If you are the type of person that plans ahead for Holiday spending then this post should be right up your alley. By joining the Staples Rewards Program, you can get some fantastic deals from Staples on great gifts – often for a fraction of the regular price. This post will talk about how the program works, and a step by step guide on maximizing your rewards.
The Staples Ink Recycling Program did go through changes for the worse recently, but it still allows you massive value if you use it correctly, and you don’t even need to own a printer to do this!
Staples Ink Recycling Overview
You can recycle Ink Cartridges every month, for each cartridge you receive $2 in credit that can be spent on almost anything at Staples (exclusions include Gift Cards and Stamps).
- You have a limit of 10 Ink Cartridges per month as a standard Member = $20 per month
- You have a limit of 20 Ink Cartridges per month as a Premier/Plus Member =$40 per month
- In order to redeem your Ink Recycling Credit Balance you must have purchased Ink from Staples within the past 180 days
In order to reach the Premier/Plus level where you can redeem double the rewards per month you need to have spent $500 in a year with Staples, this can be done fairly easily as they often offer Free After Rebate products that boost your spend.
Getting Empty Ink
You can purchase Ink from eBay for exactly this purpose – they shameless list is as ’empty ink carts for Staples Rewards’! the more you buy the cheaper the cost, due to the bulk shipping concept. I typically buy in 300 Cart Batches for reduced costs, but here is one you can see for 100 carts for $19.99 with free shipping.
Cost per Cartridge would be 20 Cents – so you are getting a 10x multiplier on that at staples.
Getting Full Ink
Every 180 days you need to buy Ink valued at $30 or more from Staples in order to keep your Rewards alive (note they also have a short shelf live and expire on time too – so I cash in every 5-6 months personally).
The trick here is to minimize the cost, without reducing the cost… by rebates!
You need to keep the price to $30, but if you go through a rewards portal you can get cash back for what you spend. For example the Upromise Shopping Mall offers 5% Cash Back to your Upromise Account – read more about Upromise Here
Plus if you pay with the Upromise MasterCard you can earn an additional 5% Cash Back – or you could pay with the Chase Ink Bold for 5x at Office Supply Stores.
On top of that – if you enter your rewards number online you get another 5% Back in Staples Rewards (they run separately from the Ink Rewards)
You are already at 15% Cash Back!
If you need to use the ink yourself at home then its an easy purchase, but if you don’t need the ink then you can just resell it on eBay. I recently purchased some Kodak Ink for the sole purpose of reselling it to keep my rewards alive.
- Purchase Price – $30 Free Shipping to me
- Sale Price $22 – Free Shipping to them (my expense of $8)
- Cash Back 15% for $4.50 plus 5% of Shipping for $0.40
- Total P/L $22+$4.50+$0.40 – $30-$8 = Net Loss of $11.10
Now, the actual P/L of the Ink would depend on the shipping costs and the sale price of the ink, so there is some wiggle room there and you could lose more on the sale, but even if you just tossed the ink in the garbage (or even recycled it..) you would still come out ahead overall. So a little loss is good enough and better than a big loss on this transaction.
Conclusion and Costs
To maximize this you really need to get to the Premier/Plus level of $40 per month Ink, but even at the standard level you can make a nice profit:
Also, it is worth noting that Staples regularly runs campaigns and coupons including $100 off Laptops, or Double Rewards. So you could stretch things even further, but even with out these your Standard Account could easily pay for a Kindle or other eReader for the Holidays, or your Premier Plus could get you a Tablet or heavily discounted Laptop. Staples is also carrying a nice range of Apple Accessories now that could make cool gifts too!
Hope this gave you some ideas on how to save money for the Holidays this year by using the Staples Ink Recycling Program – done right you can get the gifts your loved ones want, but not pay the price, so you can focus your money on paying down debt and increasing your savings.
Also, around the Holiday period Staples stocks wrapping paper and decorations, so you could cover those costs too using your credit!