A slow but viable Perpetual Point Machine

An enterprising reader volunteers a working PPM

Wow, I was late writing today’s post when an enterprising reader helped me out by writing the post for me! First, if you are unfamiliar with the idea of a Perpetual Point Machine, checkout the posts here.

In the comment section of a separate post, reader Steelsnow described a working perpetual point machine (PPM). The following are Steelsnow’s words quoted exactly with the exception that I’ve expanded a few acronyms and abbreviations:

So here’s a slow but working Perpetual Point Machine…. All the Staples items in this have been well tested and documented on SlickDeals (posted bvph is terrific at the details), I am just adding the hypothetical points twist with Ultimate Rewards (UR) Mall and the gift cards.

Join Staples Rewards (Office Max & Office Depot have similar points programs and could be used for this at their points rates).

First, going through UR Mall, purchase Staples gift cards, earn 5 total points/$1.

Check Staples ads for items with 100% rewards – they are usually posted weekly on SlickDeals as well – these items (Sharpies, post-its, reams of paper, occasionally other better items too) earn 100% of their cost in rewards points.

Going through UR Mall, purchase 100% rewards items, making sure to enter your member #. Earn 4 more UR points from mall, and 100% of purchase cost will be earned in Staples rewards.

Staples rewards are paid out quarterly, the time lapses are the weak point of this PPM. So a purchase now would not result in a Staples rewards check until January, etc…

When rewards check is received, check Staples ads for software that is free after rebate(s). You have 90 days to use the rewards $’s, but it has been reported that there has not been a problem finding the software deals in the past. Big news as of yesterday was that rewards checks are currently allowed to buy gift cards while they are available.

Purchase Free After Rebate (FAR) software with Staples rewards $’s. Submit rebates and keep a copy of rebate documentation.

When the rebate check is received, your $’s will be back to the beginning. In the process (if the gift card portion works), you earn 9 UR points per $1, a whole bunch of free office supplies, and free computer software. Downside is that with rewards cycles and rebate turnarounds, this is likely a 6 month cycle. Otherwise it would be (and is) a working PPM model….

What do you think readers? Have you done anything like this? Will you? It’s a great idea, but personally I hate filling out rebate forms, so I think I’ll pass. That being said, the ability to purchase non-Staples gift cards online opens up a world of possibilities. I can’t wait to seeing what else Steelsnow and others come up with!


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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. Rebates-at least in the past when I participated in a similar venture, minus the miles advantage-are a huge pain, huge. Good luck, it will work, there is alot of work chasing down the criminals who run the rebate processing companies.
    That being said, if they are the staples easy rebates, full steam ahead.

  2. Two additional things – as Ace noted, Staples easy rebates are some of the best in the industry and very reliable, so those are the ones to focus on if you have a choice. Some rebates with ‘outside’ rebate companies can be a tedious process, and keeping good documentation, and following the rebate requirements exactly.

    On a better note, Staples Rewards post monthly (not quarterly) if over $10 in rewards is earned, and you have a minimum of 60 days to use them. I was thinking of Office Depot in the original post, which is quarterly with their rewards checks.

  3. WAY too complicated. and who needs $10,000 worth of staples junk?
    you’d be better off double dipping at UR mall sears and kohls and then trying to resell the sears/kohl merch junk on ebay.

  4. So… if you buy $45 or more, shipping is not a factor? This doesn’t seem to account for sales tax, which is ~8% here.
    .
    Still, I could see doing this with the intent to donate most of the supplies to local charities (while collecting 1000 UR points here and there as a bonus to myself.) I guess it depends on the potential scale.
    .
    Is there an easy way to find items with 100% rewards and/or FAR items?

  5. I’ve had bad luck with the 100% rewards items at Staples near me – they are almost always “out of stock”. I think this really means they pulled them all off the shelf. YMMV, of course.

  6. Nice work. I have a friend that does similar things but he buys deeply discounted items from staple and resell the things on Amazon Market. He actually makes a profit from it. So free points and profits and meeting CC spending requirements.

  7. @Dan: It is a bit complicated. Think of it like this though – if you buy the Sears or Kohl’s items, you are probably going to sell them at a bit of a loss (unless you scoop up some killer black Friday deals!), which becomes a cost for the points. With the deal above, you break even (minus tax) but you do have the accounting/tax/anti-virus software to sell… and that covers the tax and even makes a profit, since the rebate covers your initial cost.

    @Mikes: If you spend over the threshold or if you select ‘pick up at store’ there is no shipping. Sales tax is valid. That cost can be covered by selling some of the Staples items, such as the software.

    For example, coming up as a 100% reward item is Duracell batteries (see here: http://slickdeals.net/forums/showthread.php?t=3573410) This offer is only available in store (which means only 5 UR points via purchasing the gift cards online, and then purchasing the batteries in store), but starting Black Friday you can pick up 2 packs a week until the end of the year, and earn 100% Staples rewards. Much better than paper clips! Best way to find these 100% rewards items and FAR rebates is to go to a SlickDeals or a similar site and search Staples – they are very much on it when it comes to these offers.

    And the extra office supplies – well, they give more validation for those business credit card applications, right?

  8. Interesting – but how do you make this scale? Staples has limits of 1-2 items per customer on these things.

    That means you can only get $100-200 spent per month plus there is shipping (or you pick it up at Staples which is even more pain) and sales tax.

  9. Scale is an issue. In the example I gave above, you’d purchase $100 gift card at Staples.com through UR mall, earn 500 points. Then you could stop by Staples, say 4 times between Black Friday and the end of the year, and pick up 2 packages of Duracells ($12.99 each). When the Staples Rewards post, you go back in say February, and purchase some FAR accounting software. In the end, for the cost of tax on $100, you wind up with 500 UR points, 8 packs of Duracells and the accounting software. Pretty good but not a huge amount of points – it is more something that you would accumulate as the deals came.

    Another way to approach scale is to also look to Office Max & Office Depot. For example, Office Depot at the beginning of November offered several items, including many flavors of Keureg K-Cups. In that offer, you could purchase up to two of each flavor each day the week of the offer for 100% rewards. With around 18 flavors and $12.99 for 18 K-Cups, the scale became huge – no problem finding 100% rewards items to buy! However, then the limitation is how many FAR software items are available in the 3 months when those rewards points post (so if you bought more that that, say more than $1000, you would wind up buying other regular Office Depot items, like digital cameras or laptops – which would still make all those K-Cups more or less free, for use or sale.
    Just some grist for the PPM mill…

  10. I agree with Dan and think it is way too much work for too little reward. I was thinking more along the lines of ordering shoes from endless.com. I have not done it myself, but don’t see why it shouldn’t work. Not to make a regular practice of it of course, but if you need a couple of thousand miles in a pinch, buy shoes through portal(eg. united, 6pt/$) wait till points post, use them, return shoes. Free return shipping and no tax and have up to a year to return. Not a ppm per se, but useful in an emergency.

  11. The Chase INK card (Regular, not Bold) gives 5 pts for purchases of office supplies and having a CHase checking account gives you an extra .2 pts, so you could potentially get 13.2 UR points (4+4 + 5+.2) per dollar with the right credit card and checking account.

  12. Have you actually bought staples gift cards through the Ultimate Rewards Mall and received the points. I just tried and noticed that the physical gift cards are administered by SVM in a separate shopping cart and add a service fee. I bought an e-card without a service fee. I was wondering if you have purchased an e-gift card and received the UR points?

  13. Never mind. Unbelievably, It looks like Staples does not accept gift card payments online. Does anyone know if it is possible to buy online with a gift card?

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