Best ways to buy $200 Visa gift cards

As I reported via my Quick Deals page, Staples is now selling $200 Visa gift cards online.  Previously, their Visa gift card selection topped out at $100.  This is a very big deal because:

  • $200 Visa gift cards have the same fee ($6.95) as $100 gift cards, so the fee as a percent of the card’s value is half as much as before (3.5% instead of 7%)
  • $200 cards are twice as convenient as $100 cards (or, more accurately, they are only half as inconvenient)
  • There are many ways to profit when buying these gift cards
  • There are many good ways to use these gift cards

StaplesDotCom200Visa

Start with the right credit card

There are several cards that offer 5X rewards at office supply stores:

  • Chase Ink Plus (up to $50K spend per year)
  • Chase Ink Bold (up to $50K spend per year)
  • Chase Ink Cash (up to $25K spend per year)
  • American Express SimplyCash (up to $25K spend per year)
  • Discover Business Card (up to $2K spend per year)

In addition to the above, some savings programs will offer additional promotional savings at Staples (or at office supply stores, in general). One great recent example is the Amex “Offers for You” program which recently offered Amex card holders a one-time $20 statement credit with $100 spend at Staples.

Enroll in Visa Savings Edge (if possible)

As of mid-2013, Chase began issuing their Ink cards as Visa cards rather than MasterCards.  Then, in January 2014, Visa Savings Edge added Staples into their program. This meant that it became possible to earn 1% cash back for Stapes’ purchases in addition to the 5 points per dollar offered by Chase.

VisaSavingsEdge_Staples2

Shop through the right portal

I’ve had great luck going through the uPromise cash back portal to buy Visa gift cards from Staples.  Others have reported success, via the Frequent Miler Laboratory, with other portals including: AAdvantage eShopping, EBates, MileagePlus Shopping, ShopDiscover, TopCashBack, and Ultimate Rewards.  Given those reports, I have no reason to doubt it would work in virtually any reputable portal.  I like to use CashBackMonitor to look for the best current portal deals.

Not shown on CashBackMonitor is a portal called SwagBucks.  Reader hdawg reported that they are currently offering 6X rewards at Staples.  I’ve never used SwagBucks, so I can’t say how well it works, but it might be worth a try.

Add it up

Let’s assume you use a Chase Ink Visa card enrolled in Visa Savings Edge, and you shop through a 5% cash back portal.  Then:

  • Price paid: $206.95
  • Visa Savings Edge rebate: $2.07
  • Shopping portal rebate: $10.35
  • Final out of pocket cost: $194.53
  • Points earned: 1035

Yep, if it all goes as expected, you will earn a small profit while earning points.

Ink-less option

If you don’t have a Chase Ink card (or other card that can be enrolled in Visa Savings Edge), you can still do well:

  • Price paid: $206.95
  • Shopping portal rebate: $10.35
  • Final out of pocket cost: $196.60
  • Points earned with 1X card: 207

Even with this somewhat worst case scenario, if all goes well, you’ll earn a very small profit and some points. 

A better approach may be to start with buying Amex gift cards.  Often, Amex gift cards are available through portals for 3 or 4 points per dollar.  To successfully use Amex gift cards online with orders like these, you may have to first call Amex to register your name and address so that it exactly matches the billing address you use to check out at Staples.com.  If we assume that you earned 3X buying Amex gift cards, then the math works out as follows:

  • Price paid per card: $206.95
  • Shopping portal rebate: $10.35
  • Final out of pocket cost per card: $196.60
  • Points earned per card: 621

This is still not as good of a deal as the Chase Ink / Visa Savings Edge duo, but it’s still pretty good!  For more about buying Amex gift cards, please see: “Everything you ever wanted to know about Amex gift cards.”

Now that you have them, what should you do?

I’ll follow up soon with how best to use $200 Visa gift cards.  In the meantime, if you have suggestions that I haven’t written about before, please comment below.

Last updated on September 29th, 2014

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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Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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German
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German

And just got a call from Staples that the order of my 10 $200 gift cards will be delayed until 5/8. Not sure if they can backfill fast enough or if it will go out of stock eventually…

FrequentMiler
Guest

Yeah, I’m surprised they’re not out of stock yet.

Nathan
Guest
Nathan

I know it’s not for everybody, but the best way to use these cards for me is to pay off my Sallie Mae student loan via evolvemoney. If you don’t have a loan, then it’s a moot point, but I figured it out and if I were to pay off my entire balance this way I would earn 131,000 Chase UR points–and I know I could use those in such a way as to get an entire year’s worth of college off a single first class airline award ticket!

alyssa t KAPLAN
Guest
alyssa t KAPLAN

it says with chase ultimate: to accessing Staples through this site to be eligible.

alyssa t KAPLAN
Guest
alyssa t KAPLAN

i meant to say Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Almost all portals say that (or something like it), but its not always true.

Jordan
Guest
Jordan

Do you know if TopCashBack is strict on “Gift Cards purchases are not valid for Cash Back” for Staples visa gift cards?

Matt B
Guest
Matt B

@Nathan – you can pay Sallie Mae student loans with credit card directly via an automated phone process, not even having to interact with a CSR. No need for the intermediate step of buying these Visa debit cards.

Heather @ pass the dressing
Guest

@Matt, what number do you call to make the CC payments to Sallie Mae

Matt B
Guest
Matt B

888-272-5543

Matt B
Guest
Matt B

Forgot to mention they don’t take Amex.

Jacob
Guest
Jacob

Does Staples code this as a purchase on all cards, unlike Amex GC?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Yes

William Charles
Guest

A lot of people are reporting that Staples will not process the cash back to the cash back sites on gift card purchases and as such the cash back sites will not process them and you won’t receive your money.

I’ve got a few test orders in with SwagBucks, we will see what happens.

FrequentMiler
Guest

I have lots of experience getting the cash back from uPromise for the $100 Visa cards so I have no reason to expect that this will be different. We’ll see.

luchex
Guest
luchex

I have a basic question.
I tried to use upromise but it seems to be directed toweards students and i am supposed to enter information about my studies and financial. Can anybody tell me or firect mr to where I can read about how to use upromise to get cash back. ?

FrequentMiler
Guest

I can’t remember what the signup process is like, but once you have an account its simply a matter of logging in, finding Staples, and clicking through. That’s it. Then, when your money is available (about 3 months later), click a menu item to request a check.

MSPTraveler
Guest
MSPTraveler

Anyone have any idea what sort of purchase activity Chase might see as reasonable. This is a great deal, but I don’t want to overdo it and have Chase decide to close my Inks 🙂

FrequentMiler
Guest

I wish I had some advice here, but there really aren’t any known data points about that.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

I’ve used swagbucks for a long time. you earn points which are worth 1c each in increments of 2500 to paypal, or slightly more than 1c each in exchange for amazon gift cards (450 pts = $5gc). I don’t know why they are not on any of the cash back sites. Maybe because you need to “join”.
If you haven’t signed up for swagbucks before, you may as well use someone’s referral. Mine is swagbucks.com/refer/Rintjm
or hdawg’s is linked in the article

Melanie H
Guest
Melanie H

I just bought $1k of cards through Discover. Hope the 5% works! Otherwise an expensive purchase of 5k UR points.

Mtek
Guest
Mtek

I just received a congratulations email from Shop discover for 5%. I purchased on 5/9. I’ll have the cash back posted to my account at the end of the cycle. $51.75 CB & 5,175 UR points. Not bad for $35.00

trackback

[…] case you read this blog but not Frequent Miler’s or Chasing the Points (statistically a low probability), click on their name to see their posts on […]

John
Guest
John

This makes me so happy, there is so much I wish to do. Meet my $1500/mo Discover More requirement to get $250. Meet the Ink Plus spend requirement (I applied last week through your link, thanks!), liquidate that $2000 AMEX giftcard I got last week with my Barclay Arrival for 6x points total… I need to not go overboard as I have so many other ideas!

trackback

[…] Best ways to buy $200 Visa gift cards […]

Grado
Guest
Grado

Going thru evrewards to discover portal, it clearly states 5% cash back is not eligible on gift cards. Boo. I’m not sure if the AA or United links will give you the extra 2%. Good luck to all.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Just because it says so does not mean it is true

William
Guest
William

I just want to confirm that you DO NOT get any cashback for VISA gift cards via the Discover portal. I did two orders with 5 gift cards each along with another filler item. 3 days after the purchase I got an email from Discover confirming that I got cashback for only the filer item, not the gift cards 🙁

Heather @ pass the dressing
Guest

What exactly did you do to purchase. I just got my cash back notice!

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

to all you worrywart silly-dilly sissies who see that the online portals exclude gift cards, don’t get your panties in a bunch or do something dumb like call the portal for clarification….If you read any of this blog for the last couple of years, you would know that isn’t true most of the time.

trackback

[…] OFFICE SUPPLIES: Get while the getting’s good, but only if you know what you’re doing. That’s all I have to […]

Joanne D.
Guest
Joanne D.

Would you mind answering a few questions about using a cash back portal like Upromise?
*Does the cash back show up as a credit on the credit card used for the purchase of the gift cards or do I have to request it directly from the Upromise portal?
*There are many choices on the Upromise portal of how to click through to Staples. Does the link matter? Just click “shop now” or “5% Back in Rewards and Free Shipping for Staples Rewards Members.”?

Thanks in advance for your time.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Joanne D, sorry I forgot to answer this earlier. Here goes:
* With cash back portals, the money accumulates in your portal account until they send the money to you. With uPromise, you have to wait for the money to become payable (about 3 months) and then request a check.
* It doesn’t matter. Use any link to click through.

Joanne D
Guest
Joanne D

Giddy to give this a go!

Just wanted to say that I “found” you and your blog at the recent FTU in Seattle. Your talk on manufactured spend was not only fascinating, but I loved the connection you made with the audience. In my experience, you were the only speaker that wanted to know who was in the audience. Kudos.

Rik
Guest
Rik

Use caution if ordering more than 10 $200 cards in one transaction. I just got a call from Staples cancelling my order for more than that amount and now my Ink is tied up with a pending charge…

FrequentMiler
Guest

Good to know!

Terry
Guest
Terry

For the person wanting to sign up for Upromise and had a concern about being asked if you were a college student:
when filling out the form just click “I am not a student” and that should preclude the form from bringing up questions about the student applicant.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Thanks Terry

Shealtiel
Guest
Shealtiel

Can anyone report a VGC purchase at TopCashBack actually tracking? Mine has not yet.

Maury
Guest
Maury

My purchase for TopCashBack for one card is currently in pending status after several days of waiting.

Shealtiel
Guest
Shealtiel

Thanks, Maury.

Rick
Guest
Rick

Joined Upromise 2 days ago, ordered VGC from Staples via Upromise, & Staples charged my card. Staples order status is “still processing,” & Upromise has no orders under Transaction History. Do Upromise orders not appear until confirmed (even when merchant has charged my card)? What to do?

FrequentMiler
Guest

Be patient. It usually takes a few days to a week or so for uPromise cash back to show up as pending.

Howard
Guest
Howard

My Staples GC has shipped but no record from uPromise. How long usually do they have activity posted after the order is confirmed?

FrequentMiler
Guest

In my experience, 3 to 8 days.

trackback

[…] new promotion (April-June). With the great news this week about earning points through gift cards purchased through Staples, it makes even more sense to signup for Ebates if you haven’t […]

Heather @ pass the dressing
Guest

Confirmed!!! Received my discover cash back notification tonight! And got my gcs!!!!

WILLIAM
Guest
WILLIAM

Actually I spoke too soon! I just got an email from Discover saying that my 5% Staples cashback for the gift cards are now pending. I guess they send separate emails for the gift cards and non-gift card items. Thanks!

trackback

[…] One great aspect of these offers is that they can be used in conjunction with credit card rewards (including category bonuses) and shopping portal bonuses.  At the time of this writing, the most exciting offer is via Visa Savings Edge: Get 1% cash back when you spend $200 or more at Staples.  Since Staples is widely available through portals, and it is an office supply store (5X with Ink cards!), and it sells gift cards online, the possibilities are nearly endless (see “Staples Rocks” and “Best ways to buy $200 Visa gift cards”). […]

Jon Chan
Guest
Jon Chan

Purchases of gift cards at TopCashBack are not eligible for cashback. I believe the Chase UR portal is the same. FYI.

FrequentMiler
Guest

Those terms have been there for a long time, but they weren’t previously honored. That may have changed recently though.

When
Guest
When

How long does upromise take to post the 5% CB ? Also, I had registered my card at Visa Savings Edge, so when does that rebate post ? I assume that will post directly to my statement.

FrequentMiler
Guest

The Savings edge rebate posts within 3 or 4 days in my experience. uPromise should show pending cash back in a week or so (if it is still working with Staples gift cards at all), and then it will take a couple of months to become payable.

When
Guest
When

I ordered on 4/4 through upromise. Cards delivered on 4/10, visa savings edge rebate on 4/12. Upromise has still not posted yet, shall I just give up ?

Nick
Guest

Seems Staples stopping sell $200 Visa GC now. Cannot find it at Staples.com

FrequentMiler
Guest

They seem to disappear every now and then, but then they come back. They’re flighty

Tom
Guest
Tom

I received my first batch of Staples Visa gift cards in the mail. Ordered 4/30. Arrived 5/7. I still haven’t received the activation codes though. It says they will arrive by mail but it’s been several days.

How long does it take to receive the activation codes usually? Is there a number I should call to get them?

FrequentMiler
Guest

In my experience the activation codes come the same day or within a day before or after. In your case, you should call. They can activate the cards remotely for you

trackback

[…] Best ways to buy $200 Visa gift cards […]

Anand
Guest
Anand

Topcashback and other portals are saying no cash back for gift cards. I have not seen this on upromise. Is unpromising still giving cash back?

FrequentMiler
Guest

We won’t know until people try it (I bought some this morning) and find whether or not cash back appears.

ABC
Guest
ABC

Any recent success with specific portals?

DF
Guest
DF

I ordered some Gift Cards on 04 May and on 11 May and have received them both. Neither have showed up in Upromise yet. Has anyone had any recent success?

Raghu Narayanan
Guest
Raghu Narayanan

Hi FM
I purchased the $200 visa gift cards through UPromise .
Visa savings edge has already posted their rebate. But UPromise has not credited the 5% cash back. How long does it take UPromise to credit the 5%. Also the walmart clerk refused to issue a money order using this card, saying gift cards are not valid to purchase MO. I showed her the debit card caption, but she says they changed policy. Any other options on getting a MO out the gift card.
Thanks in advance
Raghu

FrequentMiler
Guest

uPromise usually takes at least a week or so to show pending cash back, but with large orders it may take much longer. For buying a MO, just tell the cashier you’ll pay with a debit card. If that doesn’t work, try different stores in your area (grocery stores, discount stores, etc) to find one that sells money orders and takes debit cards for them.

Raghu Narayanan
Guest
Raghu Narayanan

Thanks!

Jack
Guest
Jack

Hi

I had also orders through upromise around 6th May and still have not received cash back .

Is it advisable to contact upromise asking for cash back ?

Benjamin
Guest
Benjamin

Is there any update on this? Has any on figured out if there is cash back buying gift cards?

Randy
Guest
Randy

Arrgg. I bought 6k in Visa at Staples.com. for 3 family members. I’ve only been able to load 1K (and that was hit and miss) on my son’s account. I’ve activated them and loaded a pin, but they are not going through at the register, or at the kiosk. (excepte for the ones that DID)
Any thoughts? I did NOT register them.

Gabriel
Guest
Gabriel

I think registering/loading a PIN on them might cause problems. These ones are set up to use the last 4 as the initial PIN. I’ve done that flawlessly with the $200 GC’s from Staples for the past year +

trackback

[…] was a time when $200 Visa gift cards at Staples was an absurdly lucrative deal (see this post, for example).  Then, Staples stopped paying out through portals for online purchases of Visa […]

trackback

[…] my recent post “Best ways to buy $200 Visa gift cards” I mentioned that SwagBucks is currently offering 6 points per dollar for Staples (thanks to […]