A new way to increase rewards beyond 5X

The Chase Ink family of business cards offer 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for purchases made at office supply stores.  Those who shop often at office supply stores obviously will do well with these cards.  Those who shop elsewhere can do well too by using their Chase Ink card to buy gift cards at office supply stores.  An easy double dip looks like this:

  1. Go through online rewards portal to Staples.com
  2. Buy merchant gift cards (portals pay out for merchant gift cards bought at Staples.com, but not Visa or Staples gift cards) and pay with a Chase Ink card [UPDATE: Staples apparently no longer pays out through portals for merchant gift cards]

Portal rates change regularly (I recommend using CashBackMonitor.com to find current rates), but for the sake of argument lets assume that the best current rates for Staples is 5% cash back.  In that case, your rewards for buying a merchant gift card would add up to 5% cash back plus 5X points.

Another option: eBay

In a post in which I cheered the return of eBay gift cards to stores, a reader revealed something interesting:

I found something new today: if you buy any giftcard (ebay, staples, …) from ” paypal_digital_gifts” seller in ebay using chase ink, surprisingly you will receive 5x points. I bought several ebay gift card last week and now my account shows that I have earned 5x for all of them. The transaction has posted as PAYPAL *PAYPAL INC.

That was intriguing.  While eBay isn’t technically an office supply store, Chase awards category bonus points based on the merchant code used to process your credit card payment.  Apparently eBay’s system is setup as an office supply store, at least for certain types of purchases.

I tested this out myself with two separate purchases.  I bought the following:

Surprisingly, both purchases earned 5X with my Chase Ink card.  I don’t yet know if non-gift-card eBay purchases result in 5X earnings, but there’s an easy way to ensure that they do: first buy eBay e-gift cards, then use those gift cards to buy other items.

UPDATE: Further research has shown that only purchases from PayPal Digital Gifts earn 5X.  I’m not sure why my GiftCardMall purchase appeared to earn 5X at the time I wrote this post.

Stacking rewards

Here’s an example of how to stack rewards with eBay:

1. Go through a portal to eBay to buy an eBay e-gift card

Currently, the best portal options are only 1.5% cash back, but that’s better than nothing!  You can find the current best options here.


It has been found that buying eBay e-gift cards from PayPal Digital Gifts results in portal rewards (see this Doctor of Credit post).  And, as I’ve recently confirmed, by paying with a Chase Ink card, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar.


2. Go through a portal to eBay to use your eBay e-gift card

Once you have your e-gift card, you can go through the same portal as before to shop at eBay.  Use the e-gift card to buy merchandise or other gift cards.

Make sure that you’re signed up for earning eBay Bucks.  This way, when you buy things (other than eBay gift cards, themselves), you’ll earn 2% back towards future purchases.  You can even use those eBay Bucks in the future to buy more eBay gift cards!

5X points plus 5% rewards when buying merchant gift cards

All of the above rigmarole leads to similar rewards as the Staples.com process.  In this case you’ll earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points, plus 3% cash back, plus 2% in eBay Bucks.

Why bother?

To maximize rewards, Staples offers an easier route.  That said, eBay offers a wider selection of merchant gift cards (and merchandise, in general).  And, eBay often offers terrific sales on gift cards.

Wider selection

Unlike Staples, eBay carries gift cards to merchants such as American Airlines, Hyatt, and much more.

American Airlines Gift Card - Email Delivery Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Gift Card - Email delivery

Discount gift cards

While it is sometimes possible to buy gift cards from individuals on eBay at a good price, I prefer to wait for official sales on gift cards from bigger sellers.  In the recent past, there have been terrific discounts available from both PayPal Digital Gifts and GiftCardMall on eBay.  While there is nothing too exciting from those sellers at the moment (unless 20% off Applebee’s excites you), there is a deal for a $10 promo gift card when buying a $100 Chevron / Texaco gift card from svmgiftcards.

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »


  1. […] Frequent Miler wrote a couple of days ago that buying Ebay gift cards from Paypal Digital Gifts is giving out 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards since they are mistakenly coded as an office supply store for Chase Ink purposes.  This is awesome for heavy Ebay-ers like myself.  Let’s do some quick math and show the economics of this (so I can help myself with the math as well) […]

  2. […] A few months after I started this blog in 2011, Chase overhauled the Ink family of business cards and added outstanding category bonuses: 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for office supplies, phone, internet, and cable (each type of Ink card also offered a few 2X categories, but these varied a bit by type of Ink card).  This change vaulted Chase Ink cards to the top of my favorite cards list.  I use the cards to pay my phone, cable, and internet bills.  And, of course, I use the cards for every purchase (including gift cards) at Staples or Office Depot / OfficeMax.  It turns out that Ink cards are also a great option for buying select gift cards from eBay (see A new way to increase rewards beyond 5X). […]

  3. […] of months ago Frequent Miler wrote about the possibility of earning 5x Ultimate Rewards points by buying gift cards on eBay. At the time he had noticed that the purchase of both eBay gift cards through Paypal Digital Gifts […]


  1. This is truly awesome, thank you for sharing. I love how certain MS spend items disappear, other cool things pop up. I tried this about a month ago buying Kohl’s gift cards through the Southwest portal using my Ink. I got the 5 UR points, plus at the time I got the 6,000 SW points from buying the $1,000. I’ve done this one more time since and the 2nd time the miles haven’t posted yet, so I will be curious to hear others experience. As always, keep up the good work, love reading the post 1st thing in the am.

  2. This sounds awesome. However, I would be more cautious with eBay/PayPal when trying to make transactions in bulk. They are tough nuts to deal with.

  3. I’ve actually had miles clawed back FROM THE AIRLINE after they had posted. I wonder what would have happened had I used the miles

  4. @FM – Probably you might already know, you can buy the E-bay e-gift card using “previously purchased E-bay e-gift card”. If the portal cash back works on this new purchase, this would be terrific way of merry-go-round. Add to this “when the E-bay e-gift card is discounted by Paypal_digital_gifts” 🙂

  5. Thanks for this great post. I am new to eBay Bucks. Based on my read, it appears that to earn eBay Bucks the purchase must be made through PayPal. Are the gift cards you purchase in the first instance coded to satisfy that requirement or is there some other work around that permits the stacking of the portal and eBaby Bucks rewards? Thanks!

    • Using the ebay gift cards for purchases you still earn the Ebay bucks. The purchase still technically goes through paypal.

  6. Someone in another blog brought up the idea of earning gas rewards by using ebay gift cards to purchase grocery (Safeway, Kroger) gift cards, then using those grocery gift cards to buy ebay gift cards in the store… then repeating. I see that grocery gift cards sell for above price (ex. $103+ for a $100 Kroger gift card), but with ebay bucks and portal bonuses in addition to the gas rewards, I think this MAY be worth it.

    • Kroger is HARD CODED not to accept Kroger gift cards to purchase any 3rd party gift cards. You can only buy groceries and gas with them.

  7. How do you cash out these merchant GC? Is this only workable for actual spend you plan to have at these merchants and not MS which cash out?

  8. Just bought a $100 ebay gift card to buy a $100 chevron gift card that came with a promotional $10 gas card. Let’s hope this works!

  9. There is currently an AMEX Sync offer to get $25 off a $100 purchase on staples.com. T&C say that gift cards and egift cards are excluded. Is your experience otherwise? Any chance that merchant cards count? Thanks!

    • you dont need to start a business. when you apply you select “sole propretiorship” from box menu. put in same income as personal and you use ur ssn. ive had 4/cards from dif banks that way, its common, no follow up questions.

    • Unfortunately, you have to do the math. Look on your statement to see how many points were earned under the heading of something like “4 bonus points per dollar”. Divide that by 4. That will tell you how many dollars of spend earned 5X. Then find the combination of charges on your statement that add up to that amount. Those are the charges that earned 5X

      • Both Chase and Diner’s have little + beside each transaction and you click on it and it will tell you exactly whether the spend was bonused or not…………it’s on your online account transaction history…….and both are pretty damn fast about posting it…………AMEX manages with the mushroom method………..their > will tell you what the merchant is classified at and then you have to calculate and wait about 60 days to see the results………..love you AMEX………….

  10. I am wondering if I did this math right, but doing a little mixing of the 2 strategies, I believe I can get 21% off the iPad or other large purchases, I am buying from Staples.
    1. Go thru portal to buy eBay gift cards from eBay (1.5%) and use Chase Ink (5.0%).
    2. Go thru portal again (1.5%) to buy Staples gift cards with eBay gift cards. (2% for ebay bucks).
    3. Go through Savingstar portal (6%) to buy the iPad from Staples using gift cards.
    4. Get 5% back in Staples rewards.
    Total is 21% off an iPad at Staples. What am I missing?


    • That should work, but:
      1) you won’t get an extended warranty as you would if you bought directly with a credit card
      2) some of the rebates aren’t really “% off”. Specifically eBay Bucks and Staples Rewards. Both have to be used for future purchases so they’re not nearly as liquid as cash back or Chase Ink points.
      Still, it does look like a really good way to go!

  11. FM:

    I only have the option on eBay to purchase with PP when buy any gift card thru PP digital.
    How do I get eBay to allow me to purchase gift cards with my Chase Ink? I have included the info on my Ink card, but I am a seller on PP, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to buy with a CC. I called eBay, but they were not helpful. Thanks.

    • Make sure there is zero balance in your paypal account. Then you should have the option to pay by whatever credit cards you have loaded into your account.

    • PayPal will not allow you to use any other payment method if you have a balance. Since you’re a seller I’m assuming you have a balance, so you’ll have to transfer out all the money on PayPal then you’ll be able to select another payment method. Or use a different PayPal account

    • PayPal are modern day Fascists…….I just had my 4th and last account closed by them……..they make up rules as they go if they see that you have out smarted them…….ie paying your Citicard bill with their Masdtercard debit card……….but the net result is I am elated to have them out of my life forever……..and I will never do business on their eBay either………bye and good riddance……..

  12. For Staples gift card purchases, which portals do you suggest that work? I regularly purchase Home Depot and restaurant gift cards and click through on the American Airlines shopping portal or the Delta portal and have never earned even one airline point. I continue to use the portals, just in case! So I’d love to know which portals actually do work.

  13. I just did a test ebay gift card purchase for $5. I called up Chase and asked how it was classified, and they said it was ‘computer services’ and only qualified for 1x. Very bummed. Used my Bold card and definitely purchased the card via paypal digital gifts. Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.

    • I’d suggest waiting for your statement to close to see how many points were actually awarded. It’s possible/likely that the computer awards 5X in some situations where phone reps wouldn’t think so.

  14. Just to confirm, you simply need to load the ink card to your paypal, then when you purchase any GC thru giftcardmall on ebay, you do paypal checkout but select your ink cc, and you’ll get 5x UR back? Sorry just wanted to confirm I’m doing it correctly.

  15. Ever since I added my Ink card to my PayPal account a few days ago I get this error when trying to buy eBay e-GCs: “We’re sorry, but we can’t send your payment right now. Return to merchant and try a different payment.”

    Anyone else having this issue? It only happens when I try to buy GC from Paypal Digital (I can use my PayPal acct to purchase other things on eBay).

    • NOTHING good ever comes from dealing with PayPal………..modern day American fascists………and that’s being kind………..

  16. Looks like this one is dead. I too had issues buying ebay giftcards from paypal digital but no issues with giftcardmall on ebay. It worked fine, earning me 5x points until 3/31. My last and first purchase of this month, made 2 days ago is no longer posting at 5x… just 1x now. I am sending a message to seller if order can be canceled… it hasn’t shipped. 🙁

    • I purchased eBay gift cards from PayPal Digital Gifts using my Ink Card 2 days ago and the 5x points posted from Chase.

      However, I attempted to make an additional purchase tonight and like MLH I am unable to make a purchase. Instead I am getting the same error message – “We’re sorry, but we can’t send your payment right now. Return to merchant and try a different payment.”

  17. i have a bunch of payments that go thru paypal to ebayincship, which under my AE card is clasified as “business Services-Internet Services”, wondering if Ink will classify them the same and pay 5%

  18. I’ve bought eBay GC from paypal_digital_gifts a couple times, but there is a significant delay in a purchase that I paid on Saturday morning, I haven’t received the email with claim link after waited more than 24 hours (it usually came within an hour). This is very frustrating because the buyer is pushing me for sending payment, does anyone know if this is because it is waiting for some manual process and they don’t work on weekends?

  19. I had a look through my last 3 months of Ink bonus category earnings, and none of my GiftCardMall purchases got 5x. Is there a trick to it, or am I just unlucky? I wish I’d checked sooner, ugh.

  20. Does chase ink categorize all ebay purchases the same or just the ones from paypal digital gifts is it going under the 5% category.

  21. Great article! Few questions, sorry for being naive

    1) You say go through the “online rewards portal to Staples.com”, is that just using staples website or through chase ink website?

    2) According to Staples fine print they say “Postage stamps, prepaid phone cards, gift cards,” ETC are ineligible. Can you verify that they simply mean the two gift cards you mentioned above…Staples and Visa. In other words have you tried getting a Starbucks card (for example) and getting 5x points at chase and 5% cash back at staples?

    Thanks again.

    • 1) There are many portals you can start from in order to earn extra rewards. Shop With Chase is one. You can find more options here: http://www.cashbackmonitor.com/Cashback-Store/Staples/
      2) Unfortunately, recent reports via the Frequent Miler Laboratory suggest that Staples no longer pays out through portals for 3rd party gift card purchases. You will still earn 5 points per dollar, though, if you pay with a Chase Ink card (regardless of whether you go through a portal).

    • Yes, all Chase Ink purchases made on Staples.com earn 5X, including gift cards. The one exception I know of is when buying Staples branded e-gift cards you’ll be taken away from staples.com to staples.cashstar.com. There, you won’t earn 5X.

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