No more portal payouts for gift cards at Staples

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.

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. How do you think they know you are buying gift cards? I understand they lose money, but we know all those multiple rewards CCs work when we use them at bonus categories to buy GCs.

    Just for reference, my staples.com VGC purchases on May 7th never tracked. So I tried topcashback this time a week ago and even that hasn’t tracked so far. I also got a Kenneth Cole GC from topcashback a month ago that never tracked.

    • AdBlock is known to prevent these tracking cookies. Do you use that? Another option is to make sure your browser allows them (some people specifically block them for various reasons).

  2. Yeah. It is dead. I tried various portals (ebates, fat wallet, UR, upromise), and none of them register the purchase. Even when I added a 59c product to trick it, it only registers 59c product for cash back. Well, that was a good run…

  3. What is our recourse against a portal (in this case uPromise) where they specifically said gift cards would be eligible for a bonus and then don’t pay out. I made a purchase on May 1 (gift cards and other products) and only the non-gift cards tracked. According to their website, unless it says gift cards are excluded, they’re not. And I even called a rep to ask before making the purchase and she said those count. I’ve filed an investigation claim with them but anticipate they’ll come back and say gift cards don’t count (even though this purchase was before the supposed cut off date). Anyone have any success getting uPromise to pay out when their website has a clear misrepresentation?

    • Portal issues can take quite a while to resolve. Personally, since you’ve already filed an investigation, I’d give uPromise a few months before trying to escalate it. If they say that gift cards don’t count and close your issue, then ask them to reopen it based on the conversation you had with the agent

  4. I recall reading somewhere that the Visa Advantage program give you 1% bonus only when you buy $200 or more from Staples. Your post says “all purchases at Staples”. Thx.

    • MM, thanks for catching that. Yes, you’re right. I thought I had put the $200 requirement in this post, but I guess I hadn’t. Anyway, it is now corrected in the post.

  5. 0.495 by my calculation but who’s quibbling……….When you are at the Park Hyatt in Paris just ask yourself if I got a good deal for a 6 night stay at $108.90 per night…….or the new improved 30k rate of $148.50 per night…….ok it’s not free but it’s silly close…….and if we could actually get the cost down to zero then we could just live there aka Lucky……..

  6. @justSaying, it’s actually $300 per night at Park Hyatt with points, since you can convert 30,000 UR points straight into $300 cash.

    So you’re buying 1 cent worth of money with 0.471 cent in hand.

  7. ordered Visa GC via SavingsEdge with my Ink. the transactions were canceled after it was pending for several days. tried it again and it was again canceled. the Ink-Staples-SavingsEdge is dead i suppose. not gonna try to order another Visa GC again. pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered!

    • I had a couple of orders over 2k cancelled by Staples…..then I called and they told me to reduce the order to only 10 200 GCs and the order went thru in 3 days………but the store has the 200 GC so if you are going that direction with accruals then and the online rebate is dead then there is no reason not to just buy them at the store………

  8. Chase Ultimate Rewards portal also now explicitly makes clear the bonus doesn’t apply to GC’s purchases via staples.com:

    “Ultimate Rewards Mall Terms & Conditions….

    ….Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents including third party gift cards sold by Staples.com. ”

    (would be curious to hear anew from those on other threads thinking it did still work for them)

  9. how come Criteo is still advertising the gift cards on teh banners they put on all sorts of web sites? Do they get paid anyway?

  10. one of the third party companies that posts banners on other sites.

    They show $50 and $100 cards along with paper or other Staples items.

  11. Just wanted to add a new data point: I got paid finally!!! I made a 2K Staples GC order on 4-28-14 thru uPromise, it posted as pending on 5-4-14, and after checking what felt like 100 different times, I finally got paid on 7-10-14 (just checked again today, almost gave up!)

    • Um, where do you see that? I have consistently received the 1% rebate. And, the terms say nothing about gift cards:

      Terms & Conditions
      Offer valid from 01/01/2014 to 12/31/2014.
      Valid on qualifying purchases of $200 or more made in the U.S only at Staples retail locations, by phone at 800-333-3330 or online at staples.com
      Offer not valid on purchases made through Staples Business Advantage, Staples National Advantage or Staples Industrial
      Offer applicable only to qualifying purchases made with a valid enrolled Visa Business card
      Void where prohibited, taxed or restricted by law
      Discount provided as a statement credit on a future account statement
      Applicable taxes must be paid by bearer
      Offer only redeemable in the U.S.

      • My VISA savings edge 1% rebate post to my Ink statement before I get home from the trip to Staples…….guess I set it up like Frequent Miler told me to……….

  12. Qualifying Purchase

    The enrolled Business and/or participating Cardholders will receive a discount at U.S. Merchants only for Qualifying Purchases that are in full compliance with the terms of the applicable Discount Offer. A “Qualifying Purchase” is further defined as any signature-based purchase, Internet purchase, phone or mail order purchase, bill payment, contactless purchase (a purchase made by holding your Visa Business Card or other device up to a secure reader instead of swiping your card), or small dollar purchase for which you are not required to sign, made with an enrolled Visa Business Card in the U.S., which is processed or submitted through the Visa U.S.A. Inc. payment system. Do not use a Personal Identification Number (PIN) when paying for your purchases with your enrolled Visa Business Card if you want to receive a U.S. Merchant discount for such purchase. PIN-based purchases, purchases you initiate through identification technology that substitutes for a PIN, Interlink-processed transactions, payments made for pre-paid and re-loadable cards such as certain gift cards, Visa Buxx, and similar cards, payments made for payment instruments that can readily be converted to cash (for example, travelers cheques, money orders, wire transfers, and similar products or services), or transactions that are not processed or submitted through the Visa U.S.A. Inc. payment system are not Qualifying Purchases. We reserve the right to determine in our sole discretion whether a Visa Business Card transaction is a Qualifying Purchase.
    Discount Offers

  13. Look for “such as certain gift cards” above.

    I am trying to decide whether to keep my Ink Bold MasterCard, which is up for a renewal fee, as well as my new Ink Plus VISA card due to the 50K annual limit on the 5x bonus on each. Also, if there is no 1% back via Visa Savings Edge then the straight purchase of a $500 gift card @ $2.95 is a better bet – and easier to liquidate.

    • 6-23, 6-23, 6-23, 7-7, 7-15. All Ink statement adjustments…..my mistake as some took as long as 3 days to post……..

        • Chase is pretty dependable……..they are the 300 pound gorilla in this game and have too much to lose to change the rules without notification…….their executives don’t seem to take the Hilton or UA model as a way to do business………

        • The 1% is from VISA Savings Edge, not Chase – though it comes (or not, in this case) on my Chase account.

          Still nothing showing yet, not even for my Staples in-store purchase which included actual hardware plus Amazon gift cards purchased 8/01/14.

        • Update: My 1% VISA Savings Edge posted for the in-store Staples purchase – that’s 1 week afterwards.

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