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Earn bonus points on office supplies with these credit cards

June 24, 2020
7 min read
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It's always a good time to evaluate which travel rewards credit cards you're currently carrying in your wallet to make sure that you're getting the best value on your everyday purchases. A large part of this strategy should involve bonus categories, and today I want to go through the top credit cards that allow you to earn bonus points or miles on office supplies.

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Ink Business Cash Credit Card

The Ink Business Cash Card from Chase is a terrific choice for these purchases. It offers 5% cash back at office supply stores on up to $25,000 in combined spending each cardmembership year. The card becomes a much more lucrative option if you also have a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card in your wallet.

If you have an Ultimate Rewards card -- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve -- you can pair it and transfer the cash back earned on the Ink Cash to any of the three cards. This, in essence, converts the points to more valuable Ultimate Rewards points, opening up a plethora of additional redemption options.

Though, keep in mind that you currently have to sign into a Chase account before you can apply for this card.

Current sign-up bonus: $750 cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first three months after account opening.

Other benefits: 5% cash back on office supply stores, cellphone, landline, internet and cable TV purchases (up to $25,000 in combined purchases each card membership year); 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $25,000 each card memberhip year); 1% cash back everywhere else

Annual fee: None

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Related reading: The power of the Chase Trifecta: Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred and Freedom Unlimited

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

A second option is another business credit card: The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express offers 2x Membership Rewards points on anything (up to $50,000 in purchases per calendar year), then 1x after that.

Current bonus: Earn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of account opening

Other benefits: Car rental loss and damage insurance, access to the Global Assist Hotline, extended warranty and purchase protection.

Annual fee: $0 (see rates and fees)

Related reading: Blue Business Plus card review: Double up your everyday spending for no annual fee

Bank of America® Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card

Thanks to this card's flexibility that allows its rewards structure to fit changing business needs, this is a great pick for office supplies. You can choose earns 3% bonus rewards in one of six categories -- gas stations, office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom and wireless services, computer services and business consulting services -- with the chance to change it every month. Plus earn 2% back on dining purchases and unlimited 1% on everything else. But be warned: there's a $50,000 total cap on the 3% and 2% bonus category spend each calendar year; then 1% thereafter.

Those who are members of the Preferred Rewards program can also get even more value from the rewards structure.

Current sign-up bonus: $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days your account is open.

Other benefits: The card comes with online services that help you manage your business, including the ability to download your transactions into Quickbooks for easy organization come tax season. You’ll also have $100,000 in travel accident insurance, auto rental insurance, emergency ticket replacement, lost luggage assistance and the option to get extended protection.

Annual fee: $0

Related reading: Bank of America Business Advantage Customized Cash Rewards review

U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite™ Mastercard®

For a no-annual-fee business credit card, 3% back on gas stations, office supply stores and cell phone services is a solid earning structure. And, you’ll get a 25% annual bonus of up to $250. So, if you earned $500 in cash rewards the previous year, you’d get an additional $125 in bonus cash back.

Current sign-up bonus: Earn $500 in cash back after you spend $3,000 on the account owner’s card within the first 90 days of account opening. Plus, enjoy a 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles, and after that a variable APR, currently 13.99% to 22.99%.

Other benefits: Earn additional rewards through the Encore Relationship Program. All in all, the U.S. Bank Business Cash Rewards World Elite Mastercard is a solid small business card for any business owner who spends a lot on gas, office supplies and/or cell phone services.

Annual fee: $0

Related reading: Best U.S. Bank credit cards

Can You Get a Business Card?

Chances are you saw a common attribute for the cards I list above: they're all business credit cards. A common misconception about these products is that you must have a formal business to open one. Both my wife and I have Ink Plus cards, and we applied (and were approved) for both using our Social Security Numbers as the federal Employer Identification Number (EIN).

There are many reasons why you might want to open a business credit card — you might sell items on Ebay and Amazon or freelance as a writer or graphic designer, for example. In all these cases, you can get approved for a business card. For more information, check out TPG's post on top reasons to get a business credit card.

Related reading: 5 ways you might be eligible for a business credit card without realizing it

Other Ways to Maximize These Purchases

Using the right credit card is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your office supply purchases. There are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Take advantage of reward programs — Both Staples and Office Depot have rewards programs that offer additional benefits for your purchases.
  • Click through a shopping portal — One of the easiest ways to make the most of your online shopping is by clicking through a shopping portal, which will award you additional points or miles (regardless of the credit card you use for the purchase). Both Staples and Office Depot appear on many of the popular sites; I suggest using to make sure you're getting the best bonus.
  • Look for gift cards — A final suggestion is to look for office supply store gift cards at retailers that offer bonuses on other cards. For example, you may be able to find a Staples gift card in a grocery store and use your American Express® Gold Card to earn 4x Membership Rewards points on the purchase (4x applies to U.S. supermarket purchases, up to $25,000 in purchases each calendar year; then 1x). However, if you spend a decent amount on office supplies each year, I would strongly encourage you to open one of the above cards to save the hassle of the extra step.

Related reading: TPG Talks episode one: Use online shopping portals and apps to save money and earn miles from home

Bottom Line

Choosing the right credit cards for your wallet and daily purchases is a critical element of a successful points and miles strategy. While bonuses at office supply stores are limited to fewer cards than some other categories, the above cards can give you a nice return on these purchases. Remember, too, that the larger office supply stores carry all kinds of additional items, including electronics, cleaning supplies and even some grocery products.

Related reading: Best business credit cards of 2021

For rates and fees of the Blue Business Plus Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Nick Ewen

Featured image by (Photo by thomas-litangen/UnSplash)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.