December 26th, 2012

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Update: You can no longer purchase Vanilla Reload cards using a credit card and Vanilla Reloads are no longer available in Office Depot.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas holiday (whether you celebrate it or not). Whether you were doing last-minute mileage runs to attain elite status or just relaxing at home, this time of year is always a good time to reflect on the year and plan ahead. I had a great time on terra firma with my family, which included a new dog addition, Bruno the German Shephard, which was great because I am a huge dog person, but my erratic travel schedule isn’t conducive to having my own.

This post was written with the help of my Beagle/English Bulldog dog-nephew Capone
This post was written with the help of my Beagle/English Bulldog dog-nephew Capone

While in suburban Philadelphia, I swung by a local Walgreens and was able to purchase four $500 Vanilla Reloads using my Starwood American Express card. A prompt came up on the screen at checkout and I thought for sure I would be told I could only use cash/debit, but I was simply told that I could only buy one per transaction. However, the super-friendly cashier had no issues ringing me up four separate times.

JACKPOT
JACKPOT

I know many of you have had frustrating experiences finding these cards and actually being allowed to buy them with a points-earning credit card, but I just thought I’d share my Christmas miracle. Please comment below if you’ve been successful scoring any Vanilla Reloads in your area and if so, at what retailer. There have been national shortages, but I hope that they are being restocked and we can continue purchasing them as we enter 2013.

It was a points-filled Christmas after all
It was a points-filled Christmas after all

For anyone scratching your head about why I’m so excited about these Vanilla Reload cards – in a nutshell, you buy them and then load them to your Bluebird account, which is essentially like turning them into cash (you can withdraw money, pay bills and even write anyone a check for free). This means you can create credit card spend for relatively low fees – $504 is 504 points on most cards. Personally, I’ve had no issues at all with Bluebird, though some TPG readers have commented about frustrating customer service and checks not arriving on time. Mine always post in a timely manner and I even tipped my building doormen this year with a check cut from my Bluebird account! Cash is so 2011. Even if you can’t find Vanilla Reloads, there are still other ways to maximize prepaid cards- TPG contributor Jason Steele recently wrote an entire series, so read up on it if you want to maximize your points game in 2013! 1) Maximizing Prepaid and Reload Cards for Points and Miles 2) Vanilla vs. Green Dot vs. PayPal vs. REloadit 3) Choosing Which Credit Card To Use 4) Reloadable Strengths and Weaknesses

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
5.00%
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.