The Best Credit Cards to Use With American Express Bluebird

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express is a Million Mile Secrets advertising partner. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

[Disclosure:  Emily & I get a referral for all the credit cards in this post except for the Delta Platinum (better offer than my referral link), Chase United Explorer, Chase United Club, Chase British Airways, Fidelity American Express, & Capital One Venture cards.]

There are many different debit and credit cards which you can use with American Express Bluebird, so let’s take a look at a few different options.  We’ll look at credit cards today and debit cards tomorrow.

After all, you don’t want to buy thousands of dollars worth of Vanilla Reload packs from CVS, Walgreen’s or other locations. with just a single credit card.

American Express Bluebird Credit Card

Which Cards to Use With American Express Bluebird?

Using different cards will help reduce the potential of attracting attention with Chase since you are spreading your purchases among different cards.

You can get a very nice return by using the Citi Hilton Reserve card (amongst others) because you earn a free weekend night after spending $10,000 within 1 calendar year AND will get 30,000 Hilton points since each $1 spent earns 3 Hilton points!

American Express Bluebird lets everyone inch towards being a Big Spender because you finally have the ability to fund Bluebird with a credit or debit card to pay your rent, mortgage and other loans with Bluebird.

I wrote an eight part series on the perks of Big Spending on a credit card – from hotel elite status, bonus points, airline elite status to companion passes.  Check it out to see which perk matters the most to you and use that credit card when buying Vanilla Reloads at Office Depot!

Table Summary

Here’s a summary of the benefits, annual & monthly spending, and Vanilla reload fees.  The return on the cash back and Citi Thank You cards is not attractive to me, but I included it for comparison. I also didn’t include the points earned on the Vanilla Reload fee – just for the base spending.

Don’t forget to include the value of your time in making trips to Office Depot.

Card
Benefit
Annual Spending
Monthly Spending
Annual Cost of Vanilla Refills
Annual # of $500 Vanilla Refills
Citi Hilton Reserve1 Free Weekend night + 30,000 Hilton Points $10,000 $833$7920
Citi Hilton Reserve1 Free Weekend night + 120,000 Hilton Points + Diamond Elite Status $40,000 $3,333 $31680
Chase United Explorer - Business60,000 United Miles (only if you buy Vanilla Reloads at Office Supply stores)$25,000 $2,083 $19850
Citi American Airlines Business MasterCard40,000 American Airlines Miles (only if you buy Vanilla Reloads at Office Supply stores)$20,000 $1,666 $15840
Chase United Explorer Personal35,000 United Miles $25,000 $2,083 $19850
American Express SPG (Personal)

American Express SPG (Business)
20,000 Starwood Points $20,000 $1,666 $15840
American Express SPG (Personal)

American Express SPG (Business)
25,000 American Airline, US Air, Delta, Alaska or Other Air Miles $20,000 $1,666 $15840
Chase United Club (Personal)

Chase United Club (Business)
30,000 United Miles $20,000 $1,666 $15840
Delta Platinum35,000 Delta miles + 10,000 elite miles $25,000 $2,083 $19850
Delta Reserve45,000 Delta miles + 15,000 elite miles $30,000 $2,500 $23760
Chase British Airways1 Travel Together Voucher + 37,500 Avios Points $30,000 $2,500 $23760
American Express Simply Cash - Business$600$12,000$1,000$9524
Citi Thank You Premier40,000 Thank You Points worth $532 $20,000 $1,666 $15840
2% Cash Back Cards$400 $20,000 $1,666 $15840

How it Works

You load your Bluebird card (which you can order online) with a points earning debit card at Wal-Mart.  You can also reload Bluebird with Vanilla Reload cards which you can buy at CVS, Walgreen’s or other locations.  Alternate with other credit cards so that you’re not spending too much at buying Vanilla Reloads with any one credit card.

You then load your Bluebird card with the $500 Vanilla reload card online and use your Bluebird for transactions for which you don’t usually earn miles or points  – such as paying mortgages (using the Bluebird Bill Pay), withdrawing from ATMs, paying other persons, etc.

If you currently have an American Express Serve account, you have to cancel your account before applying for a Bluebird.

Credit Cards 

1.   Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses.   One of the best uses of American Express Bluebird is to buy Vanilla Reload cards at an Office Depot with your credit card.

The amount which you spend at Office Depot will count towards the minimum spending requirement on your credit card.

You then load your American Express Bluebird with the Vanilla Reload card and use your Bluebird for transactions for which you don’t usually earn miles and points – rent, mortgages, ATM withdrawals, paying bills by checks, etc.

2.   Citi Hilton Reserve

Link:  Citi Hilton Reserve

You earn 1 free weekend night & 30,000 Hilton points after spending $10,000 within 1 card membership year on the Citi Hilton Reserve.  A card membership year is a 12 month period starting from when you are approved for the card and ending 12 months later – and then another 12 month card membership year begins.

You can also get top tier Hilton Diamond elite status after spending $40,000 within 1 calendar year (January to December)

The Math: 

$10,000 annual spending is ~$833 per month.  This requires 20 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.  So your cost for spending $10,000 is $79 (20 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 1 free weekend night at a Hilton hotel and 30,000 Hilton points.

$40,000 annual spending is $3,333 per month.  This requires 80 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95 .  So your cost for spending $40,000 is $316 (80 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 1 free weekend night at a Hilton hotel + 120,000 Hilton points ($40,000 X 3 Hilton points per $1 spent) + 1 free weekend night

3.   United Explorer

Link:  Chase United Explorer (Personal)

You earn an extra 10,000 miles when you spend $25,000 within one calendar year

This means that you earn 35,000 United miles (25,000 miles for regular spending + 10,000 bonus miles) after spending $25,000 in a calendar year.

The Math:

$25,000 annual spending is ~$2,083 per month.  This requires 50 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.

So your cost for spending $25,000 is $197.50 (50 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 35,000 United miles.

4.   American Express Starwood Cards

Link:  American Express SPG card (Personal)

Link:  American Express SPG card (Business)

You earn an extra 5,000 points when you transfer in increments of 20,000 Starwood points to many different airlines.

This means that you earn 25,000 American Airlines, Delta, Alaska Air, or US Air miles amongst others (20,000 miles for regular spending + 5,000 bonus miles) for every $20,000 in spending.

The Math: 

$20,000 annual spending is ~$1,666 per month.  This requires 40 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.  So your cost for spending $10,000 is $158 (40 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 20,000 Starwood hotel points or 25,000 air miles.

5.    United Club Card

Link:  Chase United Club (Personal)

Link:  Chase United Club (Business)

The United Club card offers 1.5 miles per $1 spent with no cap on the amount of miles you can earn.  Let’s say you spend $20,000 on it annually to buy Vanilla Reload cards.

This means that you earn 30,000 United miles (20,000 miles X 1.5 miles per $1 spent).

The Math: 

$20,000 annual spending is ~$1,666 per month.  This requires 40 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.  So your cost for spending $20,000 is $158 (40 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 30,000 United miles.

However, the United Club card has a $395 annual fee, but does get you free access to United Clubs, 2 free bags, waived late ticketing fees, and Premier Access.

6.   American Express Delta  Platinum & Reserve

Delta Platinum Card:

Link:   American Express Delta Platinum (Personal & Business)

Earn 10,000 bonus redeemable & elite miles (counts towards Medallion status)  on the Delta Platinum personal or business card after spending $25,000 in a calender year.

This means that you earn 35,000 Delta miles + 10,000 elite miles (25,000 miles for regular spending + 10,000 bonus miles) after spending $25,000 in a calendar year.

$25,000 annual spending is ~$2,083 per month.  This requires 50 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.

So your cost for spending $25,000 is $197.50 (50 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 35,000 Delta miles + 10,000 elite miles

Delta Reserve Card:

Link:  American Express Delta Reserve (Personal & Business)

Earn 15,000 regular & elite (counts towards Medallion status) miles on the Delta Reserve personal or business card after spending $30,000 in a calendar year.

This means that you earn 45,000 redeemable Delta miles + 15,000 elite miles (30,000 miles for regular spending + 15,000 bonus miles) after spending $30,000 in a calendar year.

$30,000 annual spending is ~$2,500 per month.  This requires 60 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.

So your cost for spending $30,000 is $237 (60 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 45,000 Delta miles + 15,000 elite miles.

7.   British Airways Travel Together Ticket

Spend $30,000 within 1 calendar year on the Chase British Airways credit card and earn a Travel Together Ticket which can be used for award reservations on British Airways operated flights only.

The Travel Together Ticket is valid for two years from when you earn it, but can be used only ONCE.  You can earn only one British Airways Travel Together pass per calendar year, and they are valid only on British Airways flights.

This means that if you live in Omaha, but your British Airways flight leaves from Chicago, you can’t use the Travel Together ticket to get from Omaha to Chicago because British Airways doesn’t fly from Omaha to Chicago.

Expect to pay ~$400 in fuel surcharges and taxes per long-haul segment on award bookings, but that’s still cheaper than paying for a business or first class ticket. The companion pass is NOT worth it if you will be redeeming in coach because of the high fuel charges.

The Math:

$30,000 annual spending is ~$2,500 per month.  This requires 60 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.

So your cost for spending $30,000 is $237 (60 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 1 Travel Together Voucher & 37,500 Avios Points (1.25 Avios points per $1 spent).

8.   Citi Thank You Premier

Link:  Citi Thank You® Premier card

The Citi Thank Your Premier offers 2 Thank You points per $1 spent for the 1st 24 months.  Each Citi Thank You point can be redeemed for 1.33 cents in air fare through the Citi Thank You portal, so you’re earning 2.66 cents towards air travel per $1 spent.

Let’s say you spend $20,000 on it annually ($1,666 monthly) to buy Vanilla Reload cards.

This means that you earn 40,000 Thank You points ($20,000 spending X 2 miles per $1 spent).

The Math: 

$20,000 annual spending is ~$1,666 per month.  This requires 40 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.  So your cost for spending $20,000 is $158 (40 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you 40,000 Thank You points.

40,000 Thank You points is worth $532 (40,000 points X 1.33 cents per point), so your net gain is $374 ($532 in air travel – $158 in cost).

This is a better option than a 2% cash back for airfare below, but is it worth your time?

9.   Cash Back

Let’s say you have a cash back card like the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express which offers 2% cashback on everything, or the Capital One Venture or Discover Escape which offers 2% cash back when redeemed for travel.

Let’s say you spend $20,000 annually to buy Vanilla Reload cards.  This means that you earn $400 in cash back ($20,000 miles X 2% cash back).

The Math: 

$20,000 annual spending is ~$1,666 per month.  This requires 40 Vanilla reload packs of $500.  Each reload pack has a fee of $3.95.  So your cost for spending $20,000 is $158 (40 Vanilla Reload packs X $3.95) which earns you $400 cash back. 

So your net return is $242 ($400 cash back – $158 cost), which may not be worth the many trips to Office Depot.

Bottom Line

There are lots of different cards to use to buy Vanilla Reload packs and they prevent large amounts of spending on just 1 card which could arouse suspicion.

I particularly like earning a free night and 30,000 Hilton points after spending $10,000 annually on the Citi Hilton Reserve, but use other cards depending on your goals and your needs.

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These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

120 Responses to The Best Credit Cards to Use With American Express Bluebird

  1. @Kalboz – Sorry for missing this, but if you buy the Vanilla Reloads from a store with a Citi card it is coded as a purchase from the store and doesn’t incur cash advance fees.

    @J .M. – You earn points when you use a credit card to buy the Vanilla Reload at a store. So you can use any credit card to buy the Vanilla Reload and then load it on your Bluebird.

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  4. Found a stack of new and wrapped Vanilla Reloads on top of the prepaid stand at my local CVS. I didn’t have a bluebird account, so kind of hesitated to buy one. I went back to my “truck” and logged on to my local Starbuck’s wifi which is located at approximately every two blocks in NYC. opened up the account with bluebird and went back to CVS and purchased one reload with $100.00 to see if it would work with my SPG AMEX card, the self serve pay stand asked for the last 4 of my SPG card and prompted for approval from the staff. The staff guarding the pay stands, did not hesitate to approve it and on i went.
    1. There was no problem purchasing the vanilla reload with the credit card.
    possibly due to the amount purchased. Approval was easy also possibly do to the amount of money purchased.

    The stack came with 10 vanilla reloads, so there are 9 left on the stand. I was tempted to take some more but i might have looked suspicious walking in back and buying more at a higher amount.
    This is the first encounter with vanilla reloads since reading up on it a month a go. I have been occasionally looking for these for that long and its today that finally came up.
    I wonder if people are just taking these home and stashing it once they find it?
    Till next time, i wonder if these will last.

  5. Went to my CVS in Vegas to buy Vanilla card using CC. They won’t accept CC anymore.
    My friend in Newark CA has the same problem. We had no problem 2 weeks ago. Is CVS changing the policy on Vanilla Card purchase using CC.
    Has anyone purchased VC using CC the last few days?

  6. What amount of spending is “too much” spending? I was just approved for both a personal and business Chase SWA card. Any idea how much I can use Bluebird and Vanilla Reloads before some sort of red flag goes off?

  7. Okay I am confused – I get a bluebird account – which is pretty much a checking account. What I want to do is buy this vanilla cc’s for up to 500 per card spread out (I have two AA cards, USair mc and a United visa)..so if I am understanding – I can – buy these VC cards and use that money to deposit in my bluebird account – then turn around and use that bluebird checking to pay my credit card bills?

    for example I buy a 500 with the USAir MC, for 3,95 fee – deposit that 500 in bluebird and use bluebird to pay my USAir bill?

  8. I have the same question as Glen. Thank you for your answer!

  9. @Glen @monacutest - Yes, you can use it to pay credit card bills, student/house loans etc.

  10. Can’t you just buy 2 x $500 vanilla reloads using Rewards CC, deposit to Bluebird. Then pay back the $1000 + fee and do this up to the $5000 bluebird limit? That will be 5000 miles a month or 60K a year?

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  12. Sarah Touchstone

    What about using Club Carlson? I think I’m getting 5x’s the points on all purchases.

  13. just curious

    I have the Amex SPG and Gold Premiere. Why would you use a non-bonus card like the Amex Premiere Gold at Office Depot or CVS. At .52 cents per point, isn’t that a lot of work? or even the SPG card you really need to spend $30,000 to achieve Gold Status with SPG. But at 20,000 for 25,000 airline conversion you’re still earning closer to 1% after subtracting out the fees and time consumption. Where is the math not adding up?

    Also, just curious, isn’t a bit suspicious to Amex if you are charging vanilla reloads and putting them on Bluebird?

    Thanks for your help!

  14. @DM @Sarah Touchstone- You sure can do that!

    @just curious – I prefer the SPG card, but you get 15K points when you spend $30K on the PRG within a calendar year.

  15. I’m completing min spend citi executive aa – vanilla w pin – bluebird -pay bill. I ‘ve cut a deal with a contractor to put a fence for 5k on cash only no check. Any thoughts on how i can use the credit card? Bluebird limit is only 500 per day?

  16. I’m new to this “game”, so bear with me a little… Went to Family Dollar to buy VR with CC and clerk had no problem approving CC for purchase., but then asked me for my card…? I don’t have a VR card, is that what he meant? Or should I have handed him my Bluebird card (which I ordered online but have not transferred and funds to just yet)?
    Thanks for any insight. I’m struggling a bit with this first step, transferring funds to the Bluebird card, because CVS and Walgreens do not accept CC to purchase VR in may area…

  17. @VULCANICO – You can’t load a Bluebird card at Family Dollar and they don’t sell the Vanilla Reloads which you can load online.

  18. Pingback: Vanilla Reload Cards | Million Mile Secrets

  19. How about purchasing vanilla reloads with chase sapphire proffered?

  20. one letter send u. you got it ????

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