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Updated Strategies For Earning Points and Miles With Prepaid and Reloadable Cards

by on March 10, 2014 · 71 comments

in Prepaid/ Reloads, TPG Contributors

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A lot has changed in the world of checking/debit alternatives like Bluebird, as well as prepaid/reloadable cards in the past year, so I asked TPG Contributor Jason Steele to write up some updated strategies on turning these products into points-earning powerhouses.

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 3.55.52 PM Among travel rewards enthusiasts, prepaid cards and checking/debit alternatives have long been used to maximize the points and miles earned from their credit cards. Prepaid debit cards come in two kinds. One kind is the disposable, non-reloadable prepaid cards that are often sold as “gift cards” and are part of the Visa, MasterCard, or American Express payment networks.

The second kind are the products that are meant for continuous use and are compatible with products like Vanilla Reloads and Green Dot Money Paks.

Using reloadable prepaid cards to maximize credit card rewards

There are hundreds of reloadable prepaid cards available, but most are not ideal for earning points and miles. Since these products are typically marketed to the so-called “unbanked” population, they often contain a bill payment service which is especially useful for those of us who collect points and miles. If you can find a store that allows you to purchase reload packs with your credit card, you can then use the bill pay feature to pay your rent, mortgage, or even the credit card bill itself. The three major reload networks are Vanilla Reloads, Green Dot Money Paks, and the REloadit network.

The largest downside of these products is that some of these card issuers will shut down the accounts of those who use this feature too aggressively. If this happens, you will not lose any money, but you will be unable to reload the card.

Is Bluebird under increased scrutiny?

Bluebird is one of the most popular checking/debit alternative products.

The most popular cards with bill payment features include:

1. Bluebird. This is a checking/debit alternative offered by American Express. It accepts Vanilla Reloads, which can often be purchased from CVS stores with a credit card. Once loaded, cardholders can pay any bill online or transfer money to a linked bank account.

2. Serve. Like Bluebird, this card accepts Vanilla Reloads, but it also accepts up to $200 in loads per day from any debit card, up to $1,000 a month. Serve also features online bill payment.

3. AccountNow. The Silver AccountNow Classic card can be reloaded from Green Dot Money Paks or REloadit cards. This card has no monthly fees and a free bill pay service.

4. H&R Block Emerald Card. This card can be obtained in person from an H&R Block branch office, of which there are thousands. This card can be loaded with Green Dot Money Packs, and bill pay is $0.99 cents each.

5. Rush Card. This card offers a “Pay as you go” plan with no monthly fees. The card can be loaded with Green Dot Money Paks and offers free bill pay service.

Using generic non-reloadable prepaid cards to maximize credit card rewards

There are two primary ways that the one-time-use, non-reloadable prepaid cards can be used to generate credit card rewards:

1. Spend shifting. By purchasing a prepaid card with a credit card, the transaction can occur at a time or place optimized to earn the most rewards.  Later, the prepaid card can be used for another purchase wherever or whenever the credit card transaction would not have been as rewarding.

For example, the user of a newly acquired points-earning credit card may need to meet a large minimum spending requirement in order to earn a sign-up bonus, like the Citi AAdvantage Executive card that requires $10,000 in spending within three months in order to earn 100,000 American Airlines miles. By purchasing enough prepaid  cards to make up the difference between their normal spending and the minimum spending requirement, cardholders can ensure that they receive their sign up bonus, and then spend their prepaid cards later.

2. Manufactured spending. The other way to utilize gift card purchases is through manufactured spending, the process of liquidating purchases so that the credit cards rewards received exceed the expenses of the sale (in both time and money). Prepaid cards have relatively low fees and there are several ways to quickly convert them to cash in order to pay off your credit card balance and start the cycle over again.

Non-reloadable prepaid card basics

Non-reloadable prepaid cards, also known as gift cards, can be purchased at a surprising variety of stores including gas stations, super markets, drug stores, and some home improvement and department stores. There are two kinds of prepaid cards, fixed-value and variable load. A fixed-value card has its value printed on it, typically in $25, $50, $100, and $200 denominations. On the other hand, variable load cards can be purchased in any denomination the customer wants, typically between $20 and $500.

With nearly all prepaid card purchases, there is a one-time activation fee, typically $3.95 to $7.95. This fee is paid at the time of purchase, and credit card users earn rewards on both the value of the card and any fees paid.

A relatively new feature of these cards is the ability to create a PIN number. This feature is necessary for some uses since it allows the card to function as a debit card. Finally, most prepaid cards will offer the ability to register the card with a zip code, which is also necessary for some types of transactions.

It won't take long to max out the $1,500 cap on gas!

Maximize the points you earn on gift cards by knowing where you can get a category spending bonus on them – like gas stations.

Note: Some credit card companies, like Citi, will charge gift card purchases as cash advances. Other cards specifically exclude gift card purchases from bonus spending categories in their terms, though in practice that’s not always the case. You should always do a test order before purchasing large denominations or quantities to see how the purchase is reflected on your statement.

Where to buy prepaid cards to earn travel rewards

Here are the types of retailers that typically sell prepaid cards and the credit cards that offer the most travel rewards for purchases there:

Gas stations

  • IHG Rewards Club Select Visa offers double points.
  • Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card offers 2X Membership Rewards points at US gas stations.
  • Hilton HHonors card from American Express offers 5X HHonors points.
  • Hilton HHonors Surpass card from American Express offers 6X HHonors points.
  • Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express offers 3X Membership Rewards points.
  • Amex EveryDay Preferred offers 2X Membership Rewards points plus a 50% bonus when cardholders make at least 30 transactions in a month
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card earns 3x rewards.
  • Asiana Airlines American Express Card from Bank of America earns double miles.
  • The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express offers double points at standalone gas stations.

Supermarkets

  • IHG Rewards Club Select Visa offers double points.
  • Premier Rewards Gold Card offers double Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets.
  • Hilton HHonors card from American Express offers 5X HHonors points.
  • Hilton HHonors Surpass card from American Express offers 6x HHonors points.
  • Amex EveryDay offers 2X Membership Rewards points plus a 20% bonus when cardholders make at least 20 transactions in a month, but only on cardholder’s first $6,000 spent in a calendar year.
  • Amex EveryDay Preferred offers 3X Membership Rewards points up to $6,000 a calendar year plus a 50% bonus when cardholders make at least 30 transactions in a month.
  • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card earns 3X points
  • Asiana Airlines American Express Card from Bank of America earns double miles.

Drugstores

  • Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card earns 3X points.
Liquidate your gift cards with payment services like Evolve.

Liquidate your gift cards with payment services like Evolve.

How to liquidate prepaid cards

If you are trying to manufacture spend, instead of just shift it, you will need a way to get cash out of your prepaid cards. Here are some of the most popular ways:

1. Amazon Payments.This service allows users to make personal payments to other Amazon Payments accounts using a credit card, and prepaid “gift cards” will also work. To use a prepaid card, you must first register it with your zip code. After receiving a payment, users can directly deposit their balance into a linked bank account. There is no charge for this service, but there is a monthly limit of $1,000 sent and received per account.

2. Evolve Money. This is a new bill pay service that allows you to use a debit card to pay a bill online. Available billers include utilities, insurance, telephone, mobile, cable, internet, auto loan,  and rent bills. Unfortunately, credit card issuers and mortgage servicers are generally not included.

3. Wal-Mart Money Orders. Wal-Mart will accept PIN based debit cards as payment for a money orders up to $1,000, which it charges a fee $0.70 each. Money orders can then be deposited at most banks, just like a check.

4. Wal-Mart Bill Payment. This option allows customers to use their PIN based debit cards to pay nearly any biller. The service uses a company called Fiserve (formerly known as Check Free), which is used by the electronic payment systems of most banks. Therefore, nearly any biller will be available including credit card issuers. The fee for this service is $1.00 per payment.

5. American Express Bluebird. This product is best known for its ability to accept Vanilla Reload packs, but it can also be loaded from a prepaid card. Loads can occur at the register, at a kiosk, or by staff at one of their Money Stores. There is a limit of $1,000 per day, and $5,000 per month in total loads from these sources. Money can then be transferred directly to a linked bank account, or used to pay bills to any person or business.

6. American Express Serve. This prepaid card is a lot like Bluebird. Serve lets you load up to $200 a day from a debit card, with a $1,000 limit each calendar month. Then, the money can be withdrawn for free at ATMs, or used to pay bills to any person or business. Just note that one person can’t have both a Bluebird and a Serve account at the same time.

7. American Express For Target. American Express offers a prepaid card at some Target stores, and each person is limited to two cards each. There is a $3 fee to load up to $1,000 on each card, with a limit of $2,500 per month, per card.  $1,000 can be loaded per card, per day. There is one free ATM withdrawal per month, and additional withdrawals of up to $400 are $3 each. The total costs averages out to $9 in fees per $1,000 if you load $2,000 a month per card. Nevertheless, it is time consuming to purchase the debit cards, visit Target, and then go to an ATM several times.

8. Paying taxes. This is more of a spend shifting than manufactured spending technique, but you can pay taxes with your debit cards and the rewards can be greater than the fees. The IRS posts a list of the companies authorized to accept federal tax payments on its behalf, along with the fees charged. The flat fee for debit cards is substantially less than the percentage fees charged for credit card payments, so it makes sense to purchase debit cards.

In my experience, many of the payment companies will have trouble accepting more than two debit card payments online or over the phone.  Nevertheless, Choice Pay representatives have gladly accepted multiple debit cards from me over the telephone, but their fee is slightly higher at $3.48 per card. You will also need to register your debit cards with a zip code first.

9. Cash back. Many retailers will offer cash back when customers pay with a debit card. There is typically no fee for this service, but it would be time consuming to liquidate a large volume of debit cards this way.

Costs for liquidating gift cards in both time and money:

Method Monthly Limit (per user account.) Cost per $1,000 of gift cards: 2 cards @ $4.95 fee each Cost in Time per $1,000 Work with Amex?
Amazon Payments $1,000 $0 ~10 min. Yes
Evolve Money none $0 ~1 No
Wal Mart Money Oder none $.070 <5 minutes No
Wal Mart Bill Pay none $1.00 <5 minutes No
Load Blue Bird $5,000 $0 <5 minutes No
Load Serve $1,000 $0 ~10 minutes No
American Express for Target 2 accts @ $2,500 each As low as $9 per $1,000 plus ATM fees if any. ~15 min. No
Pay Taxes none $6.96/$1,000 <5 minutes No
Cash back none none <5 minutes No

So as you can see, there are plenty of options and avenues available to the points collectors out there to maximize their spend using points-earning credit cards if they’re willing to put in the legwork for a couple extra steps. These are the ones I’ve had the most success with, but if you have any to add, please feel free to share in the comments below.
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

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.

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{ 71 comments… read them below or add one }

Southfl March 10, 2014 at 8:48 am

I have gone to several CVS stores and other types of gift card sellers and have been told the Vanilla Reload and anything without a fixed value on the card, can not be bought with a credit card. Where is this allowed. Also, the equal amount of money plus fees used to buy these, if available for blue bird use has to be paid back for the credit card bill at the end of the month, so how do you work out paying additional funds for mortgage, other bills, using vanilla reload.

Justin March 10, 2014 at 8:55 am

I agree about the difficulty of finding a CVS that’ll let me buy VR with a CC (though that’s more venting since people do it all the time.) As for the CC bill just buy the VR, fill up BlueBird, pay the mortgage from BB and when you get your paycheck pay off the CC. That works for me…if I ever get a chance to buy VR’s with my CC. :)

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

Personally, I just pay back the credit card account, rather than worry about other bills.

BN126 March 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

If I use a Citi card to buy a vanilla reload is it considered a cash advance?

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 9:41 am

No, Citi doesn’t know the nature of the purchase, and a cash advance requires a PIN

Justin March 10, 2014 at 9:44 am

Hey Jason how many do you buy at a time in a trip to CVS if you’re going the VR route? I’m going to test this out at the CVS 30 seconds from my office for the heck of it.

95739573 March 10, 2014 at 9:47 am

Got my Bluebird, got my free Bluebird checks, but can’t find any place that’ll let me buy a reload card with a credit card. CVS has signs all over their card kiosks saying debit cards can only be purchased with cash. Nothing available at Walmart either.

jasmine March 10, 2014 at 9:48 am

Amazon Payments are you crazy!!!!. They have been shutting down accounts all the time for repeat transactions search it and read all the stories. And then they freeze your account and funds until 180 days have passed. Really bad advice as to amazon.

frankr March 10, 2014 at 9:53 am

I agree. Amazon has been canceling accounts that they suspect are abusing the system. I personally did it for 2 months and then my Account got cancelled and funds held for 30 days before being released. Unless you can do without the cash for 180 days I suggest staying clear of Amazon.

jasmine March 10, 2014 at 9:59 am

I know you can purchase up to $5000 in gift cards VR etc depends on store. But after $999 they scan an ID. Asked a manager and they suspect its either to report possible money laundering or stop stolen credit cards to authorities.

Steve March 10, 2014 at 10:03 am

Some things I discovered with the Bluebird: 1. You can only add 5k from Vanilla reloads per month 2. If you open another account for your wife etc. you can transfer but only $2,500 per account to your “main” account.

Justin March 10, 2014 at 10:04 am

Thanks Jasmine. I wouldn’t want to do $5k at a time (would think Chase would go bonkers…I’m working on my BA Visa) but I have no issue with the ID scan. I’ll probably start out with one and get a feel for how the policy is at this store. The other stores have been difficult. I do have a good relationship with the pharmacy at one location so i thought maybe that’d be a good place to start next time I pick up a script but will have to see. I’ve also heard of people calling and discussing things with managers at the store location and then making the purchase with that manager in the store. Just hope something might stick.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

I have been using Amazon, with just one account per name, for more than 2 years, with no problems. Some people run into problems when they have multiple accounts in each name.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 10:26 am

For many CVS seems to be the only game in town for Vanilla Reloads, although some gas stations will sell them to you such as Valero and Travel America.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 10:27 am

Paying your credit card bill is the simplest and most reliable way to use Bluebird

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 10:28 am

I find the best way to ensure a smooth transaction is to develop a friendly relationship with the store and its management. They are looking for scammers who use stolen credit cards and never return, that is why they ask for ID. Once you return multiple times, they know you are not a scammer.

Jim March 10, 2014 at 10:31 am

Unfortunately, I don’t live near a CVS, and when the Bluebird first came out, I got it, and did one, count ‘em, one Vanilla Reload at my local Walgreens. Next time I went in, you had to use cash to purchase a VR card. Although it seems like a great idea, the opportunity might have passed already.

I would love to pay my mortgage and stuff on the Bluebird, but it just isn’t workable in my market. I am able to put everything I can on a Chase card, i.e. utilities, phone, etc., but that’s where it stops. Luckily my mortgage payment isn’t that much!

Cheers!

Grover March 10, 2014 at 10:42 am

I have tried all over Denver to find a store which will accept credit card payment for a gift card or Vanilla Reload…Walmart, RiteAid, Office Depot, 7-11…all told me cash only.

bobbyb March 10, 2014 at 10:45 am

I had my account suspended and it was only one account after doing this for almost 1 year. I didn’t have any money held as I move it immediately when it posts. If you research the other blogs you will see what amazon has been doing.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 10:47 am

Try gas stations, otherwise Denver is a VR desert.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

I have read the reports, which contrast with my experience. Try emailing them and asking for it to be reinstated.

Justin March 10, 2014 at 10:49 am

OK great thanks. They do know me well at the one location near my house so I’ll definitely go back there and try again.

Steve Bierfeldt March 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

Timely post Brian. I actually went to two CVS’s last night to buy a gift card with my credit card. The first didn’t work out because the clerks were getting huffy with me when they demanded to see ID for, “such a large purchase.” A minor thing maybe but I didn’t feel like dealing with their accusations that, “maybe you stole the credit card.” First it was because I was spending so much. And then it was, “any gift card no matter the price.” so I left. Anyone else had experience with being forced to show ID at a CVS?

Second CVS a few miles away, the credit card didn’t work at all. The machine wouldn’t take a credit card to purchase the gift cards. At least for this CVS location, they’ve cracked down on no credit cards allowed for these types of purchases.

Bryn March 10, 2014 at 11:35 am

I just read the article and I am not completely up on the lingo. I have a Chase Sapphire Preferred and want to maximize my travel point like everyone else. Which card would you recommend getting to pay off my mortgage monthly? I am also working on using our CC pay monthly utilities.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 11:35 am

I am usually asked to show ID when I purchase more than one gift card or relaod. In fact, I offer it. Since many of these products are used for fraudulent purposes, I want them to know I am legit.

I have even had clerks tell me they are told to deny purchases to those who look nervous and fidgety. Unfortunately, if you are unwilling to show ID, you probably won’t get very far.

Mark Freeman March 10, 2014 at 11:37 am

Where are you finding success buying Green Dots with a cc? Looking for a manufacture option more efficient than Vanilla gift cards converted to money orders at Wal-Mart.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 11:38 am

You could try buying gift cards and using Evolve Money for bill pay. Unfortunately, the Chase Sapphire Preferred offers only one point per dollar at the places these cards are sold.

The idea is to use one of the cards listed that offers bonus rewards where these products are sold.

Good luck!

Bryn March 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

At this point, I am just looking for cards that mortgage companies would take. Do you know what those would be? That way I can at least get points monthly.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 11:47 am

Unfortunately, you will never be able to pay a mortgage company directly with a credit card. You will have to use Evolve Money, or some other bill pay service that accepts debit cards or that are purchased or reloaded with a credit card.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 11:49 am

Gas stations and drug stores. The only way to know is to try it, as results vary from by store, location, and the cashier you visit.

Ling Lin March 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Any chances that the cashier may think that I’m trying to do something sneaky by using a credit card to load another card discourage me from trying to do so.

Eli March 10, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I also had a problem getting VR at CVS in Ocean County, NJ. Until a few months a go they were the go-to place for VR. Now they just don’t carry them. the managers all say that CVS is switching over to “cash-only” for VR, much like Walgreens did a while back. What a shame. I was able to get 10K VR at a CVS when I was vacationing in Sanibel, FL, but that only happens once a year….

dee seiffer March 10, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I buy $5000 worth of Vanilla Cards at a time all the time at my local CVS stores in Connecticut. Hubby and I each have accounts, as do our 5 adult kids. We pay mortgage, utilities and a few recurring payments through Bluebird, then transfer the balance to our regular checking accts to pay the credit card.

The staff and management at the store closest to me know what I’m doing and are cool with it. Yes, they scan my Driver’s License for the second card to go through. I have no problem with that. (They’ve been known to offer to go through the boxes after a delivery to find cards for me when none are on the rack.)

The CVS policy is $5000/person/day.

Vanilla cards are great for meeting minimum spends for bonus points & miles. For an on-going basis, I use my Capital One Venture card. $5000 = 10,000 pts = $100.00 in travel – $39.50 in Vanilla fees = $60 net in travel reimbursement. Barclay Arrival would be the same.

$40 for 5000 points often doesn’t make sense for other cards. Sometimes it does though.

I have do credit card companies deny the charge, call me immediately, then tell me to go in and do it again. The charge goes through. It is a legitimate, legal purchase. I’m not violating any policies or laws.

Juno March 10, 2014 at 3:09 pm

I have the same issue. my area doesn’t allow credit card purchase for VR. So my Bluebird card plan is basically at a stand still.
I am hoping that i can purchase ‘VISA GIFT CARD” that assigns pin number so I can try reloading BB with them.

raptorfactor March 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm

I’m imagining using my CSP to purchase some sort of prepaid card (whatever evolve will take) and using evolve to pay mortgage. I can see they have US Bank, WF, and some other loan companies as options on their website.

While I don’t have a card that maximizes more than the 1 point per dollar on the cards, that’s still a significant boost on my monthly accumulated miles due to the mortgage payment, I think 8/10 of cent per mile.

Does this strategy make sense?

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm

If you value those points at greater than .8 cents each, and figure in your value of the time necessary, then it makes perfect sense.

95739573 March 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm

I see others use Bluebird to pay the credit card bill, but wouldn’t this be the most likely way to get flagged by the credit card company? I mean you’re using their credit card to buy a reload and then using that same reload to pay off the credit card? I’d have a hard time splaining that one away if they called me on it.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Chase really doesn’t know or care how they get paid, as the payments come through the Check Free system. Furthermore, Chase doesn’t know that you purchased VR, just the amount of the charge. Finally, they still receive merchant fees from the transaction, so they make money and have no reason to worry about.

Goal Sugar March 10, 2014 at 4:24 pm

how about you buy 1 or 2 at the time, instead of buying like 3 or 4K scaring the cashier and getting them all on the defense for people like me who fly below the radar and buy some Ice cream with the reloads!!

Goal Sugar March 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

this game is gonna End pretty soon. It’s too good for it to last. I just Spent 10.5K on my Citi AA for the 100K miles. It took me 3 weeks to do it. I just started making payments to the credit card, via blue bird. I make payments through BB always below 2K.

Steve Bierfeldt March 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm

I only (was trying) to buy a single card. One card for $500 along with a few grocery items to make it seem I didn’t come in just for that.

Scott March 10, 2014 at 5:55 pm

First question- I don’t see how this helps with the 100K AA card minimum spend since that is a Citi card. If they count VR and gift cards as cash advance.

Second what does the chart mean for the Amex column?

White March 10, 2014 at 6:37 pm

I’ve been doing $5000 VR/month. Have currently around 1mil UR & 500k MR. I admit hiding VRs like 50 of them on restocking day.. Sorry..

zev March 10, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Hi,do you know forsure that you can use a gift card with serve I believe the card needs to match your name on the account?? but I know you can use a credit card.

Trav March 10, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Sorry.. that makes you an ahole…

Trav March 10, 2014 at 7:32 pm

I have always been asked for an ID if it is >= $500. i think that is pretty standard anywhere.

Tracey Cobretti March 10, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Had a couple quick questions about these Vanilla reload/Bluebird cards:

1) You guys are bring the same card/cards back to the store each reload correct? Just wanted to make sure you only had to find the VR one time.
2) When I went to sign up for Bluebird online, it prompted me for my SSN. Previous articles I’ve read said it doesn’t – is this simply a recent(ish) change or am I’m doing something wrong/looking at the wrong product?
3) Are there any conflicts with churning your Bluebird and other AMEX cards? I’m considering the Starwoods card in the future and didn’t know if a) I would be able to use this as they are both AMEX and b) if they would blackball me since they would potentially have my SSN for two accounts and see what was up.

vega25 March 10, 2014 at 9:54 pm

Quick question.

What do you mean by: “The largest downside of these products is that some of these card issuers will shut down the accounts of those who use this feature too aggressively. If this happens, you will not lose any money, but you will be unable to reload the card.”?

The credit card company will shut down the account if we use it for buying too many reload packs? Have I understood that correctly? Or, is the aggressive strategy using a credit card to buy a reload pack and then using a billpay service to pay up that same card? Any limits in either case that you could suggest?

Sorry if these are redundant questions, but I’m a newbee and not very familiar with the nuance implied here.

Matt Doe March 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm

I have got over 120k since Nov

Matt Doe March 10, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Nope that makes him smart.

Matt Doe March 10, 2014 at 10:46 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of Van Debit and reloading with VR. I would like to mix it up some with GD. Can someone tell me if it is as easy to do the money order thing with GD as it is Vanilla?

Bernie March 10, 2014 at 10:49 pm

What about NetSpend? Same idea right? Just didn’t see it mentioned here. you can reload the NetSpend card with VR cards, or directly to the NetSpend card itself. Solves the problem of not being able to find the VR cards. Once you have cash on the NetSpend cards, you can do electronic transfers to you bank account or mortgage.

Jason Steele March 10, 2014 at 11:43 pm

I was referring to the prepaid debit card issuers, not credit card issuers.

binnybooboo March 11, 2014 at 12:19 am

If you can’t find a store to sell you a GC with a CC you are doing it wrong. VR good luck but GC are everywhere.

AEG March 11, 2014 at 3:16 am

Why would you need to hide 50 VR if you’re only buying 10? It’s small fish like you that ruin it for everybody.

Black March 11, 2014 at 9:32 am

You are a selfish person

vega25 March 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

With due respect, Mr. Steele, that was not clear *at all*.

Justin March 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I wanted to add that I went back to the CVS where I know the people that work there really well and had no problems buying a few VR today. So this post was extremely well timed for me (they also said if anyone else there gives me issues with these to bring them back to the pharmacy and they’ll take care of it.) So finally…I can say VR’s work for me.

dbeach7 March 11, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Yeah, that’s a dick move. Here’s hoping Chase shuts you down.

Rojiviris March 12, 2014 at 12:26 am

Do you bring your VR cards back to CVS in order to reload them every time? I had been throwing them away and getting new ones everytime, but sometimes they are out.

Striider March 12, 2014 at 1:49 am

Tried to use my new SW RapidRewards card to buy a MyVanilla card filled with $500 (and coffee) on the way into work at 7-11 in Aurora, CO. Yes, I grabbed the wrong thing, but the strange thing is that the credit card transaction was declined, until I removed the MyVanilla transaction, then it went through fine. It looked like Chase was declining the transaction. Anyone gotten this far and then declined?

dee seiffer March 12, 2014 at 8:23 am

No. You can’t reload Vanilla cards. You have to buy new ones. They are often out because so many people are doing what we’re doing. If your CVS is out, look through the pegs with other cards. Some jerks hide VRs behind similar size cards.

oopsy March 12, 2014 at 10:08 am

1) Most VRs are single use items. You buy them once, transfer funds off of them, and then it’s time to find another.
2) I recently signed up (1 mo) and had to give my SSN. They even made me confirm my cell phone this week.
3) I think there have been posts about not messing around in between AMEX accounts, but I have no experience. That said, these are entirely different products, there’s no reason why you cant have a SPG CC and a BB pre-paid debit/checking account. That’s entirely legit/reasonable.

RJP March 17, 2014 at 9:28 am

What are the steps to liquidate a Visa or AmEx gift card to BlueBird? My local grocery store has an on-going promotion where you get “$6.00 off Your Next Order” coupon whenever you buy more than $200 in gift cards. So with that, I figure I can buy a $500 AmEx or Visa gift card and then use them to fund BlueBird. Essentially, they will be paying me $1.05 per $500 card to fund my BBird account. Just haven’t seen the specific steps to use AmEx or Visa gift cards to do so. From article above it says needs to be done at Walmart, but no mention of a pin. Is there a difference between a “prepaid” visa/AmEx and a “gift card” visa/AmEx? Thanks!

RJP March 17, 2014 at 11:05 am

What are the steps to liquidate a Visa or AmEx gift card to BlueBird? My local grocery store has an on-going promotion where you get “$6.00 off Your Next Order” coupon whenever you buy more than $200 in gift cards. So with that, I figure I can buy a $500 AmEx or Visa gift card and then use them to fund BlueBird. Essentially, they will be paying me $1.05 per $500 card to fund my BBird account. Just haven’t seen the specific steps to use AmEx or Visa gift cards to do so. From article above it says needs to be done at Walmart, but no mention of a pin. Is there a difference between a “prepaid” visa/AmEx and a “gift card” visa/AmEx? Thanks!

Al Merch March 24, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Would you mind sharing the strategy here? Can you load $1k from your CC to AP and transfer to a bank? Or does one need to send it to another AP user and then they send it back to you to transfer to your bank?

So you’d need a trusted friend with AP to use this strategy if one cant open multiple accounts. What about a family member opening an account but linking my bank to their AP so they can send it straight to my bank without having to send a payment back to AP1?

Dharmesh Patel April 8, 2014 at 12:31 am

Hey Jason, can you help me understand the value of buying $500 GCs and cashing them out? I seem to get lost on figuring out the part on how to recoup $4.95 activation fee. Thanks!

Dharmesh Patel April 8, 2014 at 12:33 am

Hey Jason, I am stuck on figuring out how to recoup the lost of $4.95 activation fee per $500 gc. Can you please explain this to me? I currently liquidate these gift cards by BB and Walmart money orders

Cindy May 15, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Walgreens sell One Vanilla cards all over Denver.

Dude June 24, 2014 at 5:42 pm

1K/day makes it 30K. I am okay in that range.

pat July 1, 2014 at 9:27 pm

Word of warning, apparently you can not load American express gift cards on to the Target card for American Express. I was able to do it yesterday but not today and was treated quite rudely. I just want to send a word of warning out to people about this product.

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