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Note: I am not a tax advisor, so before you make any decisions, you need to consult your personal tax professional.
Update: You can no longer purchase Vanilla Reload cards using a credit card and Vanilla Reloads are no longer available in Office Depot.
Chase is now offering Visa gift cards of denominations up to $500 and waiving the $4.95 shipping fee. Just note, you need to be a Chase customer (meaning you have to use a Chase credit card) to purchase these.
What makes this a really great offer, in addition to the fact that you’re basically getting these cards for free, is that per the terms & conditions, they are prepaid Visa debit cards and will be assigned PIN numbers. That’s useful for a couple of reasons.
Since these are debit cards, they can be used to load your Amex Bluebird, though you are restricted to using debit cards to load up to $100 per transaction or per day and $1,000 per month (and each transaction incurs a $2 fee), so it’s a last resort, but if you’re desperate to meet that minimum spend, it’s a possibility. If you load your Bluebird with a debit card at Walmart, you get out of paying the $2 fee and your daily load limit goes up to $1,000 with a debit card with monthly at $5,000.
However, the terms of the card state that “You agree not to use the Card at any automatic teller machines (ATMs), at merchants or ﬁnancial institutions to obtain cash back,” but by transferring the funds to Bluebird, it’s not exactly going for cash back and people have reported success, so this is a possibility. Note, this is not a cash advance, which I would never recommend doing.
Third, it’s tax season and if you’re considering paying your taxes using a credit or debit card, this could be a good option for you although we are down to the wire and the cards say it make take 5-7 business days, though they could come quicker. That’s because the sites that you can use to pay your taxes with a credit or debit card charge anywhere from 1.88-2.35% for using a credit card, but flat fees of between $2.99-$3.95 for using a debit card. Even though you’ll incur that charge every time you use one of these cards, if you were to use 20 of them to pay a $10,000 bill, you’d be racking up just about $60-$80 in charges (.6-.8 cents per point) as opposed to $189-$235 (1.88-2.35 cents per point) barring any bonuses. Though it’s a bit of extra work, you’re saving a chunk of change, and if you’re using them to meet minimum spending to boot, that’s a great way to double dip and maximize your points while minimizing the fees you incur.
The 5-7 business days that shipping will take, could make it a bit of a tight situation if you are looking to pay your taxes on or by Tax Day next Monday, but the cards could come faster than that, and if you’re already planning on filing for an extension, they’re something to consider, though note that you will pay interest on extensions so this could be a losing value proposition for you. You can also pay quarterly business taxes all year long, even after the April 15 tax deadline, so it might make sense to stock up on these now for future payments.