Posted by: pizzainmotion | February 3, 2013

Maybe Not All Bad News For Points Junkies At Office Depot

While I was watching TV last night with my wife I happened upon a post by Mommy Points that changed my schedule around a bit today.  She was reporting that it seemed variable amount gift cards were disappearing from Office Depot, at least in some denominations.  That’s a bummer for me as I do purchase these gift cards using my Ink Bold card for a number of different purposes.

For those new to the miles and points game, Ink Bold offers 5 points for every dollar you spend at office supply stores.  So, buying gift cards at Office Depot to use elsewhere is a great way to earn 5 points for every dollar you spend elsewhere.  The gift cards carry the VISA or AMEX logo and are pretty much usable anywhere credit cards are accepted.

I got up this morning and popped into my local Office Depot.  I needed to pick up some other supplies, so it wouldn’t be a wasted trip no matter what the outcome.  On my way up to the counter, I saw that the gift card rack was still chock full of variable amount cards (meaning, you can load any amount you want between $20 and $500 onto each card).  I grabbed a big stack and went to the checkout counter to pay.  A manager had to come over and authorize the transaction and asked me to wait a few minutes.  When he came back, the answer was that he couldn’t sell me the cards because they were due to be pulled.  I asked him if I could buy any, and he said he hadn’t heard back from his manager yet.  He told me I could check back later to see if they had gotten an answer.

I had some other shopping to do so I swung back a couple of hours later.  They had pulled a few of the different cards off the shelf but I noticed that there were 2 types of VISA cards and one type of AMEX cards (all variable amount) still on the shelf.  The manager walked over a minute later and told me the products that were still on the shelf were not due to be discontinued.  I got a peek at the memo they were referring to and there were a whole bunch of Visa gift cards that were listed as due to be removed not later than February 5th.

At a quick glance, all of the cards I noted as “discontinued” had fees of $4.95 per card.  I actually ended up being able to purchase some of these today, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they disappeared soon.  The other cards they still had displayed had fees of either $5.95 or $6.95.

So, it’s possible that the rumblings about the demise of the variable cards may only be a “speed bump” price increase in the variable cards.  And, at $6.95 for a $500 gift card, I’m pretty sure I’m still a buyer, barring some other restriction on purchasing.  I’m still earning at least 4 extra points per dollar (for things I buy on a credit card that earns 1 point per dollar) or 5 points if it’s something I could only pay cash for in the past and the cost of the card is still minimal.

There’s still more details to shake out, but at least in my neck of the woods, some variable gift cards are still available for purchase.

I don’t receive a referral on the Ink Bold card, but it is one of the primary cards I recommend to people, and it’s mostly due to the 5X on things like office supplies, cell phone bills, cable TV and internet charges.  That’s really just free points you’re not picking up if you don’t have this card.  The card carries a 50,000 point sign-up bonus, and has other bonuses, like double points on gas.  If you don’t travel a lot but are looking to stockpile points for a dream vacation, Ink Bold really needs to be at the top of your list.  Even if you don’t go crazy with gift cards there are still plenty of opportunities to earn well with this card.

 


Responses

  1. […] +1 on both posts. Re. those who argue that variable amount gc's must have made SOME profit, so it must be Chase that pushed OD: SOME profit is not what businesses look for. Retail space is valuable and they are looking for a certain level of return — so even if variable amount cards were somewhat profitable, they were not profitable enough. It is easy for the businesses to realize the opportunity cost of offering this product when they see that variable amount gc's are selling like crazy loaded with the max amount to the extent that inventory disappears, bringing in slim margins, while those higher margin $50 to $200 gc's linger on the racks. It's very easy for a business to estimate that pulling out the low margin product will push consumers to the higher margin one (smaller denomination gc's). Of course, the business might be wrong, because they may be imagining consumers who actually want the gift cards in order to give gifts (!), and will need to keep buying anyway, despite the change. They are probably not thinking of FTers who may stop purchasing altogether if the game becomes too expensive (although, will they/ we?) To this, add fraud, stolen cards etc… Raising the price of variable amount gc's to say $5.95 or $6.95 might have made equal sense for OD and behold (a data point from a blogger god forbid): http://pizzainmotion.com/2013/02/03/…-office-depot/ […]

  2. I also saw the email, it had the amex GPR on it, I was not allowed to buy them.

    • I saw some AMEX cards on there, but the specific SKU for the one they still had on the shelf didn’t appear. May just be on a different list. I’ll check back later this week to see.

  3. […] UPDATE: Pizza In Motion reports the possibility that $500 loadable cards will still be carried at Office Depot, but with higher fees.  Read the details here. […]

  4. […] Office Depot is a bit farther afield, it’s a metro ride away for me, but often the most useful. My Staples only sells American Express gift cards up to $200, and word is that Office Depot is following suit at least for the next several months (Pizza in Motion says the $500 cards will be coming back at a slightly higher fee). […]

  5. […] Just a quick update to my post yesterday about variable amount gift cards disappearing from Office Depot. […]

  6. I was able to purchase AMEX card at office depot and load with $500. Cost was $4.95. No visa cards on rack with variable loading. Used Amex to buy vanilla card to load bluebird.

    • Conor, thanks for the update. Just out of curiosity, what area of the country were you able to buy the card in?

  7. […] Maybe Not All Bad News For Points Junkies At Office Depot […]


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