Has CVS Stopped The Purchase of Vanilla Reloads With Credit Cards?

by on April 2, 2014 · 220 comments

in Prepaid/ Reloads, Vanilla Reloads

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Over the weekend speculation was rampant as to whether CVS would stop allowing the purchase of Vanilla Reloads with credit cards thanks to a memo someone spotted in their local store to that effect.

While on Sunday and Monday it seemed like business as usual at most CVS stores, @MattEatsWings tweeted me yesterday with the following picture of a memo from his local store:

BkK6vJGCIAEyxnLAs you can see, it says that Vanilla Reload Network cards will no longer be available for purchase using a credit card starting April 4, 2014 – that’s Friday!

That said, Team TPG (so far) hasn’t seen this memo at the cashier at any of their local CVS’s in New York or California, but we’re keeping an eye out and would love for readers to share any intel from around the country.

One reader tweeted me yesterday to say that the memo in his Tri-State Area store said that the new regulation was in effect in New Jersey and New York – and that even when managers try to override the system to allow the credit card purchase, it is being rejected. The same thing happened to TPG’s director of operations, Kate, at her local CVS store last night – so it looks like the change might already be underway.

According to the Star-Ledger, this policy change comes in the wake of a fraud case where two men from Queens, NY, were arrested Saturday at the Borgata casino and hotel in Atlantic City for allegedly trying to charge over $500,000 over the past two years. Prosecutors said that the two culprits used fraudulent Capital One credit cards to Vanilla Reload cards at CVS locations and then deposited them to American Express accounts where they could then access the funds.

While the details of this new policy are unclear, it looks pretty certain that at least stores in New York and New Jersey will see some sort of policy change in the coming days, and that thanks to new point of service cash register technology, this new policy might roll out region by region over the whole CVS chain the coming days and weeks.

This means a couple things. First, CVS raised their daily Vanilla Reload purchase limit to $5,000 back in August, so if your CVS is still stocking them and letting you purchase them with a credit card, you should probably try to stock up. Just remember you can only load up to $5,000 in Vanilla Reloads into your American Express Bluebird debit/checking alternative account per calendar month, so you might get stuck waiting another month to load more funds.

Vanilla Reloads used to be a great way to generate points-earning spend.

Stock up on your Vanilla Reloads while you can!

This is terrible news for many of us who use Vanilla Reloads totally legitimately in conjunction with American Express Bluebird to pay bills, send money and generally earn credit card points and spending on transactions that credit cards are not always eligible for such as mortgage and rent payments, healthcare premiums and more. I also find them useful for meeting minimum spending requirements for credit card sign-up bonuses as well where you can purchase Vanilla Reloads using your new card then use the funds to pay your everyday bills.

All in all, this could be very bad news for many of us legitimate Vanilla Reload users, and if your store is still allowing you to use a credit card to purchase them, I’d say to stock up as much as possible. In the meantime, if any of you have seen similar memos in your CVS stores, please report back in the comments what they have said and where you’re based.

For more information on Vanilla Reloads, see these posts:

Maximizing Prepaid / Reloadable and Reload Cards For Points And Miles – Choosing Which Credit Card To Use
Maximizing Prepaid and Reload Cards For Points and Miles
CVS Raises Daily Vanilla Reload Purchase Limit to $5,000
Maximizing Reload Cards – Vanilla vs. GreenDot vs. ReloadIt
My Permanent Amex Bluebird Card is Active and the Points Are Flying

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.

Previous post:

Next post:

  • Ken

    On Monday my favorite 2 CVS’s in Southern NJ were cash only. Clerks didn’t know anything about it, the register stopped them I swiped my Sapphire card.

  • Justin

    Not in the NW Philly burbs. Bought $10k Monday and Tuesday with my BA Visa. No issues.

  • Jason

    My CVS in Pittsburgh was still allowing it as of 3/31. The clerk at first thought you couldn’t use credit cards but said the machine would accept it so she swiped and it worked. Hopefully nothing has changed yet!

  • Robert P

    I was told by my local CVS (in Ohio) yesterday that it would be the last day. They had a mini-wake for me

  • Bob

    Can you do a post on how to effectively use gift cards with a pin, to load bluebird at walmarts? And the best place to buy them?

  • Andy

    I saw the same memo in West Subs of Chicago CVS yesterday.

  • 1Eric1

    I went to CVS on Monday morning in NYC.. cashier & manager had no idea about the memo or change but the system would not accept credit cards.

  • Rob philip

    While this doesn’t directly affect me, I always wonder about these fraud cases.

    Whenever I buy gift cards at my local Safeway, they make sure that the name on the credit card matches my driver’s license. That’s not going to be especially practical with stolen credit cards, is it? Also, given all the fear in the blogging community of “financial reviews” where was AMEX in all this? I mean, seriously – half a million dollars?

  • MJ

    I second that. If CVS rolls out the policy for VRs to be cash only, can you give us a detailed post (as always) ?
    This would be very beneficial to all of us, who are used to VRs for the legitimate manufactured spending on our credit cards….

  • Ricardo Seir

    Saw the memo in Ann Arbor, MIchigan. Cashier then said that friday would be the last day.

  • Maddy

    Cash only now in Madison WI. Think this gig is up :(

  • Alex

    does it mean there is now no way to buy reloads w/ CC anywhere and count towards CC purchase for points?

  • Scott

    Unfortunately this looks dead in NYC. I was able to purchase reloads last night – April 1 at a CVS (10:00 pm) and had no issues. The manager said they would be able to process reloads until April 4. This morning (April 2) I tried again and the CVS register prompted an error stating that the cards were cash only effective immediately.

  • Vale

    cash only for sure at all Duane Reade/ Walgreens in Manhattan (when they scan the card, it shows up you can only pay cash..).
    I was still able to buy with CC at CVS last friday…

    but tell me one thing pointsguy..
    if they do not allow you to buy these cards with CC, this business is over…
    I mean, I buy vanilla reload and I have a bluebird account cause I can make miles on rent payments and other cash expense (as all the others miles-addicted here)..
    if that’s not possible, I will not buy anymore vanilla cards and I will not use anymore the Amex Bluebird account..simple..

    am I wrong?

  • Ryan

    I was able to purchase on Monday in southern CT, and on Tuesday there was a system halt at the register. Sales associate had no clue, and no signs posted, but the game ended for me at my local CVS on 4/1…no fooling!

  • Steven

    Stopped in two CVS locations yesterday (4/1). At the first one the cashier told me it was cash only, and pulled out to look at the memo and said that it was the last day so I could use a CC, and that it changes to cash only on 4/2. I stopped in another location about a mile down the road and the cashier didn’t say anything about it changing and I purchased two cards as usual. These two are in central VA.

  • Jonatas Silva

    Tried it yesterday in Boston, register would only accept cash :-(

  • nsant

    @Bob, @MJ: Why should he spend time giving you a detailed how-to when a
    simple google search will give you all the information you need?
    Another google search will show you the memos showing that it is indeed over by the end of the week – if not sooner.

  • Mike

    Went to two CVS’s this morning in Philly suburbs. Both had the memo placed on the counter taped down and reading what @MattEatsWings wrote. Very dissapointing. I have a couple other’s to check and will be back with a report.

  • nsant

    @Vale: It’s only over if you don’t bother to research alternatives.

  • WhatsInaName

    3 CVS stores in Hoboken/JC, all reloadables via cash only!

  • Dave D

    Boston CVS was not able to even swipe a credit card for purchase of VR. The POS system was not allowing it. What’s next for meeting minimum spend?

  • Ben

    Hey Steven – Could you be specific about ‘central VA’ ? Was it RVA by any chance?

  • Josh

    Visited my favorite CVS locations in North Texas this morning, and both had the same policy — cash only. And to think I was just getting good at the Vanilla reload game. Major Bummer

  • dd

    Since the VR seem to be on the outs. Would it be a good time to switch to Serve? From what I understand you can can load up to $1000 per month on your CC with no fee. It might not be as much but it’s better than 0.

  • Steven

    Hey Ben-yep, the two are out on Patterson. The one that didn’t say anything about the changeover was close to Patterson & Parham.

  • nsant

    @dd:disqus: You can load $1500 if you sign up for Serve through the Isis app on an enabled phone.

  • jasmine

    They stop selling via credit card in DC/Northern Virginia area today. Just tried and it is hard coded into the system cash only. Back to the Walmart grind.

  • jasmine

    Its $1000 per account per day which means at least 5 trips to Walmart. It works but very time consuming.

  • Prawn

    Purchased vr last night in Houston CVS on amex gold pr – no problem. It is the only place in the area, that I’ve found, that allows vr to be purchased with cc. They will not sell more than two per day, and each 500$ reload is processed separately. They are also frequently sold out.

  • HoustonRobert

    Welcome to the real world. If you can’t do the spend, don’t get the card.

  • Elyse

    The cashier at my local CVS in Atlanta (Ansley Mall location) told me Monday that it would be cash only for the VR’s starting 4/4 and that she thought it was a system-wide update. I tried again last night since they only let me buy $1000/day and it was still working.

  • Ankur

    It’s game over in Boston as well. Tried to get a Paypal cash card at Walgreens and was asked use either cash or debit. Amazon payments and gift cards are the only remaining options it seems.

  • Martin

    TPG, you should write an article telling people the alternatives to the VR cards. Are there any low fee reloadable cards that can be purchased with point earning credit cards? Everyone should now dump the VR and BlueBird cards!!! What’s the point of buying the VR cards with cash?

  • LuvVacations

    No CVS’s in all of Colorado so unable to take advantage of this. Lowe’s locally don’t even sell Visa gift cards so unable to reload Bluebird this way with Freedom quarterly bonus. Local Walmarts don’t sell Visa gift cards. Local 7-11s, Conoco’s, and other gas stations force cash only purchases for Vanilla Reloads so unable to use Freedom quarterly bonus. Local Office Depots force cash only for VRs/Visa gift cards so unable to use Ink Bold/Plus office supply 5x purchases. Local Walgreen’s force VR cash only purchases so no points accumulation allowed. Your earlier Bluebird/VR articles sounded so easy at first glance to rack up all these points/miles until further investigation on local options for purchasing either VRs or Visa Gift cards discovered running into brick wall after brick wall at all these different supposedly easy purchase locations that don’t exist in Colorado and probably other places in the US as well.

  • Martin

    The two fraudsters are hurting all of us good consumers. They should be found guilty and locked up for 30 years!!!

  • David

    Cvs on 23rd and park. Cash only now.

  • Nick

    VRCs are dead on Long Island cvs locations and have been since yesterday morning. It’s hard coded into the cash register

  • dd

    Thanks! Good to know.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Good Consumers? Are you crazy? How is churning like this making you a “good consumer”?

  • Curtis

    You’re late to the party with this post. Many many places all shutdown already, including my home area of DFW.

  • Ganesh

    It has been hard coded in all of the CVS stores in lower Manhattan for at least four months. I’ve tried a points earning debit card and credit card but no dice. Cash only and hard coded into their system. Also a no go at three 7/11s in Manhattan that I have found with VRs. No hard coded restriction pops up but the transaction won’t go through. Also a no-go at a dedicated Wallgreens and DuaneReeds. Fail.

  • Justin Drake Carroll

    I am in Virginia and to be honest, I think this is a false alarm in terms of the hard coding—I think it is ultimately up to the store associate as to whether they know about this policy or not. I think many of those who say they are having trouble charging are simply over their $5K spend limit for the day. I’m also using a dated CVS store.

  • nsant

    @Justin: You keep telling yourself that. Beside the nationwide reports of registers being hard-coded not to accept, there is this.

  • Brian

    I live in California and I’ve been to CVS, Walgreens, Ralphs and 7Eleven and none would let me buy Vanilla or Green Dots with a CC.

  • Martin

    YOu obviously could not read and distinguish between a good and bad consumer (AKA fraudster).

  • Scott

    I just visited a CVS in Charlotte, NC and they will only accept cash as well. They did not give me an effective date. I was able to use my credit card to purchase Vanilla Reloads last week at this same CVS. If there is any other way to use our credit cards to pay mortgages, rents and the like, I hope someone posts it.

  • EArcher

    I am in MA here and I tried two different CVS’s neither would let me do it. One stopped me fore I could try and the other actually attempted to let me pay but the register said invalid payment method and wouldn’t let it go through.

  • Sara

    I was just turned down at my usual CVS in Boston yesterday. The manager said the new policy went into effect on April 1st (If only it were an April fools prank)

  • Vale

    @nsant:disqus like this serve I see you are talking about? $1,500 is not even enough for the rent..
    if you have other ways I would be glad to know those..or just tell the keywords and I will google…thanks

  • What shall we kill next?

    I think it’s hilarious just how clueless all of you are now that the vanillas gravy train has come to an end. Begging TPG to hold your hand through another method to meet spend? Surely you’re aware that the card companies read this blog too right? In fact, despite what TPG says, they have editorial control and will tell him to take down posts that suggest things/methods they don’t like.

    The more popular, and widely circulated, the other methods become- the faster they’ll die. So if you don’t feel like doing any independent research, hop on the train and let’s see what you all kill next.

  • Evan

    Gig is up here in Dallas for VR’s…signs posted today that say April 1st Cash only…

  • JBP

    Why would the card companies be concerned with VR purchase with CC’s? They get the same fee as they would for any other purchase. CVS is the only party to lose in a VR purchase.

  • Mike

    Couldn’t agree more; I found a solution that works for me, though I’m not sure how sustainable it will be. Testing my theory.

  • John

    What’s a legitimate manufactured spending? Are you serious?

  • Laura

    Like many others have already reported, this has already happened in many places. It’s already in effect in NYC from what I experienced today (April 3rd). I went to 4 different CVS in Manhattan and the transaction is already hard-coded into the registers as CASH only.

  • Laura

    I tried this morning here in NYC and it was a no go too. Went to 4 different CVS store. I think they instituted this a couple of days ahead in NYC given the fraud issues here… RIP VR.

  • John

    Definitely right on the editorial content. Proof? Check the Chase reconsideration numbers. He took ALL of them down because Chase was pissed at all the people flooding the reconsideration lines.

  • Brian C. Lee

    Agreed. The idea of manufactured spending is blatantly unethical and borderline fraudulent, IMO.

  • Brian C. Lee

    Maybe actual, real spending?

  • Brian C. Lee

    Your second sentence is true, but your first one is ridiculous.

  • Eric

    I am a part of management at CVS in Illinois. This was not an April fools joke unfortunately. E-Mail went out to the entire chain about this topic. Still trying to dig further on why they decided on this as our stores are going to lose money.

  • Eric

    <–ASM at CVS. We actually don't lose anything when people are buying VR's. We still make $3.95 on each one. Multiply that buy the 40 VR's bought everyday = $158 everyday not counting towards our budget.

  • eawalsh

    So here’s a thought… Instead of giving up on the game, how about we use OUR resources? What if we each called VANILLA and asked where we could use our credit cards? It might take a month or two, but once they get it, I bet we’ll get a viable option back. We have the volume, and it’s better than quitting…

  • StL

    Purchased a VR with a CC at CVS in St. Louis area this morning (4/2) with no questions or problems at all. We’ll see what happens by the end of the week.

  • Jd

    CVS Harvard sq has a new sign saying only cash is accepted.

  • jasmine

    No false alarm. Its hard coded just like the moneypacks

  • Dave

    Went to two CVS stores this morning in Northern Virginia and it is hard coded into their POS. The manager said that yesterday (4/1) it worked but today it doesn’t. He even let me try but the computer denied it.

  • David

    Another thought, Say, if the VR sale can be accumulated to the store sales performance. Then those store can generate huge figure of sales increase.

  • Susan

    Those of us who don’t have access to CVS have been doing this all along. It’s not rocket surgery. Million Mile Secrets spelled it all out last year.

  • bkc

    My wife and I bought $5,000 VR each yesterday using CCs. Today I bought $900 on a CC since it had not been 24 hours from my last purchase. We live in Orange, County, CA.

  • PHLF

    And what do you pay on interchange for the 40 x 503.95 = $20,158 a day?

  • Matthew Mansfield

    Could you explain how manufactured spending is unethical? I imagine the vast majority of people that use manufactured to accrue points are doing it within reason.

  • LAKnight

    I can’t agree more. Vanilla should sell its VR card online and accept credit card from customers like us.

  • PHLF

    I’ve tried repeatedly at 4 different CVSs in downtown philly since say late January. All had previously taken CCs for VRs but started refusing around last week in January. I tried different cashiers etc. No go.

  • LAKnight

    Eric, please share us which option you prefer. Still selling us VR card and taking credit card as payment option; or, seeing the stack of VR cards gathering dust in gift card section untouched for months.

    I am just curious how branch/store management see this.

  • Susan

    What part of CO are you in? In the western burbs of Denver I can buy Visa gcs at WM and Office Max with CCs. I was raking in the King Soopers fuel points last summer, but that sadly died. I still buy most of my gcs at KS and then I actually have to GO TO WALMART to load my Bluebird. OH THE HUMANITY.

    I will be horked if Rite Aid stops allowing Paypal purchase with CC though…

  • Prawn

    I’d also point out that I us vr to pay bills, not meet minimum spend – seems like there are ppl on here who think they’re only good for that.

  • Goal Sugar

    and Credit card companies charging you a $35 late fee, on a $15 balance is very legit..??

  • guest

    @John, April fool (your birthday) was yesterday, so yeah he sounds serious……

  • guest

    @brianclee:disqus, why do you come here and waste your precious time reading the site. If you do not understand anything, don’t be obnoxious and keep spamming the comments section. Get a life, bro

  • guest

    @nsant:disqus, chill dude. Nobody asked you to go through the process. Stop interfering. Is this your site? I guess not, so keep quiet and let TPG answer the question.

  • FlyingJoey

    I have 3 BlueBirds available to me. I will be devastated if I can no longer get reloads with my credit card :(

  • Goal Sugar

    This is probably Good for EveryBbdy… the heavy MSs doing 20K + per week of VR are those who take all the saver awards flying 4-5 times per year… and those people who saved the points for 3 years for a holiday can’t get no Awards…

  • JTP

    The point is… for people that don’t have banks. They get cash but they don’t have anywhere to store it– therefore buy VR with cash, load onto bluebird as a “bank.”
    Was the intended purpose.

  • Martin

    You are hypocrite, Lee.

  • Goal Sugar

    your damn right the store will lose money… I always buy household items at CVS when buying VSs always drops $20 + on items I need anyway, ei., (soap, cereal, milk, toiletries, Beer specially on Fridays, pain killers, batteries… and on and on.. in addition to shi!te that I dont need but buy on impulse there…

    Most people buy extra stuff when they go by VR..

  • Adam

    I would also love to know the exact steps to complete this too!

  • Joe

    Which country’s NYC are you in? I know it’s still April 2nd in NYC of the US …

  • joeypore

    Thing is… CVS pays a percentage on every credit card transaction, do they not?

    Even if it’s as low as 1%, that still ends up in $1 loss per card of $500…

  • joeypore

    There must be some sort of connection with the banks like Chase, AMEX, etc….

    Everyone I know who buys these said that in the last two days (4/1 & 4/2) that just about every purchase has been flagged as fraud.

    My SP got flagged, so I just used my freedom, but after making much larger VR purchases and only getting flagged once, to just about every transaction…

    I bet at least Chase was involved…

    In other news– I’ve seen reload cards (not VR but other similar cards) pop up with $995 reloads per card, for a $5.95 fee, but “Cash Only” is actually printed on cards.

  • D

    The CVS on Kings Hwy and Utica avenue in Brooklyn, NY says that their policy of no credit cards went into effect yesterday April 1,2014.

  • pirrc

    Devastated? Get some perspective.

  • Martin

    NO, if you have money, you can open a checking account which you then can use to pay different merchants. It’s cheaper to open a bank account than to load money to Bluebird. Banks also give out promos when you open a checking/savings account.

  • Ben

    Cvs at village (Patterson and three Chopt) is cash only as is the one you mentioned. The cards all rang up and it was processing as usual then stopped to ask for cash. Oh well

  • Martin

    You get real pirrc!!! Smart and savvy people like FlyingJoey would feel devastated by this rediculous new VR policy. CVS will lose. Us savvy, good consumers will lose out as well…Oh well.

  • JTP

    Some people can’t open a “real” bank account, which is the intended purpose of BlueBird. Think about it.

  • Steven

    Bummer. The cashier at the CVS at Lauderdale must have been right yesterday when she thought it started today. Thanks for the update.

  • Steve

    No go in SoCal.

  • Dean

    My Dallas CVS worked on Monday, but not on Tuesday :(

  • Eric

    What I find interesting is that the memo from CVS indicates that the reason is because of increased credit card fees. I don’t understand how CVS was making money in the first place. So they take the $3.95 from the card, but don’t they pay at least 1% credit card processing fee? At 1%, that’s a $5 fee for a $500 card. That would be a net loss.

    Maybe CVS previously had lower fees that meant they broke even on the cards, but have had fee increases such that selling them would result in a loss.

  • RDMM

    Game over in NH as well! Tried 2 different CVS, no success!

  • Savvy Consumer

    Just bought VRs using my credit card here in San Diego, CA. I couldn’t find them in the store in the cards section. Then went and asked the cashier, who gladly gave me the VRs and I used my credit card to pay for it. Worked fine!

  • Savvy Consumer

    Also, the cashier said that people are going crazy buying these cards and hence they had kept a few in the back instead of keeping it in front. However, she didn’t mention anything about the cash-only part.

  • FlyingJoey

    #1 It makes me a very desirable customer to my credit card company. So when I call them and ask them for bonus miles they will usually throw additional miles or bonuses my way. e.g. I get an extra 750 miles on my AA card every time I spend $750 in a month and they gave me a $100 statement credit. Mind you I have never paid an annual fee or a penny in interest.
    #2 In about 3 weeks I’m flying JFK-LHR / LHR-CDG / CDG-VIE / VIE-TXL / TXL-PUJ / PUJ-SJU-MCO and MCO-JFK using AAdvantage Miles. Some of the long haul segments are on Business class. Out of pocket it would have cost me thousand of dollars… with air miles under 700 bucks (BA over charges otherwise it could have been more affordable).

  • Got-99-problems-VR-is-one

    CVS on S. Cobb Drive in Atlanta, GA is cash only as off today. Glad I was able to get $2k yesterday!

  • thecanary

    No, they probably pay closer to a 3% fee which means that $1,000 costs them $30 and generates only $8 in revenue, and they probably split that $8 with the maker of the card. Don’t get me wrong, I have the $4k I managed to pick up this AM in my jacket pocket, but, its not hard to understand why they are stopping this, unfortunately!

  • Jb

    Its one thing to use vrs to pay mortgage rent etc to gain pts. If u were just buying vrs though to turn around and use them to pay off the cc than thats just unethical.

  • mobes

    Credit cards not working in Fairfield County CT. I tried to purchase VR at 3 CVS in different towns this morning and all were hard coded for cash only. One associate at CVS told me that the word came down yesterday and that credit cards will not work at any CVS locations.

  • Jake

    Please don’t focus on fake manufactured spending or any alternative methods. If folks need to be spoon fed then they shouldn’t be doing it. The less people manufacture spend the more award availability for those that genuinely earn it.

  • LAKnight

    I don’t know why… I got a feeling company like ChargeSmart is giggling in the backend… I don’t know why…

  • PHLF

    Your store is only losing gross sales not net. I don’t know what CVS’s interchange fee is – and its almost certainly priced as interchange plus – but I’m not aware of any retailers that pay less than 1% of all cc transactions. If you pay 0.75%, you’re probably breaking even on VRs. Anything above that, it’s a loss for CVS. That’s why stores dont take CCs for them.

  • [email protected]

    All the stores in Montgomery County, Maryland (DC Suburbs, and home to Adam Daniel Weiss) have a memo instructing them to accept cash only for beans starting friday 4/4. :-(

    Most of the CVS stores around here don’t have any beans left, anyway. Knew this had to come to an end at some point…

  • Bill

    Deal is dead in Houston, TX as well… Tried today at 4:30pm at my usual store and it is now hardcoded “cash only”. Clerk had no info at all, called the manager, tried override, no luck.

  • Brian C. Lee

    IMO, yes. When you spend money on a credit card the bank’s basically lending you money. I don’t have any problem with them penalizing you if you don’t pay your bills on time.

  • Brian C. Lee

    Why do you care what I do with my time?

  • LuvVacations

    90 min drive from downtown Denver: Out of 5 WMs locally, 0 offered Visa GCs. Out of 6 KSs locally, 0 offered Visa GCs. 4 Walgreens offered Visa GC but cash only. 20 different gas station from various companies disallowed CC purchase of VRs-cash only. Until find a store allowing Visa GCs or VRs with CC purchase, kind of pointless to drive to WM since nothing yet to load onto BB.

  • Dave L

    They are not paying 3% fees on these.

  • Darth Chocolate

    A good consumer does not churn and burn. You are abusing the system and now the system is abusing you.

    Karma is a cold-hearted bitch.

  • Dave L

    bluebirds are still OK if you have access to walmart. Every other card pretty much that you use with vanillas you are screwed with though.

  • Dave L

    this would be a horrible time to switch to serve. Load your BB at Walmart.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Now you all will have to meet spend by, you know, spending.

    The points cards were meant to be an enhancement to the FF programs, not a replacement for, you know, flying.

    Now, if the CC companies would just treat gift card purchases like a cash advance, there will be some justice in the world.

  • avery66

    I just bought two at a CVS in Burbank (April 2, around 2pm pacific) There weren’t any in the regular card kiosk, but I found two that I’d stashed behind some other cards near the register months ago (yes, I’m one of THOSE people) and I was able load $500 ea. The first CVS I tried (North Hollywood) didn’t have any.

  • thecanary

    Ya, so maybe the rate is 2.9% or 2.7%, there’s a break for volume, however I guarantee you that CVS loses money on every transaction. There is not way their bank is charging them the .8% that would be required to break even.

  • Dave L

    The rate is nowhere near that high. Huge businesses like CVS negotiate much better rates. They might be losing slightly on them, but they wouldn’t increase their limit to $5000 a day if they didn’t want people buying them.

  • jp30308

    Here is the break own as I see it. Vanilla benefits by earning the fee. The credit card companies benefit by receiving the fees. Amex Bluebird benefited by the gaining market share. CVS chose to sale the reloads and allow credit cards, they benefited by more foot traffic and likely additional sales. They may have been losing money with the credit card fees, if so they still chose to continue to allow credit cards. Everyone to include CVS had free will and CVS is free to change their policy at their will. Absolutely no fraud involved. If you view it as unethical that is your right, but I completely disagree.

  • Drew

    Gonna try my CVS tonight in Orange. They always have TONS of cards available, because I have a great relationship with 2 of the employees. They even put them aside for me. Hopefully I’ll have luck!

  • stars4sky

    This is sad news! I live in Alexandria, VA and was able to purchase 5k worth of vanilla reloads yesterday. Today I went to another CVS store and they said they have implemented cash only for VR purchases today. How disappointing. I hope the flyer experts have more ways for us to rack up points since we are using our cards legitimately.

  • Eric

    Correct. They do pay for every debit and credit purchase. I guess the percentage is high enough to call it quits on our VR. Ehh. Back to the Wal-Mart grind.

  • Holly Johnson

    Just bought 3K at 3 different CVS stores in Central Indiana. One CVS went to cash- the others didn’t

  • Matthew Goldman

    My theory on why it’s over:

  • Yasmin Catarino

    How would VR know you’re a “customer like us?” That is opening themselves up to a lot of risk that they wouldn’t be able to mitigate like a retailer would.

  • Jb

    Amen yo. If u cant meet the min spend than u dont deserve the promo. Its awful that i cant find award flights cause someone that is mf spending and prob collecting welfare and on food stamps is eating these vrs up. Yup thats me hating but ur the type thats diminishing rewards n gonna kill the rewards system alltogether.

  • Emily Poff

    Cash only here in Roanoke VA. Boo hiss.

  • Guest

    My CVS in Columbus OH said no to using credit card tonight for any of the prepaid cards. This was extremely fun while it lasted. If someone else knows who may accept credit cards for Vanilla Reload or PayPal, I would appreciate it.

  • Guest

    @brianclee:disqus, you can waste your time, no worries and nobody in this world cares even….. STOP WASTING OUR TIME!!

  • epaminondas3294

    Yeah the local CVS here in Groton, CT is also no longer accepting credit card payments for vanilla reload.

  • epaminondas3294

    How so? The credit card company charges a merchant fee for every transaction to the store you buy cards from, they do make money off of it. It’s not unethical, and there’s no such thing as “borderline fraudulent”, it either is or isn’t. And it’s not.

  • epaminondas3294

    And when you buy a vanilla reload card with a credit card, your credit card company makes money on that transaction. They charge the merchant a fee for every credit card transaction they make. It’s why a lot of gas stations will give you a lower price on gas if you pay cash.

  • epaminondas3294

    AMEX also benefits I might add to expanding their balance sheets. Notice any payments or transfer you make out of bluebird takes a few up to several days. That whole time they have access to capital interest free.

  • epaminondas3294

    I fail to see why. In every step of the process everyone involved benefits.

  • epaminondas3294

    It depends, I imagine Vanilla reload gives a cut of the fee to CVS. Maybe that cut is lower than the credit card transaction fee they have to pay, but unless we have access to CVS accounting sheets we won’t know the answer to that.

  • Mike

    CVS’s in Ohio stopped allowing credit cards today.

  • RJP

    The fee is a percentage of the $3.95… less whatever negotiated markup CVS arranged with VR. Credit card fee is not a percentage of the face value. Ever notice how it rang up as two items: the “money” and the “fee”?

  • Nate

    In Northwest Las Vegas. Swung by my favorite CVS store. Plenty of VRs. Very friendly cashier who I normally see showed me the memo saying that BY 4/4 certain cards will be cash only. I asked if it was BY or ON or AFTER 4/4. She said she didn’t know but that we could always try and see what happens. Like her attitude. Will try to get $5k until the register says “Oh no you don’t!”.

    1007.90 RIP (old school), 5039.50 RIP

  • shay peleg

    Well this would mean the credit card company is losing money on the transaction then

  • Bill

    I think you missed the above post. CVS pays merchant fees on the $3.95 fee not the merchant fees on the $500 “money”. The items come up separately on the receipt. They are definitely not losing money.

  • Gary70

    In NE Philly suburbs CVS. Bought $4k on Monday and $5K on Tuesday with Visa without issues. Wednesday was different story… hard stop at the register. Manager showed the letter that stated that multiple cards including VR’s are cash only as of 4/2/2014.

  • lilpony

    Just went to CVS on 14th and 8th in NYC and every employee was WELL versed that Vanilla reloads are cash only. Womp!

  • Fernando

    The 3 CVS stores in my area (Fort Worth) got the same memo.

  • Bill

    I’m in the same situation. But there are still several ways to do it. Look around on the interweb and you’ll find them…especially since bloggers are posting about what to do now that VR by CC are dead.

  • Brian C. Lee

    No one’s forcing you to read my comments. You’re free to scroll past them.

  • John

    Tomorrow will be the last day!

  • Drew

    Success!! My cvs hasn’t even heard of the new “rule” and this came from the manager himself. Bought $3k tonight and went through perfect.

  • john

    Gig is up this Friday!

  • Martin

    You are a TROLL, Brian C. Lee. People here should not be wasting their time on YOU.

  • Martin

    Don’t waste your time, the the buying/selling of the VR cards with credit cards are totally legit because of the mutual benefits involved as described by some of the posts above. You are right, there is no such as borderline fraudulent in this particular case. The only thing that is fraudulent is the credit card itself that is being used.

  • Martin

    These people are too shady! Sometimes are linked to terrorism. I won’t support that.

  • Martin

    SMART money does what it does. Your first statement is baseless. You are dealing with DUMP money.

  • Martin

    You are a troll.

  • Hoo Guest

    I’m in Charlottesville, and “to be honest,” our local CVS stores now are also “cash only” for the Vanilla Reload Cards.
    That said, they are prominently displaying loads of the new version of the “OneVanilla” Visa Debit Cards — also for $3.95 — though I gather we’ll have to take them to Walmart to load purchased value to BB account.

  • Blk Betty

    Miami’s been done for about a month now at CVS. Cash only.

  • Sylvia

    I had the same experience on Apr 2 in DC/Northern Virginia. It’s hard coded. The CVS cashier tried to override and the system wouldn’t let her.

  • Roni

    CVS in Texas no longer accepts credit cards, confirmed with my local store yesterday

  • bostongal

    boston is done- i went to my usual CVS, they swiped my amex and it seemed like it went through, the VR was in my bag, and then it said denied. I tried another CC and the manager came over and said they are only selling them for cash now. Disappointing.

    Does TPG have a plan how to get points using bluebird without CVS???

  • Steve-O

    If you have been a bad bank customer in the past (think bounced checks, unpaid fees, etc.), banks will not let you open a new account. That is the purpose of BlueBird and similar services, as JTP pointed out. Not for you to churn CC points.

  • reno

    Checked 2 in Boston yesterday. One was out of VRs and at the other, there was a register restriction (cash only).

  • FloridaTraveler

    After searching in three different CVS’ in Siesta Key (Sarasota, Fla) yesterday, a store clerk called for me to find a store in the area that still had VR’s available. One store clerk told me they were flying off the shelf like hotcakes yesterday. Went to the available store and bought $5,000 on credit card. None of the clerks knew about the new policy when asked. Headed back today for another round just in case this does roll out here tomorrow.

  • avery66

    Drew, any luck? We tried another CVS in North Hollywood last night and they didn’t have any

  • Glenn

    Just tried buying some today in WNY and no go. That sucks as I was making some good money off a 5% back card.

  • Mike

    I don’t understand how NOT accepting CCs for VRs would prevent fraudulent activity. Aren’t CCs easier to monitor than dirty cash from illegal activity like drug dealing and embezzlement? I could be a drug dealer off the street and convert my dirty money into reloads. At least with credit cards, there’s a paper trail that can be tracked.

  • snessnyc

    Slow down there – are you saying that if I go into my local Barnes & Noble and buy a gift card for my niece so that she can pick out her own books, that it should be considered a cash advance? Really?!?! Do you have any idea of what that would do to the bottom line of all of the major retailers across the country who rely on gift card sales for a significant portion of their revenue? Just who would it benefit and what problem would it solve?

  • Brian C. Lee

    You, too, are free to scroll past my comments.

  • Brian C. Lee

    Why? Because I disagree with you?

  • Eric

    The Vanilla Reload site lists 40 locations where it can be bought. Was CVS the only one on the list that allowed purchase with a credit card?

  • Drew

    Yep. They didn’t seem to know about the policy and my amex went through as always. They keep a ton of stock, it’s behind the registers, but there was a huge stack.

  • StL

    All done in St. Louis now. Three CVSs today all require cash “or debit card” to buy VRs. On to other options.

  • tm1128

    Was told by CVS that you can’t buy VRs using a credit card as of 2 days ago. Went to of them & got the same answer. I’m in Mechanicsburg, PA. Sad day!

  • yourPFpro

    I just tried to buy one here in Orange County, CA and the cashier was totally ok with it but for some reason the register said it couldn’t accept that type of tender when I tried to pay with card. I bought a VR from the same store with the same card last week so it was pretty weird.

    The manager even came over and tried to help me. They both said you could buy VR’s with cc but they didn’t know why it wasn’t working. Looks like the new policy hasn’t taken effect yet in CA but maybe I just had bad luck??

  • Savvy Consumer

    Did the same here in So. Cal. Bought VRs on 4/2 and 4/3. They had them behind the registers. Worked with my credit card.

  • Savvy Consumer

    Where in So. Cal are you? It worked for me on 4/2 and 4/3 in San Diego.

  • Darth Chocolate

    Yes, it should be treated as a cash advance. All you are purchasing is cash to give to someone else.

  • Brian C. Lee

    The memo that’s been going around on the internet said that the ban on credit card payments would be hard coded into the central computer system irrespective of what the store manager said/did, so the computer system at the CVS you went to had probably been updated to reflect the ban. Perhaps the employees/manager just didn’t know it yet.

  • snessnyc

    No, from the standpoint of the bank you are purchasing a product or merchandise. A gift card is a money storage product, similar to a debit card. When I go to Barnes & Noble to purchase a gift card, Barnes & Noble transfers my money to a gift card and B&N doesn’t care if the transferred money is cash, a debit from my checking account or bank-issued credit. From the perspective of the bank, it is like any other purchase against my credit line.

  • Savvy Consumer

    I just bought one in So. Cal. I guess it will take some time for he chain-wide rollout to take place.

  • Anthony Thomas

    It’s still a questionable activity – there is no benefit to you paying your bills via VR other than reward points, unless I’m missing something.

    If anything, there is a direct avoidable cost and consumption of your personal time compared to if you just paid rent/etc with cash.

    But ultimately in the hands of the suppliers (VR and CVS etc to control it as they have done). Don’t worry, I’m not singling you out nor having a strong opinion either way, but people who claim they only did it to pay bills still must admit “paying bills” isn’t the primary motivator as it’s an inefficient method of doing that.

  • Karam

    Purchased 9 VR Cards today (4/3/14 @ 7:30pm) in Jacksonville FL. I went to 7 different CVS stores. Only 3 let me buy these with credit cards. Others displayed some error related to payment method not acceptable. So all about individual stores. So, try some CVS stores and there may be some which have not complied with CVS Memo. Cheers!

  • vega25

    In Philly this morning. Cash only. Told new memo effective April 2. :(

  • Dt

    Just went to a cvs in Columbus Ohio, cash only

  • Trying to win

    Just tried to buy some vanilla cards in college station tx at cvs and they would not let me use credit cards even though I did on Sunday.

  • stupid

    nsant — you seem to be a social media idiot — you know just enough to make yourself look like a fool. I’m assuming you also have an ObamaPhone?

  • Drew

    Today is the last day for credit card payment of Vanilla Reloads in the Kansas City area :(

  • lori bremner

    I was just turned down at. cVS in Northern California using a credit card to buy Vanilla Reloads. The manager said a memo went out to all stores today that the Reloads are now cash only. The register wouldn’t even let the cashier accept my card. Rats. Well it was nice while it lasted!

  • V.i. Lenin

    Same in Orlando, Thursday easy 6 VR cards in 3 CVS stores but told cash only in 2 other stores.

  • V.i. Lenin

    The end of an amazing era seems to have come. At least the GCs for CCs still seem to be available to satisfy the spending requirements. More labor will be required and the discounted lunch is over however we all knew this had to end.

  • John

    Confirmed, CVS stop in SoCal. The nationwide lockdown is complete :(

  • Prawn

    The benefit is points. I pay everything on credit cards , except transactions that have to be paid using checks – including rent which is a significant amount that should be earning points.

    It is definitely inefficient and I’m not altogether sad we can’t do it anymore.

  • - -

    Game over in Cap City :-/

  • meathead

    Today (4/4) when I attempted a CC purchase as usual it was declined and informed of the new policy. The CVS employees were unaware of the policy change but the register rejected the transaction.

  • The Other Jason

    I know this is late in the game, but I’ll add that CVS’s in Washington DC seem to be all “cash only” as of Wed night. Checked CVS’s in Co Heights, U Street and Foggy Bottom. Most stores were just sold out. Others knew about the “cash only” policy.

  • FloridaTraveler

    Game over in Sarasota, Fla. I was able to ring up $1,000 last night, but no go this morning. Clerks were confused. I had to inform them.

  • Drew

    Does anyone know if you can do it through wal-mart’s “rapid reload” system? I always used my Amex to buy the VR’s

  • Turnip Truck

    In fact, you’re not purchasing anything! You’re making an unsecured loan to the B&N.

  • Roman

    Bad news confirmed for couple of Boston spots. CVS declined a transaction. Said they have new policy and even system does not allow to do the transaction.

  • Going to Walmart

    Anaheim Hills, CA – no go buying VRs with a CC. Tried it myself, even tried debit for the heckofit. Nada….cash only….

  • Harry

    No luck at the Thompson Peak CVS here in Scottsdale Arizona. I was able to purchase using a credit card at end of March. So it looks like it is a nationwide lockdown.

  • SomeDooD

    Unethical? You don’t know the meaning of the word.

  • SomeDooD

    you mad brah?

  • guest

    Here is the true real story about CVS. The lost money selling VRs, but hoped to get it back by bringing new customers etc. They were not sure whether it works, so lifted the $1k daily spend up to $5k daily and start to track customers. They then realized they their VRs are churned by a small number of greedy churners and that there is no business model there for CVS. So they stopped, and greed lost. If everyone bought one $500 VR here and there, instead of opening 6 BB accounts and rushing every other day to CVS to buy $5k VRs, CVS would never stopped.

  • kaziopeia

    I just tried using my c/card to buy VR at a CVS in Manhattan and was advised it is cash only

  • Mike

    Just went to CVS in Pittsburgh and was not allowed to purchase Vanilla Visa reloadable card($500) with credit card. The cashier said this was also in the email they received.

  • Mike

    sorry – I meant to say Variable load – not reloadable.

  • Marc

    question, guess i’ll find out on my own, but just throwing it out there, has anyone tried a Savemart? Dollar General? I have both in my area. Just curious….

  • Eric

    Now that Vanilla Reloads is inaccessible for manufactured spending, what is your manufactured spending product recommendation?

  • Samm

    I was @ CVS today and the cashier was friendly and know me just coz of me buying vanilla reloads almost every week.

    When I entered, he told me that CVS rolled out a policy to not use the CC on VR. He still can try if i want.

    i took a card and he ran it up and CVS register is coded not to accept the CC on VR.

  • larrynewff

    Hi, I’m new to this process and wonder what the GC’s is and how and where I can go about this?

  • Akit

    Greetings, I’ve noticed this new policy yesterday at the Safeway grocery store chain where reloadable debit cards can only be purchased with cash or a debit card using PIN.

    But what really made me question the grocery chain is why they refuse to accept credit cards for store specific gift cards if the card has a variable amount (e.g. the Starbucks card says you can pick to load from $5 to $100), versus credit cards are okay for a rigid amount like a Target gift card that’s for $50. I’m waiting for a response from management after I asked for a callback when I did their online survey.

  • Bill White

    The Vanilla Reload gambit had gotten so big, it was featured on Fox News.

    That’s probably why CVS stopped selling them using a credit card

  • anon

    Credit Card compnies would NEVER do this. WHY? Becuase they have relationships with retailers and retailers would HATE this.

  • Chris A

    I tried to buy Vanilla Reloads at Walmart with a credit card. Looks like they have gone the way of CVS. :(

Print This Page