Staples Rewards Members Just Lost a Major Perk

Member orders used to qualify for free shipping no matter the cost. Now Staples is requiring a $15 order, in a move that points to a growing trend.
Staples storefront

Office supply chain Staples has adjusted its rewards program policy, now requiring members to spend at least $14.99 before a purchase will qualify for free shipping. Staples had been unusual for offering free shipping on all orders to members of its free rewards program. Still, the move signals a growing trend among retailers — where no-minimum free shipping is a rare perk.

Rewards or No Rewards, Shoppers Still Have to Pay for Free Shipping

They say nothing in life is free, and apparently that extends to free shipping as well. While some retailers offer membership programs that feature free shipping as one of the rewards, these days you have to pay for those benefits. Stores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, and are prime examples of retailers with such programs. In this case, a yearly fee will buy you free shipping on orders of any amount.

If you aren't a member, retailers affect your shopping habits most when increasing free shipping minimums. Amazon is probably the best example, having just recently raised its minimum requirement for non-Prime members to $49. This puts it on par with Walmart, which provides free shipping for orders of $50 or more. Yet it also falls behind Target, which recently lowered its free shipping minimum to $25.

SEE ALSO: Customers Are NOT Pleased With the Amazon Free Shipping Increase

The stores that boast free membership programs with free shipping and no minimum purchase are few, and typically have very specific merchandise. Stores like Stride Rite, DSW, and Columbia Sportswear all have programs like this, but primarily sell shoes, accessories, and outdoor gear, respectively.

Staples' primary competitor, Office Depot/Office Max, also has a free rewards program, but it offers no free shipping benefits. Instead, the store has a very basic free shipping policy: qualifying orders of $35 or more will ship free from Office Depot/Office Max if you are shipping to "one of our many local delivery areas."

It's easy to see that even with the recent increase, Staples' free shipping policy is still on top. But we want to know what you think, readers. Will this change make you shop less or more at Staples? Do you prefer to buy your office supplies elsewhere? Sound off in the comments below!

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer/Consumer Analyst

Julie's work has been featured on CNBC, GoBankingRates, Kiplinger, Marketwatch, Money, The New York Times, Real Simple, US News, WaPo, WSJ, Yahoo!, and more. She's extolled the virtues of DealNews in interviews with Cheddar TV, GMA, various podcasts, and affiliates across the United States, plus one in Canada.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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Staples used to do much (most? all?) of its own deliveries using local staff. Now, they've got third-party contractors involved. My office used to get Staples orders delivered by an actual Staples employee who arrived in a Staples truck. But now, some company called LC (or LS or something like that) delivers for Staples. That could be part of the reason they changed the policy. Or maybe too many people were just being lazy and placing lots of cheap orders, like a single pen or a box of paper clips? I don't think it's that hard to rack up $15 in purchases at Staples, so this is reasonable.

Also, let's not forget shipping isn't free in the first place. Retailers still have to pay UPS, FedEx, USPS, and the like. Retailers who offer "free" shipping are usually able to do so because they add cost of shipping into their prices. That's why Amazon Prime is $100 a year, and it's why non-Prime members have to buy at least $50 of stuff to get free standard shipping.
Yeah totally agree with you _ATM. And that too of is perhaps the most inflexible of ecommerce firms when it comes to their policies. and what awesome customer service experience is he talking about I am not sure. All they do is offer apology for the inconvenience and then let you know it cannot be done.
Try harder next time, luvsdeals. We all can tell your comment is an ad.
Thankfully, still offers free shipping on purchases of $35 or more. I have found several things there that are cheaper than I've seen elsewhere. BTW, their Customer Service team is awesome!