I realize that for many readers this is old news, but I continue to get questions about this every day. People ask if they can still earn points, miles, or cash back from buying gift cards at Staples via a portal. Through May 12th, 2014, the answer was yes. After May 12th, the answer is (or, at least, appears to be) no.
I first reported this change on May 12th in the post “The deal without portals.” At that point, there was some evidence that portals would no longer payout for gift cards from Staples.com, but we didn’t yet have proof. Proof has come, since then, via the lack of success. I personally made gift card purchases at Staples.com ($200 Visa gift cards) through the uPromise and ShopDiscover portals on May 14th, but neither has resulted in portal payouts. While some payouts take a very long time to register, it has been over a month now and so I feel confident that the deal is dead. Further evidence is the lack of success stories from readers since early May.
Despite this change, buying gift cards from Staples can still be a great deal. Start with a Chase Ink Visa card and enroll it in the Visa Savings Edge program. Then, all purchases at Staples (in store or online) using the Ink card will result in 5 points per dollar from Chase (since Staples is an office supply store) and 1% cash back from Visa Savings Edge for purchases of $200 or more. For a nearly complete list of gift cards available at Staples, please see: Staples Gift Cards. As you can see, Staples carries a large number of gift cards so it is possible to earn 5X plus 1% extra cash back for purchases at many different merchants and restaurants.
Even buying $200 Visa gift cards is still a good deal with the Chase Ink / Visa Savings Edge combination. The cards do cost $206.95 each, but as I reported in the post “The deal without portals,” you can use the Visa Savings Edge 1% cash back and a portion of the 5X Ultimate Rewards points earned to pay yourself back for the card fees. When looked at that way, you can clear 2.74 points per dollar fee-free which is, of course, excellent.
Anyway, there you have it. The Staples portal fun is done, but gift card deals live on.