Many Problems Reported On MetaBank Visa Gift Cards (Simon, Staples & Others)


There have been numerous reports in the past few days of issues surrounding the liquidation of Visa gift cards.

All the initial chatter seemed to revolve around Visa gift cards purchased from Simon Mall and the fact that people were having a hard time liquidating them at Kroger and Walmart. It initially seemed like those stores had hardcoded their systems against Simon cards, but that doesn’t appear to be the case after all.

Purchases at Money Services and some self checkout lines were being declined, but occasionally going through on the third or fourth swipe, while other people have been able to complete transactions without any issue whatsoever.

There have since been reports that this issue is affecting other MetaBank Visa gift cards, such as those bought from Staples during recent deals when the purchase fee was waived. The problem also seemed to affect transactions at the Albertsons/Safeway family of stores which gives even more of an indication that the problem is on MetaBank’s end as it’s unlikely that all three large chains would have simultaneously changed their policy.

That hopefully means that this is a temporary issue, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re planning on stocking up at Simon (either in-store or online), or by taking advantage of this week’s Staples deal. If these issues are ongoing and affecting your local stores, that could make it harder to liquidate them which could be an issue if you’re unable to float the money.

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Went to Walmart today, $400 swipe was declined. Tried $50 and it worked. You are only allowed to swipe the same card twice. So sad…


Is this in one transaction? Or if you go back the next day you can swipe the same card twice again?


I only went to one Walmart, so just one transaction. It’s so exhausting to go to each walmart for just a $200 money order.

Mike Chicago

$99 seems to be the swipe limit now. So $396 MOs or $297 loads, a hassle to make a walmart trip for that amount, and now have the added hassle of $1-$5 balances leftover on GCs to deal with.

[…] week there were an increasing number of cases where people were having issues liquidating MetaBank Visa gift cards at Walmart, Kroger and its affiliate stores and Albertsons and […]


Looks like WM is only allowing a max of $400 per swipe. So if you want a MO with a larger amount you have a max of four swipes to get the job done. Experimented today using Simon cards purchased at mall. Used different amounts per swipe and found this works. Also see Flyertalk for more data points.

Last edited 2 years ago by PDXtraveler
Mike Chicago

Confirming data point – MO @ WMT today, tried swiping 2 $500 GCs purchased from grocery store, both failed after 3 and 2 swipes respectively (debit not allowed with a variety of error codes). Had some 300s and 200s from Staples as a backup, 2x 300s and 2x 200s worked no issues. All Metabank issued GCs.


You will have try your $500 GC’s at only $400 or less per swipe. The max is $400 per swipe. That means you will have to do multiple swipes for those GCs to drain them.

Mike Chicago

Thanks. After reading flyertalk for details, it appears the same card can be used multiple times in the same transaction as long as each swipe is $400 or less. This $400 max swipe really defeats the main benefit of the Simon 1Ks.


Not to mention, some Walmarts don’t like multiple swipes for the same transaction.


$500 Visa from local grocery store rejected today. Worked earlier in the week without issue.


I tried using my simon debit cards which I purchased from the Simon Outlet Mall Office and online. Went to 2 Walmarts today and all cards were declined even with multiple swipes. Message was “Debit not available appr. code = 56 OMG, I have a lot of cards and I’m getting worried. Hope it gets fixed soon. Please keep us updated. Thank you!

Mark W

Just tried to liquidate tonight at a Walmart I’ve used for years and never had any issues with and got “Debit not available” error… Hopefully this is a temporary glitch and not new restrictions rolling out to Walmart registers…

[…] volume ordering program from November 6-8, 2020. That said, I recommend caution here. We’ve previously reported problems that people have had lately liquidating (and we continue to get more reports of the same) and while […]


Bought 5 $200 Visa GC at Staples.
WM MO was down.
Tried Shaw’s it worked as 2 $500 MOs, $1 each.


This is happening on the Vanilla One Prepaid cards too. I picked one up at Walmart today and tried to use it at Kroger, it said Not Authorized. It worked fine at Publix. All of my Simon Mall cards worked flawlessly at Publix last week but got the same error message at Kroger. Does anyone have data points on MasterCard gift cards? I bought MOs with the 200 MCGCs at Kroger last week without any problems.


My local WM in central NJ informed me they can no longer accept gift cards for MO purchases. They are checking cards.


Stephen – just FYI…my trick for the non-working/swiping $1k visas has been to ask the associate to enter the amount manually instead of just pressing the All/total button. In very rare instances that has failed, I have asked to split the transaction into 2 $500 payments swiping the same card -worked everytime.


bexho2000, is this for money orders or loading money to a card?


MOs and bill pay…


Are the MasterCard gift cards ok? Has anyone had issues with them?


Annoyingl the balance check link online for Simon Mall is constantly failing.

Randy M

I went to a new Albertsons last Week, and my $200 cards were declined. I called meta bank and they were declined as the amount was higher that the balance. In the past, at all other Albertsons I was able to auto drain the cards. I wonder if this is part of the issue here, or just different pos programming at that store?


Has anyone reached out to Metabank about this?


Liquidated Staples’ VISA/Metabank GCs at Winn Dixie all week long.with no problems.


I was doing WM MO’s all today in San Antonio using SM VCG’s. No problem. Some HEB grocery stores have gotten wise though, but I still did a few stores with no problems.


God Bless Texas! HEB’s still sell 20-500s?


I’ve been having weird issues with my US Bank visa debit cards recently, only in prson transactions and online transactions that don’t require the cvc (ie: amazon) work.


I called metabank after one card repeatedly wouldn’t work – was told it looked like I was trying to buy a cash equivalent like a money order and that was the reason it was being declined. I hung up, didn’t continue the conversation, and tried it again, and it worked. It’s possible they’re working on a solution to prohibit the purchase of money orders.

MS smitty

This is not good news

Dick Bupkiss

It’s equally possible that the low-level CS agent you spoke with was not an expert and was just making stuff up.


World be interesting to see how much data merchants share with Metabank. Do they really see what you’re buying (L3 data would reveal that I believe) or they just assume that a purchase from certain merchants that utilizes full balance of $500-1000 card must be a ‘cash equivalent’


Pretty sure they are just assuming.


Does anyone know where I can liquidate staples gift card in Orange County, Ca.


Is there a way to liquidate Staples GC other than Staples stores?

Last edited 2 years ago by Jeff
Tommy Jones

I have had problems with SM VGC on one terminal at WM MC. The other terminal at the MC works just fine. However, the issues apparently caused one employee to file a SAR on me. I am avoiding that store for a while.

Ed. C

The issue seemed to start 2 or 3 weeks ago with the SM $1,000 VGCs. About 20% of mine were needing several swipes to go through. I hope you are right that it is a Metabank issue and not a concerted effort by these chains to shut MS down.

I have had no problems loading Staples / OD VGCs onto Bluebird and GoBank.


Same here…problems started 2-3 weeks ago and seems like this week has been worse overall. Always at least 1 swipe fail at Walmart with the SM VGC’s.


What is staples/ OD?


Stephen pepper, you are a patent man!!!


I’m doing SM VCG’s at WM’s in San Antonio, TX. No problems.


Good to hear, I had issues the VGC in SAT at WM on Friday


I’ve had problems with two Simon cards, bought in-store, but (knock on wood) none with cards bought at Staples or Office Depot. Liquidated eight of those last week at various Wallys around SoCal and even more in previous weeks. I’ve been following the chatter on FlyerTalk, but appreciate the heads up here too.


Albertsons wouldn’t approve my Vanilla VGCs last week. I am not sure what is going on.

Raghu Narayanan

What about online liquidation , like paying a bill


How much do you spend in bills in a month?

Raghu Narayanan

varies, daughters college tuition, quarterly estimated taxes, HOA , property taxes, auto home insurance premiums

Tommy Jones

Online hasn’t been a problem.


When you pay an online bill, such as the examples you gave (college tuition, estimated taxes) to include water, electricity. From what I noticed, the majority of those sites say there will be a FEE for using a CREDIT CARD. Most only give the options of pay by (1) CREDIT CARD or (2) BANK ACCOUNT. If you choose (1) Credit Card, and you use the DEBIT CARD, does it still charge a FEE? Or does it know that this was a Debit Card that was used?

Raghu Narayanan

Good question. My mileage varies. I live in San Jose area. Frequently we have $500 visa/MC on sales i.e. $10 off when buying a gift card. So net profit is $3.05. Every quarter I can liquidate $3000 in estimated taxes for $3.05 – $2.65 , as these payment processors recognize debit cards. I buy these using a CC that gets me 4X . My net cost is 0. I could make a profit of $12 if I unloaded using MO, but that is not worth it given the hassle of depositing into your bank with the constant threat of shutdown. Similarly I pre pay my PG&E bill, they accept a CREDIT CARD for a $1.65 fee (any amount) again I use these 4X $500 gift cards. Amica insurance does not charge a fee for credit card. Property taxes is 2.25%. So using staples $200 cards, my cost is .45cents/UR point
Similarly tuition is 2.5% , so cost is 0.5cents/UR point. All these merchants take partial payments online. I buy these $200 GC from staples using a CC that gets me 5X . So I save myself the the threat of some clerk not wanting to issue a MO using a gift card (the grey color card) and avoid the threat of shutdown from my primary banking institution.

Hope that helps


This is really good, thank you. I did not realize paying federal estimated taxes recognizes it as a Debit Card, and therefor does not charge a CC fee. I wonder if anyone created a table or chart that let’s us know some big / known name venders like this that accept a CC, but recognize it as a Debit Card, thus allowing us to liquidate gift cards.

Raghu Narayanan

FM has table for estiated federal taxes where he lists which processor charges how much for Credit and Debit