Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Turnover Tuesdays - Staples Ink Recycling and Rewards

Disclaimer: I receive a referral commission for the following link(s) and I greatly appreciate supporting the site:  eBay

For those who are not familiar, I started a series a while back called Turnover Tuesdays. Every Tuesday I like to highlight one item that I have resold. This will include profitable and non profitable sales. I hope that there is always something to learn.

Week 1 - First attempt at reselling
Week 2 - My second straight fail
Week 3 - My iPad mini collection
Week 4 - Bed Bath and Beyond
Week 5 - An iPad Idea for Your Staples Gift Card Collection

Staples has a rewards program called Staples Rewards that is one of best in the business for resellers. 

There are 3 levels of status.  Spending at the basic level (up to $499 in spending) earns you 2% in rewards.  From $500-$999, you will earn 3% in Staples Rewards.  Over $1,000 a year of spending earns you 5% in Staples Rewards

In addition, Staples allows you to recycle empty ink cartridges for $2 in Staples Rewards per cartridge.  If you are a basic member you can recycle 10 ink cartridges a month for $20 in staples Rewards. If you are a Plus or Premier member you can recycle up to 20 cartridges a month for up to $40 in Staples Rewards monthly.You need to spend $30 on Staples Ink within the last 6 months to be eligible for Ink Recycling.

Even if you don't have that many ink cartridges, you can buy empty ink cartridges off eBay for about $0.10 a cartridge. (Today is the day to buy it with increased eBay Bucks)

Assuming a $30 fee for ink for 6 months and $4 a month for empty cartridges, you would pay $54 for $240 of Staples Rewards every 6 months.  That assumes you get no value from the ink you bought.  You could buy the correct ink for your computer (recycle the empty cartridge!) or resell the ink.

The only downside is that the Staples Rewards certificates do come with an expiration date, which is not a problem for an iPad reseller, as I will show.

The Item - iPad Air 2 64GB

I was recently issued my Staples Rewards certificate and I was looking to buy something that would get me at least close to even.  I chose the iPad Air 64GB.

Staples was selling the item for $60 off.  $539 instead of $599.

I would normally not buy the iPad at this price.  I would gain a lot of miles, but I would lose money.  I don't like buying miles when I know I can manufacture spending to cover all my miles needs.  Everyone has a different calculus of what they MS for.

In this scenario, I had $380 of Staples Rewards, $40 from ink recycling and $340 from 5% of Staples Purchases.

Final price $170.13 with tax.

Credit Card Points 

I earned 850 Ultimate Rewards points via Chase Ink.

Shopping Portal

AA shopping was offering 3x miles at Staples.  You only earn miles on the portion paid for without Staples Rewards and no miles earned for the taxes.  3 x 159 = 477 AA miles.

Loyalty Points 

5% in Staples rewards of $159 = $7.95 in Staples Rewards

Fulfillment by Amazon Fees

Amazon's FBA fee was $34.52 and shipping was $3.97.  Let's call fees $40 altogether.

The Haul  

I was able to sell the iPad for $558.90

I paid $170.14.  After $40 of fees, that is a gain of $348.76.

Not quite $380, but about 90% of that value.  Which means the 5% in Staples Rewards were really worth 4.5% in this scenario.  Typically I like to do better, but there wasn't much else I was interested in buying.

Here is how the numbers worked out:

Cash = $348.76
Credit Card Points = 850 UR points.  Let's call that $8.50
Portal Points = 477 AA points.  Let's call that 4.77
Loyalty points = $7.95 in Staples Rewards points.

If you include the value of the CC points, portal and loyalty points, the gain is ~$370, which is awfully close to the original $380 of Staples Rewards (98%).

This is a way to liquidate Staples Rewards at a very competitive rate.  Staples Rewards are the best.  I love buying from Staples or price matching to Staples if another big chain is having a big sale.  Staples portals pay out for iPads (unlike Target) and Staples Rewards are very valuable.