Staples Visa Gift Card Changes – $200 Card Gone & A New Limit
Last week Staples had a pretty amazing deal on $200 Visa gift cards. For a few hours in the middle of the night, they offered a $10 instant discount on each card with a limit of 3. In the end, the cost of 3 x $200 cards turned out to be $590.85. This deal made a lot of sense to people who could use a Chase Ink card, since it also generated 2,954 Ultimate Rewards points.
The cards “sold out” pretty quickly during the deal and have been showing as out of stock on the Staples website. That is they were showing as out of stock. Now they have simply disappeared. You can still find $100, $50 and $25 cards, but the SKU for the $200 cards has been erased.
Has This Happened Before?
I seem to remember the $200 Visa cards disappearing before. With that said, I have searched and cannot seem to find any blog posts or forum threads about it. Perhaps I am just making it up, but I do believe at some point these cards (or perhaps the $100 versions) disappeared for a short while only to make a triumphant return. Let me know in the comments if I am crazy or not.
Why Would They Remove Them?
I’m not sure why Staples would remove the cards. It is obvious to them at this point that a lot of people purchase these to manufacture spend, but that has been going on awhile and they no doubt make some money from the $6.95 purchase fee. They simply may have decided the $100 cards with the same fee are more profitable or there could be another explanation.
In response to this development, pkerr on Flyertalk said, “Yep. It’s all over. They cleared out their inventory with that big sale and they shall no longer, ever again, not anytime soon, carry gift cards.”
I don’t think this is the case. Visa gift cards purchased from Staples online are shipped from GiftCardMall. I don’t believe that Staples has an inventory of these cards. Instead I think placing an order with Staples then generates an order with GiftCardMall. Sure the cards can go “out of stock” during promotions, because they have sold all that they care to at a discount.
This happened last December when they offered a similar $10 discount on $100 cards. After a few hours the $100 cards went “out of stock”. They remained that way for about a week if I remember correctly before coming back in stock at the normal price. Plus, if Staples was going to stop selling Visas, then why not blow out the other denominations in the same way?
New Limit of 3
One other new development that has sprouted up is a limit of 3 Visa gift cards per transaction. This seems to apply to all gift cards including the $100 versions. Previously there hadn’t been a limit, although Staples would often have issues with orders over $2,000. If the $200 cards do return to stock, it looks like you will be limited to a total of $600 in cards per transaction. Right now, the most you can buy is 3 x $100.
I don’t personally buy $200 Visa gift cards at Staples (for full price) with any regularity anymore. Between the Easy Rebate deals and the Office Depot and Officemax deals, I have a lot of Ultimate Rewards points. Why pay at full price if you can wait for a discount?
With that said I recognize a lot of you purchase $200 Visa gift cards at Staples and the math makes sense to you. In that case your best alternatives will be to go into the store to purchase these cards. Both Staples and Officemax sell Visa gift cards issued by Metabank for $206.95. These cards work for Bluebird/Serve at Walmart and REDbird at Target.
If you are only worried about loading REDbird, Office Depot sells $200 Vanilla Visa gift cards that will work at Target. The Office Depot cards don’t work well at Walmart, so only purchase them if you are loading at Target.
So to sum it up:
- Office Depot: Vanilla Branded works for REDbird
- Staples/Officemax: Metabank Visas works for REDbird, Bluebird, Serve
I do think the $200 Visa gift cards will return to the Staples website eventually. The real bad news I think is the new limit of 3, which sort of makes the process of ordering large amounts a bit more tedious. The good news is you can still buy these cards in-store for the same price and earn the same rewards! Now the question as to whether that makes sense is an ongoing debate.