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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.
The Bluebird from American Express is a checking account/debit card alternative with a lot of great features that can save you money and earn points in the process. You don’t undergo a credit check when you apply for it, and from your Bluebird account you can do everything from paying bills and sending money to others to writing checks and withdrawing cash from ATM’s.
There are several ways to fund your Bluebird account including direct deposit, cash deposit refills at Walmart, by buying Vanilla Reloads cards that some merchants (like CVS and 711) allow you to purchase with a points-earning credit card, but you can also fund it using a debit. However, many gift cards like the Visa Vanilla, now function as debit cards with PIN’s (though they do not work at ATM’s). They can be loaded with anywhere from $20-500 each and have a one-time $4.95 load fee.
That’s interesting because while you can use them to load Bluebird accounts at Walmart Money centers up to $1,000 per day, and $5,000 per month, up until now, Bluebird would charge you $2 per transaction when you used a debit card to load Bluebird online. However, it looks like Bluebird has removed that fee for online debit card loads. You are still limited to loading $100 per transaction and per day up to $1,000 per month, but at least you can do this without paying $2 each time, and there’s 1,000 more points to earn per month in the process (all you pay is $9.90 in fees for the gift cards) and is convenient for those folks who don’t have a Walmart nearby.
So while you might max out your Bluebird loads each month with $500 in Vanilla Reloads that you purchase using a points-earning credit card, you can now add another $1,000 to your loading capability by purchasing a gift card that has a PIN and then using it to load your Bluebird account like you would with any other debit card.
While this won’t alter my Bluebird strategy drastically, it’s good to have an option to add another $1,000 to my Bluebird account per month and to be able to do so without having to visit a Walmart or worry about whether my CVS is going to accept my credit card to purchase Vanilla Reloads.
For more information on Bluebird, check out these posts:
Bluebird From American Express – The Basics
Maximizing American Express Bluebird FAQ’s
Maximizing Prepaid / Reloadable and Reload Cards For Points And Miles – Choosing Which Credit Card To Use
Maximizing Visa Prepaid Gift Cards
Maximizing Prepaid and Reload Cards For Points and Miles