When easy debit card rewards become hard


A few weeks ago, I published “Easy debit card rewards, from home.”  In that post, I described how one could use Bluebird and Square Cash to easily manufacture up to $142,000 in spend per year on mile-earning or cash back debit cards.  It turns out that “easy” may not have been quite the right word.

Following my written advice, I setup my rewards debit card to load $100 to my Bluebird account every day for 10 days.  And, I used Square Cash to send money to my wife.  At first, everything was fine…

Square Cash

My first two payments to my wife went smoothly.  It was the third payment that went wrong.  I tried to complete my first weekly allotment of $2500 in spend, but received a strange message from Square (dollar amount masked):

$X,XXX was refunded
Square refunded this $X,XXX back to Frequent Miler due to unusual activity associated with one of these accounts.

Hmmm.  Maybe the problem was that I had ramped up my spend too quickly?  I waited a week and tried again with a smaller payment.  Same result.

I contacted Square for help.  It took over a week to hear back.  This is what they said:

Hello Frequent Miler,

This is to notify you that it is against the Square Cash Agreement to use Square Cash for sending money to yourself.

Square Cash is intended only for non-business person-to-person payments. You can learn more about Square Cash online (https://square.com/cash).

Section 3 of the Square Cash Agreement provides additional details regarding limitations on use (https://squareup.com/legal/cash-ua).

Please contact our Support Team if you have any additional questions (https://squareup.com/help/contact).

Thank you for your cooperation.

That’s interesting.  I’m not sure why they thought I was sending money to myself since I was actually sending it to my wife.  Regardless, as far as I can tell it looks like my account is suspended.  Oh well. Easy come, easy go.  If you’re thinking of using Square Cash, you might want to pay people outside of your immediate household to hopefully avoid this same situation.


After setting up automated daily $100 debit loads, I received an email each night from Bluebird as follows:

Confirmation: Your Scheduled Money Transfer was Successful.

Then, on the sixth night, the message changed from a confirmation to a notification:

Notification: Your Scheduled Money Transfer was Unsuccessful

The body of the email had no details about why the transfer was unsuccessful.  Since the load was still scheduled, I continued to receive these “unsuccessful” notices each night.

Finally, I stopped the automated transfers and tried a manual debit load instead.  This time I received a tiny bit more information on the screen:

This request cannot be completed at this time. Your Permanent Bluebird card must be activated before adding money using your bank account. If you’ve received your Permanent Bluebird card and already activated it, please call Account Protection Services at 1.800.660.2454. Our hours of operation are 9am – 8pm EST, Monday – Friday. If not, your Permanent Bluebird card will be delivered within 7-10 business days of your completed registration.

I still didn’t know why the loads weren’t working, but at least I had an option.  I knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong so I called Account Protection Services as suggested in the message.  Once on the phone, a Bluebird representative told me that my account had been locked to ensure against fraud.  He said that they had to confirm that I was the true debit card account holder before they could unlock my account.  While I was on hold, he called my debit card bank (with my permission) to verify that my name was on the account.  After a few minutes on hold, he returned and told me that my identity was confirmed and that my account was unlocked.

I have since restarted my daily $100 loads (up to 10 per month) and have not had any trouble since.

Reader experiences

Have you had any trouble with debit load and payment techniques?  Do you have any tips for avoiding these pitfalls?  Please comment below.

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