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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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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?