly.
But this time when I went to submit my rebate, I got the following screen instead:
As you can see, Staples is now offering the option of either a $20 prepaid Visa or a $20 Staples gift card, even though the rebate itself only specifies a Visa prepaid card. The rebate amount remains at $20 regardless, but it’s up to you as to which one you prefer.
But why consider a Staples gift card?
You might be asking how a gift card restricted to Staples and staples.com would be better than a Visa prepaid card that can be used anywhere. Well, there are three reasons you might consider the Staples gift card…
- There’s a fairly decent resale market for Staples gift cards. You can find the current prices at Gift Card Wiki or Gift Card Granny, but it’s usually around 80%-85% of the card’s value. So even if you flip the card at $17, you’re still covering most if not all of your fees and you get cold hard cash.
- The Visa rebate card comes with an expiration date, usually about 6 months. It might not seem like a difficult task to use it up in that timeframe, unless you’re dealing with two dozen of these $20 rebates at the same time. Then it becomes a bit more challenging. On the other hand, there’s no expiration on the Staples gift card.
- The Visa rebate card doesn’t have a PIN. So even if your Bluebird or Serve survived Bird Armageddon, you can’t load it with the rebate card.
Is this a permanent change?
That’s an excellent question, and honestly, I don’t know. Staples isn’t advertising this option anywhere, but it doesn’t seem to be a glitch either. I tried it with several rebate receipts from the same January rebate period and got the same choice each time, so it’s definitely available as an unannounced option for the most recent rebate week.
The real question is whether we’ll see the same choices in future gift card rebate weeks. My guess is we will, and we might even begin to see it advertised that way. It’s entirely possible that Staples decided to beta test this option without announcing it just to be sure the tech was working. This is also the first gift card rebate of 2016, so it might be something Staples has rolled out for the new year.
We could also start seeing higher rebate values if you choose a Staples gift card versus a Visa one. That’s entirely speculation on my part, but it could easily be done now that the tech is in place.
Regardless, I think this is a useful option. In fact, I intend to employ it depending on my current level of points “homework.” If I’m floating a minimal level of gift cards, then I’ll probably choose the Visa option, knowing that I’ll have time to burn it before the 6 months are up. But if I’ve already got a large inventory of gift cards to get rid of, then I’ll pick the Staples gift card and plan to quickly flip it to a reseller for cash (or at least know that it won’t expire if I don’t get to it right away).
In any case, it’s always nice to have more choices, right?
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Find all the “Bet You Didn’t Know” posts here.
[…] A New and Improved Staples Rebate Option? […]
[…] noted that even when the advertised rebate is for a prepaid Visa, they’ll some times offer a choice […]
I used a Staples rebate Visa to prepay $20 of my gym membership. When I slid the card, it asked for a pin at first (I could have hit “Cancel” to do credit) but I figured I would give it a go.
Sure enough, the last four digits of the card worked and the transaction went through.
My guess is if you took them to a grocery store or WM, you could get a MO using it as a debit card. Have others actually tried to use it as debit?
I can confirm as recent as (3/23/16) that you can use staples rebate visa gift cards to buy MO at Walmart. The cashiers at my local Walmart never look at what debit cards I’m using to buy MOs.
[…] Bet You Didn’t Know: A New and Improved Staples Rebate Option? by Frequent Miler. This has been offered before, will be interesting to see if it’s an ongoing thing or not. […]
Not sure why some people don’t get the 25% reward. I bought 4 x10 with separate account. The 100 reward show up in all 4 accounts 3 days later.
because very few stores had 40 copies in stock (good for you) so people had to place kiosk orders.
Right. They don’t have hard copy. I ordered them from machine and paid in the register. Just make sure they put your reward number and scan the 25% coupon.
right, did you order hard copy or download?
FYI. Not sure if this is always possible or location specific: I was able to use a Staples $20 card towards the purchase of Visa gift cards at Staples (the remainder paid for by my credit card). It was a simple way to drain the $20 Staples specific card.
-every Staples register will allow it without issues
-every cashier is trained not to allow it. it they do, they could get reprimanded. some don’t care and some do not know the policy. you got lucky. 😉
Correct. You can also use them online to buy additional Visa gift cards, though of course you are then paying the fee on the new GC.
Man, I really hate not having a B&M Staples nearby!
I have a new Bluebird account. I’m late to this game. Can I purchase the Visa GC’s at Staples and use them to load Bluebird at Walmart? Or does the card have to have a pin?
The actual Visa GC’s that you purchase can be loaded to Bluebird. The Visa rebate card cannot.
LOL, FM thinks this is something new? This has been since few months. And one more thing, the McAfee is not giving back 25% back in rewards as advertised by FM. Any deal that FM advertises is going to dogs.
I warned people on SD about this… I was told by others to relax… now it turns out I was right. Staples doesn’t want to pay 25% reward on promo item.
Hopefully a chat with Staples can fix it for you, they usually help.
I am glad I ordered online, already got my pending cash-back and 5% rewards plus i saved on tax. so i saved 3%+5%+9% = 17% sure shot, in my book better than begging Staples for 25% rewards.
25% reward showed up in my account 3 days later. No issue here.
that’s awesome but thousands of others were not so lucky. it seems like Staples was changing the coupon rules from day to day. so you bought on the right day (I guess it was Monday?)
It will stick around because people are more tempted by Visa rebates, but Staples GC’s are more profitable for the company.
I don’t see how that is easier or better then just paying your gas, garbage, internet bill with the $20. People usually have a billl of some kind they can pay, if not, they can always buy visas with them at a 1% cost and then use it. A lot less of a loss then the 15% to 20% being mentioned.
well, rumor has it that Staples rebates will be ending at the end of this month anyway… but let’s see what happens.
all things considered, i would still opt for the Visa card. it’s easy to call the number on the back of the card and request a check. or it can be used at stores where I don’t get bonused spend, like Macys for example. the advantage is that Macys also auto-drains the card (like if you buy a $100 shirt and swipe $20 Staples Visa reward card, the register will charge $20 to the card automatically and then ask you to pay the remaining $80 – for which you can use more reward cards, not sure what the limit is, but it’s at least 3). other stores that auto-drain are CVS, Staples, Food Emporium… I’m sure there are many others.
In worst case it can always be loaded to Amazon balance.
You can request a check?
of course… have you read the letter that the Visa card comes with? it says it right there.
Exactly. I don’t understand people that talk about how hard the $20 rebate cards are to liquidate. Just use them like cash! Tons of stores auto drain those cards.
I can confirm that Rite-Aid auto-drains as well.
not really something new just bringing it back but as mentioned before a check used to be an option was obviously the best choice hopefully they bring back the third option of a check. as for how to get around the limits it just is how many good family members and friends you have that are willing to let you borrow their addresses who don’t play the game
Wouldn’t an option be to use a discover it card and get the 10% rebate as well? I Know you won’t get the rebate for a year but isn’t that an option?
Meh. Nothing new. Although we haven’t seen it for a while, In years past the option was there along with a better option – a check.
Those were the days!
How do you get around the 1 per household limit? Apartment 1,2,3, etc? I’ve only filed 2 rebates at most at any point, but two dozen? Wondering if there’s a better way than how I’m doing it. Thx.
Just put together as many separate households as you can. Think family, friends, work, etc. I can easily get to a half dozen on family alone and friends can be another 6. The biggest issue I have is finding enough gift cards in stock during rebate weeks.
I’ve done home and work and my parents’s home if that’s what you mean by actual “households”, as in different addresses, but unfortunately that’s not an option for me these days. I’ve done Apt 1 and 2 before, but that’s about as much as I’ve stretched it out.
A simple way to burn a bunch of the $20 is to load something you use like local shopping card at a store you buy grocery. I shop every week and having a few hundred on the card is just convenient.
Yes, but then you are giving up earning on that valuable grocery store spend.