Staples now selling $20-$500 variable-load gift cards in-store


A reader sent in a tip the other day that Staples is now carrying $20-$500 variable-load Visa Gift Cards. I saw these in the wild at Staples over the weekend. Neither the reader who sent the tip nor I tried to purchase one of these cards since $200 Mastercard gift cards are on sale with no activation fee this week, but assuming these can be purchased with a credit card (as is the case with other gift cards at Staples), I could see this being a popular development.

a group of gift cards in a store

The Deal

  • Staples has begun selling $20-$500 variable-load Visa Gift Cards with an activation fee of $5.95. These could be useful for generating spend with a good category bonuses.

Key Terms

  • Available in-store only

Quick Thoughts

These $20-$500 cards feature an activation fee of $5.95, which is 1.19% of the maximum face value of the card. If you used a card that earns even 2% cash back, you would therefore turn a small profit buying these cards. If you instead use a card that earns 5% back or more valuable points (you’ll find several on our Best Category Bonuses page), you can come out nicely ahead of the fee.

These $500 cards still aren’t as attractive as their frequent no-activation-fee sales on $200 cards, but they could certainly come in handy for someone looking to generate points at a time when the $200 cards aren’t on sale. See our Manufactured Spending Complete Guide for more details.


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My Staples stores no longer stock these in March 2024 – bummer


For anyone with timeshares, use the Ink card (5x) to buy the Visa + pay the fees.


My Staples has the variable load Visa GC. But I have found that’s you cannot auto-drain at my local grocery store like you can the $200 Visa GC. You do need the last few dollar amount to zero out the card.


Update: At my local grocery store when the total bill is greater than the amount on the $20-$500 Visa GC you select credit and the POS terminal will zero out the card.

Points Adventure

If you used a card that earns even 2% cash back, you would therefore turn a small profit buying these cards.

Why would anyone do that at a time when savings accounts give 4%+ return for less effort?

John Nguyen

Are you really doing the correct math? This is 4% per day and doesn’t require to have cash in hand, and not 4% per year like savings account that required cash.


This brings the value of AMEX gold 4x grocery bonus down to zero, LOL.


AARP sells cruise line gift cards at 10% discount (pay 450 for 500 value) but they limit purchases to 5 per month. I’ve been getting these gift cards for 450. I get 5x on Ink card and 10% off on the cruise (no matter what booking agent is used). Cruise lines are Holland America, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Princess


How does AARP count as an office supply store? Or what category does ink give 5x to for AARP?


AARP doesn’t qualify as office supply – but I have bought the VISa gift cards + then used that gift card to buy the cruise line card. 5x for Staples if you have an Ink or similar card for office supply + then the 10% discount when using it to purchase the cruise line card from AARP. So I’m getting 5 Visa cards*$450 *5x using Ink = 11,250 points + the 10% discount on cruise line payment. a $450 purchase = $500 credit


Good to know but presumably you are unloading these for actual cruises, correct? Does one need to be an AARP member?


yes, I use them for cruises. AARP membership is $12 a year I think. And today Holland America announced AARP members can get up to $200 in onboard credit – another win.


I’ve actually seen them a bunch in the last few months, maybe the rollout just got bigger. Great news either way!


Let’s see… at $5.95 / $500 … that means…

$2380 to buy your way to AA Executive Platinum.

All you would have to do is buy 400 of the $500 cards.

… and then? The same thing that we do every night, Pinky. Try to travel the world!


Anyone know if you can update the zip code on these? You can for the $200 ones at Staples, but I’ve had bad luck with the variable ones from grocery stores. My main outlet is rent which requires this.


And I found another Staples with the variable load $20-$500 Visa GC.

Mary Jane

At some point, there is the convenient factor involved, For example, instead of whipping out 10 gift cards to pay a car repair of 2K, you only need 4 gift cards.

Ed S.

It will be interesting to see how these are treated compared with the set value gift cards.

The last time I bought a variable-load card–$500 during a 5x quarterly bonus period at grocery stores–the card issuer auto-flagged it as potentially fraudulent, and I had to speak with fraud prevention before successfully completing the purchase.


Where is everyone liquidating these? After the demise of WM and most grocery stores for MOs, what is the be à t route?


Best route?

Raghu N

Some of the things I have done in the past and some that I do now. Prepay Taxes, 6 X 4 X 500 = $12K Spend.
Property Taxes 14K (I live in bay area)
When my daughter was in UC college system . $25K per year
Everywhere else where you don’t get category bonus, utilities, Activites during travel like a bus tour or boat tour, car repair shops, healthcare bills,


which county are you in? I’m in Contra Costa. does the county charge you a fee?

Raghu N

Santa Clara. yes they do 2.25%. But I am getting 5X at staples for no cost ($200 cards on sale). So that beats 2.25% and I can xfer to hyatt and get 3 cents/point so effective 15X vs paying 2.25% fee is a winner any day of the week


Anyone seeing the up to $500 cards in a Staples (or OD) in Santa Clara county or nearby?

Raghu N

Yes checkout the staples in milpitas
Max is 2k per customer per day and it activates in 24 hours


Thanks a lot. Coleman did not have them. This activates in 24 hours seems new. I had that happen on my $200×8 purchased yesterday-first time I have seen this. Checkout person insisted this was “common”.


I use $500’s to prepay my taxes. IRS website has a list of providers but the fee is about $2.50 per gift card.

Ed S.

There are obvious limitations, but I simply use these for regular bills: electricity, natural gas, municipal water/sewer/garbage utilities, auto insurance, etc. to earn 5x.


Buy For Me Retail


RIP read recent thread here about BFMR


for better (great MS opportunity) or for worse (expensive!), my kid’s college tuition (they charge 0.5% for debit cards)

This is niche, but BMW finance takes debit cards with no fee. So if you are in the market for a BMW…


That is interesting to know, I am currently paying monthly installments to BMW Finance. Do you have to call to pay via debit card??

Last edited 10 months ago by george

right on website when logging into account online. There is an option for debit card payment. have not been in there for nearly a year, but it was easy to find (“make payment now” or something similar). really easy. The only thing is it will not let you make immediate back to back payments. Would have to wait about 15-20 minutes in between. So with a stack of $200 Visas from Staples, use one, do other work, use another, etc.


Yes, popped up two weeks ago here in MI during the Visa Deal. They don’t work for the fee off deals but I bought 4 no issues. Manager said they are new and will be in stock. He thinks they ate going to do a deal with them on the staples app.

Larry K

For someone that has the ability to easily liquidate, a little over 1 percent is pretty nice. You could get your whole allotment in early in the year — $300 for 125,000 points. Unfortunately, I’ve run out of reasonable ways to get rid of these. It’s a bummer but it just takes so much more work these days.