Staples and Smart & Final Gift Card Results (and Fraud Alerts)

Good morning everyone, I had a fun-filled evening last night.  After work, I drove to my local Staples and Smart & Final store (which happen to be next to each other) and did a bit of shopping.  My first stop was at Staples to buy some gift cards…

Staples Next to Smart Final

Currently, Staples has an Easy Rebate on Visa and MasterCard Gift Cards.  Purchase more than $300 in gift cards and receive a $20 Staples Gift Card.  I would recommend buying all Visa or all MasterCard Gift Cards and not mix-and-matching, just to be safe.  All the Visa Gift Cards were sold out, so I bought 2 $200 MasterCard Gift Cards.

Staples VGC Rebate Ad 4-19-2015

After putting those gift cards in the car, my next stop was Smart & Final for some gift cards.

Smart And Final Store Front

These pics are from last week, so some of the gift card inventory was a little different, but there were still plenty of gift cards to choose from.  I played it safe and bought 1 gift card and asked the cashier and manager if I could purchase a few more.  They said it would not be a problem.  I bought 5 more gift cards and let all the “regular / non-gift card” shoppers go ahead of me so I wouldn’t upset anyone waiting behind me.  After I finished purchasing those gift cards, I put them in my car and went back in for round 2.  And then again for round 3.

The cashier was very cool and friendly.  He knew what was going on and did his best to go fast.  Unfortunately, AMEX does not like seeing multiple $50 charges on the same card, at the same store, within a few minutes of each other.  Luckily, the AMEX app showed the fraud alerts as a notification which I could easily clear up in 2 seconds.  Then I was back in business.  I asked the cashier if he had any credit cards and he said he just had a Wells Fargo credit card that he didn’t really use.  I told him to just make 1 small purchase on the card each month and pay it off.  That will help his credit score, little by little, over time.  I try to help where I can :)

Back home, I organized all the receipts, activation slips, and gift cards.  Here is my total haul:

  • 8 x $50 Southwest Airlines Gift Cards
  • 5 x $25 Starbucks Gift Cards
  • 2 x $50 Home Depot Gift Cards
  • 2 x $20 Sees Candy Gift Cards
  • 1 x $50 at PF Changs, Macy’s. and Nordstrom.
  • A few other gift cards are not pictured that I had already used up.

Gift Card Haul Smart Final

My email had many emails from American Express.  Honestly, if you have a few AMEX credit cards with this offer, it may make sense to do a mileage run or mini weekend trip to a city that has Smart & Final stores.  6 credit cards x 3 transactions x $25 statement credit = $450 in cash back.  Surely you can find a cheap flight/hotel somewhere.  Just think about it for a second…

Lots of AMEX Offers

All that MS worked up an appetite, so I walked over to Chipotle and used my newly purchase Chipotle gift card to get some chicken tacos, chips, and guac.  Delicious as always!

Chipotle Dinner

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.  Have a great day everyone!

63 thoughts on “Staples and Smart & Final Gift Card Results (and Fraud Alerts)

  1. John

    Did the same thing but bought 6 $50 Amazon gift cards and will be using them at Amazon to buy Bose noise cancelling headset for for half price thanks to the statement credits. Only wish I could find a cash back or airline portal for Amazon or figure out how to use Amazon Gift cards to purchase on portals?

    1. Grant

      I would have bought Amazon GCs if they had any at my store. You can always use my Amazon affiliate account. At least one of us will earn some money :)

  2. Eric

    Never mind, I see the above. Are there Smart & Final Stores located anywhere but Southern California? I have no idea where they are and I don’t want to type in a zillion zip codes to find out.

    1. Grant

      Just go to Google Maps and type “smart and final near” your zipcode. They zoom out to see them. I’m in Northern California now but they are all around CA.

  3. noko

    Hi Grant
    I have three Amex cards, but I got Smart and Final offer for only one card. Is there anything I can do to get this offer for my other cards?

  4. seth

    Grant, I have 11 AMEX cards with the Smart & Final offer but live in Virginia. Can I just FedEx them over to you to buy some gift cards and send back to me? I can trust you, right? :)
    I did consider seeing if a flight out to CA would make sense for $825 in free money.

  5. MichaelP

    I was planning to go to Smart & Final on a layover in SFO and SAN.
    Any issue with buying gift cards with credit cards?
    Do all S&F sell gift cards?

    1. askmrlee

      I had no problem using my Amex to buy store gift cards, but the cashier did a visual check of my ID. No swiping or scanning like at CVS or Target! I did not attempt to buy Visa gift cards. This S&F had signs announcing this promotion, so at least the cashiers are aware of the promo. I used it to buy a Shell gift card which I normally wouldn’t do, but there’s one station near me that has competitive, no credit card surcharge pricing. Plus when you use a Shell gift card you get a 5 cent/gallon instant discount. A small bonus!

      1. star

        I’m in the Bay Area as well and I bought Amex GCs (I prefer them over Visa GCs for easier Redbird loading…also I think the fee is $1 less per card?). Didn’t even check my ID. I was able to use my husband’s Amex credit card as well to fully max out this deal.

          1. Yati

            Thanks. I had luck yesterday at the Hayward S&F. No problem splitting the payments. Now how do i liquidate all these VGCs? I haven’t dealt with these since the beginning of bluebird. I’ve been a little out of that loop.

          2. Yati

            Yeah, I’ve been got the REDCard and a Serve. Just haven’t played around with gift cards in a few years. When i tried to link a debit card on both red and serve it said it had to be in my name. What else can i do? Just load it in the store?

  6. tgienger

    Hmm. Had paid much attention to this sync deal, since there is no S&F in the Midwest. But then I realized that I have to be in Vegas next month for work. BINGO!!! Plenty of them there. Guess I’ll be doing a little MS while on a biz trip.

    I see Visa and MC GCs in your pic. Assume we can get these too?

    Thanks for the heads up on the ‘weekend trip’!

    1. Yeshu

      This is good to know…Vegas, here I come…would hate to sit in a plane all day to travel to Cali, but don’t mind Vegas!

    2. Grant

      Yes you can get whatever GCs you want. Some people but the $100 VGCs and do split tender with 2 AMEX CCs. Have fun in Vegas. You’re guaranteed to make money as long as you go to S&F, not the casino.

  7. MrDioji

    I would have hit up the Coldstone, too! ;-)
    Hoping you didn’t swipe up all the GCs before I can get there!

  8. Jeanne M

    I live in Vegas and have been denied purchase of gift cards unless with cash or debit card at Smart & Final. Tried 3 stores now with same response. Do not count on taking advantage of this promotion in Vegas!

    1. Grant

      Shawn at Miles to Memories lives in Las Vegas and was able to purchase them at his local store. You might want to reach out to him for help.

  9. chrisflyer

    I picked up a bunch of $100 mastercard gift cards at my local smart and final. When the cashier saw a bunch of gift cards she asked right away if I wanted to do split tender at $50 per card. It was very easy!

    1. Rich

      My local S&F told me you cant do split tender on gift cards! They wouldn’t even try. I bet it would work if they at least tried! I was still able to just get regular gift cards though so not a total loss

  10. dan

    i bought Amazon gift cards but I never received the emails and the credits never posted. I asked Amex why and they said that it will take up to 90 days but not to worry because Amex has my back.

    Should I be worried? I’ve never seen a credit take more than a minute to post.

    1. Grant

      Most credits take 1-2 business days after the initial charge posts to your credit card. If you log into your AMEX account, can you see if this card has the offer attached?

          1. dan

            Yes, I made 1 purchase of $50 one 1 day and 2 separate $50 purchases the next. All $50 exactly.

          2. dan

            These credits still haven’t posted! Do I really need to wait 90 days and then complain to AmEx?


          3. Grant

            Hmm, if the charge shows on your Amex card for more than 3 or 4 days without the statement credit, I would contact Amex and see if they can expedite the statement credit.

  11. Chris

    Thanks Grant for this awesome information. That means if I have 6 AMEX credit cards, I can do the same like you. When I purchase $900 Gift Cards in total, I can get $450 statement credit back.

  12. denny

    So we went to the Smart and Final in Vallejo, looked around a bit and my husband proceeded to purchase just one home depot gift card and the checker told him they could only be purchased with a debit card or cash. How did you get the Pleasant Hill store to change its policy. I was too tired to approach the manager and just left.

    1. Grant

      Apparently the manager just changed her mind and started allowing credit cards. There might be a memo or something from American Express.

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