MS at Staples or Grocery Stores, Non-Chase Card with UR Portal & Amex Platinum Airline Credit

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shop through chase third party card

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Your Questions Answered

For the past week I have been asking readers to send in their questions so I can answer them. Here are the related posts:

If you want to get your question answered, simply head over to this post and leave the question in a comment. I am working to get through most of them this week.

Question 1

Our first question comes from Mr. Dioji:

Why does it seem that people prefer to get $200 VGCs from Staples rather than $500 ones from a grocery store? My guess is that office does have a lower limit, thus requiring $200 max. My other guess is that people like earning 5x UR points rather than whatever grocery bonus. Is this accurate? If so, then I think I’m just better off going the easier route of 5 $500 VGCs from grocery to max out my Redbird daily load, rather than 12 $200 ones from office supply stores.

shop through chase third party card

You have hit on a key point in your comment. People have different priorities and thus what is your best strategy may not work for someone else. To start lets look at the two options you present.

  • Purchase $500 Visa gift cards at a grocery store for $5.95
  • Purchase $200 Visa gift cards at Staples for $6.95

Lets start with Staples. $6.95 is a high fee, so there really isn’t a reason to purchase those cards other than if you receive 5x like with the Chase Ink. Even if you conservatively value Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents each, you earn earning about $8.57 after accounting for the fee. ($206.95*.075-$6.95)

On the other hand, you rack up a lot more spend on a $500 card. If you have a card that pays 2 or 3% at a grocery store then buying cards there might make sense. For example, on a card that earns 3% at a grocery store, you will earn $9.22 on the purchase of one card.

Other Considerations

So as you can see purchasing a card from the grocery store gives you more value, but it also takes up more of your liquidation bandwidth. So lets say you can load $5,000 per month to your REDbird. You could buy:

  • 25 Staples cards and earn: $214.25 worth of points (More reward, but more time to liquidate.)
  • 10 Grocery store cards and earn: $92.20 in cash (Less reward, but easier to liquidate.)

Of course your card may have a bigger or smaller grocery bonus, so feel free to plug in your own values. Hopefully that example gave you an idea of why people like Staples, although I can guarantee you that a lot of people like grocery stores too. It really just depends on your priorities, which cards you have and how you value the rewards.

Finally, if you don’t have a card that earns a bonus, there are far cheaper ways to purchase gift cards. Many malls charge only $3.95 for $500 cards and you can also get $500 cards for about $4.50 through GiftCardMall.

Question 2

Our second question comes from Kerrigan:

Hi, when you’re going through Shop through Chase, do you get bonus points if you’re buying something with a GC? Do I have to use a Chase credit card to get bonus points?

shop through chase third party card


As you can see above, Shop Through Chase requires you to login with an Ultimate Rewards card in order to get to the portal. They then say you have to pay with that card to receive the points. That really isn’t true.

I have used Shop Through Chase a number of times and paid with other credit cards and even gift cards. The transactions processed just like with any other portal. The one area you could run into a problem is if there is an issue.

In the past people have been denied when asking for help since they didn’t use a Chase card. I did run into a situation once where my purchase didn’t track, however in that case Chase did give me the points even though I used a third party card.

Question 3

Our third question comes from Jeanne:

Are secondary cards on American Express Platinum accounts eligible for the $200.00 Airline credit?

shop through chase third party card

While certain things like Priority Pass Select membership and the Global Entry fee credit apply to authorized cards, the airline credit only works on the main card. For that benefit you get $200 total per calendar year! This means you can get the credit twice during your first year of card membership.


There are quite a few more questions left to answer and I’ll be trying to get to a few each day. If you want your question answered then please leave a comment here. Also, feel free to chime in with your experiences and opinions about any of these questions in the comments! Have a great weekend!

Miles to Memories operates under the Value for Value model. If you receive value from this site, find out how you can provide value back.

Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Here In Columbus Ohio, our Grocery Stores only carry $200 and $100 VGCs. On the bright side, when Staples rack is blown out, I take blanks from the grocery store and load them at Stapes. Easy peasy, man I’m smart.

  2. Any suggestions on how to MS using AMX Airline Reward Credit Cards like for JetBlue or Delta?
    Where should I buy Amex Gift Cards so that I get the miles without having to pay a cash advance fee? How can I get the cash back into my account from an Amex gift card? Are there more efficient ways of doing this?

  3. I have really been enjoying your blog. All your articles are informative and I really like the Q&A. Keep up the good job!

  4. For redbird, I will use Amex Old blue cash to purchase 500 vgc from CVS or Walmart neighborhood. It will be $200 cash for 10 CVS/ Walmart neighborhood cards.

  5. One issue that hasn’t been discussed is FRAUD. I’ve encountered fraudulent activity whenever I’ve purchased $500 gift cards at grocery stores in SoCal. Given the time/PIA it was to resolve the issues, I’ve stopped even bothering with the $500 at grocery stores. Flyertalk even has a forum discussing this very prevalent type of fraud. It maybe specific states that are affected, but for instance Travel by Grant was recently affected by this, and many others also have been. I’m sticking with GiftCardMall and Simon Malls for the time being, and also buy from Staples when they have a promo/discount for buying gift cards, which seems to be around once a month or so.

  6. Thanks for the reply! When trying to meet my min spend on my new Ink card, I think I’ll go the Staples route. However, usually I just want to hit minimum spend, not necessary make any money off the GC MS, so the easiest way to break even (including the earned points) is best for me.

    I got too spoiled by the Redbird CC loads – I started actually using my category bonuses during regular spend instead of just constantly using whatever card I’m currently meeting min spend on. I think my wife prefers just using one card at a time, but I can’t turn down 2x, 3x, and 5x!

  7. I only buy the $200 MBGCs at Staples and $200 VanillaGCs at OD when there are deals for GCs. The last deal at OD that ended May 16 was a huge moneymaker for me in terms of URs and cashback. When there are no offers for GCs in OSS, I don’t even go there.

    I’m lucky to be in an area with VisaGCs with 3.95 fees that are easy to drain at WM either via Kate, MC or registers. I also have lots of free ATMs for my prepaids so I don’t pay atm fees. With this said, I think main reason why others do deals at OSS is for the 5% cat bonus for those who have Ink cards. With lesser reward cards, the fees of cards from OSS will eat up all profits. But if one is trying to meet minimum spend on a new Ink card, the fees will be offset by the huge sign up bonus; but for regular MS activities w/o Ink CC, it’s not worth my time and effort to buy in volume. JMO.

  8. I would like your response to my previously posted question. Robert F gave a response, for which I thank him, but I do not understand what you do with a bunch of gift cards you bought with a credit card.


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