Working Harder to Earn Points: 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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
I posted a couple of weeks ago that I was “out of miles and points”. Of course I’m not really out of miles and points, but some of the accounts that I like to see with relatively healthy balances are looking pretty sickly after doing lots of award bookings before the Hyatt and United award charts change(d). I have been super busy the last few months, and had gotten a bit lazy on some of the ways to earn miles and points, and it was time to get off my lazy tail and work a little harder at this hobby.
I am in the middle of refinancing our house, so I’m holding off on any new credit card applications until that is done (though all the ones we have on our credit reports have been a total non-issue thus far, and our credit scores were still in the highest category for the best interest rates). However, I can make the cards I already have work harder for me. Today that took the form of working harder to hunt down Vanilla Reloads that can be purchased with a rewards earning credit card, and then applied to my Bluebird® by American Express where I can use then use the funds loaded to pay bills, send checks to people, etc. If you have no idea what I am talking about, I recommend Googling “Bluebird and Vanilla Reloads” for lots of good basic info on how this process works. This Flyertalk thread can also be very helpful if this method of points earning sounds interesting to you.
This is not something I recommend for those brand new to the hobby, but it is a good intermediate step for many. There are those that take this and similar concepts to an “expert” level, but that will never be me. I’m too boring and too busy for that, but I do need to earn some more points, so I’m putting my toes back in the water. I also think the risk of raising any red flags is dramatically reduced if you stay in the shallow end of the pool on this one.
This method of earning points works best when you can buy a Vanilla Reload card at a store where you earn a category bonus on one of your cards, though the reloads can be pretty hard to find, so sometimes you just take what you can get. It can also be very helpful when you are trying to hit a spending bonus on a credit card to trigger a sign-up bonus or annual spending bonus. Today my goal was to find a reload at a gas station, as I had a card that is paying a nice bonus on gas stations purchases. The first gas station I went to was all sold out of the cards, which can be a pretty common occurrence. Finding stores that sell them, but won’t accept credit cards to purchase them can also be a very common occurrence.
However, I kept trying and the second gas station I went to was happy to sell me some gas and a nice side of a plastic white card loaded with $500, paid for with my handy credit card that earned me a nice chunk of valuable points. I am actually only out the $3.95 that the Vanilla Reload cost (and the 10 minutes it took me to go to two gas stations) as I will use the money I loaded from the reload onto my Amex Bluebird to pay bills. I also had success at a popular three letter named drugstore that had previously not had reloads in stock for what seemed like forever. That purchase did trigger a fraud alert on my credit card that was resolved by simply clicking in my email that it was a valid transaction. I have recently had to verify many more purchases in that manner, so it was not a big deal at all.
I had gotten lazy on this method of earning points, in large part because I had a couple strike-outs in a row where the stores did not have the cards in-stock. I’m glad I started trying harder, as it resulted in earning some pretty easy miles and points today. Are you doing similar things to get your point balances back up?
Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you use my affiliate links. As always, thanks for your support.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees