Best ways to buy $200 Visa gift cards

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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.

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