Staples introduces 5% back in rewards on everything

This just appeared in my email:

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Last April I reported that Staples was testing this program in select markets (see “Staples ups the ante (targeted)“).  I assume that this new email means that the program is now available to all rewards members, but I don’t know for sure.  Its possible that they are just expanding the rollout to additional areas.  Please comment below if you know more.

This is exciting news for a few reasons:

  • Free shipping!
  • 5% back in rewards makes possible a quadruple dip: 1) Use a Staples coupon; 2) Pay with a card that earns a great bonus at an office supply store (such as one of the Chase Ink cards); 3) Go through an online portal to earn extra points or cash back; and 4) Earn 5% in rewards!
  • Staples rewards can often be converted to cash by using the rewards to buy Free After Rebate items.  It’s a bit of work and it takes a while, but still…

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will work for buying gift cards.  Here are the Terms & Conditions (bolding is mine):

As of 3/15/13 Staples Rewards® members receive 5% back in rewards on all items excluding taxes, postage, prepaid phone cards, delivery charges, coupons, gift cards and purchases made on third-party Web sites. Staples Rewards back are issued online monthly when the value of the Reward is at least $10. Rewards expire no less than 60 days after issuance. Monthly balances of less than $10 will roll over each month until the minimum is met for that calendar quarter. If the $10 minimum for the quarter has not been met, the balance will expire at the end of the quarter. Rewards members receive free shipping on all orders placed on staples.com® or by phone at 1-800-333-3330 for which a membership account is identified, excluding orders made at staplescopycenter.com, print.staples.com, staplespromotionalproducts.com and third-party Web sites linked to staples.com. Standard Staples delivery policies apply. Recycle any ink or toner cartridge, up to 10 per calendar month per customer, and, if the member has spent at least $30 in ink and/or toner purchases at Staples over the previous 180 days, the member will receive $2 back in Staples Rewards per cartridge. Ink and/or toner purchases made on the date of recycling are calculated toward minimum purchase requirement. Minimum purchase requirement is net of coupons, taxes and shipping charges. We will recycle additional cartridges but rewards will only be issued for 10 per calendar month per customer. Ink Recycling Rewards are issued online monthly, separately from your standard Staples Rewards statement. Ink resellers and remanufacturers are strictly prohibited from earning Ink Recycling Rewards. Staples Rewards membership is FREE. Limit one Staples Rewards account per person or at any mailing address. For full program details, visit staplesrewards.com.

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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. Actually, there seems to be a significant negative here. Staples will limit the number of ink cartridges you can recycle per month, so it will be linked to a requirement to purchase $30 of ink cartridges, net *after* applying all coupons, Staples rewards, etc. Currently, there is no minimum purchase requirement and you can recycle 10/mo. (or 20/mo. for Premier). They are tightening up.

    • bf: I’ve never gotten around to playing the Ink recycling game so it doesn’t impact me, but I could see why that would be bad for others
      The Miles Professor: I think they are only going to carry certain Apple peripherals, but if you’re in the market for those (or want to resell them) its a great opportunity.
      stubtify: Yes, that is a possibility. I hope not!

  2. Staples is going to start carrying Apple products. So now you can get around 10 Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Ink Bold (I value at 2 cents each) plus 5% credit to use on more apple products. For those who were planning to buy Apple products, they basically get an equivalent of 25% off! As long as they want more Apple products from Staples and know how to use Ultimate Rewards well!

  3. It looks like you only have to spend $30 on ink every 180 or $60 per year. This can still be a good program because you can recycle $240 worth of ink per year. That number jumps to $480 in ink if you are a premier member.

    I don’t like the above change but I do not believe it is a game changer.

  4. Eric, you are assuming that a person is going to have 20 cartridges to recycle per month. We do not use inkjets in the office and the only inkjet I have at home is a large format printer. I lose over $40 buying a laser cartridge at Staples vs online. We print a lot but I very rarely recycle close to 20/month.

  5. “Monthly balances of less than $10 will roll over each month until the minimum is met for that calendar quarter. If the $10 minimum for the quarter has not been met, the balance will expire at the end of the quarter.”

    So, if you don’t hit $10 in rewards in March ($200 spending without recycle credit), you lose it all? This is a little bit more restrictive than Maxperks. Not so bad for the first month of a quarter, but will depend on your spending frequency.

  6. Wouldn’t be surprised if this coincided with a pullout of staples from all online CB and points portals. Remember ebay used to pay out CB/points but stopped when they started their own 2% back “Ebay bucks” program.

  7. “… on everything! …. EXCEPT: ….”.
    .
    Every marketer who says “everything” and then “except” following it should be shot. Liars!

  8. The 5% rewards back is nice, but the nerf the the ink program is a little of a pain. Was a nice ride while it lasted, I got about $3K from Staples from ink recycling last year alone.

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