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Office Depot Pulling $500 Amex Prepaid Cards? Report Your Experiences

by on February 3, 2013 · 52 comments

in Chase, Prepaid/ Reloads

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Several TPG readers reported today that Office Depot will be pulling $500 American Express gift cards, which could be the end of a major points-earning portal for many.

For those who are unaware, the leverage here is that the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards both offer 5 points per dollar spent on “office supplies.” Chase classifies anything purchased at office supply stores as office supplies. So if you buy a $500 Amex prepaid card that has a fee of $4.95, you earn 2,525 Ultimate Rewards points. The only fee you eat is the $4.95. Then you can use the card for your everyday expenses – you cannot load it onto the Amex Bluebird like you can with Vanilla Reloads, but you can still use Amex gift cards to purchase pretty much anything you could use a regular Amex credit card for.

So essentially, you can earn 5 Chase points for most of your spend if you purchase Amex Prepaid cards with Ink Bold. You don’t earn points when you use the Prepaid cards, but you earn them all on the front-end when purchasing them with an Ink Bold/Plus. This concept was famously blogged about by Frequent Miler last year as “The One Card to Rule Them All”; and you can check out my own series on prepaid and reloadable cards for which posts include Maximizing Prepaid and Reload Cards for Points and Miles, Maximizing Reload Cards for Points and Miles: Vanilla vs. Green Dot vs. PayPal vs. REloadit, Maximizing Prepaid / Reloadable and Reload Cards For Points And Miles – Choosing Which Credit Card To Use, Reloadable Strengths and Weaknesses and The Top 10 Ways to Maximize Miles and Points With Prepaid, Reloadable and Gift Cards.

However, it seems like they may be in the process of pulling them off the shelves nationwide, so you may want to schedule a visit to your closest store sooner than later. I’m not really shocked by this/ I’ve noticed that they’ve been scarce at New York City Office Depots for the past couple months and I was even told I could only purchase one a day at the Times Square location back in November.

The goods: Prepaid cards that can be used anywhere- similar to a regular Amex card, but paid upfront

The goods: Prepaid cards that can be used anywhere- similar to a regular Amex card, but paid upfront

Other Angles
Even if these cards disappear, there are still ways to leverage 5x points on office supplies. You can still buy many other gift cards at popular retailers at Office Depot, Staples, Office Max, etc. Even if you are in the market for electronics, you may want to price out buying them at an office supply store for the category bonus.

Remember, the 5x bonus is capped at $50,000 spent per year, but it is possible to get both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus cards – both come with lucrative 50,000 point bonuses after $5,000 spend within 3 months. The spend requirement used to be $10,000 and there are rumors it will be changed soon back to that level, but I haven’t gotten any confirmation either way. I have both Bold and Plus as well as the old Ink Bold that was discontinued last year and they are an integral part of my ability to generate huge amounts of Ultimate Rewards points, which I then redeem mostly through United for premium Star Alliance awards, as well as Hyatt where 22,000 points gets an award night at the top Park Hyatts around the world (often over 4 cents per point in value).

Don’t Abuse the Benefit
As always, be reasonable with how you take advantage the perks of your credit cards. If Chase feels like you are gaming the system, they can shut down your account, which would hinder your long-term ability to take advantage of credit cards since Chase offers so many great products. There is no set limit as to what would constitute getting shut down and reports of this happening are few and far between, but I still recommend being a good customer to Chase and using your card for other purchases as well.

Report Your Experiences
Has your local Office Depot pulled Amex prepaid cards off the shelf recently? Report your experiences below and help fellow readers out by keeping track of where they are or aren’t available.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • jmw2323

    was just there a couple of days ago. still amex and visa gift cards. will be back there this week. they have reload cards as well but a max of $200/day if paying by credit card

  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    my local OD still has them in stock as of today in the LA area..

  • Robert

    You’re saying your Office Depot has Vanilla Reload cards, not One Vanilla gift cards?

  • http://twitter.com/TravelSummary Travel Summary

    Bought the last 4 $500 gift cards at my OD today. Didn’t ask if they’d have more.

  • Tpgguest

    All $500 gift cards pulled from two stores in Gainesville, FL.

  • Garion

    I went to 2 OD’s in Tucson and they said they received a memo this morning to pull them off the shelves.

  • jmw2323

    sorry, the reload cards are Amex.

  • LAX88

    Hey, let’s list all the locations that haven’t pulled $500 gift cards so that other people can rush there and buy them up! You’re mental.

  • http://twitter.com/TallTravels Tall Travels

    Went to all the office depots I know of in LA (5 or 6 of them) and they all said they were no longer allowed to sell them.

  • Jimmyclark

    I bought $1,000 worth yesterday. They said that they are having issues with them due to Fraud. They called Chase and verified I had the $1k and sold me the cards. I will be awfully upset if that is the case.

  • Christopher

    AMEX cards aren’t the only ones being discontinued. OD’s in my area have stopped selling the “$50-$200″ Visa gift cards with the $3.95 activation fee. Manager said they will not be getting anymore in. Only $200 or less Visa gift cards are still available. Major bummer!

  • tale

    The party is over, IN NYC same is happening with Stapels, Office Max and Office Depot.

  • NoVA_Man

    Is this really an issue of fraud, or is OD seeing a lot of suspicious activity and pulling the plug to be cautious? Don’t they know the Ink we carry is of the UR gang? Or is it an issue of them losing money on each card? Sounds crazy, but has anyone been in touch with OD corporate?

  • the g

    My OD had pulled the rack. Manager says corporate has shut down the blue AMEX prepaids we all love. The other AMEX cards will still be around.

  • Lively

    “Fraud” cannot be the reason because all purchases on credit cards can be traced back to a person. If we were all buying large gift cards with cash, then fraud, money laundering, enters the picture. Chase/OD is going after point collectors.

  • BH

    Between 2 Staples, an Office Depot and an Office Max in and near Chicago I have not been able to find *any* $500 cards. Most of the stores are limited to $50 or $100 with a couple $200 to be found. The exception is Office Depot which still had $500 Vanilla Visas available – but these are a poor card since you can’t register your full information (only zip).

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.ikonsky Dan Ikonsky

    Edison New Jersey OD – NO $500 Amex cards neither $500 Onevanilla’s . Do you think it’s still worth it to buy 5 X $200 on Chase Ink? 5025 UR points for $24.75 fee?

  • http://qrlostfound.com/ Jd

    None available in Philadelphia suburbs yesterday..seems they realized the cards were costing them alot.

  • Davidraecfp

    I bought some this past Friday on SoCal would be horrible if this went away love my 5 percent cash back at office stores

  • puck

    Went to 3 office depots in S. FL. All had pulled $500 Amex prepaids as well as the $20-500 Vanilla gift cards and said they won’t be getting more. On a positive note 3 CVSs that never carried Vanilla reloads now have them. I guess Hilton points for a few more months are better than nothing.

  • Jim

    Just got the last 4 vanilla gift cards in SE Michigan as everything else has been pulled.

  • Preacher

    Just bought 4K of $500 Vanilla Visas this afternoon. No worries. This will probably blow over, or at worst is a regional, not a national thing. Our manager had no problem at all ringing up my purchase, business as usual. Of course, on the way home I stopped off at CVS to liquidate 2K of them on Reloads…

  • http://themilesprofessor.com/ The Miles Professor

    In my experience, they come and go. I have one close to my work and I check once a week or so on random days. Sometimes, they;re sold out and other times they have a ton in stock. You just have to get lucky and catch them!

  • Paulalausun

    All gone in my MD stor today. Was there 2 days ago, there was no visa, only Amex left, manager overide required. Wish I had picked up more than just 1..

  • http://twitter.com/DealsSeeker DealsSeeker

    Yep, they are worth around 1.8 cents per dollar. 5025 * .018 = $90.45 definately worth it if you can offload them without costing you more.

  • http://twitter.com/DealsSeeker DealsSeeker

    Central Jersey – Staples – none whatsoever OD – bought last ones

  • disqust101

    In stock last night at 2 ODs when I was buying just before they closed – one had just finished restocking and completely full of cards, other getting thin. Today, all slots empty, only a couple of $200 cards remained. RIP 5x…

  • disqust101

    Nope. All pulled and wont be restocked.

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  • disqust101

    Problem will be cashing out. Hard enough to find places to unload $500 gcs as it is. Makes it even harder with a fistful of $200s…

  • disqust101

    Exactly. If “fraud” was rampant, the “fraudsters” wouldn’t care if they bought $200s, $50s or $500s – it’s all free to them so long as they could use a stolen CC. The only reason to pull the $500s is to make it far less attractive to points churners.

  • JH

    Manager at an OD in Austin that still had the blue Amex prepaid cards told me that they’d be pulling them very soon. Most stores in the area appear to already have done so.

  • Netsc

    Tulsa, ok – one store only had $50-200 and the manager said they had been told to pull them, the other OD still had $50-500 OneVanilla and AMEX.
    CVS has been short on vanilla reloads and Walgreens here requires cash/debit to purchase.
    Stocked up on as many OneVanilla cards that the OD manager would let me have- security override has been in effect for about three weeks now.

  • LeonB

    Wish I had a CVS where I could unload the prepaid cards that easily. It’s like a crap shoot when I walk into the store whether they’ll ask for ID or not, and these days the stores in my area do ask about 2/3 of the time and refuse to let me use the prepaid cards. I don’t want to risk poisoning the well when I run into a cashier that doesn’t ask for ID, so I’ve gotten to the point of just buying the reloads one-per-trip, which is a slow process. What was your technique for getting 4 in one go?

  • http://twitter.com/PatMikeL PatMike

    Went to 3 Office Depots Sunday. Only had them at one store.

  • Daraka77077

    Three OD stores in Houston are stopped selling the $500 cards and gave me 3 different reasons. One said that they received a letter not to accept the Ink card. Other credit card is Okay.

  • Jeff4jojo

    I will check out the Office Depot situation today near my home in FL. However, I do want to report that American Express Hilton Surpass and the regular Hilton Am Ex have reduced their bonus points for use of their card at Grocery Stores and drug stores from 6 to 3 points effective 2/1. I was buying my Vanilla Reloads there and getting 60,000 Hilton Honors points per $10,000 bought. So for $80ish dollars I was getting 60,000 points…. a great return. Now I will get only 30,000 points….still not bad, but certainly not as good as before.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fv.illefour Fv Illefour

    These were the best cards. I hit up a couple Office Depot’s to restock yesterday and all were gone. There wasn’t even a spot for them to be refilled :( I actually had to pick up some prepaid funds anyways so I got stuck with a couple $200 Visa’s. The $4 vs $7 fee sure bites in to any real benefit of doing this when compared to the pain of using them!

  • http://twitter.com/DavidRaeCFP David Rae

    I just went back to the store where I was able to buy gift cards on friday. All the gift cards above $200 has been pulled. and the fee on $200 is now $6.95. I was able to buy some of the reloadable cards pictured above with managers approval. I asked the manager and he said they will be bringing back the cards, but you will only be able to buy with cash. (they have to pay full credit card fees when we buy them, was the reason he gave me.) Thats that…this was a california location.

  • Jeff4jojo

    I just stopped by my office depot in FL and they pulled all cards above $200 as well. Oh well.

  • jmw2323

    stopped by 2 ODs today in north chicagoland. zip, zero, zilch. they even pulled the amex reload cards that they already limited to $200/day with CC

  • Rob

    I was told at the store, that the “fraud” was caused by people buying the cards and then placing disputes against the purchase. Because most cards have some kind of purchase protection (if you don’t get a refund from the store, they will return the money to you anyway) – these cards are not refundable, so they always trigger purchase protection. I assume Chase returned the money but still went after the merchant. It all came down to abuse :(

  • GimmeMoreMiles

    Now that doesn’t make sense because it would directly violate their merchant agreement which is quite clear on having to accept ALL branded cards.

  • GimmeMoreMiles

    You can still do 1k a month on Amazon Payments…or 2k if you have a trusted loved one to provide their account :)

  • Sad Face

    All pulled from Arlington, VA

  • Davey11ny

    The pulling of the laarge denomination cards is to slow down online gaming, not point accumulators.

  • Juliette Eurostar

    Hi! Where did you find the $500 vanilla visas? thanks!

  • Jeff4jojo

    You can still buy Vanilla Reloads in $500 amounts as well as $500 regular Vanilla Visa’s and other type cards at CVS and some grocery stores using your Hilton Am Ex….but they just reduced the amount of bonus from 6 pts to 3 points per dollar. It is still worth it though if you use Hilton hotels as $10,000 cost you around $80. You get 30,000 points. You can get lots of hilton product hotels for 12,500 pts or 24,000 pts and even very good ones for 30,000 pts. You will always come out to the good, just not as good as you used to come out. And the Hilton Am Ex regular card is free.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bill-Davis/1463979669 Bill Davis

    Indy $500 gone. at 3 OD

  • Jimster

    Checked out 3 Office Depot in Los Angeles area last few days. Cannot find any $ 500 Visas or Amex card. They are pulled form the shelf. I saw many of them last week. All gone now

  • Chopper

    Tried both stores today and one had cards but register would not accept the scan of them. Manager stated and e-mail had been sent out. Other store already had all the cards pulled along with the Visa over $200.00.

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