Thanks to all the readers who emailed me their experience at their local Office Depot!
Based on the majority of emails I’ve been receiving and this Flyertalk thread – it appears that Office Depot will no longer be selling gift cards that have an open amount (up to $500). Very sad face.
Why is this news?
If you have to ask, then it won’t be heart breaking to you – but for the last year, rewards fiends have been purchasing Amex and Visa gift cards at Office Depot with their Ink Bold or Ink Plus® Business Card (or both) business cards. One of the Ink cards’ most appealing benefits is the 5x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 at office supply stores. Smoking deal.
A lot of businesses will buy gift cards to give to their employees for spending instead of a credit card, but the majority of people (I’m assuming) were taking advantage of the 5x earning potential. Everyone loves Ultimate Rewards points.
After buying the gift cards, you could use them for daily spending, load them onto a permanent pre-paid card (certain Amex cards have this option), or you could use them to buy Vanilla Reloads in some situations. I’ve been buying Visa gift cards to then purchase Vanilla Reloads to fund my Bluebird account. All so I can earn points on my mortgage and auto loan (it’s worth it – that’s a lot of points!).
Office Depot used to let you buy Vanilla Reloads directly, but they stopped that a couple of months back. Other office supply stores like Staples and Office Max never let you purchase Vanilla Reloads, or variable gift cards. It looks like Office Depot is adjusting its gift cards to match the other office supply stores. Probably a smart business move.
You can still buy gift cards in $25, $50, $100, and $200 increments, but having to buy more gift cards increases your costs. There’s an activation fee that’s tied to each gift card, so buying them in the largest increment possible was the easiest, and most cost efficient option.
On Saturday, I was able to purchase (2) $500 gift cards without any problem at my local Office Depot. The manager had to come over for approval, and my ID was checked, but that’s business as usual.
The shelves were fully stocked and there was no mention of them being pulled. I will go back up there today and see what’s going on.
There’s still value to be had with your Ink cards and office supplies, but the game has changed. There are still plenty of other gift cards to purchase to take advantage of the 5x points. I haven’t checked it out yet, but Office Max even sells more Apple products now, and we all know I love Apple products. Once you go Mac, you don’t go back.
So for now, it doesn’t look good for variable gift cards at Office Depot, but the sky isn’t falling and we will figure something out. Always do. Please let me know your experiences down below and I’ll give you an update after my OD run today.
Noob it up.
[disclaimer: I do receive a referral credit for the Ink Bold and Plus.]
— Noob MasterRead More
Quick Hitters: 30% (Up To) Bonus For Buying Hyatt Points, *New* US Dividend Miles Promo, and Bluebird Gets Media
Noobtraveler here with a couple of rewards quick hits. Enjoy.
Up to 30% bonus when you buy Hyatt Points
This promotion has just been released. You will receive a different bonus percentage based on the amount of Hyatt Gold Passport points you buy.
Here are the details:
Purchase points from January 31 through February 6, 2013, and receive the following bonus:
- Purchase 1,000 to 9,000 points and get a 10% bonus
- Purchase 10,000 to 29,000 points and get a 20% bonus
- Purchase 30,000 to 40,000 points and get a 30% bonus
For example: If you wanted to max out this promo and buy 40,000 points + 12,000 bonus = 52,000 points, it would cost you $960. I could find over a $1,000 in value easily at Park Hyatt or Andaz properties, but it would be cutting it close in some situations. Standard rooms start at 22,000 points for category 6 properties, so that’s almost 2.33 nights.
Purchasing Gold Passport points can be better than paying cash for a room in some cases, but in general I would only buy them if I needed to top off my account for a booking. However, this is assuming I didn’t have any Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer over to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. I would be crying myself to sleep at night if my Ultimate Rewards balance was ZERO.
US Airways 100% Bonus
A couple of weeks ago, and many months before, I blogged about the 100% US Airways promo. But, the last promo was only extending to members who have bought miles in the past.
This time around, the 100% bonus is being extended to people who hold the US Airways Mastercard and use it for purchasing miles. Makes sense that they would reward you for using their branded credit card. Here’s my post comparing the two US Airways cards.
I’ll keep my same position as usual concerning buying US Airways Dividend miles. It’s great if you’re topping off an account or buying premium cabin tickets on a normal basis, especially to take advantage of their off-peak award chart and Envoy class.
Bluebird hits the mainstream media
If you surf the web or watch TV, then you’ve definitely come across American Express and Wal-Mart marketing their new online checking account Bluebird. And if you are a rewards travel fiend, then you have d e f i n i t e l y come across a blog post or two about the magical wonders of Bluebird, Vanilla Reloads, Office Depot gift cards, and the stores to purchase prepaid cards that can fund Bluebird.
Well, now the major media is on to Bluebird and how it can be maximized to earn cherished miles and points. We be lusting after some miles!
What does this mean?
Maybe nothing. Maybe more.
I’ve been using Bluebird with great success for a few months now to pay bills that I wouldn’t earn miles and points on otherwise. I do pay some credit card bills with Bluebird, and use the ATM sparingly. I also use my Bluebird debit card for daily purchases here and there.
And of course I’m loading my Bluebird account with Vanilla Reload cards. I’m still using Visa gift cards from Office Depot (Ink cards give you 5x points for office supplies) to purchase my VRs. If you’re doing this as well, make sure 1) you swipe it as a credit card, and 2) you load $496.05 or less to cover the activation fee.
If I’m trying to meet a spending requirement threshold on a card, I will purchase VRs to help. Simple.
It varies from store to store if they let me use a prepaid (Visa gift card) or credit card, so don’t stop trying if one CVS or local store won’t allow you to make a purchase. In some cases, it also seems to matter which cashier helps you.
Last night, I was told by a CVS clerk that there’s a new $1,000 a day limit on purchasing Vanilla Reloads, but I have no other data points to confirm this. Just like the rest, it’s probably a ymmv situation.
I haven’t seen any significant changes in the last couple of months at my local stores, but I will let you know if I do.
I know this way of earning miles and points can end anytime (like the Mint deal did after it received national media), but for now – it’s business as normal.
Please leave any comments below if you have any experiences you would like to share.
— Noob MasterRead More
All good things must come to an end.
Now, it’s all but been officially confirmed that the Ink cards will raise their minimum spends back to $10,000 in 3 months at the end of the year.
As of now, you will earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend a mere $5,000 in 3 months. That’s what makes the Ink Bold and Ink Plus some of the most attractive cards out there.
Ink Bold and Ink Plus Perks
It’s no secret that the Ink cards have some of the best (if not the best) miles earning potential. You will earn 2x points on gas and travel. But the real value is in the 5x earning potential.
You will earn 5x points per $1 on internet, cable, phone services, and office supplies. The Ink cards are also great for international travel because there’s no foreign transaction fee when you use them abroad.
Business Card Perks
Applying for business cards has a massive upside. The only activity on your personal credit report from a business rewards card application is the 2-5 point ding from the initial inquiry. That’s it!
All account opening, closing, and credit limit is tied to the business credit report. This is why applying for business rewards cards can not only help you earn MEGA rewards, but also limit activity on your personal credit profile.
You don’t have to be incorporated to apply for a business card, either. Many readers have been able to apply for business cards as sole proprietors (tech freelancers, artists, musicians, ebay sellers, and consultants, to name a few).
I’ve found Chase to be willing to work with start-ups, too. Just be ready to answer a few questions during the reconsideration phone call.
Remember, you can also have multiple Ink cards. I wrote a post a while back on how a reader had 3 Ink Bolds. He had applied for an Ink Bold for each of his businesses.
Also, you can have multiple Ink cards for the same business. Jordan and her manager both have Ink Bolds for her music LLC using the same EIN.
Plus, you can have an Ink Plus and an Ink Bold for the same business. The Ink Bold is a charge card, and the Ink Plus is a credit card, so it’s easy to explain why you applied for both.
My experience with Ink cards is: I have an Ink Plus, and an Ink Bold for my business which has an EIN. I also have another Ink Plus that I just signed up for as a sole proprietor. That’s 3 Ink cards that I’ve gotten this year.
Obviously, I’m a huge fan of the Ink Bold and Ink Plus business cards. Heck, business cards in general. I know minimum spend requirements are getting easier and easier to meet, but I would definitely encourage you to take advantage of the lower spend while you can. I did.
You can apply for the Ink Bold or Ink Plus cards below. Please only use my links if you’re satisfied with the service I provide.
(I receive a referral credit if you apply through my links.)
— Noob MasterRead More