Is Staples’ gift card gravy train coming to an end?

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Staples has been an awesome option for buying gift cards online.  It has been possible to go through portals such as the Ultimate Rewards Mall or TopCashBack to earn extra points or cash.  And, when you use a credit card that offers extra points or cash for office supply purchases (such as the Ink Bold), you can do even better!  Last month, the Ultimate Rewards Mall offered 5 points per dollar for Ink Bold customers shopping at Staples.  When you combined that with the built-in 5 points per dollar earned by the Ink Bold in office supply stores, you ended up with an outstanding 10X return! 

Staples sells merchant gift cards (e.g. Marriott, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, Lands’ End, etc.) at face value and charges no fees for purchase or for shipping.  With Visa gift cards, they do charge a fee, but the bonus options I mentioned above have been more than enough to outweigh those fees.  But times they are a-changin’…

Visa fee increase

A reader named Adam alerted me to this.  Staples has increased the fee for $100 Visa gift cards from $5.95 to $6.95.  Ouch!

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Ultimate Rewards Mall T&C Changes

CodeAdam10 brought this to my attention.  The Staples Terms & Conditions in the Ultimate Rewards Mall now appears to disallow gift card purchases from earning points:

Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents.

That wasn’t there before!

TopCashBack payout coming to an end?

A great alternative to the Ultimate Rewards Mall for Staples purchases has been TopCashBack.  They have been paying out 5.5% cash back for all Staples purchases including gift cards.  Unfortunately, it looks like the deal is ending soon:

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It will be interesting to see what changes are in store.  Will TopCashBack extend this offer?  Will the Terms & Conditions change to match the Ultimate Rewards Mall?  Natasha (head of TopCashBack’s USA site), care to comment below?

uPromise to the rescue?

If TopCashBack lowers the Staples’ payout or stops accepting gift cards as valid purchases, it looks like uPromise is still a great option.  They give 5% back for all Staples purchases.  I’ve successfully tested purchasing gift cards via uPromise in the past, so hopefully this still works.  By the way, uPromise gives 5% back for almost all online vendors so it’s a great option for merchants that rarely give good payouts (Apple store anyone?).

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