Metabank meltdown: Many Pathward Visa Gift Cards no longer working for some large purchases


It seems like Pathward (formerly Metabank) / Blackhawk Network got us an unwanted Valentine’s Day gift: We’ve received a bunch of reports that many (most? all?) Metabank gift cards are no longer working for large purchases at numerous grocery stores as of Tuesday, February 14th. Smaller purchases may still be working, but YMMV to some extent based on your geographic area / stores.

a computer and a laptop on a desk

We have heard from a number of readers and GC Galore has published about Simon cards no longer working at Meijer and other grocery chains for swipes of $500 or more and about larger multi-swipe transactions not working for multiple swipes at other grocery stores.

While what works and where is often highly region-dependent, chain-dependent, and even cashier-dependent, there seems to be a larger issue afoot here since reports are coming in across different regions.

When gift cards stop working for large grocery purchases, there is often some nuance. For instance, a swipe for the full card value may no longer work, but one for a few cents less than the full value might (or, as in this case, for just under half the value of a $1K Simon card). Multiple swipes over a split tender transaction may no longer work, but separate transactions may still work. It’s always worth experimenting rather than assuming that nothing will work when whatever you have always been doing stops working.

Hopefully anybody stuck with a large quantity of cards had a backup plan and a backup to their backup. Also, while the change here appears to be widespread, I wouldn’t automatically assume that it affects every single outlet the same way. I ran into a situation on Tuesday where one of my normal liquidation avenues didn’t work. I didn’t understand the error spit out, but I assumed it was a temporary glitch and moved on and went with another channel (that worked). Now I suspect that it was related to this change and perhaps I need to change up my amounts to see if that changes my results.

Obviously this is at the very least inconvenient and it could mean the closure of some liquidation avenues or an increase in cost (if you need to do so over multiple smaller transactions). We obviously don’t know whether further limitations may yet come.

This situation is still developing, but we wanted to alert anyone sitting on a pile of gift cards to know that you may want to look for opportunities to use them while you can.

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my gift card from Metabank- Vanilla does not work. When I swiped it at the store it did not recognize the account number. Now what?? I can’t get a human on the 800’s to call.


I didn’t see this post until today. At my grocery store, the maximum MO is $500. Two weeks ago, my standard $499.11 MOs would not go through. “Not authorized” was the message. I was stunned. Frantically, I lowered the amount and have been able to buy $450 twice and $463 once. The question is to figure out the sweet spot to minimize what the residue.

Dugroz Reports

Tried to liquidate a Blackhawk MCGC today with $490 on it. Asked for a $490 MO, would no work. Asked to change the amount to $390 and that DID work.

Cashier said same thing happened to another guy recently. She said he got $400 to work. Perhaps something about $400 and under????

j k

same here except pathward MCGC $500


not able to purchase any money orders from jewel-osco in midwest. neither using simon gc or mastercards/visa from staples. AH!


Please be extra cautious when buying this. Kroger’s / Fred Meyer is no longer working in NW (Portland-Seattle area). Now failing under $500 (single MO for 498, single swipe with a fresh card). Liquidate as soon as possible if you can… R.I.P. MS with Simon VGCs. 


Works in Vancouver, Wa. Freddys, its a short drive across the river but you will like the results!!! I guarantee it!


I have 2 of these gift cards. The website to check the value left on them is almost non-functional. It sometimes works, but generally the screen takes forever to populate.


Thank god it was an office depot week


Boy, I wish I had your liquidation channels. Which I know we don’t share! I had 3 regular ones for years and years, but they all got hard coded to block M.O.’s I cried for a month! But I still purchase lots of GC’s at 5 times when on free promotion at office supply and use them for my regular spending. Just way slower going.


Does $499.99 work?


Good job Nick, don’t stress out over your MS and this is what you get for not sharing with your readers on tips.

Greencard Guy

Went to local grocery today with 4 VGC I bought at Staples last week. I was able to use 2 cards for money orders no problem (one swipe each). The third and fourth card were both declined. When I checked the balance of each card online it generated a “technical error.” Just checked again after seeing this post and one card appears to have been hacked with a charge today from a place nowhere near where I am, the other shows as full balance. Not sure if this is connected or not but will definitely keep an eye on it.


Same for me. Usually do $799 using 4 cards. First 2 worked fine. Others (tried 3 different cards), “not authorized”. Tried $399 at another grocery store which worked with 2 cards, but trying for another MO immediately after gave me the same “not authorized” alert. Seems like store and not bank related IMO.


FYI one of my grocery store channels for using GCs to purchase Western Union MOs has stopped working. They claim it’s due to changes mandated by WU but that’s not the case at another grocery store that sells WU MOs. Seems store specific. But not looking good for the future of using Chase Ink+ at Staples!


any DPs on whether WM still accepts them?

Mike Chicago

Had issues with Pathward/Meta mastercard giftcards at Walmart self-checkout yesterday. 2 worked, 3 did not. Tried as both debit and credit.

Steve S

Were you able to buy MO or you just doing normal purchase?

Mike Chicago

Normal purchase at self checkout. Not sure if amount matters but it was over $100.


cool, thanks. Just tested 2 sutton vgc for MO, no issues. Here’s hoping…

Steve S

Liquidated for MOs Tuesday no issues.