The end (of 5X everywhere) is nigh

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The Mayan calendar ends on December 21 2012.  Many believe that the end of the Mayan calendar signifies the end of the world as we know it.  Is it possible, though, that the real meaning is the end of “5X everywhere”? 

OK, settle down, I made the title of this post purposely provocative in order to get your attention.  I don’t really think that “5X everywhere” is coming to an end, but rumors are spreading and it would be irresponsible of me not to warn you of the possibility…

Background

“5X everywhere” is a technique for earning 5 points per dollar for all spend (see   “One card to rule them all“).  This technique relied on, among other things, being able to buy Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot.  Some believed that “5X everywhere” was dead when Office Depot stopped carrying Vanilla Reload cards (see “Office Depot discontinues Vanilla Reload cards“).  Many of us, though, continue to earn 5X everywhere the easy way (see “Almost too good to be true“) or the hard way (see “The reload game is on“).  Recent rumors, though, make me wonder if even these techniques are near an end…

The rumor

A couple of readers have recently and independently reported the same story:  when they went to Office Depot to buy gift cards with their Chase business card, the cashier told them that Chase has stopped awarding 5X for gift card purchases.

Is this true?  I know that on my most recent statement I still saw 5X for gift card purchases.  Is it even possible for Chase to distinguish regular purchases from gift card purchases?  I don’t know.  What if you buy gift cards and a pack of gum at once?  Will Chase somehow see the details of the transaction and be able to award 5X for the gum, but not for the rest?  It seems unlikely to me.

Why spread a rumor?

You might wonder why I would bother reporting this with so little information either way.  Normally, I wouldn’t.  But this feels similar to something that happened before where rumors eventually evolved into fact…

Vanilla Stories

I first wrote about Vanilla Reload cards in May 2012 in the post “One card to rule them all.”  A few days later, I received an email from a reader who was told by an Office Depot manager that Office Depot would no longer carry Vanilla Reload cards.  Naturally, I was worried about this, but soon found that it wasn’t true.  At least, it wasn’t true nationwide.  Office Depot kept selling them. 

A week later, I received a very similar email.  The gist was the same: Office Depot would stop selling Vanilla Reload cards.  And then, a week or two later, I received another email just like it.  About once a week I heard the same story.  But Office Depot kept selling the cards.  In fact, in some cases, the same store that reported the end of Vanilla would restock and continue selling them!

In November, things changed.  The rate at which I received these reports spiked up suddenly.  It was time to take the reports seriously.  So I called a number of Office Depot stores and heard the same story.  The end had come for real.

From rumor to fact

So, the Vanilla rumor evolved from fiction to fact in a period of 6 months.  What about this new one?  Will it pan out?  Or, is there just a single misinformed cashier spreading this misinformation?

Reader input

Have you recently bought gift cards at Office Depot with your Chase business card?  Did you hear anything like this from the cashier?  Did you receive the full 5X points on your statement?  Unfortunately, its not easy to check.  See “Chase Ink: Check your X” for details.

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