Staples rewards - when is it worth it?

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So I'm just here trying to determine if getting into the Staples rewards games is really worth it. Over the past few months I have gotten in more heavily to the CC points game and have always been a deal hunter.

I recently got in on the $15 Staples GC for every $100 of Visa GC deal - earning $150 in Staples GC + 5000 points on my INK card. I consider this a pretty good deal only lessened by the fact that I had to buy the GC in only $100 increments and now I have to unload each card manually over time. Overall I figure that the INK points were a wash with the GC fees, and so I basically get ~$150 free at Staples which I can spend on anything I need (including FAR items to convert into cash/checks). I consider this a pretty good (and better than average) deal - although it will take some time and effort to unload $1000 in Visa GC and to spend the Staples GC (especially if trying to convert into cash).

I have considered getting more into the Staples game - but all in all - it seems like a lot of effort for a minimal reward. I know that some people get super-excited about netting even $5 even if it means a lot of effort - and more power to them. I am trying to understand what I might be missing in how this all works out.

When I say "Staples rewards" I am referring not just to the Staples Rewards programs, but all the ways to take advantage of Staples offers, including rebates, etc.

The way I look at it is this:

Say I spend up to $300 every month on FAR and other great deals at Staples (from my recent investigations this seems like a fair number, if not a bit on the high side).
I pay 6.25% tax for a total of $318.75 in spending.

This nets me 1500 INK points, which we will convert to $15 in cash (I know other rewards can give a better ratio - but trying to keep things cash only basis).
IF I do an online order via FW I can net another 2.5% CB or $7.5.

Assuming all my purchases are FAR and I net back my original $300 spend. I have still spend $18.75 in taxes and earned $22.50 in CB. A net gain of $3.75.

Assuming I do this every month I net myself $45 a year.

Now I am not one to throw away $45 - but the effort involved does not seem worth it to me in this case. I know that everyone's effort/rewards scale is different. But, assuming I spend 1 hour a month dealing with these rebates (I think that 15/week to both file and follow through with past rebates is conservative at best) and at least $10 a year on USPS stamps for mail-in rebates - the effort looks even less attractive.

I understand that you are also pulling in merchandise as well - but there are only so many batteries, AV programs, and reams of paper I need

Obviously there are sometimes very good deals, like the Visa GC one above - or times when a rebate combined with a coupon might net a higher yield.
I am looking to find out how consistent these are and some real life examples from some of you on what you actually can net (in cash or near-cash) from being a diligent (but not super-zealous) Staples consumer.

I want to be convinced that there is more to this than I have realized, and the opportunity for much greater profit. Please tell me what I'm missing!

thanks

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
just wanted to chime in and thank those that have replied.

In short, I'm not in need of most of the products that Staples... (more)

BenH (Dec. 10, 2012 @ 3:34p) |

Hi there! If you're still doubting the Staples rewards program, you most definitely shouldn't! I personally had to take ... (more)

mechlingjennifer (Jan. 03, 2013 @ 9:08a) |

Well I got a surprise e-mail last week that I was now Premier (didn't realize I had spent that much this year).

Anyway - ... (more)

BenH (Jan. 15, 2013 @ 8:38p) |

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I don't think those of us who Staple do it just for the money & the product. It's also for the challenge, working the system, squeezing out every penny and in the end, fun. Doesn't sound like its a game you'd enjoy.

You need to do ink recycle to get more benefits.
Spend enough to become premier every year and recycle 20 cart each months which gives you $40 in rewards each month.

Ink recycling is not mentioned in your inquiry. Regular members can recycle 10 cartridges per month, Staples gives you $2 each or $20 total. Buy them on eBay for $.20 max and you net $18 each month. If you spend $1000 in a year you get to Premier and you can recycle 20 cartridges or about $36 net per month. You are only allowed 1 account per address, but if you have friends, relatives, summer home. You can do more, but it is more work.

Additionally Staples has deals. This week is Double-Double, purchase $50 in ink get $4 per cartridge and 20% back on total spent. I purchase $60 of ink and will get back $80 ($4 x 20) plus $12 (20% of $60) for a total of $92 - $60 = $32 MM plus the ink.

The deals are not as good as they were but you can get free products and make money.

Stop thinking about it and just start.

Any questions send me a PM.

What your missing is the time you wasted and will never get back. I mean a thousands dollars to make one fifty for all that work? lol Staples rewards program is a joke and is for people without a life. A hobby? A challenge? Its fun? LOL! Give me a break.

Thanks for the replies:

@mymainecoons - I understand it is for the challenge for many - and I am up to the challenge - within reason. If the challenge is to get $35 a year - then you are right, I'd rather not accept. This is why I am asking those who have taken the challenge up until now - what might I expect?

@rbsolanki & ctslive - Thanks - I knew that there were benefits of INK recycling, but you gave me some more insight. I guess I will work on slowly building up to Premier status and then looking into moving larger quantaties of INK

badboi said:   What your missing is the time you wasted and will never get back. I mean a thousands dollars to make one fifty for all that work? lol Staples rewards program is a joke and is for people without a life. A hobby? A challenge? Its fun? LOL! Give me a break.

All what work? I walked into a Staples and purchased $1000 in gift cards. For my purchase I got $150 in a Staples Gift Card.
The only "work" other than my purchase is that I need to carry around an extra gift card in my wallet until I use it up (10x).

and then try to cash in on one thousand dollars worth of gc's with rebates rewards then rebates rewards lol you go in circles for about one dollar an hour for your work. not to mention that people are getting blacklisted for this game. anyway I just wasted my time replying.

I jumped in the rewards game early this year when there were a lot of FAR software titles and I was premier within a month or so. Their easy rebate system is freaking awesome compared to other brands/retailers rebates. Haven't ever had an issue with getting paid back timely. I have access to a lot of free ink cartridges so I have been flipping those around but also supplementing when needed by buying bulk on eBay. Got the 2 cases of paper free after rewards a few months ago and donated them to my daughters school. Sold some FAR software and made $$ that way, but have also given some away. It hasn't been an issue for me to cash out rewards with FAR stuff and I have tons of free stuff that I'm able to donate, give to friends and family or use myself. Thanks to members of the FW community I've also found a lot of great deals posted I used my rewards on instead of just cashing them out.

I can understand people that might not want to spend the time doing this, but I don't understand people bashing us that do.

I gave up on Staples because their GC can only be used in store, they act like it's still 1995.

Why do some "normal" people jump out of perfectly good planes or off a bridge (with a parachute or an inch thick band), I'd say some get a bit of a thrill working the rewards programs, some don't. Which are you?

BenH said:   badboi said:   What your missing is the time you wasted and will never get back. I mean a thousands dollars to make one fifty for all that work? lol Staples rewards program is a joke and is for people without a life. A hobby? A challenge? Its fun? LOL! Give me a break.

All what work? I walked into a Staples and purchased $1000 in gift cards. For my purchase I got $150 in a Staples Gift Card.
The only "work" other than my purchase is that I need to carry around an extra gift card in my wallet until I use it up (10x).


Stop respond to badboi, he's a troll. He doesn't have time to go to Staples to make money because his time is better spent responding to multiple Staples threads trashing deals.

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/1241063/

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/hot-deals/1241063/

http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/deal-discussion/1227664/

If you are spending $300 on a $300 FAR item and only making 14 dollars on it, you are not doing it right.

Staples is worth about $150 per month to me with 1 hour of investment a month (average).

I usually donate the free stuff I get from Staples to schools around and drop in centers. It is true it takes some time but in this digital age everything is done with a click of a button and is easy.

BenH said:   Say I spend up to $300 every month on FAR and other great deals at Staples (from my recent investigations this seems like a fair number, if not a bit on the high side.BenH said:   I guess I will work on slowly building up to Premier status and then looking into moving larger quantaties of INK
If you are spending about $300 every month, there is no need to "slowly" build up to Premier status. It only takes $1000 to be Premier.
As far as the $1000 in Visa/Master Gift cards, pay some of your bills with them. My car insurance ate up over 1/2 my first set of these gift cards.

Staples easy rebates are the easiest and ones I have ever done. They take about 2 minutes which includes the time to wait for my computer to load.

BenH said:   I want to be convinced that there is more to this than I have realized, and the opportunity for much greater profit. Please tell me what I'm missing!
thanks

First, Ben, YMMV. Whether you use Staples products, whether Staples is convenient for you, whether you have other options all play into this. It's worth it to me. I have two kids in school. They go through a lot of ink, paper, and school supplies. We all have laptops, desktops, and Kindles. Between remote controls and flashlights, we go through a lot of batteries. I have been grabbing their boxes when they are free-after-rewards as I organize my home. I'm accumulating ink and photo paper for a room we are going to decorate with family photos. So I am a Staples customer anyway.

Staples is on my way home from work in the same strip mall as a Home Depot, a WalMart, and my bank -- so I am in the parking lot frequently. We do not have an Office Depot or OfficeMax nearby, so Staples is the only place to get the things I buy from Staples.

My primary credit card is a Discover card. I buy virtually everything with that credit card. Much of what I buy gets 5% or more Cash Back (I got $183 back this month -- that is 9x$25 gift cards or $225 in gift cards). Discover allows you to buy $25 Staples gift cards for $20 with your Cash Back. That means that everything is always 20% off at Staples.

So, I take my Cash Back as gift cards and spend them on batteries, boxes, school supplies, and paper and get most (generally all) of that back in rewards which I use for desktops, laptops, tablets, and things that are free after easy rebates. You can usually take the easy rebate as a check or a paypal deposit. So, a lot of my Staples benefit funds my eBay habbit.

It's not difficult to spend $1000 in this way, so I am perpetually a rewards premier member, so I can recycle 20 carts a month. I use the double and triple rewards offers to feed my fleet of printers (all Staples Rewards members should own HP printers) plus premier members get six months to spend rewards. From time to time, Staples offers free after rebate software with up to ten rebates available. I use these to turn rewards into visa gift cards that can be spent anywhere.

So, here is the burden...

1) check shop discover before any online purchase
2) use Cash Back to buy gift cards
3) preview Staples next sales cycle every thursday
4) accumulate empty ink carts
5) recycle ink carts once a month
6) shop Staples like normal people
7) submit easy rebates online

In return for that, I have more free paper and ink than I can consume, stuff stored in nice boxes with labels, relatively new computers and tablets, a lifetime supply of batteries, free school supplies, a plump paypal account, free groceries from time to time. For me, it's worth the effort.

Ive made a lot of money working this system and even worked there for 6 months!

To wizwor/others:
What are you buying (with Staplerr or OMAX rewards) that can be flipped easily on fleabay or Craigs-list (trying to avoid autolinks)?
From Staplerr, I cash out using FAR software but can't figure out how to cash out OMAX rewards.

TIA

For Staples, anything that Staples sells EXCEPT for items that are free after rewards (the discount is on the cost AFTER the rewards are applied). I bought kindles, laptops, and computers using rewards. From time to time, I have used rewards to buy free after rebate software. Whether the rebate is a check or a gift card, it can be applied to other purchases -- including free after rewards stuff. Some of these are visa debit cards that can be spent anywhere. I got a $360 visa debit card this way.

just wanted to chime in and thank those that have replied.

In short, I'm not in need of most of the products that Staples offers. I don't do a lot of printing or use a lot of office supply products (even though I work from home office).
Staples is convenient enough for me to go to (live in metro area plenty of stores of all types).

I'm going to put in some effort starting the new year to see what I can net with minimal effort. Will necropost on this thread or start a new one with results

Hi there! If you're still doubting the Staples rewards program, you most definitely shouldn't! I personally had to take the time to get it all figured out but did so very quickly and my time spent has paid off VERY well. In my opinion, I don't believe you should buy a product just to receive a gift card, unless A) you were going to buy that product regardless, and B) you have verified that the products price hasn't been inflated to cover the stores "loss" on the gift card amount. The money making and saving is in the Staples Easy Rebate program, 100% Rewards program, and ink recycling. There are a few rules to remember when "rolling" your rewards, but they are simple and easy to remember once you've done it a time or so. I'll list the basic rules below and then you an example of how I started and have been rolling my rewards ever since. =)

- When recycling ink, WAIT until they advertise double (triple is best!) rewards. Every now and then they will offer triple recycling rewards and double ink rewards when you purchase $50 worth of ink (before taxes). There is generally a limit of cartridges though. So for this example, let's say the limit of triple rewards is 5 but you can still recycle 5 additional for $2 a piece.

- NEVER use your rewards to purchase something that offers rewards. If you do this, you will NOT receive the rewards from the items purchased. Use rebate money to purchase items with rewards.

- You can use your rewards on products eligible for rebates and still receive the full rebate amount back.

Now for some examples. As for most rewards programs, you will need to make your "initial investment". This is generally a one time up-front amount that you put in to start reaping the benefits of store rewards. After your initial investment, if you do it correctly, you should be able to get everything from then on free or next to free. Here's how I started:


In August, I took advantage of their rebate program on over a dozen different school supplies. I bought everything my daughter needed for school as they offered the weekly deals over the entire month of August. I spent approximately $60 out of pocket (but only purchased items that stated "free after easy rebate".) I then went to stapleseasyrebates.com and input all of my rebate information. (No stamps or envelopes required!) My first time took about ten mins to do. I then received rebate Checks In The Mail the following month, to equal the full amount of money I spent (minus tax). I deposited the checks right into my account using my iphone (no trips to the bank!) And here's basically how it went from there...

Went back to Staples during triple rewards for ink recycling and double rewards for ink purchase:
-spent $62 in ink ($2.00 out of pocket and $60 from deposited rebate checks)
-recylced 10 cartridges
-received $40 rewards from ink (5 cartridges x $6 for triple/5 cartridges x $2 for normal rewards)
-received $12.40 rewards from ink purchase (20% rewards)
= $2 out of pocket and rx $52.40 in rewards

3rd trip to Staples:
-used reward coupons to purchase items eligible for rebate
-bought 4 reams of paper @ $6.99 each (rx $5.99 from each rebate)
-bought 2 packs of photo paper @ $9.99 (rx $9.99 from each rebate)
-bought 1 pack of batteries @ $13.99 (rx $13.99 in rebate)
-used 15% off entire purchase
= $52.64 - $52.40 rewards = $0.24 out of pocket
-received $57.93 in rebate checks

I can't recall exactly how I've made each purchase so it may vary slightly, but that's the gist of how I roll my rewards and get most of my ink/paper/supplies for free. And no, you won't need everything that you purchase, but it's how you can continuously "roll" the rewards with almost no money out of pocket. You can either donate the extra supplies that you don't need or sell them for an even bigger profit. I hope I didn't confuse you and hope that that helps. Just keep the rules in mind, which is basically "use rewards for rebate items, use rebates for rewards items." If you need to know anything else, just ask!

Shopping at Staples is both fun and exciting and honestly only takes an additional 10-20 minutes out of your time, which is just used to first locate the deals and make your shopping list, then to hop on the computer and submit for the rebates. Good luck!!

Well I got a surprise e-mail last week that I was now Premier (didn't realize I had spent that much this year).

Anyway - I went ahead and bought a few hundred empty carts on eBay enough to last me the year @20/month.

So - I'm going to see what sort of damage I can do - as I am right near a Staples at least once a week.

What I still don't understand is the 2x and 3x Ink rewards. If 2x Ink is actually viable on all 20 of your returned carts...then that makes some sense... $80 return for $60 expenditure. However aren't you spending real cash to get back rewards dollars? Or can you spend rewards dollars for the $60 in ink and still be able to trade in the carts for the rewards?

Moreover, if they only let you trade in say 5 (as in the 3x example from previous poster) then you are spending $50 to only get $30.

It is one thing if you need the items you are purchasing, but name brand ink is super over priced. I can get 3-4x the amount of ink from refills or buying online from ink warehouses...so paying $50 for ink that I can get for $10 doesn't seem a good way to spend the rewards?

I look at it like this:
- Turn in ink every month - get $40 in rewards
- Use those rewards to buy stuff you need. Translates to $40 in goods for $4 (cost of ink carts) - not bad.
- Use those rewards to buy rebate items and cash out.

Any other strategy just seems to be putting your ca$h back in to generate more rewards...which you will do what with? One of the above?

In above poster's example he invested $60 to get rebate items and then cashed in on the rebates - so now he has his original $60 and some school supplies (not sure if he needed those supplies or not). Assuming you didn't need the items you bought - it is Net 0.

So...take that $60 (which is good cash) and used carts (which have some value) - and spend another $2 and end up with $52.50 in rewards and some ink. Assuming you didn't really need the ink (again you could probably have bought that $60 of ink online for $12) - you are now out $62 in cash and have gained $52.40 in rewards. This is a losing proposition IF you didn't need the ink.

3rd trip...used rewards points to buy junk and cash out the rebates...netting $57.93 - 0.24 = $57.69. Take that away from the $62 spent from above and we are out $4.21.

Sure - we got some paper and batteries and ink - but do we really need that? If the answer is no (or only a weak yes), wouldn't we have been better off just trading in ink for rewards, buy rebate, cash out?

There are some things as Staples I can use - enough that I figure my $4 for $40 in rewards is probably worthwhile even with Staples overpriced-ness. But it seems to me the best use is to cash out with rebates whenever possible and use remainder of rewards to pick up some things you can use.

I'm still learning though here - so please teach me the ways of the force.



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