5X everywhere rises

UPDATE: Plink has been discontinued.

UPDATE: Plink now limits rewards at Staples to 10 transactions per month.

A long time ago, in a galaxy that was as yet unaware of Vanilla Reload cards, I posted “5X Everywhere!“.  In that post I explained that it was possible to buy $100 Visa gift cards at an office supply store online and recover the entire purchase fee through a cash back portal.  By paying with a credit card that earns 5X at office supply stores, you would get 5 points per dollar for Visa gift cards that could then be used in places that would otherwise earn only 1 point per dollar.

That was a pretty neat trick, but dealing with lots of $100 gift cards is no fun.  So, the trick was overshadowed by an earlier post in which I explained how to buy $500 Visa gift cards at Office Depot (see “Almost too good to be true“).  And, then both of those tricks were soon made irrelevant by my popular post “One card to rule them all” in which I showed how buying Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot was pretty cool.

One by one, the opportunities to earn 5X everywhere have come and gone.  Office Depot stopped selling Vanilla Reload cards, then later carried them again but for cash only.  Same story with $500 Visa cards.  And, Staples increased the price on their $100 Visa cards enough to make that deal much less appealing.  Other opportunities for 5X everywhere have come and gone periodically, and lately we’ve been in such a drought that some have sought refuge with obscure Wells Fargo offers.

Now, we’re back to where we started with $100 gift cards.  As I reported recently, Plink has added Staples as a reward partner (see “Plinking Staples“).  With the addition of Plink rewards, buying $100 Visa gift cards online is once again a true path to 5X Everywhere:

  1. Register credit card with Plink.  Add Staples to your Plink Wallet.
  2. Go to Staples.com via uPromise.
  3. Buy a single $100 Visa gift card for $106.95.

If all goes well, you’ll earn $5.35 cash back from uPromise and $3 worth of gift cards from Plink.  Let’s value the gift cards at 95% face value so that we get a rebate of: $5.35 + $2.85 = $8.20.  That’s pretty cool since the combined fees for the Visa gift card came to only $6.95.  So, you earn $1.25 profit plus 5 points per dollar.  Actually, the 5X points earned are based on the total purchase price of $106.95, so you can expect to earn 535 points.  So, you are really earning 5.35 points per dollar based on the $100 value of the Visa gift card.

Lab Experiment

I tested the above process with the purchase of one gift card. I was worried for a while because it took uPromise over 2 weeks to report my cash back.  Finally, two days ago, my cash back posted as expected!  I’ve also received similar positive reports from people who have shopped Staples via mile-earning portals.

Reality

Sure, you could use those $100 Visa gift cards for all of your day to day spend and effectively earn over 5 points per dollar everywhere.  But, most people will find it painful dealing with lots of gift cards in this way.  You could, instead, make use of the gift card PINs to cash them out, or use them to load your American Express for Target cardUPDATE 1/12/2016: The American Express for Target card has been discontinued.

Even with those approaches (or maybe, especially with those approaches) dealing with $100 Visa cards will be painful.

So, yes, 5X everywhere is back, but its not as fun as it used to be.

Last updated on September 10th, 2018

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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Mark
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Mark

For non-category spend that doesn’t otherwise benefit from the use of shopping portals or the purchase protection of a credit card, paying with the pre-paid debit cards can be of great use in this regard. Utility bills, vending machines and payments for misc. services would be a few examples I can think of. However, thanks to syncing deals like Amex Sync, MyLinkables and Plink, credit cards are still very much in play for me depending on the retailer.

anon
Guest
anon

In order to plink, do you have to buy the $100 cards one at a time, rather than a bunch in one order?

Glauber
Guest
Glauber

So does that mean that in order to the the max return if you lets say want to buy $1500 in $100 GCs, you’ll have to make 15 different transactions?

Karen
Guest
Karen

How do you get upromise cash back? Can you ask for check?
I have never used upromise before.

Nick
Guest
Nick

The Discover shopping portal also gives 5% back from staples. Does anyone know if this works with giftcards as well? Im going to test it out before i try upromise since i prefer Discover.

Grant
Guest

Good work Greg. Never used Upromise shopping portal before. Wish UR mall offered more points for Staples. Not sure I want to deal with 10 $100 gift cards at Walmart, but the folks at Target wouldn’t mind a visit.

Grant
Guest

Evreward shows 5% cash back from Upromise and Shop Discover. 2x via UR mall and 2x via SWA mall. Since most people probably have SWA companion pass, 2x SWA is really 4x, which is 4 x 1.67 = 6.68%. Now I’m interested…

Karen
Guest
Karen

Greg, will buy visa GC from staple.com earn Ultimate Points if I go through ultimate shopping portal? Thanks!

bexho2000
Guest
bexho2000

I was at my local CVS last night and tried to buy some beans with visa gift cards 9up to 6 cards per tansaction). I was told by the store manager that they had received a memo and a call from corporate ordering them to stop allowing gift cards to purchase beans or other gift cards. I have known the guy for a long time and he has been always helpfull to me fining bean even when they were in extrememly short supply, so I have no reason to doubt him. The only way they would allow it is if the gift card has a name that matches the ID. I used my regular credit card and everything went through fine. Out of curiosity, I stopped by another store this morning and was told exactly the same story. So no luck in cashing those nameless gift cards…Anyone else experiencing this.

Jake from MSP
Guest
Jake from MSP

WORD OF CAUTION:

Staples has been going through some back and forth with uPromise if the uPromise dragons are to be believed. I have 30-35 purchases that have been listed as Pending in uPromise since JULY that I have still not been paid for.

Also, TCB states that they have received THREE payouts since July from Staples, and apparently uPromise has received none!

I have since stopped using the uPromise portal because I have a feeling these purchases will just never be paid out

Lifeupgrader
Guest
Lifeupgrader

I have been doing this, minus the plik until a bit ago for about a year. It is really a pain in the rear! First, each card has to be registered and activated. Second, one must take said cards to wal-mart. Third, when one arrives at said walmart, the machine may or may not work. Fourth, normally 4 out of 5 cards work and you have to take the rest to the register, wait about 5 minutes in line, then explain what you are trying to do to the cashier, then wait for their confusion to wear off, then wait for the css to arrive, then maybe get your cards loaded. Keep in mind, you can only cash out upromise rewards once every quarter – so don’t try to cashflow month to month on the fees. That said, if you really want the points, it does work.

Jivepicnic
Guest
Jivepicnic

I receive distributions from Upromise once per month. Maybe that’s because they are deposited into my Sallie Mae savings account (0.75% APY…not the best but not bad). It’s my understanding that I will receive these payments once per month as long as my payable distributions exceed $10, which they usually do. I opened the savings account because you get a 10% bonus on your earned distributions each year if you deposit $25 per month into your account from another bank account. I automatically deposit the money and then take it back out again to get better interest in another account. I did get my 10% bonus early in 2013 for my distributions in 2012.

Yo
Guest
Yo

It’s hit or miss w upromise. I’ve gotten it a lot of times but the one time I made a $5k purchase it didn’t track and its been 3.5 months. Upromise is still working on it. I told them to review my track record and history on that I always go through the portal. They bought that and are “investigating it”. I say take it w a grain of salt. I am $350 in fees though I did get 26k points so its not the end of the world but clearly I’m not trying to buy points at 1.4c.

ShoNuffHarlem
Guest
ShoNuffHarlem

You can load on Bluebird too right?

ChiliPalmer
Guest
ChiliPalmer

I really think you’re overselling Plink.

The points are pretty hard to use. Most of us have other means of shopping at the possible retailers, so we don’t want GCs for them.

So you can do Tango. Tango is another racket, but they do offer a cash option. That’s completely bogus.

I think Plink points translate to about 50 cents on the dollar.

Nick
Guest
Nick

I guess its all personel preference. I personel have no problem spending all my plink points at walmart for things i would be buying anyway. And i dont know of anyway to get more then 1x on walmart purchases so i would basically value the walmart GC almost straight up.

al613
Guest
al613

I will take walmart gift cards from you for 50% off all day long 🙂

HikerT
Guest
HikerT

FWIW, I did not earn CB via the Discover portal.

The portal roulette seem too risky to me vs. 60 splits in store (please no arrows).

chris
Guest
chris

FM: I have signed up with plink but I didnt get the credit when i purchase from staples.

I am an authorized user of my DW card. So, I do have a unique card number. I use this number when signing up with Plink, but i didnt get the credit when i purchase 200 gift card.

What should i do now?

Chris.

Somy
Guest
Somy

I made a $100 vgc purchase recently through ultimate rewards mall and did not get any bonus points for that purchase. Also discover terms say that gift card does not count for cashback bonus on shopdiscover. Why do you suggest these then?

Andy
Guest
Andy

Hi FM, Each time I entered CVS store, it boardcast American Express Serve card that has $0 purchase fee by this year end. It mentioned quite a bit benefits. I kinda remember reading something about that card online here or there. So, I am asking:

1. Did your write-up cover this card before? If you have a posting, could you repost the link? or, if you know some postings somewhere, could you point me there?
2. if you can summarize its benefits briefly, it would also be highly appreciated.

Dima
Guest

No luck with Plink for me. Have had it connected with my Ink Bold and Staples offer in my wallet and after numerous purchases at Staples and Staples.com, it still shows big fat 0. Just sent them a message but not holding my hopes up.

Grant
Guest

Same thing happened to me. You have to send Plink an email and they will fix your account and credit all points back to you. After that, I’ve earned all my Plink points for Staples purchases.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Plink is working great for my wife as she linked her Bold card to Staples and has had no issues………..can she get an Amazon card with that?

Dima
Guest

Thanks, Grant! I did that yesterday and last night my points magically showed up in my Plink account. They haven’t actually responded to my message, but as long as I have the points, I am happy 🙂

Losonn
Guest
Losonn

Been doing this for a while with $200 gift cards purchased in store. Definitely not free, but 1/2 as many gift cards to wrangle and no portal hoops.

Chris F.
Guest
Chris F.

I’ve been doing this for the past week and a half, so far no pending transactions with Upromise or Plink, but that sounds like the norm. However, a few purchases today were delayed with shipping pending until November 22. Hmm.

Doug
Guest
Doug

No love from Plink for me , did couple of staples transactions any suggestions FM, also i do have a upromise account it has some money in it , am I hearing that i can cash that out ?

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

Now that my Charlie Victor Sierra has unlimited VR cards I am cooling my heels each visit as I have already bought the monthly limit for Bluebird………so the big question is there another outlet to unload 5k VR cards a month? Have to compensate for the the United and Hiltons of the world as I load the MR on Barclay’s…………

Roger
Guest
Roger

Since Staples is office supply, would you get an extra 5% is you use an Ink Card?

kris
Guest
kris

Hi.Should we register our ink card @ upromise or just login to upromise and navigate to staples from there should work just fine?

HK
Guest
HK

Is there an option to see tracking tickets on uPromise?

Marathon man
Guest
Marathon man

Been plinking staples w the $200s in store already but this is/could be better esp because its online so thanks fm for the tips.

But when i sign up for upromise (UP) i only see you get 5% cb if you use their mc. Where are we seeing that one gets 5% cb when shopping thru them with an ink? What am I missing?

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

I’m sort of confuse on how you get 5 percent cash back from staples through upromise. Do we need to have a Upromise Matercard or can I use my ink card? I got the plink part all set up.

ShoNuffHarlem
Guest
ShoNuffHarlem

2 questions:

1) Can you use VR to a MyVanilla Debit for legitimate purposes like swiping as a debit card and getting ATM cash? Would they shut those down? Need them to give to people for payroll advances. Confused why any get shut down at all…

2) Why would you EVER trust Plink with your Chase login, since it shows your checking account info too? I haven’t been able to get past that….am I being paranoid?

AP
Guest
AP

How do I add Staples to my plink wallet? I do not see it anywhere

tracy
Guest
tracy

Looks like this morning that Plink lost some of their gift card rewards. I don’t see Amazon listed any longer. The 5 that are left are of zero use to me, so I don’t see this being worth the time any more.

kris
Guest
kris

How long do we have to wait before the cash back in upromise becomes available to withdraw?

Johnny
Guest
Johnny

How long before i see points on plink? I have over $100 cb posted on upromise, but after about 1 month plink shows 0.

Mangar
Guest
Mangar

As an experiment – I went through Shopdiscover using my Chase Ink Bold card, and bought a single 100$ Visa Gift card.

I did get the 5% cash back for it, along with the Plink points. So if you have Discover, that is another viable offer aside from Upromise, which is what I primarily am using. I heard that Shopdiscover was iffy on Gift Cards, hence I just ordered the one to test.

I’ll probably keep that as my backup option.

JustSaying
Guest
JustSaying

My wife is reporting that Plink is dying a slow death….