Welcome to Southern Savers, where finding deals and steals is simple and rewarding!

See I told you, this would help!

Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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There are some really awesome deals to be had at the office supply stores. Their reward systems can be really confusing and I often get asked how they work.   I’m going to walk you through how to save a ton of money on office and school supplies at each of the major office stores.  I would suggest picking one to start with so you don’t get overwhelmed with keeping track of your rewards.

Free Office Supplies at Staples

First we’ll start off with the ways to get free office supplies at Staples. Everything you see in the photo above was completely FREE – paper, tape, pens, markers and expensive labels! There are two main programs to look out in the weekly Southern Savers office supply deals list – Rewards and Easy Rebates:

1. Staples Rewards

When you sign up for Staples Rewards, you get a member card to scan in-store, making you eligible for special promotions. The reward certificates are mailed out (or emailed) quarterly when you have accrued $10 or more. You will get 10% back on ink & toner, case & ream paper and copy & print purchases. But the really fun part is all of the special promotions they offer for Rewards Members. You can end up with lots of freebies (batteries, binders, labels etc.) if you use them knowledgeably.

If you are a teacher, you can sign up for the Teacher Rewards instead and also earn 10% rewards on teaching and art supplies. In this program, your rewards come monthly instead of quarterly.

Staples Rewards expire the last day of the month 2 months after they are issued and can’t be used after the expiration date.

Here is a guide to each of the promotion types and how to use them:

  • 100% Back in Rewards Special Promotions
    Staples frequently has special promotions where they offer the full value of a purchased item back in the form of Staples rewards.  This is a great way to get some extra free products if you were planning to spend money in the store anyways. Just don’t accumulate more than you can use before the 3 month expiration date.
  • Exclusive Email Offers
    If you sign up for their emails, you will get occasional discount offers and coupons specifically for your card.  For example, 50% off all Labels and Tabs. These products may already be on sale, you get an additional instant discount just for being a reward member.
  • Ink Recycling Rewards
    This program has changed time & time again. Currently, you get $2 for every ink cartridge you recycle, up to 10 cartridges per month.  So, if you go through a lot of ink, that’s $20 per month you could accumulate.  The ink rewards are separate certificates from the other rewards so you will get them even if you don’t get to the $10 threshold for the quarter.
  • One important point about Staples Rewards is that they do not roll, meaning if you redeem Rewards on reward-generating items, you will not receive new rewards for the purchase.  Your reward is also reduced by any coupons you use (You may still want to use a coupon to reduce your upfront cost, just don’t expect the full amount back). This means you should only spend your rewards on two things:
  1. Items you really need (…think ink, paper, technology or back to school items)
    Used in this way, the rewards are really just an opportunity to get some extra freebies for things you would have purchased anyway.
  2. Items that are eligible for Easy Rebates
    Because the Easy Rebate system is separate from the rewards, you can use your rewards to purchase Easy Rebate eligible items and still get the rebate – turning your rewards back into cash!

2. Easy Rebates

Easy Rebates are a system in which you purchase a product, submit for the rebate online or by mail and receive cash back (or a gift card for certain promotions). Checks typically take 4-6 weeks to arrive. Unlike many rebates, the Staples ones are really hassle-free and I’ve never been denied one.

Staples Easy Rebates

These rebates are not affected by coupons or rewards you redeem at the time of purchase, so you can use Staples Rewards to purchase them. The main disadvantage is that they run less frequently than the Staples Rewards promotions so you have to be patient.  They usually run around holidays (ex. Presidents Day, Black Friday).

More Staples Tips:

  • They take manufacturer coupons (the registers require these to be keyed before rewards or store coupons)
  • At the manager’s discretion, they accept competitor coupons for Office Depot or Officemax
  • They offer free shipping on their website with a $45 order, so sometimes its easier to grab the reward items online
  • RecycleBank sometimes has a $10 off $50 Staples purchase coupon available

If you are a teacher, business owner, homeschooler or just need envelopes and printer paper, you should take advantage of these deals!

Do you have any extra tips for shopping at Staples?

    • Mbywalski

      awesome timing Jenny, I was planning on starting STAPLES at the beginning of the new year because I am now comfortable with the grocery stores and drugstores! Thank you I cant wait to start!

    • Denise

      Yes I found out how the rewards don’t roll over last week.  Bummer I wasted $6 in rewards.

      • The only store that lets you roll them is Office Max, so keep an eye out for the next post if you’d rather learn their system.

        • Ann

          I tried Office Max and I don’t like there system one bit.  You have to have qualifying purchases to get your MaxPerks rewards.  I have $53 of rewards sitting in their system that I won’t get unless I go spend the same amount first.

        • Ann

          I tried Office Max and I don’t like there system one bit.  You have to have qualifying purchases to get your MaxPerks rewards.  I have $53 of rewards sitting in their system that I won’t get unless I go spend the same amount first.

    • Candicami

      I don’t understand the expiration date.  I should have a staples 100% back reward from october 10, but was expecting to get an email like I did for the ink rewards.  I just went into my account and it shows that it was there in October, but didn’t show an expiration date.  I’m wondering if these expired on November 30 or if I have until the 31 of December to use it.  It does not show up on my reward page right now, though :( So I’m guessing they are expired after 60 days basically.  Would that be the same if the purchase was on october 25th?  Expired on November 30?

    • Coupon

      Staples rewards are store coupons which also typically lower your taxable total.  For ex, if you buy a $25 box of paper and let’s say you live in a state which charges 10% tax on paper, so you’d normally owe 27.50 including tax….but if you have $25 in staples rewards, you pay no tax.  If you had $10 in rewards, youd pay tax only on $15 in merchadise.  Always best to use rewards on easy rebate items which have tax.

    • Brgcoupon

      So are the rewards like a gift card?  Or like a coupon?  Do you have to use all your rewards in one transaction?  I ditto Myb…I wanted to start the office supply stores in 2012 now that I am successful with grocery and drug stores!  Thanks Jenny!

      • Gail

        Reward cards are like gift cards. But I usually use up all of the value as I stock up on ink.

    • Anonymous

      Can homeschooling parents apply for the teachers rewards program? I actually have my teaching license, but I the only kid I teach now is my own :)  I know someplaces let homeschoolers count towards teacher programs and others don’t. I don’t know if I would spend enough at Staples to make much of a difference anyways!

      • Connie in AL

        They allowed it here in the Birmingham, AL area and did not even ask.  I have a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for that. YES I taught only two of mine but some of my friends have up to 12 children that are homeschooled.

    • Cassandra

      How does this reward card work? Do you have to put money onto it?

      • guest

        no it is free

    • Christina Sullivan

      I didn’t know they took manufacturers coupons, good to know!

    • Kelliea

      Thanks for the great & thorough explanation, Jenny!  I LOVE Staples and make trips there regularly for their great coupons, specials on printer cartridges, dollar deals, clearance, and the 100% back in rewards specials.  Tonight I shopped their “15% off everything you can fit in a bag” sale, plus I had $43+ in rewards that I needed to use, so for $80 plus worth of stuff, I paid $18.11 out of pocket!!!   Also love their Easy Rebates (they really are easy!) too.  Sometimes they even increase the rewards amount you can get back on recycling printer cartridges.  Love it!

      • Kelliea

        Oh, I forgot to mention that I found a pack of 60 (yes, SIXTY) ballpoint pens on clearance for $1.50!  Not joking.

    • Jennifer Jasper

      I shopped at staples yesterday to use up $23 in rewards before they expired on 12/31. I specifically asked one of the employees if I would still earn rewards on items purchased with rewards and he said I would. So I hope I still get my rewards on the batteries and binders I purchased with my rewards! I’m skeptical after reading this post.

      • If you look at the receipt you should see exactly how much of your rewards went towards any eligible items like batteries. You will only get rewards for the amount you actually paid for the batteries, less the credit from the rewards you used. So if the batteries were $12 but the rewards discounted the batteries by $8 you will only get $4 in rewards.

        • Jennifer

          Thanks!

      • Darlene

        I tried to use my rewards on batteries at the store in Conyers and the cashier told me that I could do it, but would not get the rewards on the batteries.  Needless to say I paid for the batteries and went back and spent my rewards on other things.

    • Lynn Kramer

      They currently have an online promotion for $15 off a purchase (no amount restrictions) code 31883 (automatically added to qualifying purchases).  There is free shipping for items over $45 (original price or total) or for store pick-up. 

    • Ctrinkle

      The other caution I have is if you are doing the buy $50 in HP ink and get X amount per ink cartridge you recycle don’t use any coupons or rewards.  I made the mistake of buying $50 in ink, but then using a $10 off of $50 staples coupon and I didn’t get my bonus money on the recycled cartridges because it reduced my purchase of ink to $40.

    • Gail

      Can I print the $5 off of $25 from the ad on my computer? Staples doesn’t place ads in the newspaper where I live; although they do print them for them for others. I don’t want to drive 30 minutes to get a newspaper just for $5 — it would take almost that much in gas!!!!

    • Katrina

      Just FYI, Jenny. I found this same article at 
      http://www.examiner.com/frugal-family-in-winstonsalem/save-at-office-supply-stores-staples-rewards-easy-rebates written a day after yours with no credit back to you. Just wanted to give you a heads-up!

    • SmoochTheCook

      So, in the past, I’ve received rewards, I believe…some on gift cards and the latest was applied to my rewards card.  I’m not sure what this means.  The batteries were $12.99 or something like that and when I emailed them to make sure I got the credit (because I used the gift card to purchase it after being told that I could by a cashier), they said that it shows up on my rewards card.  I’ve also gotten the easy rebates, which have come as a check in the mail.  I’m so incredibly confused by all of these different rewards.

    • dayna

      I bought an Avery binder for 8.99, and realized today that the ad says you get 100% back when you buy any avery binder…..how/when do you get the “rewards” on the receipt or in the mail? I’m confused on this. :(

    • Heather

      How quickly do you get rewards for members? Do they go to your card automatically where you can do separate transactions in store, or do they come via us mail or email?

    • guest

      When are you going to do another one of these? I am really looking forward to seeing the ones for OfficeMax & Office Depot :)