Office Depot discontinues $500 Visa/Amex cards

Reports have been pouring in from readers saying that their local Office Depot stores have discontinued selling Visa and American Express cards that were loadable up to $500.  Mommy Points reported the same, as did The Points Guy.  This is a big deal because the sale of $500 bank gift cards at an Office Supply store was a big deal.  By buying these cards with a credit card that offers bonus points at office supply stores, it was possible to buy these bank gift cards for a small 1% fee while earning points or cash back worth 5% or more.

Since I’m currently in Bangkok, I haven’t been able to fully research this situation.  At the time of this writing, I still don’t know for sure whether all Office Depot stores have stopped selling these bank cards, but I suspect so.

The loss of this “5X everywhere” technique essentially kills two of the 5 options I wrote about in the post “Multiple paths to 5X everywhere.”  Sadly, these were the two best options of the lot, in my opinion.

Neither Staples, nor OfficeMax ever carried these cards (to my knowledge), so I suspect that their inventory is the same as always.

Have you tried buying these cards at Office Depot in the past day or two?  If so, what was your experience?

UPDATE: Pizza In Motion reports the possibility that $500 loadable cards will still be carried at Office Depot, but with higher fees.  Read the details here.

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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  1. Pizza man says he read memo thatt $5.95 and $6.95 fee cards will replace the current $4.95 cards and all cards are to be pulled by Feb 5th

  2. I bought in North Dallas as of Friday afternoon. Found only in 2 stores out of 4 stores. Have not looked today. Will go tmw to reconfirm.

  3. In Chicago (and nearby suburbs) I have not been able to find anything over $100-$200 at Office Max or Staples.

    Office Depot *does* carry several flavors of Vanilla Visa at $500. These cards are not ideal because they don’t allow you to register your full information – only zip code.

    I purchased 2 $500 cards today at an Office Depot. However the cashier needed manager approval. The manager put in an over-ride and said the cashier had to “call it in” and noted that I was using a Mastercard (seemingly the type of card I use indicated the number they needed to call). The cashier seemed to do everything via keypad (i.e. didn’t speak to anyone). Other than this the transaction went smoothly.

    I couldn’t get a lot of info out of the manager as to why they needed to call – but it was definitely because of the gift cards specifically (not just the $1000 charge).

    So – the Office Depot at least near me seems to have them on the shelves – but appears to be implementing some new sort of “call in” policy. Perhaps other stores are taking them off temporarily until they can get this procedure down?

  4. Good, I’m soooooo sick of seeing 50% of the boarding area blogs covering these dumb reloadable cards. I hope this scheme is finally ended!

  5. I bought 3 OneVanilla Visa cards for $500 each at OD in Berkeley today. Had to get a manager to approve, but no other issues. She stated that she had noticed that “everyone who buys these uses the same type of credit card”. Yep!

  6. Sacramento – 2 ODs had no $500s. Third one had a good supply. I picked up 8, which maxed out my 5x on 4 INKS!!! Now I have to chill until I come back from the Maldives…

  7. One OD in Phila area had no $500 VS or AX GCs, but did have AX prepaid reloadables on rack, though there was a rubber band around them. Not sure why and didn’t want to ask.

  8. @BH I think you were lucky, because the 2 OD’s in the Chicago suburbs I checked today had displays rearranged, and did not include the Vanillas or the Amex cards. The max I saw was $200 cards on those displays. Clerks in both stores said the $50-$500 are not being sold anymore – the $50-$500 cards were “sent back”, and the other clerk said “we can’t carry them anymore” and had no other alternative.

  9. My standard OD here in Colorado as of today limits you to loading $200 on a variable load card. I said the $4.95 fee is too much for $200 but not for $500. He said it’s a new policy and he pointed me to a stack of documents which indicated they were supposed to pull all of their variable load cards.

  10. In SW Austin, manager said the variable reloads were pulled. Haven’t checked any other stores. Next best option at any office supply is $6.95 fee for $200.

  11. Wondered why I saw a note written on the pegs where I previously bought the $25-500 variables at OD last week. It said “See Manager for Information”, and that’s it. What’s odd is that the bottom of the shelf had a peg with some that maybe they didn’t see?? Either way, I picked up two with no problem. Guess I need to stop by again this week to see if those are still left!

  12. @Dave and @BothofUs2 — Yeah I couldn’t find any in Chicago yesterday either, at least not at the Lincolnwood store (my previous go to; they had pulled the entire display) nor in Evanston (they pulled all the reload cards and those > $200).

  13. All four SD stores in my are have pulled the variable Vanilla VISA ($50-$500) cards per OD company memo. In one of the store found the last remaining four AMEX variable cards and put $500 each on my Bold MC. Required manager override. He said that mgr override required now on any gift card sale over $200. The register actually comes up with prompt and cashier cannot continue until mgr logs in with override. All the ODs were “nice to suggest” that CVS and Walgreens carry these cards and I might want to try there :-/ . I want my 5X points though. I had been using these VISAs to buy Vanilla Reloads at CVS. Been working since CVS closest to me still sells VR’s and let’s you buy with Visa Gift Cards. I tried to buy VRs today with the $500 AMEX gift cards and the register prompted for ‘alternative tender required’. Would not take the AMEX $500 gift cards. Ugh! This current gravy train might be coming to an end. Need to discover another medium via the office supply stores.

  14. Went to the OD nearest me in LA and only a handful of variable Amex cards were left. Mgr override was required to purchase via CC. Cashier mentioned his surprise to the mgr and she said it was now required because they are pulling the cards. I did not inquire any further but I suspect once their shelves are empty that will be it.

  15. @TheScooter: wait 24 hours and try CVS again. That worked for me with the Amex prepaid.

    Three OD outside PHI had all cards pulled “per directive”.

  16. Dallas OD stores I checked today had nothing more than $200 fixed. Managers interpreted the memo as pulling all variable load visa/amex gift cards. FT thread reports vary but the most frequent report is all variable pulled. A few were able to buy amex on Sunday. There were even some reports of no change which I think is a sign of a manager that does not read his emails. Probably take a week for things to get sorted out.

  17. I took 2 variable amex cards to the counter. Before the manager approved the purchase, he asked me where i got the cards. I pointed to the gc rack. He removed the 3 remaining cards and took them to the back after approving my purchase. Seems like this is done to me. On the brighter side, i finally found a cvs that takes credit for vr.

  18. My most frequented OD reduced the size of their gift card rack by 1/3. Had a good thing going there since last April or May. Very sad…

  19. Was good while it lasted i suppose, but this is what happens when folks ruin the deal by gorging on these things instead of just using them for everyday life purchases. After all, that was the main purpose of the one card to rule them all, but instead turned into an exercise in churning.

  20. In the Baltimore area: 3 ODs without any. I finally got to one. They had removed all of them
    Except had left the Anne gedde ones and Amex by accident. I got about $6k between my wife and I. But the manager said they’re supposed to have removed all these and sent someone while ringing us up to clean house. Little did she know we purchased all the remainig variables. Paid an extra $1 but well worth it for the last hurrah…I totaled my 5x spend since oct when I opened the card. Got 26k on one and. 21k on the wifeys. Not as good as the 50k I had hoped but good enough.

  21. Amazed that OD whats that GC rack to grow more dust. And they pull products when they sell them “too fast”. The other GCs sit on those rack like like castoffs and collect dust. I see them crying out “Pick me, pick me” as I breeze passed by them for the VRs and then variable GCs. I’m just wondering when we hear that OD is going out of business. They are huge stores with lots of staff and I seem to be the only one in there.

  22. OD in Baltimore had 5, but they were tucked behind some other cards. The manager said they should have been pulled and said he couldn’t sell them to me. He said he couldn’t override. Oh well.

  23. I just bought a couple this weekend at OD… but i’m assuming they will be cleared out by this next week if everything is true

  24. Just came back from OD in Somerset, NJ. They had none left. The cashier said somebody bought $8000 worth of $500 vanilla cards yesterday. Not sure if I believe it, if its true chase is gonna make his ink card go bye bye…

  25. I bought 2 Amex Prepaid yesterday, Sunday , Feb 3 , at my local OD in Virginia. No special approval needed. But, I guess when those cards, still on the display , are gone, it will be over here too.

  26. Went to Bellevue OD this morning. The gift card rack was cleaned out. Found an endcap and grabbed a couple. Went up to register to pay with the store mgr. He was asking me why I was buying them. Then an employee yelled out to him that these should have all been pulled. He yelled back I found it on an endcap. Then the mgr went to the other employee and they tried to find the company memo. 5 minutes later, he tries to scan it in on the computer at the copy center. I saw him try 2-3 of them. Then he yelled out to me, “Sorry, these won’t even pull up. We can’t sell them to you.” So even if you find the AMEX cards today, the register may not take them (assuming he didn’t lie to me, which is also highly likely).

  27. I thought something was up last week when all ODs around here were out of oV debit and gift cards. Finally found some gift cards and bought up 13 of them, clearing the rack. After hearing the news, went back to the same OD and found a new stock of gift cards (but no debit cards) so grabbed another six. There was still plenty of $20-$500 AmEx cards and new oV gift cards $20-$500 with $5.95 fee. Manager override was needed, but that has been the case for weeks now. He put in the numbers with no issues and didn’t seem to care what I was buying.

    So if anyone wants to use their avios for a quick trip down to Tulsa from ORD/DFW, have some fun 😉

  28. Just came back from local OD in San Jose, Store Mgr showed me the official letter from their corporate to return back all variable-load-amount visa and amex cards due to high costs involved in selling those.

    All fixed amount cards are good to sell – no issues…

  29. Downtown Chicago OD (State Street). No luck. No variable load cards.

    There were plenty $200 cards with $6.95 fees though.

    Game over.

  30. Just tried to buy 4 Amex Reload cards at OD in North Dallas. No go. He actually read through the corp email to confrim SKW. Game over. I had 4K left till I hit my max of 50K. There goes 20K UR points.

    I hope CVS stays a life longer.

  31. Friends from West Chicago suburbs reported that the game is over there too.

    So, now is it time to store “Ink”, “Target AmEx” and other tools for 5% everywhere in closets?

    Any alternates?

    Oh well, I just entered the game and it was over…

  32. yeah, I got in the game a little late. right after they pulled VR from OD. I made do with the AMEX/OneVanilla for a couple month and now this.

    There was someone on another board tweeting that he was just about finished maxing his 4 ink cards..

  33. I am either missing something, or am the Forrest Gump of pts & miles junkies. I just went into my local OD and bought 4 variable Visa Vanillas at $500 a pop, just like I have been doing since they dropped reloads. Will be stopping later at my local CVS to convert them into 4 $496.05 Vanilla reloads. After that, Bluebird time. Was that just dumb luck?

  34. Some Visa gift cards still available at the OD in Denver this afternoon but their inventory was running low. Still plenty of Amex gift cards though. Bought two $500 Visa gift cards just fine – manager had to do an override but no other hassles.

  35. Bought an Amex prepaid at OD tonight for $504.95. A simple manager override was needed, for the first time. There were about 30 on the rack here in Austin.

  36. Was in Vegas the past few days for vacation. First two ODs I went to said they didn’t sell gift cards for anything but cash and had for “months”. Third OD sold me three without a problem. Went back there two days later (Saturday) and all the $500 cards were gone. Went to a fourth OD and it had plenty of $500 Visas/MCs. Brought two to the counter and was told I could only buy one. Did so. Went back this morning (Monday) and they were running low on the gold and gray-boxed ones, but had tons of the birthday celebration-themed ones. Took two of them up to the counter and they called to do a credit authorization, but as they were doing it, the manager came up and said “He’s cool, he came in the other day” and had them hang up and just charge me for the two cards without a problem. As the rest of the comments make clear: YMMV.

  37. Went back to the place where I bought $6k worth on Sunday. All racks are empty. About 5-6 ODs in my area have none. The 5x game w OD is officially over. I have another 5x scheme in mind but that will need to be tested and I will likely not disclose it. But there are ways still….without having to incur the crazy fees on the $100-200 cards.

  38. @Yo…interested as to what you’re thinking as I thought of something too but not sure if it will work. Is your idea one to get you large amounts (ie on $500 purchases) or slower/smaller purchases.

  39. Checked my normal Office Depot source here in Portland, OR on Hayden Island and they had them still on the shelf but they wouldn’t sell them to me. Bummer. Hopefully another way to earn 5X all the time comes up soon!

  40. Just went to check office depot real quick in Kansas City. Same deal. All $500 cards pulled. Glad I already finished my Ink spending, and now to hunt for some AMEX cards to use at Costco.

  41. Does anyone think it’s a good value to purchase $200 AX or VS GCs at OD with $5.95 or $6.95 fee? Even with an IB, $1000 in GCs yields 5000 UR = $65.50 at FT “fair trade price.” Cost would be $29.75 or $34.75 (depending on actual fee charged), plus the cost of the 2 VRs ($7.90), plus the value of points forgone by using IB instead of another points earning card (e.g. 1000 SPG points worth $19.50 at FT “fair trade price).” So the net gain would be $8.35 per $1000 of GCs (at $5.95 fee) or $3.35 per $1000 of GCs (at $6.95 fee). Not counting the value of your time or gas to visit two stores. If we charitably value UR at 2 CPP, the value proposition is slightly better. And if we value SPG at 2.5 or 3 CPP, the value proposition is slightly worse. Alternatives?

  42. Fees for these 200$ GCs are either ~3% or ~3.5% (5.95 or 6.95), not like ~1% of the previous variable cards.

    Still this is less than the 5% you would get back in form of UR points.

    The math before was 2525 points for 4.95 fee, (if you can liquidate these cards at costco or otherwise).

    4.95/2525 = 20 cents per point.

    Now it is 1035 points for 6.95 fee:
    6.95/1035 = 67 cents per point.

    More than 3 times the cost it was before.

    If you can buy Vanilla Reloads at CVS using your Freedom card (without the Q1 bonus), it is 564 points (504 from Base purchase, 50 for 10% of each dollar spent, 10 points for the transaction) for a fee of 3.95:

    3.95/564 = 70 cents per point.

    So the Ink deal now is not even lukewarm, it is regular room temperature.. sadly.

  43. Agreed with Rob that the new deal isn’t very good and probably too much hassle to do all that often. Here are a few comparisons noting that the old point cost was 0.2 cents while the new cost is .67 cents.

    Cost of $1K in spend (~5000 points ignoring the fees) was previously $9.90 and now $34.75.

    Cost of $50K in spend (~250K points ignoring the fees) was previously $495.00 and now $1,737.50.

    Cost of a business class flight to Europe on UA (or any 100K flight) previously was $196.04 and now is $671.50.

    Cost of a 25K point domestic flight on UA was previously $49.01 and now is $167.87.

    Cost of a Hyatt Cat 6 stay (22K points) was previously $43.13 and is now $147.73.

    All went up by nearly 250%. So while in all these cases you can still get great value, there are probably far easier ways to do this with far less hassle.

  44. Now that OD has stopped carrying variable $500 GCs, what other stores are selling those? Checked Bbuy and they do not carry these type of GCs in any denomination.

  45. CVS sells them. So do grocery stores. Sadly, no 5X UR with IB but 5X with Freedom this qtr. You can get bonus HH points at CVS (at least for a while). Various cards give bonus points at grocery stores.

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