Rocking the Staples Amex Offer

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Yesterday morning, I was eating breakfast when my iPhone started bleeping.  Shawn had just published a Frequent Miler Quick Deal: Targeted Amex Offer – $25 off $100+ at Staples.com.  Awesome!  I ran over to my laptop to see if any of my Amex cards had received this targeted offer.

I didn’t have high hopes.  With the past 4 or 5 Amex Offers that Shawn has published, I hadn’t been targeted for any of them.  Plus, Shawn wrote that he wasn’t targeted for this one either.

To my surprise, I found the offer on every single one of my cards, and every one of my wife’s cards, and my son’s one authorized user card.  We went 18 out of 18 on this deal!  To load up the offer on multiple cards, I did the “multiple tab trick”: I opened my amex account into a separate browser tab for each of the cards I had on the same account, then I made sure that the offer was showing in each tab for a different card, then I systematically pressed the “Add to Card” button for each card.  If I hadn’t done it this way, then I would have lost the ability to add the offer to more than one card.  More details about Amex Offers (and signing up for more than one) can bee found here: Complete Guide to Amex Offers.

While I was at it, I noticed that we also had the latest 1800Flowers deal on all of our cards, so I loaded those offers too.

Staples Amex Offer and 1800Flowers

What about Serve or Bluebird?

Out of the 6 Serve accounts I once managed (until they were all frozen from loading funds), four are still open but mostly useless.  Out of curiosity, I checked to see if any of the still-open cards had the Staples offer.  Nope.  But they did have the 1800Flowers offer.  I didn’t bother with that. Amex Offer via Serve 1800Flowers

What good is the 1800Flowers deal?

The Staples deal is the really exciting one, but since I mentioned the 1800Flowers deal, above, I should address 1800Flowers briefly.  The deal allows me to buy 1800Flowers gift cards for 50% off, as follows:

  1. Go through portal for 20% back (TopCashBack currently)
  2. Buy $50 gift card
  3. Get back $10 from portal + $15 from Amex (+ $2.50 from Amex if you use a business card) = 50% off gift cards

Why would I want 1800Flowers gift cards for half off?  I often write about opportunities to use 1800Flowers deals to buy miles cheaply.  I sometimes even use these deals to buy food or other gifts incredibly cheaply.  A key component of this is to first get 1800Flowers gift cards at half off (or cheaper if possible).  This is not for everyone.  Just because I buy these does not mean that I recommend it for you.  Plus, it can be risky to stock up on these gift cards.  Things that have worked in the past, might not work in the future. To get an idea of what is possible, please first read:  1800Flowers Extreme Stacking promo codes, portals, gift cards, and more.

Important: Avoid buying $30 gift cards at half off from Groupon or Living social (or from gift card resellers since these are usually Groupon or Living Social) since these have many more restrictions than regular gift cards.

Now back to the Staples deal…

Staples Deal Terms

Here are the key terms to be aware of:

  • Spend $100 or more, get a $25 statement credit.
  • Complete spend by 6/19/2016.  To be safe, place orders much earlier to ensure that Staples’ actually charges your card by then.
  • Spend a minimum of $100 in one or more transactions: This means that you can buy multiple things and as long as you end up paying $100 or more with your Amex card at Staples.com prior to 6/19/2016, you’ll get the $25 statement credit.
  • Valid online only at Staples.com
  • Not valid on purchases shipped outside of the US
  • Not valid for e-gift card purchases. I’ll explain this one, below.
  • Offer not valid on online orders that are placed in-store through sales associate.
  • Excludes Quill, Smilemaker, Staples Business Advantage, Staples 4 Government, Staples Toner Services, Staples Technology Solutions, Staples Promotional Products, Staples Print Solutions (same as Staples Easy Print), Copy and Printing Services, Staples Contract and Commercial, Staples App Center, Staples Industrial, Staples Book Rental, Staples Simplexity, Staples Share fund, and Coastwide Labs

Are e-gift cards really excluded?

Staples.com sells two distinct types of e-gift cards: 3rd party e-gift cards and Staples e-gift cards.  Even though 3rd party e-gift cards are processed by Staples.com, Staples e-gift cards are sold by Cashstar.  So, it is only the Staples e-gift cards that are excluded.

All 3rd party e-gift cards should be fine.  That includes brands such as Southwest Airlines, eBay, Whole Foods, Target, and much more:

eGiftCards from Staples that can be bought with Staples Amex Offer

All physical gift cards should work too, including Visa gift cards.

Staples Visa Gift Cards that can be bought with Staples Amex Offer

Some staples e-gift cards won’t work because they are sold by Cashstar.  If you go through the process of trying to buy a Staples e-gift card and you see that the URL has changed to staples.cashtar.com, the Amex Offer won’t work for that purchase:

Staples Cashstar. Don't buy these.

Portals won’t work with gift cards

I believe that Staples has long since shut down all options for earning portal rewards when buying gift cards.  That said, it can’t hurt to go through a portal just in case.

Best options for maximizing the deal

Here are some ways I’ve thought about making the most of this Staples Amex Offer…

$25 off $100 at Whole Foods, Target, etc.

Staples sells e-gift cards to a number of merchants that I shop at semi-regularly.  These include Whole Foods, Target, Sears.  An easy way to use this offer is to simply buy $100 e-gift cards for those retailers and use them when shopping.

$25 off $100 at eBay can lead to even bigger savings elsewhere

This requires an extra step, but it can be well worth the effort.  If I use this deal to get $25 off $100 eBay e-gift cards, I can then use those e-gift cards to buy other merchant gift cards, often at a discount.  Plus, I could earn portal rewards when shopping at eBay, plus eBay Bucks!  Full details about stacking eBay gift card deals can be found here: eBay extreme stacking.

$25 off $100 Visa gift cards for use anywhere

Staples.com sells $100 Visa gift cards for $106.95.  After the $25 rebate, your total cost would be $81.95.  That’s like getting an 18% discount off pretty much anything.  A simple way to liquidate these would be to prepay your utility bills (assuming your utility company accepts credit card payments).  Or, just use for day to day shopping.  Or, pay 2.5% to Plastiq and use these gift cards to pay down your mortgage, for example (you’ll still clear a 15% discount).

$50 off $200 Visa gift cards?  $75 off $300?  Nope

If you have the offer on two or more cards, you could theoretically save a bit on Visa gift card fees by buying $200 or $300 denomination gift cards and splitting the payment across Amex credit cards.  The trick is that Staples.com doesn’t offer a way to do this, but one reader suggested that you can call in your order to do this and that it will still process as a staples.com order.

I gave it a shot.  I called in and learned that I could only use two gift cards, so I ordered a $200 Visa gift card and split the payment across two Amex cards.  Unfortunately, the charge showed up as “Staples Direct” not as “Staples.com”.  I never received a congratulations email from Amex either.  I later called to cancel the order.

Discounted stuff from Staples

Obviously you can use this deal to buy stuff from Staples at a discount.  In this case you can stack deals:

  1. Go through a portal (find good options here) to earn cash back or miles
  2. Apply coupon codes
  3. Log into your Staples account to earn Staples Rewards
  4. Apply Staples coupons to get additional discounts
  5. Pay with your Amex card that is linked to this offer

If you happen to need exactly $100 worth of stuff, you’ll maximize the deal.

Buy and liquidate Visa gift cards

If you want to simply earn a few bucks rather than save money on shopping, one option is to buy a $100 Visa gift card for $106.95 and then turn it into cash (the last 4 digits of the gift card is its PIN).  Depending upon what method you use to liquidate the gift card, the liquidation step may cost anywhere from 0 to 3%.  Assuming, worst case, that you pay 3% then you’ll still do well:

  • Pay $106.95 to buy gift card
  • Pay $3 to liquidate gift card
  • Get $25 from Amex
  • Get $100 from liquidating gift card
  • Total profit: $125 – $109.95 = $15.05

What I’ll do

We have almost two months to decide how to use the offer once it is loaded to our accounts.  So, my plan is mostly just to wait.

Occasionally, Staples offers some merchant gift cards at a discount.  I want to be ready to pounce on those deals when they come.

I will buy several eBay gift cards, though, in advance because I want to be ready when great eBay deals come along.  In my experience, merchant e-gift cards purchased from Staples can take as much as a full day to be delivered, so I don’t want to risk missing out on a great eBay deal while I wait.

How about you?  How many of your Amex cards were targeted?   How do you plan to use them?

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