How to Activate $200 Visa Gift Cards from Staples.com *without* the Activation Codes

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This post falls in the “I want to activate my gift cards but I don’t want to wait for the activation code letter to arrive in the mail” category.  Let’s say you ordered 4 $200 Visa Gift Cards from Staples.com and they all show up at the same time.  Great!  But.. what do you do if the activation letter (filled with the activation codes) doesn’t arrive at the same time?  Not to worry, you can activate all the gift cards over the phone without the activation codes.

Since Staples.com gift card orders *supposedly* no longer pay out to online shopping portals, this will probably be my last Staples.com gift card order, until something changes (see Frequent Miler’s post). On the back side of the letter that was attached to your Visa Gift Card is a phone number to call (1-866-357-7391) to activate your gift cards over the phone.

GCM FAQs

During the call, keep pressing 0 until you get a customer service agent on the phone.  Tell the agent that you lost the activation letter and need to activate the cards over the phone.  The agent will ask for your order number (see top right corner on the front of your gift card letter) and some personal info like your name and mailing address.

GCM Visa Gift Card

After the agent locates your order, they will send a request to the activation server to activate all your gift cards.  The process takes 1-2 hours, but then all your gift cards in that order will be activated.  From then, you can verify and view your balance on Gift Card Mall’s website and set a PIN.  Follow these instructions to learn more.

Now that online shopping portal payouts have dried up, will you still be purchasing Visa gift cards online?  I plan on going back to my local Staples as long as they keep having $200 Visa Gift Cards in stock.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

P.S. Just got this email from Discover as I was typing up this post.  Will be interesting to see the cash back posts to my Discover account.  I will have to wait until early June to find out…

Latest Staples Discover Portal

81 thoughts on “How to Activate $200 Visa Gift Cards from Staples.com *without* the Activation Codes

    1. Grant

      That’s debatable, but 5% cash back on a $207 purchase = $10.35 – $6.95 = $3.40 profit plus 1,035 Chase UR Points. Hard to beat that payoff.

      Reply
      1. Mike

        I agree.

        And, Upromise did pay me for 9 of my cards and Swagbucks on the only one I bought (prior to their warning).

        I don’t get Upromise. Made a bunch of purchases on the same day in my wife’s and my accounts yet only one purchase posted……and it’s been days since it did. Any thoughts?

        Reply
  1. RJP

    There appear to be some coupons/rewards codes that are not honored in-store but do seem to work online. For such cases I’ll go to staples.com for the occasional order of Visa GCs, simply for expedience/opportunity.

    I never really looked at staples as a significant source of GCs until recently, having just received an Ink card (and discovered portal bonuses) within the last month or so. In fact the email in my box above the one about this thread was from Discover advising me that I had earned $20.20 in CashBack awards. I have one more pre-5/12 purchase ($1,000 in GCs) that I’m waiting for CashBack on. Will be interesting to see if that hits. Though, point of fact, all of these are still “pending” and haven’t hit my account yet… so I’ll be pleasantly surprised if any of them hit.

    Ultimately, I’m looking to stay “cost-neutral” overall for MS – neither lose money on fees nor make money on fees. I can get $500 Visa GCs at my grocery store for $497.95 after some coupons, so that’s my go-to source. I’ve been tracking my total net cost of MS (“profit”) there and in Discover and Visa Edge savings. I figure that going forward I will use that “profit” to offset GC fees on an as-needed basis until I break-even. At this point I have enough profit this year to cover the purchase of between 20-30 cards with fees, depending on whether the fee is $6.95 on a $200 Visa at Staples or $4.95 on a $500 Vanilla Visa at CVS.

    Currently I’m concentrating on Barclay points to pay for a stay at a boutique hotel in Hawaii that isn’t in any point program and can’t be booked through the UR portal. The other two hotels were booked with Marriott and UR points, but I plan to pay for the incidentals at those hotels – meals, drinks, activities, etc – with my Barclay card so I can use Barclay points to cover those costs as well. (The trip is 11nights, 5 at a Marriott, 3 at The Hotel Lanai, and 3 at Waldorf Grand Wailea.) Accordingly I’m pushing as much through $500 cards as possible, so Staples is off the table for the time being.

    I do use Staples for purchase of retail GCs like gas, lowes, etc in order to shift spending and maximize the 5x bonus, and suppose that I’d be willing to max that spend to the $50k limit by getting $200 Visa GCs…as long as I stay “cost neutral” fee-wise for the year.

    Reply
  2. Charles

    My closest Staples store is over 70 miles away. I just received my Ink Plus card, so I will be buying the $200 visa gift cards online and save with the Visa SavingsEdge program.

    Reply
  3. Charles

    @RJP
    I like your strategy. Buying the $500 visa gift cards at a discount at the grocery store is something I have not heard about before. Can you share any more details about this method?

    Reply
  4. Jeff M

    Yes, I’ll keep buying online. My two local Office Supply stores don’t have Gift cards. The nearest store that keeps $200 in stock is 30 miles away, the nearest Staples is 60 miles away. I’ve also had trouble at Wal*Mart, last week I was told that they would no longer do gift card loads to Bluebird…and their Money Center ATM was down all week!

    Like Charles above, buying GCs by mail is still worthwhile.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Yes, I guess it is. It’s too bad there are no closer office supply stores. Try going to a checkout lane and have the cashier load your bluebird card. Never had a problem with that.

      Reply
  5. Linda

    Have had nothing but issues the last two days trying to load these Visas into my BB. Keep getting “tender not allowed” at two different Walmart ATMs. The cards were activated, pin set, everything and still no dice.

    Reply
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  7. Smith

    Why would you buy them in-store if they’re available online? Just for the immediacy of using them instead of waiting for them to be delivered?

    Reply
  8. Kent C

    Be aware of the risk of getting these debit cards through the mail. They try to make you feel safer by sending the activation codes separately but it’s a facade. Like this article implies, you can simply call up and get them activated. Everything they ask you is in the envelope with the cards. Example, say a thief gets your cards, he calls, they will ask the order # which he has in front of him, they will ask the card #s, which of course he has, and finally they will ask the address they were mailed to, guess what, he has the envelope. I mentioned this to the lady on the phone, saying I could be anybody. Asked her, do you want to verify the last 4 digits of my credit card I used, she said nope, don’t have that info. Is there some code in the order e-mail or any other way to verify I am not Mr. Thief calling. She said nah, don’t worry about. Well you better think about it.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Really? That’s new to me. Anyone else get that choice? I’m still waiting for the activation codes for the gift cards in this post. It’s been 3+ days already. Is everyone getting their activation letter at the same time their gift cards are arriving?

      Reply
      1. chrisflyer66

        I wasn’t really given a choice–they just said they would email the activation codes to me. I got my cards in the mail three days ago and I still haven’t gotten the letter with the activation codes.

        Reply
          1. chrisflyer66

            It’s been about four hours since I called, and I still haven’t gotten the email. If I haven’t gotten it by tomorrow, I’ll call again. If I do get the email, I’ll forward it to you.

          2. Grant

            Thanks Chris, you might have to wait until business hours on Friday morning. Thank you for forwarding the email to me grant @ travel with grant . com

  9. chrisflyer66

    As of 8:30 Friday morning, I hadn’t gotten any email, so I just called again. This time they said they’d activate the gift cards for me within one to two hours. If I still end up getting the email later today, I’ll go ahead and forward it to you.

    As Kent C above said, they don’t ask for anything that isn’t including in the mailing of the gift cards, so a thief could easily activate them. I find that a little troubling.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Haha I think the problem will get worse and worse as people start buying more gift cards online. I wonder if they will change the activation process, maybe email codes after the order ships or have the codes listed in your staples.com account.

      Reply
  10. eric @medicalschoolgreneda

    grant how long did it take for the shopdiscover email to be sent to u .. so far its been a week and nothing #iminpatient

    Reply
    1. Grant

      I’ll have to double check the dates. I bought a few gift cards last night through the Discover shopping portal last night, I’ll let you know if I get the cash back email.

      Reply
  11. john smith

    is it possible to shop at the discover portal without a discover card?
    if not, which portals do u suggest that is actually giving cash back?

    Reply
  12. RJP

    To clarify, you need to be a cardholder to access the Discover portal. When you click through to whichever website you’re shopping on you are free to use any card you like. The Discover T&C state you must use your Discover card to get points. That would clearly be their intent… but I’ve used different cards through the Discover portal, the sale went through… and the Discover Cashback rewards still hit my Discover account.

    Reply
          1. Mike

            Don’t portals still pay for Amex gift cards? I seem to recall them offering aggressive cash deals as recently as a week ago.

          2. Grant

            Yes, you can still use shopping portals for AMEX gift cards, but I think there are no working portals for Staples gift card purchases.

  13. steve

    the instructions in this post don’t work anymore.
    However if you call, enter your card number, then keep hitting # when it’s asking for an activation code. It will redirect you to a live person.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Thank you Steve for sharing the latest way to activate these gift cards. Glad to hear it is still possible to activate the cards via the phone. Have a great day.

      Reply
  14. John

    I put in an order for visa gift cards on staples.com 18 days ago. Only received the activation codes, not the gift cards. Is it possible that somebody stole my gift cards and activated them just by calling? I contacted Staples. They said they will reship my order.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      Hmm, that’s not good. Hopefully Staples / Gift Card Mall will cancel the previous gift cards and resend a new batch. That is a bummer you have had to wait so long for your order to arrive.

      Reply
  15. Smitty

    So Grant, are you still getting any portal bonuses for buying these? Has Discover continued paying out? You mentioned on twitter you still buy these from Staples.com, but I have a hard time justifying the inconvenience of liquidating (and $6.95 cost) for acquiring 1,035 Ultimate Rewards points. I suppose if you value UR at $0.02 per point it’s about $13 in “profit” but I hate loading these $200 cards at Walmart.

    Reply
      1. Smitty

        Every percent helps. Chase hasn’t converted my Ink Bold from Mastercard to Visa yet, so perhaps I will call them up and see if they can do it manually. I was holding out hope of applying for the Visa separately and getting another sign up bonus, but have been delaying it because of an upcoming mortgage application. From what I’ve read, though, the Ink Bold has been discontinued so I guess I missed my chance.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          Yes, I think you are a few weeks late on applying for a Chase Ink Bold Visa. It is too bad, because you could have probably gotten an easy 50/60/70,000 Chase Ultimate Reward Points. Anyway, if you call up Chase and tell them you want to convert to a Ink Bold Visa, they should be able to help you out. Better yet, they may let you keep the MasterCard version and issue a new Visa version to you.

          Reply
  16. karma1234

    what r u gona do with these expensive $200 visa gcs? most WM kisosk don’t accept ot to load, casheirs don’t take it to load. Target agent hate us swiping many of these $200 ones, they say no after 2nd or 3rd. I am stuck with 10 of these/

    Reply
      1. Smitty

        Aren’t you just adding fees upon fees? If you’re desperate to liquidate these, sure, but it seems like there are better methods for buying PayPal My Cash Cards (like using the old blue cash card, if it hasn’t been shut down). Perhaps your at a whole other volume level then me though.

        Reply
        1. Grant

          The cents per point calculation is not super important to me, ease of liquidation is more important. I do have a old blue cash available, but I’m going very slow with it.

          Reply
    1. Smitty

      As far as I’ve read and experienced, these Staples gift cards seem to work just fine at Walmart Kiosks (assuming you have activated them and set the pin correctly). In fact, I just loaded one yesterday at a kiosk without issue.

      Reply
  17. Dave Mo

    I didn’t receive (or just plain lost) my activation code from my online order.
    When I called the customer service number, they referred me to the following number to activate my card: 877-426-2551.

    Reply
    1. John

      I also made several visa gift card orders on staples.com. The giftcardmall.com is the one who was fulfilling the orders. I did not receive any activation codes. Had to call giftcardmall.com to activate them. It is really bad that giftcardmall.com screw up the orders and staples did not have a clue about it.

      Reply
  18. John

    So if you have some of these Visa gift cards and want to spend the funds on them, I have 2 questions:
    1) can they be used to pay a credit card bill?
    2) can they be used to load money into your Paypal account balance (and then withdraw to bank account?)?
    Thanks for any info

    Reply
    1. Grant

      You can’t directly use Visa GCs to pay a credit card bill, but you can if the credit card biller shows up in Evolve Money. You could buy PayPal My Cash Cards with your Visa GCs and load the PayPal My Cash Cards to your PayPal account. If you withdraw the funds from your PayPal account too often, PayPal will send you a warning letter to stop.

      Reply
      1. John

        Thanks, the speed of your reply was amazing. Regarding Evolve Money, have you heard about anybody successfully using it on a Windows 7 desktop/laptop? When you look at their site the focus is using it on a smartphone/tablet and on Windows 8, but I didn’t see anything about whether it’s compatible for use on a regular Windows 7 desktop/laptop. Thanks

        Reply
          1. John

            Thanks again. Do you know if you buy and load a Bluebird or Server card with BOA credit card if it will count as a cash advance on your credit card statement? What about using Vanilla card? Lots of conflicting info out there.

          2. Grant

            I’m not sure about using a Bank of America credit card to load your Serve Card. Use a Chase or Barclays credit card to be safe. Don’t buy a Vanilla Visa GC.

          3. John

            Unfortunately I only have BOA card. Is Bluebird dead? I have a wal-mart, CVS, walgreens, multiple supermarkets etc. near me with racks of cards. I wonder which, if any, I can safely load with cash advance charges.

          4. Grant

            If you buy gift cards from grocery stores or office supply stores, you can load those to your Bluebird or Serve Card at Walmart. Start small and figure out what works for you.

          5. John

            Thanks for the reply. In my above post I meant to say “without cash advance charges”. Anyways do you know if Visa Gift Cards can be bought with BOA credit card and not count as a cash advance? Then I figure they can be loaded onto Bluebird card and cash withdrawn.

          6. Grant

            Yes, if you use your Bank of America credit card to buy Visa GCs at grocery stores or office supply stores, the purchase will be a credit purchase, not a cash advance.

  19. sam

    You have to call up GiftCardMall.com at (877) 426-2551 and tell them that even after 3 weeks ,you have not received the activation code. Keep pressing 0 till you reach customer service. Then they will ask you for order number, etc and they will activate it within 24 hours.

    Reply
    1. Grant

      I called GCM on Monday to get a few $200 Visa Gift Cards activated and used the same number as you: 877-426-2551. Most of the time the gift cards will be activated in the next 3-4 hours.

      Reply
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  21. Bsoros

    Hello Grant, when tried to activate on line was asked to call CS, CS GCM transferred me to a special dept,they asked if I am aware of T & C, and said they would activate a few hours later. would they stop selling if cards are used at Kate? would they notify STPL not to accept orders from XYZ? Any knowledge with that?

    Thank you

    Reply

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