How to shut down Walmart with one swipe



This is interesting.  It appears that, at some Walmarts at least, you can forcibly shut down their cash registers simply by using an American Express Prepaid card.

A few weeks ago I received this email from a reader (I’ve abbreviated a few parts and bolded some for emphasis):

Have you heard of any technical problems associated with using the AMEX prepaid credit card at Wal-mart stores? … I’ve had success using it at ATMs and virtually all types of merchants (gas, grocery, retail, etc.) with the exception of Wal-mart.  On two different occasions, when I tried to swipe the card at check-out, it essentially shut down the clerk’s entire computer systemWe moved to a different register thinking the problem was with that specific machine but the same thing happened.  So today, I tested it at another Wal-mart store elsewhere in town… Same story.  I even asked the clerk to manually input the 15-digit code thinking it could be a problem with the physical card; however, same result.  Computer shuts down and we have to move to a different register.

Have any of your other readers mentioned anything remotely similar? I called AMEX customer service but they had no clue.  From the expressions of the Wal-mart clerks, they had never seen anything like this before either. 

When I read the above email, I remember thinking that this was a weird fluke.  I meant to write a post asking if it had happened to anyone else, but I was traveling at the time and I forgot to put it on my to-do list.  Last night, though, I was reminded by a new email from a reader known as Perryplatypus (again, I’ve bolded parts for emphasis):

I recently ran into an interesting issue with the Amex Prepaid at Walmart in two different states Texas and Oklahoma. I tried to make two small purchases like $30 and $20 and the card completely froze up the Walmart register! It actually sent the register into a countdown sequence from 500. It completely locked up the register and both times they had to open new registers to check us out. Then I just paid for my items using my SPG Amex instead. It looks like Walmart has a software issue with this card and I contacted Amex prepaid today to let them know the issues I had. I’m just wondering if you or any of your other readers have had this problem? Also no charges ever appeared for these transactions and the card is still working well with all other merchants.

Reader experiences

Has anyone else tried using the American Express Prepaid cards at Walmart?  What was your experience?


I am in no way suggesting that anyone should use this card as a weapon against Walmart.

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