October 14, 2013
UPDATE: Plink now limits rewards at Staples to 10 transactions per month.
As I reported last week, Plink has recently added Staples to the list of merchants available for Plink rewards. Plink is a rewards program that awards points for shopping at certain merchants. Plink lets you link a single credit card to your account and automatically awards you when qualifying transactions appear on your credit account. Plink points are worth a penny each towards gift cards such as Walmart, Amazon, and the Tango card (which gives you access to many more gift card options).
With Staples, Plink awards points for in-store or online purchases at the following rates:
- $15 purchase: 50 Plink Points = 50 cents = (3.33%)
- $30 purchase: 125 Plink Points = $1.25 (4.17%)
- $60 purchase: 300 Plink Points = $3 (5%)
$60 purchases are the sweet spot for Plink rewards since you’ll get 5% back in the form of Plink points.
Double dip with Staples Rewards
For almost all purchases (except for gift cards), Staples offers 5% back via their Staples Rewards program. Simply enroll in Staples Rewards and show your card when shopping in-store, or enter your rewards number when shopping online.
Triple dip with credit card rewards
Several credit cards offer 5 points per dollar or 5% cash back at office supply stores. By paying with one of these cards, you can earn yet another 5% back (or more if you value the points more than a penny each). Please see “Best Category Bonuses.”
Quadruple dip with shopping portals
Search for Staples on a site like cashbackmonitor to find the online portal offering the most rewards. Currently you can earn 5% cash back by shopping at Staples via the uPromise portal.
Free after Rebate
Staples frequently offers Free after Rebate items. Buying these can be a good way to increase credit card spend and earn rewards, but usually you’ll lose some money due to sales tax. Between Plink Points, Staples Rewards, credit card rewards, and shopping portal bonuses it’s possible to profit from free after rebate purchases despite the taxes. Some Free after Rebate items are available only in-store, but for those available online the following quadruple dip is possible:
- 5% cash back via uPromise portal
- 5% back in Staples’ Rewards
- Up to 5% back in Plink points
- 5X via credit card rewards
Using a credit card to buy gift cards in-store at Staples with a card that offers 5X at office supply stores has always been a great way to earn rewards. Now, Plink makes these purchases even more appealing. Merchant gift cards have no fee, so one could buy $75 worth of gift cards, earn 5X with their credit card, and $3 extra from Plink.
You can also sometimes find $200 MasterCard gift cards with a $6.95 fee (in-store only). You can think of the $3 in Plink Points as a partial rebate for this fee. It may even be possible to ask the cashier to split the transaction into three payments so as to earn up to $9 in Plink rewards.
Staples also sells gift cards online. You can buy e-gift cards with no fee, or physical gift cards, usually with a $1.99 fee. Here, you can triple dip by earning Plink Points, earning portal points, and earning up to 5X in credit card rewards. For example, if you were to buy $75 worth of e-gift cards (usually in the form of a $50 gift card and a $25 gift card), you could earn the following rewards:
- 5% cash back via uPromise
- $3 back in the form of Plink Points (4% rebate)
- 5X via your credit card.
If you value credit card points at only 1 cent each, this adds up to a 14% rebate on all e-gift card purchases. Note that you will not earn Staples Rewards for gift card purchases.
I don’t think that the new Plink/Staples combination is a game changer, but it is an excellent new option for enhancing the already lucrative options when shopping at Staples. If you are interested in signing up for Plink, you’ll find a link here.