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Business Cards: One Extra Step for Even More Savings

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Published: June 2, 2014

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A few weeks ago, we discussed the great value you can get out of business credit cards if you are willing to make an extra step and buy a gift card from Staples. But what if you don't want to buy anything from Staples? Is there a way to increase our cashback if we want to shop at other stores?

Sure, there is. Staples carries gift cards from dozens of merchants, including Macys, Kohl's, Home Depot--you name it! So if you want to buy stuff at Sears or Macys, buy an e-mail gift card first (if you want a physical card, the shipping is $1.99, so a physical gift card will slightly reduce your profit). Then go to your favorite store at Ultimate Rewards Mall and shop there, but with the gift card, this time.

Why not just shop Macys with a credit card? I think the answer is obvious, but let's do some math, anyway.

Max currently has 5% cashback, so you'll have that. Your Chase Ink card gives you another 1% (remember, Macys is not an office store). So if you do it this way, all you are getting is 6% cashback. Don't get me wrong, it is not bad at all, but you can do better!

Here is what you will get if you add an additional gift card step.
  • 5% from Chase for using the Chase Ink card.
  • 2% from Chase for shopping Staples using Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.
  • 5% from Chase for shopping Macys using Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall.
  • 1% from Visa SavingsEdge
That is a 13 % total cashback. Note that you will not get 5% from Staples Rewards, since the Staples Rewards T&C expressly exclude gift cards from qualified items.

Is extra 7% cashback worthy of your time? It surely does especially for big ticket items. But even little savings still add up over time.

Just make sure you will be able to use the gift card you buy. For example, if you buy a $500 gift card and spend $200 to buy the merchandise, then you have effectively tied up $300 in cash for indefinite time. And even though cash is boring, it is never that boring! Do not tie up your cash in anything that is not liquid (except for investments). And no, gift cards are not an investment. Not even close!

However, there is one little hurdle (aren't there always!). Both Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold have an annual fee of $95, which is waived for the first year. Of course, it might be worth it to still carry one of the cards even with a fee, but you have options. By the end of your first year of the cardmembership, you could downgrade your premium Chase business card to a no-fee Chase Ink Cash card that has similar benefits, but on a lesser scale. How much lesser? It also gives you 5% cashback on shopping at office stores, but only on $25,000 instead of $50,000.

Why not apply for Chase Ink Cash in the first place? You could, but the premium Chase business cards have a much better bonus; it's 60,000 points until May 31 (regular bonus 50,000 points), vs. $300 for Chase Ink Cash card (regular bonus $200). If you can meet the spending requirement of $5,000 in three months, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't go with Chase Ink Plus or Bold. You can always downgrade later.

This is a post by Andy Shuman, a credit and travel expert who blogs at He writes and blogs during and between trips that he enjoys free of charge mostly due to creative use of credit card offers. He believes that credit cards are much more than just a convenient way to pay for a purchase, and that the benefits of responsible credit habits can go far beyond getting the best rates for loans and mortgages.

Andy is the author of bestselling books from Lazy Traveler Handbook Series available on Amazon. When he's not traveling, he lives with his beautiful wife and daughter in Brooklyn, NY.

Questions? Suggestions? Keep them coming!

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