Officemax Hard Codes Registers: Variable Load Visa/MC GCs are Cash Only!

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officemax cash only gift cards

Officemax Cash Only for Variable Load Gift Cards

A few weeks ago news broke across the internet that Officemax had started selling variable load Visa & Mastercard gift cards. This was good news since purchasing these cards with a credit card such as the Chase Ink earns 5X. I even did an Uber MS joyride around Green Bay to get some! Unfortunately, it seems like the fun is now over.

Over the past couple of days I have heard rumblings from readers who said their stores were implementing a cash only policy for these cards as of November 1. The reports were worrisome, but it seemed that registers still were allowing credit cards. It was up to the cashier to enforce this new policy.

As of today it seems like an update rolled out to all/most Officemax locations restricting these cards to cash only. This is a similar restriction to what Office Depot has for the purchase of variable load Vanilla gift cards. Here are some data points from readers:

This comment was left by Albert here on a previous post:

I was able to purchase 4 $500 gift cards with CC Tuesday night. But this morning, the cashier showed me the “Cash Only for variable load GCs” message on screen while helping to check out. The Cash Only policy is effective 11/1/15 and the system is hardcoded either yesterday or early this morning. Another dream deal is gone.

This comment was left by Todd on Frequent Miler:

No luck at two different OM stores in Michigan today.  Register gives message that these are cash only.  Both managers were surprised and said that they have not heard anything about a change in policy with Visa/MC gift cards.  Looks like this was pretty short lived.

officemax cash only gift cards
It was fun while it lasted.

How Widespread Is This?

This seems to be a full chain wide rollout based on some of the other data points I have seen. After seeing the above comments I checked a couple of forums where many people are reporting the same experience. If your local Officemax is not cash only, they most likely will be as soon as they update their software.

I have seen a picture of the “cash only” message that displays on the screen (I don’t have permission to display it here) and it says that variable load Visa and American Express gift cards are affected. It doesn’t mention Mastercards, but I believe those are hardcoded as cash only as well.


Good things come and good things go. Hopefully many of you were able to pickup a nice chunk of cards while this deal was live. I was traveling most of the past couple of weeks, so I didn’t pick up nearly as many as I would have liked. On to the next deal I guess. This one didn’t last as long as I had hoped.

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  1. I guess it’s almost a moot point by now, but I’ll ask anyway. I see posts here and there from people who have bought several thousand dollars worth of these gift cards using their Chase Ink cards. Was it really that easy to do so without raising a red flag with Chase? What precautions were you taking? I’m always afraid that I’d be quickly shut down.

    • I think you bring up great questions and it’s definitely not a moot point because the rationale is all the same regardless of where the gift cards are purchased from. So yes, this deal is over but there’s many more that will carry equal risks and rewards.

      I’m only one data point and the value of your time is hugely YMMV here (are you single? kids? Do you live near or pass by a location daily? did you find a local honey hole?) but I don’t believe buying gift cards solely for minimum spend is worthwhile. A lot of that has to do with my limited time and distaste for high-risk, high-failure MS vehicles, in this case being gift cards. Regardless of how you answer the aforementioned questions I listed you still have to deal with Chase knowing what you’re buying and at what percentage the 5% rewards eat into your overall spend. There’s several threads and sources online (there’s a thread on FT) where you can find specific instances with their own unique data points on what might of caused a shut down.

      Bottom line is you have to find a happy medium and anything beyond that you tread across waters at your own risk. Do your homework, have a plan in place and understand the risks before diving in (backup liquidation plan, worst case scenario for floating funds longer, realistic time constraints etc). When it doubt, start slowly and build up. It’s the safest and least stressful way to go.

  2. Hubby bought $2000 yesterday at 2 different stores. Today CASH only. Manager was shocked. Fun while it lasted.

  3. Bought 4 MC at OM with Ink – most recent Novenber 2nd. Guess the gravy train is gone….will try tomorrow.

  4. It’s interesting how we all have our own means of MS’ing to meet minimum spend requirements. Buying (non Amex) gift cards to meet minimum spend has never been appealing to me so this is N/A news but I’m sure for some it’s enough to dampen your afternoon.

    On that same note it’ll be interesting to see what happens if (when) the Staples-Office Depot merger takes place. Given the obvious fact they’ll stack their chips together and iron out kinks in the system it shouldn’t bode well for MS’ers. Less competition is never a good thing (which is why the deal has been put on ice this long).

    Hopefully anyone just getting their feet wet with MS/Churning has multiple means of meeting minimum spend requirements. The most frustrating thing for me personally with MS is that the only constant is that change is inevitable. Putting all your eggs in one basket is just too stressful when that basket disappears.

  5. The same thing happened to me at an Office Depot here, just a few days ago. The cashier tried to put the sale through anyway, but couldn’t do it. He did tell me that the fixed amount gift cards can be bought with a credit card. Problem is, the fixed amount gift cards on their rack were capped at $200. Bummer. Luckily, I can still get them at Walgreens and CVS. I’m currently trying to meet the minimum spend on my new Chase Sapphire preferred.


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