CVS Raises The Daily Vanilla Reload Purchase Limit To $5,000

by on August 8, 2013 · 102 comments

in Vanilla Reloads

Vanilla Reloads are prepaid cards you can purchase in amounts up to $500 for a fee of $3.95 each. You then load your value onto a reloadable card such as the MyVanilla, Mio or netSpend and then use those cards either to make your credit card purchases as usual, withdraw money from ATM’s, or pay bills – all depending on which features each of them offers.

Vanilla Reload cards can be used to fund prepaid cards like the Amex Bluebird.

Vanilla Reload cards can be a great way to rack up points and minimum spend.

The great thing about Vanilla Reloads is that some of the retail locations at which they are offered will let you purchase them using a points-earning credit card, so you are essentially paying $4 to earn 504 points (or more depending on any category spending bonuses) – a breakdown of just under 0.8 cents per point, which in the case of valuable ones like Starwood Preferred Guest or Ultimate Rewards points, is a lot less than the values I consistently get from them when I redeem them for hotel stays and airline flights.

The drawback is that there are usually limits to the amount you can load onto a reloadable card using Vanilla Reloads (usually around the $5,000 per month mark) as well as the fact that CVS instituted a policy to limit Vanilla Reload purchases to $1,000 per customer per day. It’s also sometimes hard to track down Vanilla Reloads at stores because they sell out quickly, some keep them behind the counter, and some customers go so far as to hide a stash somewhere else in the store to come back later to buy so it can feel like a wild goose chase.

However, based on reports I’ve been getting from readers as well as from sending out TPG to scour their local CVS stores across the country, that $1,000 daily limit has been raised to $5,000 in some cases.

TPG Twitter follower @abiriff sent me the following photo he snapped at his local CVS with an employee memo about Prepaid Card purchases including Vanilla Reloads.

CVS Vanilla memoAs you can see, it states the following.

Old Transaction Limit: $1,000
New Transaction Limit: $5,000

Old Per Customer Daily Limit: $1,000
New Per Customer Daily Limit: $5,000

CVS will conduct ID scans on transactions of $1,000 or more, and you can still buy just up to 10 Vanilla Reloads per day.

Not only can you now buy $5,000 in Vanilla Reloads per day, but you can do it in a single transaction, streamlining the process. You just have to accept that your ID will be swiped on purchases of $1,000 or more now.

Now, before you get too excited, this policy doesn’t appear to be a chain standard at this point. Some stores are still instituting the $1,000 daily limit, and some won’t even let you purchase Vanilla Reloads with a credit card, so it will be hit or miss.

I mentioned, I asked Team TPG to check out CVS’s wherever they are, and here’s what we found. In Los Angeles, CVS’s in Santa Monica still had the old $1,000 limit in place, while one in West Hollywood had the new $5,000 limit.

Some CVS stores are displaying the new policy that you may buy these cards with debit or credit cards.

Some CVS stores are displaying the new policy that you may buy these cards with debit or credit cards.

In Phoenix, the $1,000 still seems to be in place and on Long Island as well, though one CVS in Brooklyn had the new $5,000 policy and another there had the $1,000 policy.

Have you found CVS stores with the new $5,000 limit in place near you? If so please report back in the comments section.

Maximizing Vanilla Reload Purchases

This is great news as it now means you can rack up points and miles, or purchase more Vanilla Reloads at a time to help meet minimum spending requirements on any new credit cards much faster.

For example, if you got a new credit card that required you to spend $5,000 within three to six months, you could take care of that in a single day using Vanilla Reloads, put the value of your Vanillas onto a compatible card such as Momentum Visa debit card alternative and then use it to do everything from paying bills to withdrawing cash at ATM’s. Thinking even bigger, if you get in on the current offer on the British Airways Visa with the first year’s annual fee of $95 waived, you could purchase Vanilla Reloads to meet the $2,000 to earn the 50,000-Avios sign-up bonus, and then buy $28,000 more worth of them to earn the card’s “Travel Together” companion ticket, then just use your account to pay your bills over time.

My favorite Vanilla Reload-compatible product is the Bluebird from American Express, which is a versatile checking account and debit card alternative with which you can set up direct deposit and bill pay to help manage your finances and cut checks, as well as using the card at ATM’s or on purchases. Just keep in mind that Bluebird has a daily Vanilla Reload limit of $1,000 and $5,000 per calendar month. I’d also highly recommend reading through the Bluebird’s fee and limits chart on the main website and the official Bluebird member agreement, which is actually pretty easy to read through.

For more information on Vanilla Reloads, see these posts:

Maximize Monday: Buying Vanilla Reloads at 7-11 and CVS to Generate Points and Credit Card Spend

Maximizing Prepaid and Reload Cards for Points and Miles – The Basics

Maximizing Reload Cards – Vanilla vs. GreenDot vs. ReloadIt

My Permanent Amex Bluebird Card is Active and the Points Are Flying

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Sammy

    Does anyone know of any CVS’s in Miami that take CC’s for Vanilla reloads? Thanks!

  • Geoff

    Now just get BB to allow more than$1000/day and we’re in business. Going back and forth is cumbersome and I’m just not all that comfortable sitting on Vanillas overnight or a few days. Purchase-download ASAP in case of a problem…..

  • Dev Freedom

    This has been started in Tampa FL and I bough $3000 yesterday!!

  • Jennifer

    The Miles Professor posted this over a week ago and was first with the news. At least give credit where credit is due and Points Summary beat you to it too after he read it from her.

  • Chris

    Or get multiple Bluebirds ;)

  • BBD

    Just went to CVS yesterday. They changed their limit from $1000/day to $500/day. Manager said it was a corp change and he could not over ride it. Coded into the cash register systems.

  • Jason

    I went to my local CVS in Columbus OH yesterday any was able to purchase 5k without any issues. They did ask for my ID, that’s it. Very nice change.

  • thepointsguy

    I don’t read Miles Professor. The source of my info was the Twitter pic sent to me by a reader and subsequent research I did at various CVS’

  • Dee

    Can you do that? Hubby and I each have Bluebirds, but can we each have more than 1?

  • Robert

    How come you do not read her while everyone does it:) indeed, I saw it a week ago but it looks scary to me to swipe a card for a $5K transaction when a 500 transaction raises eybrows of some otf the cashiers.

  • Dee

    CVS must be making money from reloadable cards. They’ve had a deal giving $10 ECBs when you buy a reloadable card the last few weeks.

  • Sal

    Just bought $3k worth yesterday. I had no problems, however the cashier insisted on doing each card as a separate transaction. Took forever.

  • Jennifer

    Sadly, you miss the point of how good journalism works. It’s called due diligence and a simple Google search brings up TMP, Points Summary’s, and the fact it’s all over FlyerTalk. I suppose you also don’t read View From The Wing where you continually copy from… and btw, your intel on Santa Monica is wrong. I personally bought VR’s at stores there and they allow more than $1k.

  • Craptacular9

    I tried to a buy one yesterday at a CVS in the Twin Cities and was told cash only. Anyone else experiencing this?

  • NomadicJoe

    In the NY/NJ area the Totowa CVS doesn’t accept credit cards for Vanilla Reloads anymore.

  • Bobbylaw

    There scanning Ids and information is being reported to law enforcement agencies to prevent money laundering. I wouldn’t have them scan your I’d because your just asking for a investigation into your transactions and this always leads to financial reviews by credit companies. And yes law enforcement can pull your credit transactions based on the license information since you provided willingly as part of the purchase. Cvs is not a bank so privacy is non existent

  • Dan Maize

    Saw the $5K limit at my VR-friendly CVS in Williamsburg VA. Had ID scanned but no problems otherwise. Called Chase to prewarn fraud people of large transaction.

  • John

    Is this a guess or documented somewhere?

  • Paul

    If you use your Vanilla Reload at an ATM Machine, are there additional fees?

  • John

    Most likely you shouldn’t be buying them at CVS anyway if you are in the Twin Cities!

  • Gabe

    I am still a little new at this and I know everyone’s situation is different, but isn’t charging $5K on a card at CVS just begging for a financial review? Or are people paying with multiple CCs? Also, what’s the next best thing after Bluebird for VRs?

  • Brandon

    No, I’ve had a few in minneapolis that will do it. Superamerica is usually where I go, though

  • Bohemiana

    Office Depot doesn’t offer any of these reloads anymore but does Staples sell any of the reload cards of any value? (I’d love to use my Chase Bold for 5 points.)

  • SuperKirby

    Who cares who blogged about it first. TPG and Miles Professor and all the other bloggers are giving you free advice! Now if you were paying a monthly subscription that’ll be a different story.

    Thank them at least.

  • Gabe

    Office Depot sells VRs but as cash only now. I haven’t tried my luck with Visa gift cards, but I believe those are cash only now as well.

  • Craptacular9

    Anywhere else you’d suggest? I’ve gone to SA as well. I have an old version of the Amex Blue cash that pays 5% at gas, grocery, and drug stores, but the payout is lowered on transactions over $400 at gas stations.

  • Bobbylaw

    Why are they scanning and not just checking it like before. I gonna suspect that people are gonna get a nice financial review especially using chase or Amex. Technically your not doing anything wrong but you will draw suspicion from the cc company and when they get a inquiry from a law enforcement source they almost always conduct a financial review and will shut down accounts. Better for them to rid a few customers and loose a little profit than having constant investigation to answer to regarding customers.

  • Bohemiana

    How about gas stations? (For 2 pts per dollar spent.)

  • John K

    Oh boy…now VRs will DEFINITELY be scarce…hahaha

  • BartNY

    My nearby CVS in NYC (midtown) lowered limit to $100 for credit card purchases and requires IDs as well. Not that it made a difference – I bought the last two vanilla reloads that I found hidden behind some paypal cards. They disappeared in just under three days!

    Not sure why CVS has a problem though – aren’t they are after all making money off these purchases?

  • Federico

    This is just a rumor, how they can prevent money laundering if you are paying with your own credit card?

  • Curtis

    That would be a total guess….

  • Curtis

    I did $5k worth in 10 sep txns because the $1k ID check system wasn’t working. They tried multiple times, it just said “try again later”. He even showed me on the screen.

  • JD

    Which CVS in Brooklyn has the 5K limit?

  • thepointsguy

    The one at 341 9th Street.

  • JD

    Really? That’s my neighborhood store. My experience (multiple attempts) has been that they won’t even take credit cards. Worth another go. Thanks for the heads-up!

  • jasmine

    there reporting people who buy in excess to cover themselves in case of a lawsuit and your not laudering money he is just stating that they are sending the information somewhere. there just not scanning them for the fun of it or to verify cc information. i dont like the idea of it at all something is up. im personally not gonna buy 5k and risk a financial audit but to each his own

  • mickeyb

    I talked with a manager at cvs. there being asked to scan for a couple of reasons. 1. prevent fraudulent identification from being used to purchase cards
    2. to eliminate people hopping from one store to the next buying 5k and then another 5k at another cvs. this is a loss prevention tatic to prevent cc fraud. The information is however stored and can be reviewed by loss prevention personal. Also each store can set its own limits 5k is just the max.

  • Jon Hill

    Hey Jennifer,

    You suck.


  • MMI

    LOL, J, you must be new to the blog. TPG is famous for copying whatever and regurgitating, even in full paragraphs sometimes. We all know it all comes from some other blog or FT and it’s always some “big coincidence”, but at least you can get all the news here.

  • Jon Hill

    Actually, I’ve been following this blog for quite a long time. It’s my favorite.

    I just think people who come on a free site and complain about things and make accusations about where TPG gets his info from is stupid. If you don’t like how he runs this place, don’t come here. And please don’t be rude in his comment section. You know he’s not going to be rude back to you.

    But the thing is, I will. Because I don’t mind telling someone they suck.

    - Jon

  • Andrew

    Jennifer… And u know he reads mileprofessor how? Oh that’s right… You don’t. Get a life… “Give credit where credit is due.” Sounds like your just trying to take away the credit he deserves because someone wrote about it at an earlier date… Doesn’t mean he knew about it.

    What a pathetic comment Jennifer. If you don’t like the site and he doesn’t give credit as due then quit reading his stuff and spare us ur lame comments.

  • Andrew

    Your pathetic Jennifer. Do you have a life or do you just read blogs all day? Seems like that’s all you do per your comments.. “Um yea hi I’m Jennifer and well gosh dangit this has been posted before, you need to check google each time you write a story and please be sure to check flyertalk too! I’m not even sure why I’m on your site, I guess I really don’t have a life.” The end!

  • Andrew

    She’s pathetic. What a clown.

  • Andrew

    MMI U suck too

  • Fanfoot

    Umm… read the linked articles before asking questions like this.

  • Fanfoot

    Go to them and try to buy one. Find out yourself. If you don’t want to do that, maybe this game isn’t for you.

    Here’s what will happen if somebody posts info like this… everybody who reads this blog and lives in Miami will rush to that CVS and buy all the beans and when you get there they won’t have any. So the issue will be moot. Just do the work yourself.

  • LC▲

    No luck here in fort worth buying a vanilla reload card :( I tried CVS, walgreens, and 7/11 by my house. Any other places they might have it?

  • Jennifer

    These responses are super funny. The point isn’t what he reads… this info has been on FT and on first2board for a week. With the major team TPG has going, if they can’t manage to find info on those two sites in plain sight for a week, then what is he paying them for? Anyway, move along. This isn’t the first time TPG has been called out and won’t be the last. Hey, let’s all go check out that Phoenix FHR hotels post!

  • desti

    My local CVS store will allow $5000 per day in prepaid card purchase starting 8/9/2013, as I was just told.

  • MoreCrazyNews

    Old news (???)

  • disqust101

    Rubbish and nonsense.

  • Harry Dunn

    Does anyone know the real reason why they are scanning licenses now?

  • Jasmine

    No only one account per soc sec number. Also don’t apply for the serve either Amex only allows one or the other

  • Justin

    The built in limits is why this whole deal is still alive. This is one step in the WRONG direction.

  • newbie

    Will I get the 5X point bonus if I buy a VR at CVS with the Chase Ink card? Or is it only at Staples, OfficeMax, and Office Depot?

  • thepointsguy

    No- CVS is not coded as an office supply store like staples/OD, etc

  • Beebs

    I’m in the DFW area, LC. Keep trying CVS until you find one that carries them. I’ve got 2 or 3 I know I can always get a VR at & take credit cards.

  • LC▲

    Omg really? That’s great to hear. I’m going to keep searching around. Do you know which city you’ve had the most luck in?

  • Miles

    For reference, the list of Limits (max withdrawal, balance, etc.) is listed at the bottom of the Bluebird FAQs page:

  • MYRflyer

    “then buy $28,000 more worth of them to earn the card’s“Travel Together”companion ticket, then just use your account to pay your bills over time.”

    Sure, 28,000 in vanilla reloads sitting around, sounds like a great idea :^)

  • JM

    I don’t read either. Too many blogs to read. If I sat there reading blogs all day, I wouldn’t be able to keep earning miles. I stick with the best ones. ;-)

  • Deb

    I had the same experience today in MA.

  • Andrew

    They aren’t reporting to LE. Don’t say stuff, just to say it. I spoke with Dir. of Loss Prevention at CVS Corporate today – they don’t report any info to LE – only time they would ever give customer information to LE was if LE had a warrant or if police are on site requesting info about a crime that took place.

  • John Guide

    CVS stores in Key West are set up with the $5k daily limits.

  • jacisme

    Did a test today on two different cards in a CVS in Atlanta. Bought 2 cards ($500 each) on one credit card, total was $1,007.90 (after taxes/fees). This transaction required ID scan.

    I then bought 2 cards ($500 on one, $499 on the other) on one credit card, total was $1,006.90 (after taxes/fees). That transaction did NOT require an ID scan.

    So next time I’ll try a $500.00 and a $499.99 on the same transaction out of curiosity and see if that requires a scan! As of now, it appears the minimum for an ID scan is a hard line at $1000.00, but we need one more data point to be clear.

  • chunyu chen

    It seems that CVS knows how much you bought. I bought 2 VR 490 each this morning and went to another store to buy two 495 each. There is a security alert at CVS counter and the CS has to call a certain number to verify the purchase. And she asked me if I bought VR today in another store. So I think CVS is recording everybody’s the purchase history. So we should be more careful buying those.

  • Mary E. ICN

    Found VR in small towns in Texas. No problems with $496 per card. I have not tried $5000.00. Probably won’t either.

  • Bob Unferth

    Today in Phoenix I tried to buy Vanilla Reloads at both CVS and Walgreens – cash only.

  • Person

    I tried to buy a reloadable Amex Bluebird directly from Loaf and Jug, and VR’s at 7-11′s, Family Dollar, and Loaf and Jug (a Kroger convenience store) in the Leadville – Colorado Springs areas last weekend (15-17 Aug 2013). None took credit cards. Most cashiers were surprised at the rejection of the transaction (“Cash Only” popped up on the screen at the last step after swiping my credit card for all of those attempts.) Same result experience mid-August 2013 when I tried to buy a VR with credit card at “Freds”, a regional discount store (similar to a Family Dollar, only bigger) in the central Arkansas area.

  • Mary E. ICN

    Longs Drugs in HI. Okay, for over 1000.00. Bought 3 but less than $500.00 each and split between 2 CC. No problem.

  • Mary E. ICN

    Now, in CA. CVS, found VR, bought 1 VR under $500.00.

  • R

    The one in Brooklyn allowed credit card last month cash only today.

  • R

    They stopped taking credit cards.

  • Farhan

    I just bought the wrong card one vanilla instead of my vanilla. It takes 6 weeks to get a refund. Please be careful :(

  • rome

    How do you check the balance on your vanilla reload card

  • r0m8470

    I purchase the reload cards from CVS using Chase card, for 2 months now. All of a sudden, starting this weekend, the reloadables are out of stock on all CVS in the area. No store within 10 miles radius have them anymore – I am in central TX area. Anybody else seeing this?

  • eechien

    Can someone explain how this works? Can you just turn your Vanilla money right back into your bank account?

  • Rita1961

    Do anyone know of a Netspend Government Voucher that can be purchased under the vanilla reload Network that can be used to verify that you have funds to repay a loan?

  • LisaGeorge

    I have been searching in Brooklyn & Manhattan for CVS stores that allow
    Credit Card purchases of Vanilla Reload cards ($5000.00 per day) with no success. I see in this article that Team TPG found one in Brooklyn, would you share the location with me?

  • Eli

    I live in lakewood, NJ. There is a CVS there that participates and allows buying $5,000 in one shot with your cc. Yesterday they told me that they cannot allow the use of business cc’s anymore to purchase vanilla reloads, only personal cc’s. They said it was a government regulation. I assume their contention is bogus, but have you heard of anything like that? What would you respond to them (PS 2 weeks ago I used a business cc to buy $5,000 VR at their store and no one said boo to me!)

  • Connie Barrett

    No longer working. Went to CVS and they will not allow credit cards to pay for Vanilla Reloads. Off to Walmart and they no longer sell or accept Vanilla reloads. I need to find a way to get minimum spend on a bunch of new cards, Any ideas?

  • Devin

    Deb – I’m also in MA but haven’t found a location that will let me buy them with a credit card, would you mind sharing where you were able to? I’d really appreciate it! Thanks!

  • Dan

    Went to CVS in Tarzana, CA and had a sign that they won’t allow CC purchases anymore. I bought a VR card a week ago with a CC, so this is a new policy.

  • paulwesterdawg

    I’m looking for a CVS which offers VR cards via Cc payment. Can’t find one. Do you have an address? Thx.

  • Confused in DC

    I tried to buy a VR today at a CVS in Washington DC using my Chase Sapphire Preferred. I asked for the full $500 limit on the card. The man behind the counter said I could use my credit card. However the machine refused my purchase. We tried it a couple of times and same result each time. I took the VR off and was able to use the same card to purchase the other items I had (roughly $15 worth of stuff). Does anyone know why this happened? Is Chase blocking me from purchasing the VR? Should I not choose “Pay with Credit Card” and choose another option? Totally confused.

  • Apint

    Hello, Where in DC could you locate these crads? I have been trying but without any success. Thanks!

  • tatertot29

    Works for 1000 at the CVS in Round Rock TX off University.

  • tatertot29

    Call Chase. I had to and it worked afterwards. They’re blocking your card to prevent fraud in case it was stolen.

  • mishaun

    can I load $$ back onto my vanilla reload card (after its empty)with my visa card?

  • RickyT

    Was able to buy VRs in the Chicagoland area…after 3 VRs, Chase was concerned with fraudulent transactions and suspended the account…straightened it out, but may need to focus on other card issuers for VRs

  • John


  • Al

    This all sounds great, but I think we are bypassing some proper number crunching. Let’s say a decent AA domestic flight costs 35,000 miles. Well, for the reload you are paying 3.95 (lets say $4) per 500 miles. That means the reload fees alone (not factoring the time/money lost to buy the reloads ie, hopping in your car, burning gas, wasting time that may be better spent with friends etc…) will cost you ($4×70) $280 which in my experience affords a decent domestic flight. Wouldn’t it just be easier to just go on Travelocity and buy the ticket when the time comes and avoid all this difficulty?

  • Stevie

    Went CVS in OC, CA and the policy stated cash only for reloads, bummer.

  • cry moar faggot

    cry more faggot

  • cry moar faggot

    cry moar faggot

  • Tony D

    RickyT, where are you purchasing your VRs? My CVS does not accept cc for VRs. Thanks.

  • RickyT

    @Tony D, I used to find them by the Ogilvie drugstores…but now all of them are dry. Switched to Vanilla Visa GCs where I load them at Walmart

  • Eugene Tunitsky

    Some of the local CVS around me in Houston have denied me Vanilla Reloads via credit card… In fact 3 days ago I bought a few on my Credit Card then today went back to the same location and was told cash only… He mentioned that corporate told CVS employees to only accept cash for Vanilla reloads, i guess you need to get an employee who really doesn’t care… Anyone else in Houston having issues?

  • mary

    the whole thing is fake its a big scam they get you to put money on a prepaid card and give them the card number promising to add an extra 0 to the amount you put on the card but they don’t they just redeem the card. DO NOT DO THIS! They just stole $500 from me.

  • Mike N

    I was just told today that CVS now has a policy to not accept cc for vanilla reloads, I did buy one yesterday but I guess things have changes starting 4/1.

  • ellisia

    This is a scam.

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