Free money from OfficeMax

UPDATE: DEAL IS DEAD. Sort of.  Between 10:30 and 10:50 am EST today (Jan 17), OfficeMax updated their registers to correctly apply only one $10 discount to each purchase of two cards.  Now, the purchase of two $50 MasterCard gift cards costs $99.90 instead of $89.90.  This isn’t a terrible deal, but it’s not the great deal it was before.

Until Saturday, January 19th, OfficeMax is offering $10 off each $50 MasterCard when you buy two.

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Based on the in-store ad (shown above), it seems that you should get $10 off when you buy two $50 MasterCard gift cards.  In fact, though, you get $10 off each MasterCard for a total of $20 off.  Since each card comes with a $4.95 activation fee, the total cost to buy two cards comes to $89.90.  In other words, you get a 10% discount when buying money!

MasterCard50Dollars

My experience

Multiple readers reported this deal to me, so I visited OfficeMax yesterday to check it out.  The gift card rack had oodles of $50 cards available (yes, “oodles”, I counted).  Initially I bought two cards and, as readers had told me, the total automatically came to $89.90.  No coupon or pleading was necessary. I paid with my Ink Bold card in order to get 5 points per dollar from the purchase.

After a visit to Target, I returned to OfficeMax to conduct a couple of experiments.  I wanted to see 1) could I pay with the same MasterCard gift cards I had just bought? And, 2) could I buy more than 2 at a time?

I brought four cards to the counter and asked the teller to ring them up in two separate transactions.  She was more than happy to do so.  With the first transaction, I swiped one of my $50 gift cards to pay, and the register automatically drained that card of its $50 and then asked me for the final $39.90 which I paid with my Ink Bold.  Even though I could have used my other previously bought gift card for the rest of the first transaction or for part of the second transaction, I just went ahead and paid the rest with my Ink Bold.

My experiments proved a couple of things.  First, if you have a lot of patience, it is possible to harvest gift cards by buying them with gift cards in order to make your total gift card balance grow.  Second, you can buy more than two at a time by asking the cashier to split the purchases into multiple transactions.

Another Trick

One reader reported being able to use an OfficeMax gift card to buy these MasterCard gift cards.  They suggested buying an OfficeMax gift card at 10% off (via this trick) and then using it to buy the MasterCard gift cards.  Unfortunately, not all OfficeMax stores allow buying gift cards with OfficeMax gift cards.  Also, I doubt there is time to get the OfficeMax gift card through the mail before this deal ends.

Liquidating Gift Cards

DansDeals writes about this OfficeMax deal and suggests liquidating the cards through Amazon Payments.  Other options include loading them into your Serve account, loading your Target Amex, using them to buy reload cards, etc.  Unfortunately, all of those approaches can be pretty tedious if you buy many of these cards.

Personally, I may use them to actually buy stuff as needed.  In general, I would only use one when a purchase comes to $50 or more.  This way, whenever I use a card, I’ll drain it completely and throw it away, and I never have to wonder how much is left on each card.  Most cash registers know how to handle these cards automatically and will drain the card completely before asking for a second form of payment.  Exceptions include gas stations, restaurants, and hotels.  In those cases, you should ask a person to specifically charge exactly $50 to your gift card.

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. I bought $500 worth last night in five separate transactions. I am going back for more tonight. I did this last December when they had the $100 ones.

  2. I saw this deal on Sunday when I was at OfficeMax. I was unsure how $10 will be given so I asked a cashier. She told me that $10 will be given as MaxPerks dollars. So, I didn’t buy any. Yesterday, I saw on DansDeals that rebate is instant. Too bad for me, since nearest OfficeMax is 58 miles away from my home.

  3. Reeled in 8 sets at 3 stores yesterday. One store enforced a limit of one set, the others didn’t. Not a bad catch but today’s a new day.

  4. Another possible gift card-to-gift card trick would be to buy the OfficeMax Gift Card at a grocery store that sells gift cards on a card that offers bonus points on grocery (my favorite is the Amex Gold Premiere Rewards) and then use that to turn them into gift cards. But the variable that I don’t know is: are 200 Amex points better than a 10% discount?

  5. Don’t understand the math. $50+4.95 activation/ per card x 2 cards-$10=99.90. So you get the Bold Ink point w/o the activation charge and 10 cents. Am I missing something?

  6. The ad says u get $10 for 2 50$ giftcards. With the activation fee of 4.95,we would have to pay 99.90$.Have to check out a store to see if the register says 99.90 or 89.90

  7. I have been buying 4 of them everyday since 1/13 with Ink. I haven’t really pushed for more because the store is so close anyways.

  8. Has anyone tried running more than 2 GCs in one transaction just to see how it totals up? I wonder how we can scale this up other than multiple transactions which is still $100 per transaction. I would love to do 1K per visit or something like that.

  9. They make great gifts. I normally wouldn’t go out and buy small denomination gift cards, but I usually save the $50 and $25 ones that I get for gifts.
    I picked up 2 yesterday in my rounds (CVS, OD, Target, etc…) May head back for more now. A better 5x deal than Staples FAR…

  10. Just re-read the “The 5X everywhere back-up plan” and you answered my question in that post! Thanks for all your work FM!

  11. David, I tried to buy 4 cards in one transaction. The first 2 cards rang up as $40; the next 2 rang up as $50. The cashier said I would need 2 separate transactions and was happy to do it. When I went in today, she said there were a lot of people coming in and buying.

  12. Lively, Thanks for the info. I’m heading out in 30mins and plan to hit 2 OM and probably 2 more this evening. Need to get as much as I can and unload with AP over next couple of months if needed.

  13. If you use the 2x$50 gift cards to purchase new gift cards, you can technically start earning $10 per transaction and within a 5 transactions (will take some time), you’d be left with a free $50 gift card. Just make sure to drain the older cards first so you wont have many small amount GC left.

  14. For liquidating, one can consider paying your electricity/gas/water/TV etc utility bills in advance. I am able to pay my water bill using credit cards and its easy and handy to pay any amount I like even if I have a credit (negative) balance.

  15. These cards are from US Bank which means full address registration which means you ‘should’ be able to use them as debit card loads with Serve.

  16. just dropped by 2 OM around me for lunch. One only had 2 cards. So I bought. Other had 2K worth and I bought all of it in 40 transactions. started off with 6 cards, then asked what their limit is, cashier was not sure if its 1 or 2K, asked manager. manager said 2K but said there is a limit on this deal. First sentence was semi cut off, therefore only really stated minimum 2 cards. Manager closely checked my ID and card/signature but all was well. Will stop by more OM after work.

  17. I maxed out the Staples deal on these in December, and found that paying medical bills was a good way to use up those last few cents you are inevitably stuck with.

  18. Dima, the actual ad’s terms specifies “Limit 1 $10 reward per customer per household”. Even if they matched, I doubt you can scale it up. OM employees are not cracking down on the terms it seems.

  19. @Dima – Thanks.

    I found am OM 2 miles from my work place.. called them.. they said they are sold out on the MC Gift cards 🙁

  20. @ David- The problem is the other ones are way way away from my office/ residence.. so I won’t make it any which way 🙁

    The only hope for me is, either this OM gets more stock, or, there are 2 OM’s on my way to DC, where i am going this weekend.. Hope they have some remaining till then.. fingers crossed…

  21. had a flight this morning, and my first stop in San Jose California was OfficeMax. Unfortunately, they were all cleaned out!

  22. @Eddy,

    Great haul. I need another 7K in GCs if possible and more would be great too. Will be exiting through AP over the next couple of months. I’ll be hitting every OM within 30 miles of me.

  23. @David

    Some managers will refuse to sell you more than 1 set so don’t completely depend on this deal to meet all of that 7k spend.

  24. @nep301, Yeah, I would have to get lucky twice. Once with them having it in stock and two with them allowing multiple purchases. I’ll keep you guys posted.

  25. I did this today and there were still a few left (more like 10, down from oodles, then lots, but still plenty 🙂 )
    I was not able to use an office max gift card to pay. This seems to be their policy. So, you’re lucky if you can use one, but don’t put a ton of money into OM cards thinking you can turn it into MC gift cards. You might get stuck with them.

  26. Bought some at OM on way to work (San Jose, CA) and they had tons (50+). Was limited to just 2 by the cashier. Went back lunch time – all gone.
    Power of the internet. I suspect this deal is already effectively all used up.

  27. All cleaned out at my local OM. I spoke with the staff for a bit. They told me someone purchase 32 of them in one shot. And a married couple was purchasing 2 each after work each day. Now nothing left. They are unsure if it will be restocked.

    The staff was nice enough to open up the display to look inside to check the secret stash hidden inside. Extra gift cards are stored inside the display at OM.

  28. I just hit the Office Max that was reeling from shock. I tried buying a mere three pairs and the cashier said he had to call my card company to get the purchase approved. Then while he was on the phone another cashier said that they were limited to one pair per customer after she had gotten in trouble selling multiple that morning. To top it all off, the guy on the phone declined the transaction. I get the feeling that he either called the wrong card division, or the person on the other end thought I was trying to buy $8,990 rather than 89.90.

    I’ll try a different, hopefully less shell-shocked store tomorrow.

  29. Haven’t done this before because it seemed a lot of trouble and I do not have an Ink Bold. But when I passed the OM I decided the $10 off was too good to pass up. Lots of stock and cards do not expire until 2/2020! But if giving as a gift, give it quickly because after 12 (?) months of no activity, they deduct $2 a month. Better to use them up yourself, unless you need a gift to give right away. Having not done this before, I was hopeful they would really work, so I stopped at a Starbucks and quick as a wink I had the $50 loaded onto my Starbucks account. I did not register the card before that and it seemed to make no difference. I bought two sets in two transactions. Easy as pie. Thanks for the tip.

  30. I am a little late to the party, but just want to let folks know do NOT plan on using Serve to liquidate. It did not work for me. So, I’m afraid I’ll either AP them or used gift card reselling….

  31. @David I did two sets twice today. So, 8 total. There were 3 or 4 left this evening at my local. I’m surprised the blog-o-sphere hasn’t gone crazy over this. Even general deals sites should be excited about getting $100 for $90.

  32. Just went after work and picked up 22. Grabbed what they had in 1 stack on the rack. Left the other stack. Plan on grabbing that one after work tomorrow.

    Spent $990 to get $1000 and plan to flush them through AP today to get $110 net. Add the 8.33% I get by using Ink (assuming I transfer them to SW as my wife and kids to a ton of domestic flying) I get another $82 in free southwest fare. So net net made $192 for a 15 minute stop at OM.

  33. Got another 9 sets today. Couldn’t get any to load onto Serve but succeeded in moving many of them over to Target Am Ex. They don’t need to be registered to load onto Target Am Ex. The Mastercard cards do need a bit of massaging when loading at Target. When I slid each one I had to cancel out of the initial screen and then select credit. Then they ran just fine.

  34. FrequentMiler says:
    January 16, 2013 at 9:26 am
    Alan: I’m pretty sure that if you buy more than 2 in one transaction you will still only get $20 off. If you try it, please let us know how it goes.

    I tried four cards in one transaction, only got $10 off on the first two cards, for a total of $20.

  35. My banker mother has resisted attempts to get her and my father into this hobby since the beginning, but when I did the math for my 20-card haul over the past few days, she sent Dad out.

    Our local Office Max is still loaded, but he received the discount off the first 5 transactions only, and then it rang up the 6th transaction as full price. The manager fooled around and switched registers, but every subsequent attempt came up at full price.

    Is it possible to put a stop on the number of rebates per hour, or something similar?

  36. Oops, I misunderstood him — the 6th transaction rang up as $10 off TOTAL, or $99.90 for two $50 cards. Maybe they’ve changed the register treatment to match what the sales ad seems to indicate.

    Has anyone else seen this? Still a good deal for Ink.

  37. DEAL IS DEAD. sort of. As Chris (above) mentioned, OfficeMax seems to have fixed their computers. Two cards now ring up as only $10 off instead of $20. You can still do this to get free-ish points with your Ink Bold but its no longer the great deal it was

  38. Maybe the computers finally caught up with the printed offer. My local OM this morning only gave $10 off total. So $99.90 for 2 cards.

    • @Gabriel
      The ones I referenced were bought between 10:30 and 10:50 EST, and the registers must have updated/registered the update in that time period, as the first 5 transactions went through at $89.90 before switching to $99.90 on the 6th transaction.

  39. @Piecerate: I just picked up an AMEX for Target. When you’re loading, are you picking a large reload (e.g., $500) and then running 10 $50 gift cards, and only paying a single $3 fee?

  40. Tried this morning about 10.30am CT and the registers are “fixed” so you pay $99.90. Yesterday afternoon it was only $89.90. Party’s over.

  41. I just purchased 2 sets of 2 and the register only gave $10 off for the two. Bummer… I forgot my CIB at home yesterday so I missed the deal 🙁

  42. It seems no need to go after work today… There were plenty in stock but only bought three sets yesterday evening…Should have bought more…

  43. I bought 5 sets and I’m happy. Liquidated $300 at CVS for VRs. FYI, CVS’ system only lets you swipe 7 times to pay. So, I could only use 6 $50 MC GCs and then 1 credit card for the balance. Pretty tedious, but worth it for $50 profit and 5X points.

  44. PH says: @Piecerate: I just picked up an AMEX for Target. When you’re loading, are you picking a large reload (e.g., $500) and then running 10 $50 gift cards, and only paying a single $3 fee?

    Yes. I loaded 14 $50 cards, one at a time, yesterday in one 700$ transaction. It took a while and there a was line so it was a bit awkward but the cashier took it in stride. I paid the $3 load fee in cash. I’m headed back to Target today to move another stack of 50s to my 2nd Target Am Ex card.

  45. Beware, this seems to be dead. I went yesterday and got 2 for $89 today they ring up at $99 they said it was a glitch and they got an email form “corporate” regarding this. So beware before you spend too much time searching these out.

  46. I had the same experience this a.m. in terms of $10 off two ($99.90) but since I’m trying to meet minimum spend on the Ink Bold and i netted 4500 ult. Rewards points, i am happy. I can report that when I got to the check-out With a stack of them, I asked if I could do a bunch of separate transactions to take advantage of the discount and she had to ask the Manager. He came over, was very cheerful and said no problem up to $900. She said, oh yeah, I couldn’t remember if the limit was $800 or $900. It seemed as if this might be the limit for all these types of cards but who knows? Can report lots of stock at the Bellingham, WA location. They also had Southwest Airlines gift cads if anyone is looking for 5X points with them (double dip potential?). Thanks FM!

  47. Oh, one more thing: receipt offered $5 off future purchases of $25 or more for completing a survey which I did. Coupon is only good for 30 days and not valid for gift cards or prepaid cards in case anyone was hoping (like me).

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