Manufactured Spending

FREE Manufactured Spending With Office Depot’s New Rewards Program!

Office Depot has just announced a major revamping of its rewards program. Starting July 1, 2017 Office Depot rewards members can 2% in rewards on EVERYTHING. That’s right, all members will receive 2% back in the form of reward certificates on all spending. No restrictions. You may be thinking: “That’s great and all, but I don’t buy that much paper or ink these days…” What makes this 2% Office Depot rewards deal so great is that it applies towards Visa gift card purchases!

How did I get from 2% to 7% in rewards? Because if you have the Chase Ink Plus card, which pays out 5 points per $1 at office supply stores, you’ll end up with the equivalent of at least 7% worth of cash back. A lot of people value Chase Ultimate Rewards points at a minimum of 1.6 cents each. By this estimation, manufacturing spend at Office Depot with the Ink Plus gets you the equivalent of 10% cash back! That doesn’t just off-set the gift card fees, it allows you to generate points and miles with $0 out of pocket cost.

Office Depot Visa Gift Card Rack Manufactured Spending
Office Depot Visa Gift Card Rack

Office Depot stocks $200 Visa gift cards, which you can purchase with a point-earning credit card and liquidate via money orders at lots of different places. So let’s say you purchase a $200 Visa gift card, which carries a $6.95 fee. You’ll earn 1,034 Ultimate Rewards points with your Ink card (worth about $10.34) PLUS around $4.14 worth of Office Depot Rewards. Essentially, you would be buying Visa gift cards at a profit. Sometimes Office Depot offers rebates on Visa gift card purchases, which means even higher profit margins for us!

Can I Use Office Depot Rewards Certificates to Buy More Gift Cards?

Office Depot Rewards are issued in the form of rewards certificates. It’s sort of like store credit. Unfortunately these Office Depot rewards certificates cannot be used to buy gift cards. That puts a pretty big damper on most people’s manufactured spending plans, but it doesn’t have to be a complete downer. In fact, these rewards certificates can still come in handy for reselling purposes. Office supply stores frequently run great promotions on popular electronic items that you can resell for a small profit. Or break even. Regardless, at 7% cash back you can probably avoid a loss.

Why Would Office Depot Offer 2% Cash Back on Gift Cards?

You may be wondering why Office Depot would offer 2% rewards on all purchases, including gift cards. After all, Staples excludes gift card purchases from their rewards program. I suspect this is either a way for Office Depot to establish an advantage over Staples or perhaps they’re trying to draw people in before eventually excluding gift cards from earning rewards. In any case, there are no restrictions now, so enjoy it while you can!

5% Rewards for Office Depot VIP’s

Office Depot is also rolling out a VIP program for members who spend at least $500 per year. VIP members qualify for 5% back on ink, toner, paper, print/copy/shipping services. Which is totally not relevant to us, but if you need to stock up on these items, you can double up with the 5% from the Ink Plus card.

It’s worth noting that this rewards program was rolled out in the Denver and Nashville markets two years ago. It’s great that they’re finally extending it all over the country.

HT: Tim, who always seems to be at the forefront of manufactured spending news. Thank you for always sharing them with me!

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  1. So I wonder can one meet the minimum spend for the VIP program itself by buying gift cards? And is there something specific to Visa about this, or will it work for MCGC too?

  2. Perhaps the line “Why Would Office Depot Offer 2% Cash Back on Gift Cards?” could be slightly reworded since it isn’t actually cash back?

  3. too early to speculate but I m not ready to celebrate this new found wealth either. things always come in pair, I fear this upside will also have a downside with Chase. my fear is this mad rush to OD would spikes Chase to lower the INK 5x earning as seen by Citi changes this past week.

    • I think if Chase had done away with the 5x at OD’s, they would have done it in the Vanilla Reload days when people were clearing out the racks at Office Depot. That being said, I do think at some point Chase will convert existing Chase Ink Plus cards to Chase Ink Business Preferred.

  4. They sell these online or only in stores?

    • in the past, afaik, only in stores…… My nearest OD/OM locations are an hour away…. then again, am thinking that if this promo doesn’t for all the attention here in advance, I may just start scoping out OD locations, as part of my routing travel planning. (kinda like keeping an eye out for certain malls) 😉

    • You can buy them in stores.

  5. You can use them to purchase money orders ONLY if the business you take them to accepts the issuing bank’s debit card. Sunrise Bank and MetaBank issuers are not accepted in all places for example. I know people who’ve taken them to Walmart and it wouldn’t go through.

  6. I can feel your enthusiasm in this post 🙂

    I always think that companies use these gift card policies and promotions for financial engineering purposes. We manufacture spend, they manufacture earnings.

    I think this will either lead to a quick disappearance of 5x points at office supply stores, or the credit card companies will find some other way to crack down on GC MS.

    But it might be sweet while it lasts 🙂

    I myself would probably prefer that some barrier to entry remains to prevent this from being abused and killed. A slightly sub-optimal strategy would be okay for me if it prevents the opportunity from disappearing altogether.

    • I don’t think Chase will necessarily discontinue 5x at OD’s because of this. There was much more demand for this category bonus back when Office Depot/Max carried Vanilla Reloads. In that case, the store stopped selling these cards. But I do think Ink Plus will get discontinued at some point, replaced with the Ink Business Preferred.

  7. I don’t foresee this being as big a deal as some of the blogs are making it out to be. Or perhaps that is just my wishful thinking, since I am nowhere near any OD/OM and I hope this doesn’t kill my Ink+ 5x.

    OD/OM and Staples already run tons of great promos, which means many MSers are already getting a substantial amount of 5x at below face-value. Then there is the fact that ODOM stores are not as widespread as Staples. And the main saving grace is that the rewards dollars are only good for merchandise at ODOM… I think there will be a very limited number of people that go out of their way to do any additional MS at ODOM since they aren’t going to see a lot of value in buying Kcups and ink cartridges nor are they going to be willing to figure out how to resell items to turn their rewards dollars into actual cash back.

    If people were already buying GCs from ODOM at full retail price (which I’m guessing is a rather limited group of people, esp since you can buy VGC at, then I’m sure those same people would accept some free merchandise in the future for their same behavior. But I don’t really see many people *changing* their behavior on account of the 2% rewards. Maybe some heavy hitters/resellers who go beyond the 50k 5x limit will start MSing at ODOM on a card that earns 2x everywhere FU for 1.5x, but that is prob too slim a margin/too many hoops for most.

    Like I said, I don’t have any ODOM so my biggest hope is that this new rewards program doesn’t kill what I already consider to be an extremely lucrative 5x deal.


    • It’s a great deal if you can cash out the 2% efficiently via the reselling route. But I agree – a lot of people won’t see the value in this and just continue churning gift cards during promotions.

  8. I’m not terribly excited by this as 2% offered in OD rewards certificates doesn’t really do much for me. It’s too much work to buy some items at a slight discount and then try to resell them on-line.

  9. I find this might give me a bit of spend on my cards for earning UR pts. I don’t find the OD rewards certificates that exciting yet I have a use for them to some extent. So overall I am going to participate in this promotion while it lasts. Thx for sharing.

  10. Does the 2% back start in July?

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