Thanks to everyone who emailed and commented about their experience buying Vanilla Reload cards at Office Depot.
Unfortunately, many Office Depots removed the Vanilla Reload cards & stopped selling Vanilla Reload cards yesterday. We’re not sure about the exact reasons, but readers report being told that Office Depot was concerned about fraudulent purchases. However, a small percentage of readers still found them at Office Depot, but I wouldn’t expect this to last much longer. But there are still ways to take advantage of American Express Bluebird.
I suspect a larger reason is because lots of folks were buying Vanilla Reload cards with a Chase Ink credit card to earn 5X points. Frequent Miler wrote about this in May, but I never wrote about it in detail (I may have mentioned it in passing) until American Express Bluebird arrived in October.
American Express Bluebird
Bluebird was a great way to earn miles and points for purchases which don’t usually earn miles and points such as rent, mortgages, car loans, credit card bills etc. This was huge, and I certainly wanted Million Mile Secrets readers to know about this opportunity! This was BIG!
In the internet age, it is unlikely that this opportunity would last long and not writing it on my blog when it was on all the other blogs, financial blogs, Slick Deals, Fat Wallet & Flyer Talk wasn’t going to prolong the length of the deal.
If something is too good to be true – and earning 5X Ultimate Rewards points for paying bills fits the category – it is unlikely to last long. So congrats to folks who saw the potential and acted quickly while it lasted!
However, you can still earn 3.5X Ultimate Rewards points per $1 with one extra step.
Bluebird is Not Dead…Yet
Sure, you can’t buy Vanilla Reloads directly with a Chase Ink credit and earn 5X Ultimate Rewards Points or 5% cash back, but there still are a lot of other options.
Here are a few options to load American Express Bluebird with a credit card which I’ve either written about before or will write about in more detail soon. I do NOT expect all these methods to last indefinitely, but that’s life in the internet age!
1. CVS or Walgreen’s. CVS is rolling out Vanilla Reload cards through their stores and you can buy them with a credit card! Your store may not have them currently, but they will have it soon. I wrote about our experience buying Vanilla Reload cards at CVS in this post, and I just bought 2 more last night without any issues.
As I explained in this post, you can use this to meet a minimum spending requirement on ANY credit card, with the American Express or Citi Hilton cards for 6X or 3X Hilton points, to meet spending bonus requirements on other cards, or to earn points to pay bills via American Express Bluebird.
Being able to buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card from CVS means that you can plough through minimum spending requirements on credit cards very easily.
Some Walgreen’s will also sell you a Vanilla Reload card with a credit card, but this is very variable and could be a wild goose chase for some.
2. Office Depot & CVS /Walgreen’s/Other Locations. Sure, you may not be able to buy Vanilla Reloads at Office Depot anymore. But you STILL can buy a $500 regular Visa, MasterCard, or American Express gift card with a Chase Ink credit card at Office Depot and earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points or 5% cash back. You will pay ~$4.95 as a purchase fee for the gift card, but will earn ~2,525 Ultimate Rewards points for the $500 gift card purchase +~$4.95 gift card activation fee.
You can then use that gift card (which you bought at Office Depot and earned you 5X Ultimate Rewards points) to buy a Vanilla Reload card at CVS, Walgreen’s or any other place which sells Vanilla Reloads.
For example, if you bought a $500 gift card at Office Depot with your Chase Ink card, you can use that card to buy a Vanilla Reload card for $496.05 at any other location which sells them with a credit card.
Why $496.05? Because your gift card (which you purchased with a Chase Ink Bold at Office Depot) has only $500 in it and you have to account for the $3.95 Vanilla Reload purchase fee. $500 Gift Card Value = $496.05 Vanilla Reload + $3.95 Vanilla Reload fee.
Yes, there is an extra step involved and an additional $4.95 fee, but you are earning ~2,525 Ultimate Rewards points for a $8.90 fee ($4.95 gift card fee + $3.95 Vanilla Reload fee). But that’s still 3.5 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent!
3. Wells Fargo Debit Card. The blog migration let slip a mostly incomplete draft post (since deleted) into the Million Mile Secrets RSS feed which suggested that you can use the Wells Fargo Prepaid card to load a Bluebird card.
Essentially, you load your Wells Fargo prepaid debit card with a credit card (do NOT use a Citi card because you will be charged a cash advance fee!) and then go to Wal-Mart and load your Bluebird card with the Wells Fargo prepaid card. This is still a viable way to earn points for paying bills such as mortgages, rent etc. with a credit card! Or to meet a minimum spending requirement. I’ll write more about this later.
4. Debit Cards. You can always load your Bluebird card with a points earning debit card at Wal-Mart. I earned miles for loading my Bluebird card with 3 miles earning cards – the Suntrust Delta debit card, the Bank of America Alaska Air debit card, and the UFB Bank Airlines Rewards Checking account which earns American Airlines miles.
I earned 1 mile per $1 with the Delta debit card and 0.5 miles per $1 with the Alaska Air and American Airlines cards. You can load up to $1,000 per day & $5,000 per month at Wal-Mart, for free, with a debit card.
This lets you earn miles and points for paying rent, mortgages, and credit card bills – activities which usually didn’t earn miles and points before Bluebird.
5. Other Locations. I wrote earlier that Vanilla reloads are available at a lot of other places. Some of these places may accept credit cards to purchase Vanilla Reloads. Readers have reported success at CVS, Valero, Save Mart, & some Walgreen’s.
Banks are pushing prepaid cards to make up for legislation which slashed profits from their credit card divisions. There are many new prepaid cards on the market, and some are very much like Bluebird in that you may be able to load them with a credit card.
So experiment for yourself with the other options. I’ll share my experiments too! Together we can figure out more ways to earn miles and points.
I don’t agree with everything in the video – particularly the part about spoon-feeding the masses - but the video sure is funny! Life would be dull without contrary viewpoints. If you’re new to miles and points many of the references in the video may not make sense…yet.
Deals come and deals go. The ability to buy Vanilla Reloads for 5X points with an Ink credit card may have closed, but there always will be new opportunities. I’m glad many of us got to partake while it lasted.
We can either complain and moan and try to assign blame (answer = the internet, & this blog is a tiny part of the internet) or move on to the next opportunity. I’m moving on to newer opportunities!
But loss aversion is a powerful motivator, so I’m sure the comments will be fun to read, though not all comments will be coherent or logical! But one can hope otherwise.
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