Reader reload research


Below is the latest gift card and reload news, with thanks to many readers…

Fee free gift cards… Nope

On Friday, I published a QuickDeal titled: “Fee free $200 Visa gift card at office supply store (unconfirmed).”  I reported that one reader recently was not charged the usual $6.95 fee when buying a $200 Visa gift card at Office Depot.  I asked “Anyone else experience this?”  Quite a few readers rushed out to give it a try and they reported their results in the QuickDeals’ comments section and via Twitter.  All reported results were the same: the $6.95 fee was charged.  The lucky no-fee incident appears to have been a one time or location specific fluke.

Vanilla Reloads and Bluebird reloads

And, on Friday evening, I published “Reload updates” where I detailed recent changes in reload policies at a few different stores.  Again, answers flooded in via reader blog comments and tweets.  Here were the results:

  • The ability to buy Vanilla Reload cards at numerically named convenience store really is dead.  Cash registers no longer allow it even if cashiers are willing to try.
  • The new CVS policy of allowing up to $5K of reload purchases per day, and checking drivers licenses for purchases of $1K or more has been confirmed by most, but not all readers.  It seems that CVS has not yet completely rolled out this change.
  • Walmart results were mixed.  A number of people confirmed that they were told recently by cashiers that they cannot do a Bluebird reload with a gift card.  Others have said that they’ve continued to use gift cards without issue.  One consistent result, though, is that gift cards still work fine if the cashier is willing to try it or if you go to an automated kiosk.  It seems that if a person is involved, your best bet is to use a gift card that doesn’t look like a gift card (see image)


What about PayPal reloads?

On Saturday, I tweeted a question:


And, the answers were as I expected (based on earlier information from readers): even though Vanilla Reload cards are not allowed, PayPal cards are allowed to be purchased by credit card at many stores.  Be careful, though.  Some have reported that PayPal freezes accounts when PayPal reload cards are overused. 

So, there you go.  Lot’s of great info, from you.  Thank you!

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I’m thinking I’m seeing a trend now. In at least 5 different Walmarts over the past week or so I haven’t been able to use the ATM machine. In two of them there was a note taped to the screen saying it was “Out of Order” (in one case there a week later when I went back). In one the sign said it was “Out of Service” and that was signed by the “Manager”. The other two were simply non-functioning like they often are.

Anyway, I haven’t been able to use one in a while now, and I really do prefer the process using them. Oh well, got all of them done with cashiers with only a little difficulty.

Trying to buy Amazon Gift Card at Office Depot results in an “only cash” warning. Really? Off to Staples I go, never to return…

Feels like this is starting to get a little bit long in the tooth…


I’ve found that when loading Bluebird at Walmart with a cashier (or buying MO), if they are skeptical it almost always works to tell them the GC is a debit card with a PIN. GC didn’t have PINs until recently, so many cashiers are used to GC only being able to process as credit, and that’s why they think it isn’t allowed.

Also, no need to show the card to the cashier. Just tell them you are paying with a debit card, or multiple debit cards if you want to split your purchase between up to 4 GC, swipe, and enter your PIN.


No problem loading $500 today at a Walmart with a gift card via a cashier. She didn’t ask what I was loading with and I kept it out of her sight until I swiped.


Just wanted to chime in on several topics related to items above:

Visa debit cards onto Amex BB’s at Walmart:
1. YES it is possible with all cashiers IF you persist and politely ask them to try. Many are skeptical/ reluctant at first, but one try is enough to convince them.
2. ATM’s at Walmart: Yes I too often find them with red light flashing and supposedly out of order. Persist and politely ask a Customer Service Manager to reset and/or reboot the machine – it very often boots up ready to go.

CVS’s and Vanilla Reloads: In Houston the word is getting out quickly to staff here about the new $5k/ person/day rule with the swipe of driving license. It’ll save me time and to get my monthly ‘fix’ of these using my personal and business Amex SPG CC’s. It’s quick and easy too to then load them onto Amex BB accounts in my and family member names once I get them home.


That’s humorous to put the image of the NEW improved” Vanilla on the blog as if the stupid people will all go out and buy the new version…………..SCREW VANILLA and their promoters………..they are chumps….pure and simple………………Is Vanilla owned by Randy Petersen?


Is it still possible to buy MoneyPaks, Visa gift cards, and OneVanillas at 7-11, even though there’s no luck with Vanilla Reloads?


Brandon: I don’t know, yes, yes.


Two Walmarts today. Both of them the ATM was frozen/dead. Usual story I guess. So forced to try cashiers.

One cashier refused a Vanilla VISA Debit load–she was training new cashier, knew what the rules were I guess. Same cashier took a Chase VISA Gift Card with my name on it.

The other who had to ask the cashier next door how to do a reload, had no issues and took it. I presume the card would have worked in all cases if the cashier had allowed it.


I think many of you missed that these conversations are on twitter. This is just a recap and thank you to all those checking things out for FM (and ourselves).


You gotta stop spoonfeeding people or you will turn into another MMS. You have been the most innovative blogger. Please stay that way. MMS makes me want to put a knife in my eye.


@korrinda – search MMS’s post on this. He got shutdown pretty fast. Others have experienced the same. There are ways to play this but they are risky and you’ll have to figure them out for yourself. I haven’t even seen them discussed recently at all on FlyerTalk at all for this reason.


What is the safe amount per month to load to PP?


Sigh. Sure are a lot of fluff posts these days? It would be better to not post daily than to post junk like this – you’re better than that FM…


I tried to leave a comment on your post of credit card, but I didn’t see it every time I click “submit”. So I just reply to this one.
AA master card with 50K miles offer:

FM: do you know whether the existing AA Visa or AMEX cardholders can still get the sign-up bonus of this offer?


Ditto @Kent’s comment. Does $1500 count as overused for PP cards?


@bexho2000, ya, I’ve seen them there too. Unfortunately, they are on the gift card rack under a few signs that say cash only. Let’s hope CVS doesn’t go this route.