Buying Vanilla Reloads With a Credit Card: Alternatives To CVS

by on April 8, 2014 · 110 comments

in TPG Contributors, Vanilla Reloads

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Buying Vanilla Reloads has been an important part of a lot of people’s credit card strategy of late. Unfortunately, CVS has stopped accepting credit cards for Vanilla Reload purchases, but TPG contributor Jason Steele shares some strategies and tips on where else you can find them and still buy them with points-earning cards.

Unfortunately, many stores that sell Vanilla Reloads will not accept credit cards for them.

Unfortunately, many stores that sell Vanilla Reloads will not accept credit cards for them.

Friday was a sad day for those who have been purchasing Vanilla Reload cards at CVS, as registers were hardcoded not to accept credit cards. Not having any CVS stores in Denver where I live, I have long sought other places to buy these valuable products with my credit card.

Other places to buy Vanilla Reloads

According to their web site, there are 38 stores that sell Vanilla Reloads, other than CVS. The problem is finding those that accept credit cards for their purchase.

After searching my local area stores, as well as reports on the Internet, this is what I know about who does and does not sell Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.

Where else can you buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card?

Where else can you buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card?

Stores that are known to be hardcoded against purchasing Vanilla Reloads with a credit card:

  • 7-Eleven - It was possible until earlier this year.
  • Dollar General – I don’t believe that it was ever possible.
  • Family Dollar – I don’t believe that it was ever possible.
  • Walgreens – I was able to until sometime last year.
  • Walmart – I don’t believe that it was ever possible, although you can load your Bluebird from the registers using a debit card.
  • Office Depot – Possible until late 2012.
  • Kum N Go – Seems to have worked until mid 2013.
  • H-E-B has over 150 stores in Texas, but reports like this one on FlyerTalk indicate that it is hardcoded not to accept credit cards.
  • Sunoco is a large gasoline chain in 23 states along the east coast and the Midwest. Reports like this one on FlyerTalk say that it is hardcoded not to accept credit card purchases.
  • The Pantry operates under the Kangaroo Express name in 13 states in the southeast and Midwest, but this report on FlyerTalk says it doesn’t work.

Stores that may allow purchases with a credit card:

As with nearly all products sold for manufactured spending, unless it is hardcoded, the acceptance of a credit card at a particular chain can vary based on the location and even the cashier who helps you.

  • TA Petro - This is a chain of 252 truck stops throughout the United States. I have made credit card purchases in the past, but the biggest issue I find is that many stores do not keep the products in stock. Here is a link to their store locator.
  • Valero – This is a large, nationwide gasoline retailer. In my experience, these gas stations are not hardcoded against credit card purchases, but many have policies forbidding cashiers from allowing customers to use credit cards. Here is a link to their store locator.
  • Spartan Stores operates grocery stores under many different brand names in the upper Midwest. There are reports of Family Fare stores accepting credit card purchases of Vanilla Reloads recently.
  • Cumberland Farms 600 stores in 11 states, largely in former Gulf gas stations in the northeast, but this report on FlyerTalk seems to exclude it.
  • Sheetz is a convenience store chain in the mid-Atlantic states but it appears to be cash only now when it comes to Vanilla Reloads

No Data Points

Since I have no information on many of these stores that are in places that I don’t live or visit, please feel free to add your experiences to the comments, and we can update the list:

Associated Food Stores - This is not a chain, but it appears to be a supplier for independent grocers around the country. Here is a link to their store locator.

Basha’s is a grocery store chain in Arizona. Here is a link to their store locator.

Brookshire Brothers is a grocery and pharmacy store based in Texas. Here is a link to their store locator.

Dash In Food Stores - This is a chain of convenience stores in the mid-Atlantic. Here is a link to their store locator.

Discount Drug Mart is an Ohio chain. Here is a link to their store locator.

Fas Mart operates convenience stores in Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Tennessee. Here is a link to their store locator.

Fiesta Mart is a chain of grocery stores in the Houston area. Here is a link to their store locator.

Flash Foods operates over 170 convenience stores in Georgia and Florida. Here is a link to their store locator.

Food City is a growing supermarket chain in Southwest Virginia and east Tennessee Here is a link to their home page with a store locator.

Holiday Station Stores has locations in Alaska, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Here is a link to their store locator.

Hucks is a chain of gas stations and convenience stores in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Here is a link to their store locator.

Kerr Drugs is a pharmacy chain in the Raleigh North Carolina area that was recently purchased by Walgreens. The merger is expected to be completed by June, so if they will sell you Vanilla Reloads with a credit card, they probably won’t for long. Here is a link to their store locator.

Kwik Fill is a chain of gas stations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Here is a link to their store locator.

Kwik Trip operates over 450 Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Hearty Platter and Tobacco Outlet Plus stores throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Here is a link to their store locator.

Murphy USA operates gas stations in 23 stores throughout the west, Midwest, and southeast. Here is a link to their store locator.

Save Mart Supermarkets is a California based chain with 226 stores. Here is a link to their home page with a store locator.

Spinx Stores is a convenience store chain in North and South Carolina. Here is a link to their store locator.

Stripes is a convenience store chain in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Here is a link to their store locator.

Town Pump is a chain of 26 gas stations in Montana. Here is a link to their store locator.

Village Pantry and the Next Door Store has 167 locations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. Here is a link to their store locator.

Wesco is a gas station chain in Michigan. Here is a link to their store locator.

Worsley  operates stores in the Southeast under the brand names BreadBox, Scothchman, Li’l Cricket, Youngs’s Everyday Shop, and Cigarette City. Here is a link to their store locator.

Have you continued buying Vanilla Reloads with a credit card? If so, where and what are the details?

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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  • SantiHolly Speranza

    Kwik Trips are hard coded to not accept cards anymore… I just called about 4 in Wisconsin over the weekend and they told me they coded their POS to not accept Credit Cards for Vanilla cards anymore.

  • Jesse

    I haven’t been recently, but Spinx stores (South Carolina) only allow a max of $250 in one purchase per day. I’ve had it at two different locations, one that would allow $253.95 ($250 + $3.95 fee)and one that would only allow $249.95 ($246 + $3.95 fee). Not really worth my time even at 5% back.

    Kangaroo locations seem to work, even though the workers seem shocked you want to buy multiples of $500 at a time…

  • M

    This is why we can’t have nice things.

    CVS just died. How about we mourn in silence rather than loudly hoarding like zombies to the next options?

  • Robert Dwyer

    In Massachusetts Cumberland Farms is definitely hard coded not to allow credit cards. Sunoco’s activation process is a bit quirky. At some locations, the cash register is separate from the machine that activates the VR so you can potentially get into a situation where the cashier successfully swipes your credit card then the activation machine says cash only. The net of it is the policy is no credit cards for VRs at Sunoco so I’ve given up on Sunoco. Valero stations don’t have them here as far as I have seen. I see no viable options for buying VRs with credit card in Massachusetts.

  • Jonatas Silva

    one must strike when the iron is hot

  • Jonatas Silva

    Brian, what about Moneypaks?

  • Ryan

    Same with every location I’ve tried in southwest CT

  • K2

    Looks like we’ll have to go about purchasing gift cards with the ability to create PINs and load them at the Money Center kiosks in Walmart. Unfortunately, that will devalue our points because the fees for gift cards are higher than Vanilla Reloads.

  • Grumpy

    Aside from Vanilla, are there other ways to earn points while loading up Bluebird?
    Can someone elaborate on the ‘giftcards at walmart’ option?

  • MarcMon

    Fiesta is cash only

  • Mehul Sheth

    I tried Hucks about a year ago-cash only…

  • Becky B

    I have a Suntrust Delta Skymiles debit card. Does anyone know if I can purchase VR with that but NOT as a cash advance?

  • Charlie

    Holiday Stationstores don’t accept credit cards in my experience.

  • jtgray

    This one’s over fellas. Hopefully, we have new opportunities in the future.

  • Eliza Travels

    Save Mart Supermarkets are cash only for VRs I tried a couple times last year.

  • Brad

    Jason, I’m in the Denver area and my only recent source has been Valero, but now none of the stores remotely close to me (south) are stocking the cards.
    Have you found anything locally?

  • Tony

    Valero I haven’t had a problem buying VR, but having them stock is a problem.

    Basha’s and Food City are owned by the same company here in Arizona, but they are a pain to purchase VR’s.

  • Donnie Law

    There’s a Valero by me that as of a few months ago stocked VR cards. I never tried to purchase with a CC because there’s a CVS across the street!

    I’ll try at Valero tomorrow.

  • Andy

    I went in person and tried. No credit card purchase of Vanilla Reloads or VISA/MC gift cards with pins.

  • - -

    Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered…

  • Chuck

    Tried 2 Dash In’s in Maryland, both hardcoded to not allow credit cards.

  • ttxtri

    i wonder how much this will effect CVS in annual sales? Not that it will hurt them, but every time i bought my VR cards, I would all get like $20-30 in stuff I didn’t really need but just bought anyhow. They will missout on those sales also along with the easiest money they will ever make selling $3.95 per card, reload card.

  • Carrie

    Why a pain?

  • Nellwal

    I just came back from Food City and while I was able to buy a vanilla reload with my credit card – it was only because the cashier made a mistake and they weren’t able to back it out. So the manager approved it for me. But they did say debit and cash only. I felt bad for the cashier because I think I got her in trouble… :-(

  • Patrick

    So in other words, this particular blog article gave no info as to where you COULD use your credit card. Only nope, maybe and no data. Hmmmm… not what the title suggested.

  • Esther

    Everytime I go into a Valero and ask if they have a Vanilla reload card, they act clueless.

  • MissVRatCVS

    Fiesta is cash only, hard-coded at register.

  • The Travel Sisters

    Grumpy, Instead of buying Vanilla reloads at CVS buy a gift card for $500. Then read instructions about getting a PIN number (some cards you pick any PIN first time you use it). Go to Walmart and say you want to load Bluebird using your debit card (you are using the gift card as a debit card).

  • Nellwal

    But can’t you only load $100 a day using a debit card with Bluebird? Is that correct?

  • nellwal

    CVS dead here too – East TN Noooooooo!

  • Juno

    I also have the suntrust Delta check card. Has anyone had any success?

  • MD

    The $100 limit is for adding cash with debit card ONLINE. Walmart limit is $1000/day up to $5000/mo.

  • Addie

    Worked for me using Visa and MC gift cards with PIN.

  • nellwal

    Oh thank you so much.

  • Addie

    Kerr Drugs here in the Raleigh area accept cash or debit cards. Yes, you can use GC’s with PIN.

  • Steve

    how about reloading my Serve American express
    card using my credit card.

  • Steve

    in north carolina reloading my Serve American express using credit cards.

  • Jasmine

    Ya still a pain to have to go to a Walmart 5 separate times a month.

  • David Moore

    So I’ve tried Food City in E. TN area and they did allow me to buy with a credit card, however — it required a manager’s approval, so it was kind of tedious. I’ve done it twice with them.

  • Tony

    You have to ask for them at the customer service desk and at times they do not have any….

  • Dawk

    i attempted this and tried to reload the bluebird online but it would not allow it. do i need to attempt this in person at wally world?

  • Drew

    What about getting an AMEX Serve and reloading with your CC?

  • SomeDooD

    I believe if you’re trying to do more than $100 you will have to do it instore.

  • Marlin

    Discount Drug Mart close to me in NE Ohio won’t let you buy any kind of cash card with a credit card.

  • tjh8402

    Where have y’all found $500 gift cards that you can buy with a credit card?

  • K2

    Definitely have to do it in store. Preferably at a kiosk and not a live person…I tried that one time and they didn’t understand what I was asking.

  • Dharmesh Patel

    Chicago: Able to purchase 10 $500 GC with pin and used BB for the first 1k in a day and got Walmart money orders for $499.30. ($.70 fee). Done! Dont know if it is worth it though using chase cards. Any advice?

  • Wassup

    Where in denver area can you do this?

  • shark

    Yeah, my thought precisely- worthless article

  • Sylvia

    Thanks for posting this. I spent Sunday checking out 5 different stores listed on the VR “where to buy” page, and all were cash only. So your article is going to save me a lot of time as I, for the most part, will discontinue my search.

  • David

    Use the Suntrust Delta debit card at Walmart to load BB with no fee! $1000 a day. Do it all the time.

  • Jim

    I think the beauty of this article is that we as a community can say where we have hits and misses. Kind of help each other out, instead of expecting TPG to go store to store researching every possible option. I was able to use my MileagePlus card to purchase VR ONCE at Walgreens, and then I was done! Most every place now requires cash…

    However, after reading other posts, there might be some options using gift cards. The WalMart giftcard/PIN option looked like it might work. Time for experimentation.


  • Kami

    If I get an Amex Serve card and use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to fund the Amex account, will Chase charge me cash advance fees?

  • Jasanna

    Just FYI, Kwik Trips in Des Moines are a no go with a cc.

  • Stogs2

    Village Pantry in Indianapolis was cash only. Not sure if it’s hardcoded or not, as the cashier refused to even try.

  • Jesse

    That depends where you get it. At a bank, yes. At a store, probably not.

  • Jesse

    Kangaroo Express stores, CVS (One Vanilla), etc.

  • Jesse

    So just use a card that will get you at least enough cash back to cover your fees or a 5x category card and you’ll be fine.

  • Jesse

    This has to be in person/at the Walmart ATM. If you add the giftcard to the website, Amex will put a hold on it until they verify with you (via a 3-way call) that that card is yours. Leave a debit card in the account that’s already been verified (like the Paypal Mastercard) and then use the giftcards to swipe reload in-store. Use the Paypal Mastercard for 1% cashback each month loading the Bluebird that way. Easy money!

  • Correction

    The name is Bashas’ not Basha’s. It was founded by Mr. Bashas. Although Bashas’ has an operation in AZ called Food City, this is not the Food City in the southeast, that is owned by K-VA-T Food Stores.

  • moburke

    I bought my first Vanilla just as experiment at Walgreen’s here in WA the other day. I was paying with a PayPal M/C debit card and the little pinpad assumed debit, but you can push the cancel button and then explicitly choose credit and sign.

    If that works for other people there’s a Walgreen’s branded card with $2.95 fees I was going to try.

  • AK

    Wait – you can load normal gift cards (non-Vanilla reload) ONLINE? Even if there is a $100 daily limit – it would still be far easier for me. I don’t have any Walmarts within 1 hour drive.

  • K2

    The problem I’ve run into with buying gift cards is that you have to set the PIN after the first purchase. So I end up having to buy something like a pack of gum at the register in order to set it and thus kinda increase me “fee” of utilizing that gift card. Any suggestions as to which gift cards come with PINs automatically set?

  • Mark

    Confirmed: Village Pantry in Ohio allows credit card to purchase Vanilla Reload cards

  • tjh8402

    so you go to CVS, but the $500 one vanilla card, and that should have the pin code to reload your bluebird at wal mart?

  • Devon

    Nope, you don’t have to buy anything first. Adding the money to your Bluebird and choosing a PIN at that point is setting the pin for the card. So basically you only have to use the GC’s once and enter any number you like as the PIN at the time of loading the BB. Hope that helps!

  • Jesse

    The OneVanilla PIN is the last four digits of the actual card #. No activation/registration needed.

  • Munich

    I just started using BB with Vanilla… last month I was able to purchase at CVS via CC in NYC, however I cannot now for sure, I checked yesterday at the same location that sold it to me last month. No luck. So I don’t have access to wallmark… is there a online option where I buy a GC online and load to BB? If I have to purchase a normal GC which one do I purchase? Can I do so at a CVS? I am OK if can only load $100 per day via this? help

  • scott

    I’ve been able to buy VR’s at a Circle K. The clerks were clueless on how to do it with a cc and it took about 5 minutes. There were also very few on the rack so it doesn’t look like they stock them often.

  • Becky B

    Yes, I know I can do that, but WM is 30 minute drive from my house, whereas I can get VR at CVS in a 5 min drive.

  • seb13

    Is this confirmed with a credit card?

  • John Rich

    Just called 10 Valero’s in the Atlanta area and the answer is a huge “No.”
    2 of them had disconnected phone #’s
    2 went to voicemail hell
    6 didn’t have a clue about what a Vanilla Reload was.

  • Phil


  • Becky B

    This sounds like I can use mile earning debit card for purchase of VR. I’m hopeful, anyway. I’ll try it as soon as ST card arrives. I know I could drive out to WM and just load directly from debit to BB at the machine, but honestly, I’d rather pay $3.95 x2 for $1000 and be able to load online. <$8 is totally worth NOT driving out there and dealing with WM.

  • Becky B

    OMG this is awesome. Both that you found a work around and that there’s a lower fee. Dang. I’ve got to try that. I’m also thrilled to here there was a debit option as I have the st debit.

  • Jeremy Gage

    Pardon my naiveté but is the whole point here to a) purchase a reloadable VISA gift card with a mileage or other points credit card and then b) go to an ATM and get the cash out that you just loaded in order to pay the previously mentioned mileage or points card? Thanks

  • Becky B

    moburke, which Vanilla did you get? Was it the reload or visa?

  • Rachel

    Addie, do you mind walking me (us) through the process one more time? I guess I’m a bit confused… Can you potentially get a Visa or MC gift card at an office supply store (x5 pts on Ink) then upload them directly to BB as debit cards?
    Please go step by step that would be so helpful. Many thanks.

  • ben

    Which store in Chicago? Thanks.

  • Dharmesh Patel

    CVS and Walgreens in the northwest suburbs will allow it. Walgreens does not scan your ID so you can buy as many as you want from various stores within a day.

  • moburke

    it was just the visa. not sure it’s any help but if it is, great :)

  • Jay

    Just to be clear you can buy the GC at Walmart and then immediately load them on to your BB with just a 70 cent fee per $500?

  • Clif

    They won’t even notice

  • maifriend

    Vanilla Reload web site says you can buy VR cards at Walmart. Has anyone tried to buy VR cards at walmart?

  • Noah

    Food City in Eastern Tennessee accepts CC to load Vanilla Reloads. I bought some yesterday. No issues and loaded 1500

  • sircram

    Has anyone tried Serve?

  • Luke

    Can you elaborate a little more? You bought 10 $500 Wal Mart Gift Cards or 10 $500 Visa Gift Cards? Did you buy them at Wal Mart? Then put 1k onto Bluebird. How do the money orders come into play?


  • Dharmesh

    I bought $500 VISA gc. I bought them at CVS and Walgreens. You cannot use credit for VISA cards at walmart. There registers are hard coded not to accept them. I put 1k onto bb per day through the money center express atm. 1k is the limit per day, per card. I could make 4 more trips to walmart do cash out the rest but I just went to the customer service counter and bought 8x $499.30 money orders. each done separately. With Walmarts .70 fee, the total was $500, which emptied out the $500 I bought.

  • HunnerWoof

    Many of the cards tell you right on the pack that the PIN is the last 4 digits of the card.

  • HunnerWoof

    They have to be PIN based cards, and then you can load them to BB online ($100 per day) or at the store with a cashier or using the Money Machine terminal.

  • MLH

    That’s what I’m using, no issues so far. Not 100% smooth, but no issues.

  • MLH

    I’m currently doing exactly what you proposed, and no they don’t charge cash advance fees. I signed up for Serve online.

  • imthatguy87

    Some Family Dollar locations do accept credit cards

  • Daniel Stephens

    Any luck in the minneapolis area? superamerica? holiday?

  • Level Up Your Ledger

    Do you then turn around and use the money orders to pay off the credit card you used to purchase the Visa GCs? That’s my biggest concern. Even if I put every dime of my spending on a CC, I’m still not going to clear $5,000 in 3 months. It won’t even be close. I’m afraid the interest will negate any mileage bonuses!

  • Dharmesh

    Yes you can deposit them to any bank. Money orders are good as cash. You can easily hit 5k in one day by doing this.

  • Natalie

    Cool! I’ll try them

  • PointsRule

    CVS would normally let me buy two card at $500 each per day. Today the cash register declined the credit card I was using. Cash only at CVS. I did find a Vallero gas station that would sell me one $500 card per day. I’m going back in the morning to get a second.

  • LAKnight

    Would you mind to tell us which city you are in? I don’t see any Valero carries Vanilla Reload in Southern California area.

  • Kim P

    I work at a Village Pantry in Indiana. We only accept cash for the cards, and an employee who accepts any other type of payment would be fired on the spot.

  • LMagendie

    Hi Dharmesh! Thank you so much for your info. I’m slightly confused and am hoping you might be able to clarify. How and why would you get Visa gc if you just noted that you cannot use credit cards to purchase Visa cards at Walmart? Also, I just checked Walmart Money Order and it says on the site that they only accept cash, pin-based debit cards, and walmart money cards). Can you please explain how you were able to go from using a points earning credit card to depositing your money order to a bank account? Thank you!

  • Dharmesh

    I said that you can purchase Visa gc at CVS and Walgreens with credit cards. You cannot purchase them at Walmart with credit cards. These visa giftcards that you purchase at walgreens and cvs are debit pin based cards. Majority prepaid cards are. There is no actual pin number. However just pick any 4 digit pin during checkout for money order and it will work.

  • confused

    What city please?

  • geroge

    please i need to purchase card

  • justgar

    can you buy vreloads online

  • Pepe99

    If you need to ask, you’re at the wrong blog :-)

  • bryan

    This idea doesn’t put you out ahead. The card costs $4.95 and you lose $.70 on the money order. If you get $500 worth of spending it will really only equal 500-1000 points in most cases which is roughly worth $4-10 range.

  • SadZieN

    Once you load the money into bluebird can’t you pay off online in the Bill pay section of bluebird? And skip the money order part?

  • Debo

    SadZien, yes you can do that, but if you wanted the cash for some reason, you would want to get money orders.

  • RaJa

    Is there a monthly limit on AMEX serve in how much you can load from your CC?

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