MyVanilla finally appears


A reader emailed me last night to let me know that the MyVanilla reloadable prepaid Visa card is now available for order online.  For months the OneVanilla website showed the MyVanilla card as “coming soon”, but now it shows the option to “upgrade to MyVanilla:”


What makes this card interesting is that it can be loaded using the same Vanilla Reload cards that I originally wrote about in the post “One card to rule them all.”  In fact, on the MyVanilla home page, selecting “How to reload” brings up a helpful page with the following:


Why we care

The same trick for earning 5X everywhere described in the post “One card to rule them all” can be done with a card like this, rather than a prepaid American Express card.  One advantage over the Amex is that Visa cards are accepted in more places.  Another advantage is that it is a true debit card so it can be used for PIN based debit transactions.  This is helpful because some purchases require cash or debit.  Also some transactions (such as paying taxes) have much smaller fees when a debit card is used.

Crazy fees

I had high (and unrealistic) hopes that the MyVanilla card would match the prepaid Amex card’s fee structure.  The Amex has no monthly fee, no inactivity fees, and no usage fees (other than ATMs).  The MyVanilla card, on the other hand, has quite a few fees.  Here are some of them (the full list of fees can be found here):

  • Dormancy fee: $3.95 per month (charges begin after 90 days of inactivity)
  • Signature purchase transaction fee: $0.50 per transaction
  • PIN debit purchase transaction fee: $0.50 per transaction
  • ATM Withdrawal fee: $1.95
  • Over the counter cash withdrawal fee: $1.95

I find it almost unbelievable that they will charge 50 cents per transaction for using this card as a regular credit card.  That means that small purchases made with this card are assessed a huge fee as a percentage of the purchase.  For example, if you buy something for $1, the fee is 50%.  If you buy something for $10, the fee is 5%. For small purchases, these fees completely wipe out the 5X benefit (please read “One card to rule them all” if you do not understand the reference to the 5X benefit).

Doomed if you do, doomed if you don’t

Thanks to this card’s draconian fees, the only financially responsible way to use this card is for large transactions.  Use the card to pay your taxes, get cash out via over the counter withdrawals, etc.  However, we learned from the NetSpend card that large transactions get people shut down quickly (see “We’re sorry, there is a problem with your account” and the comments to that post).  However, where the NetSpend card is backed by MetaBank, this one is backed by Bancorp.  So, it’s possible that they have different rules about closing accounts, but I doubt it.

Other cards

I’ll follow-up next week with a look at the various cards now available to load with Vanilla Reload cards.  Fortunately, more keep popping up so we can keep hoping for a good no-fee compliment to the Amex Prepaid.

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The vanilla card is useless. All I wanted to do was pay for my netflix, since the bank was closed I decided to purchase a vanilla card. They charged me a dollar more than advertised to purchase it. I proceeded to try to register the card to myself so I could make my netflix purchase. The website didn’t activate it. I called the customer service line. They told me after getting all my information that they couldn’t identify me as a person in a federal database and therefore couldn’t activate it (I am a 30 yr old adult with 2 bank accounts and bills in my name, how do I not exist tied to my social security number?). They told me they could activate it as a gift card. Why would i have spent 5 dollars on a gift card i can’t really use anywhere since it’s not activated as a debit/credit card. They wouldn’t try activating it under my boyfriend since they had already tried under me. My boyfriend purchased a card a few days later insistent that he would be able to activate it under himself. Same reason, bank closed for the weekend. They apparently found him as a person, but would not/could not pay netflix. What’s the point? Never again!!!!



check out this blog on how to empty card amazingly. 🙂


I accidentally bought a Vanilla Debit today instead of a Vanilla Reload and only afterward found out about the 50 cent per swipe. Does anyone know the best way to empty this via Amzn Payments? Do I have to attempt $499.50 because of the 50 cent per transaction fee? Anyone try the full 500? What happens? Thanks!


Hi FrequentMiler, do you know if Dan’s trick of cashing out MVD would work at Bank of America? We don’t have a Chase or Citi branch in town. Thanks!


Lee: No, I don’t know.


my method allows me to cash out very large amount of vanillas for only a fee of 50 cents:). Combined with Bluebird, Netspend,and American Express for Target,I am able to Travel Big for Small Money like Darius:).


well, I am still thinking that buying MO at WM is a win-win solution. we get what we wanted, and Incomm gets $.50 plus swipe fee.


Well, there goes my secret weapon. I hope you all don’t ruin this good thing for me 🙁


Dan at DansDeals broke the trick a day or two ago 🙂


bringer: Yep, he posted a nice trick!


@MeLovesVanilla, you are greatly appreciated if you can send me an email at about the easier options. Thank you very much!


Will, my easy way of cashing out does not involve MO at Walmart. Please consider easier options.


tried to buy a $1000 MO at Walmart, got rejected. Called the CS, and be told that there is $800 per purchase/$3000 per day limits on the card.


@rob and @FM: I have also gotten the DVRS on two occasions, one with citibank and another with chase. It seems like it’s triggered when you buy an item, the clerk calls chase or their verification center to verify, they are given a verification code, and the transaction is processed.

The problem with this is that whenever a verification is triggered, it causes the purchase to have two identical pending charges: one from the store, and the other from OD DVRS.

The last time this happened to by Citi Account, it was at least 3 weeks before the pending charge was taken off. So, if you’re had OD and they attempt to verify by phone, be ready to have your pending charges multiplied by a factor of 2.


Will, there is a very easy way…but you have to discover it yourself…I do not want to ruin a good thing for me…sorry


just curious on how to convert the Vanillas into cash? Thanks


I managed to convert 1K of vanillas into cash, and it only cost me 50 cents. MyVanilla may have some uses;however, you are limited maybe 1K or 1.5K load a day. This is way slower than Netspend;however, the fee is $2 cheaper than Netspends.I Love Vanillas 🙂