One of the more popular ways for people to generate Ultimate Rewards points has been to purchase $200 Visa gift cards at an office supply store with a Chase Ink card. Since Staples is the only office supply store that sells Visa gift cards online, many people often go that route for convenience. Recently Staples upped their game by adding $300 Visas.
Today I’ll break this deal down in detail and show you why it is good and why it isn’t. Let’s take a look.
$300 Visas vs. $200 Visas
The old $200 Visas cost $206.95 while the new $300 Visas cost $308.95 each. Immediately you can see the fee as a percentage is better with the $300 cards. Let’s compare them in equal denominations:
- 3 X $200 Visas = $620.85 = 3,104 UR = .0067 cost per point
- 2 X $300 Visas = $617.90 = 3,090 UR = .0058 cost per point
By purchasing the $300 Visas you not only save a couple of dollars, but have one less card to dispose of. While you probably already knew this, the $300 cards are DEFINITELY better than the $200 cards, but are they a good deal?
Liquidation & Other Useful Information
Before we get to that, there are a few questions I should answer.
- These cards are issued by Metabank. The pin is the last four digits of the card number.
- You can only purchase up to $2,000 in gift cards in one transaction.
- You can liquidate these cards to Serve and Bluebird at Walmart, Serve at Family Dollar and REDbird at Target.
Sample Ultimate Rewards Redemptions
With that out of the way, let’s look at some sample redemptions and what they will cost. We established that with this deal you can purchase Ultimate Rewards points at .58 cents per point. Considering they are worth 1 cent per point for cash, you are definitely coming out ahead before accounting for your time. Let’s look at some popular redemptions to see what this means in reality.
Pay Yourself Back with Points
Some people generate points and then pay themselves back the fees in points. Here is an example:
- Purchase $9,900 in Visa gift cards and generate 50,977 points at a cost of $295.35.
- Use 29,535 points to pay yourself back at $.01 each.
- Have 21,442 points left to spend however you want.
Basically you would be trading your time to liquidate 33 cards for 21,442 points. This course of action is generally not recommended, because Ultimate Rewards points tend to be worth more than $.01, but some people like to keep the cash.
Hyatt Gold Passport
Hyatt is probably my favorite transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards at the moment. Let’s take a look at the cost of various redemptions on their chart.
- Category 1 – 5,000 points – $29 in fees with $300 cards.
- Category 3 – 12,000 points – $69.60 in fees with $300 cards.
- Category 5 – 20,000 points – $116 in fees with $300 cards.
- Category 7 – 30,000 points – $174 in fees with $300 cards.
Considering I have seen some category 1 properties going for $100-$150 and some category 7 properties going for $500+, you are getting a significant discount by generating points in this way.
United used to be a much better redemption option before they gutted their award chart. Let’s take a look at a couple of redemptions on United metal.
- Roundtrip in Business Class to Europe – 115,000 miles – $667 in fees with $300 cards.
- Roundtrip in Business Class to Japan – 140,000 miles – $812 in fees with $300 cards.
As you can see, the United flights are definitely a discount on what you would pay for the ticket, but aren’t necessarily cheap. You will be burning through a lot of cards to generate enough points, but it definitely is still a good deal.
Why This Isn’t a Good Deal?
So that math doesn’t lie. If you need to generate a lot of Ultimate Rewards points at a cost then this is a good method to do it. Remember though that you only earn 5X on up to $50K in spending per year at office supply stores with a Chase Ink card. If you have 4-6 cards like some, then the skies the limit, but if you only have one then you may be able to generate those points for free. Here is how:
Staples Rebates – About once every 6 weeks Staples has been running rebate promotions. Each promotion generally allows you to purchase $400 in cards at a negative cost. There is a limit of 1 per household, but most people should be able to use a home and work address. If they run 9 of these per year, then you can generate 9 X $400 X 2 or $7,200 in spend. (36,000 points.)
Officemax/Office Depot Instant Rebates – Officemax and Office Depot have run instant rebate promotions quite often this past year. Depending on availability in your area, you can often get these deals multiple times. Some people are able to spend $10-$20K over the week of a promotion.
Paypal Digital Gifts on eBay – Paypal Digital Gifts sells a variety of gift cards including eBay gift cards. Many times they sell these gift cards at a discount. Purchases from Paypal Digital Gifts code in the 5X category for Chase Ink and count towards your $50K allowance. Many times you can buy gift cards, earn 5X points and sell them for a small profit or breakeven. Another no or negative cost way to generate points.
Your Cell Phone, Internet & TV Bills – Most people probably spend $200-$300 per month between cell phones, home internet and television. Don’t forget that those expenses all earn 5X and count towards your $50K threshold. This is probably the most “no-brainer” way to earn 5X!
Why This Is a Good Deal!
For those of you who have multiple Ink cards and plenty of liquidation bandwidth, then this is a good deal because it allows you to generate points at a cheap price. Make sure to exhaust your free options first, because why should you pay for points when you can get them for free?
One other consideration is the number of points you have. The truth is that as your account balance increases, the value of the points to you generally decreases. If you reach a level where supply outpaces demand, then it is time to either travel more or take a look at your overall strategy.
Yes Staples is selling $300 gift cards and yes that is definitely a good thing. The math is improved over the $200 cards and these new cards are pretty easily liquidated just like the old ones. Before you jump online and start ordering, it is always a good idea to weigh your options.
This will be a fantastic deal for some, but there are also free ways to generate Ultimate Rewards points in limited quantities. No matter how you feel about these new cards, having additional options is a good thing and I hope they stick around for a long time. Now if Staples would only carry $500 cards. Is that too much to ask?
HT: Dan’s Deals