Officemax & Office Depot Deal – $100 Metabank or $200 Vanilla Visas & My Real World Experience

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metabank vs vanilla

Metabank vs Vanilla & My Personal Experience

As many of you know, there is a fantastic deal going on at Office Depot and Officemax stores. Currently they are offering $20 off with the purchase of $300 or more in Visa gift cards.

The main difference between Officemax and Office Depot is the type of Visa that they sell. Officemax sells the amazingly versatile Metabank Visa which can be loaded very easily at Walmart. Office Depot sells Vanilla branded Visas (issued by Bancorp) which don’t work well at Walmart.

Hitting the Town Yesterday

When I was out and about yesterday, I noticed that none of my local Officemax stores had $200 Visas available. The only ones I could find were $100 Visas. On the flip side, the Office Depot stores I visited had a ton of $200 Vanilla Visas. What to do?

Before I go any further, there are many ways to liquidate Vanilla Visas outside of Walmart and Free-quent Flyer actually covered many of them in this post. With that said, I know a lot of you are really comfortable at Walmart, so there is a Vanilla solution.

See Also: How To Liquidate Prepaid Visa & Mastercard Gift Cards

While a lot of people don’t know this, Vanilla branded Visas work to load Bluebird/Serve at Walmart in denominations of $49.99 or less. So theoretically you could load a $200 card four times and dispose of it. Yes this is tedious, but it may work for some.

metabank vs vanilla

Breaking Down My Situation

So now lets go back to my situation. Lets assume I want to liquidate these Visas at Walmart. I can either buy 3 x $200 Visas at Office Depot or 6 x $100 Visas at Officemax. Here are the considerations for each offer:

  • 6 x $100 Metabank = 6 loads & $4.30 in profit plus 2,979 points with Ink.
  • 3 x $200 Vanilla = 12 loads & $19.15 in profit plus 2,904 points with Ink.

Note: You can purchase all of the cards in one transaction and both discounts ($40 total) will be taken off. There is no need to split the two discounts onto separate transactions.

So by going with the Vanilla cards, I would be doing 6 extra loads and earning $14.85 more in cash, but $1.28 less in points (1.7 cents per point value) for an overall greater profit of $13.57. Based on my years of experience I generally accept that each swipe takes about two extra minutes. So 6 extra swipes is adding 12 minutes of time for $13.57 more. That works out to an hourly rate of $67.85. (This falls below my normal $100 per hour threshold.)

My Decision

What isn’t shown in those calculations is just how tedious loading Bluebird/Serve can be, especially when you are using a MoneyCenter kiosk. For that reason, if I was exclusively going to liquidate these cards at Walmart, I would have purchased $100 cards from Officemax.

Fortunately I have other tricks up my sleeve and did end up purchasing a few Vanilla branded Visa cards yesterday. I’ll use the Walmart $49.99 option in a pinch, but it definitely won’t be my strategy. Just because it doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t be good for you.


I can’t emphasize enough just how valuable this deal is. Since the discount is instant, you can get it multiple times over the course of the two week long promotion. Just by purchasing $600 in gift cards you are earning about 3,000 Ultimate Rewards points at a negative cost. You simply cannot beat that no matter how you liquidate the cards in the end.

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  1. Purchased Vanilla Visas and was unable to load them to Bluebird at Walmart. It was at the register trying to load only $49. Do you know if Bluebird still taking Vanilla Visas if under $49.99? Does it matter if use kiosk or cashier?

  2. Any advice for loading multiple $200 Vanilla gift cards to Redbird without raising eyebrows? Ideally I’d like to take advantage of the OD sale to top up my Redbird account with several thousand dollars for upcoming purchases.

    Running a large number of $200 loads to my account seems like a bad idea (and also rather annoying for the person at the Target counter).

  3. I have some old ass Metabank cards I bought through Staples just prior to Upromise stopped paying out 5%. Question: I have about 40 of these and I want to liquidate these onto my Redcard but I don’t have PINs. Do I need to set up a PIN ahead of time for a Metabank card that I bought through Staples that was fulfilled by GCM?

  4. Shawn, curious about your comment regarding the other tricks you have up your sleeve. Want to expand upon that?

  5. @Shawn

    I just want to get this right, please be patient with a newbie:
    So the Vanilla gc load into Bluebird/Serve will only work if we punch in the amount of $49.99 or less….so we can buy the $200 and load it 4 times of amount $49.99 and that’s mean we have to sacrifice 4 cents, right?

    Also, will loading Vanilla gc into Redbird works in any amount? so I can load $200 Vanilla gc into Redbird at Target?

  6. So far we’ve gotten 18k UR points, with ambition to hit 50k within next few days if successful. Any chance you know what bonus spend limit may be before catching Ch@se’s attention? I’ll certainly be tracking my bonus spend this year since I think 5x category bonus is capped at $50k. TIA

    • I don’t know. The $50k limit is in place to keep you from hitting them too hard. These are business cards and a lot of businesses have legitimate uses for gift cards. I actually know a few people who take advantage of these sales for that purpose.

      I personally have only read one or two stories of people being shut down and I have no way to know if those are ture, since people often tell lies in forums to discourage new people. Based on my experience, in the past spending $10k over the course of a promotion has not been an issue.

  7. What’s the best deal available for $500 denominations? I need to buy a bunch of gift cards, actually for gifts(!), so I don’t need to liquidate them. Visa, Amex, MC, whatever. Just looking for a low fee or some kind of deal or rebate, from an office supply store.


    • At office supply stores you can only purchase up to $200 cards for a $6.95 fee. The only office supply store that carries variable load cards is Office Depot, but those cards are hardcoded as cash only.

      Outside of office supply stores, many malls sell $500 gift cards for a $3.95 fee, although you won’t earn the 5x category bonus.

  8. I tried loading my vanilla visa that I bought from OD at Target, but it was rejected. I have done this same transaction about two dozen times with Visa gift cards from staples, and never run into this problem. And I supposed to wait a few hours for the vanilla card to “activate”? When I call the number on the back of the gift card, the funds are there.

    • This has happened to me before as well with Vanilla cards. In my case the one card I had would never load to REDbird. I had other cards that loaded fine. I would wait and try again, although I can’t guarantee it will work.

  9. This is a fantastic deal. Me and my wife have redbirds and we have the ability to liquidate 10K every month (5K each). This month I have decided to go with the OD/OM deal up to 6K in Visas and do the remaining with the Amex GCs purchased using Barclays US since they are doing 1.5X till 20K$
    Then Sears started showing 10X on AA portal and I got tempted to do 2K in Sears GCs. I will liquidate them for $200 Visas. This month turns out to be a super month so far.
    If all goes well, the profit at OD/OM, CashBack for Amex and the OOP at Sears should result in a very less OOP (or -ve OOP) and lots of points.
    I am anticipating ~ 30K in UR, 26K in AA.

  10. Can you buy gift cards with a CC at Office Depot? Everyone I’ve tried says NO! Thus it’s really not an option if you’re wanting to get your Ultimate Rewards points!


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