Using The Home Improvement Card to Load Your Bluebird [Expired]

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Update:  I wasn’t able to use the Home Improvement card at non-Home Improvement stores on August 1, 2013.  Do NOT buy the Home Improvement gift card to use outside of home improvement stores.

For a few days, a few weeks ago, you could buy Vanilla Reloads and $500 gift cards and load your Bluebird with those cards.  But Office Depot quickly stopped accepting credit cards for the Vanilla Reloads.

Home Improvement Card Bluebird-010

Home Improvement Gift Cards From Office Depot Can Be Loaded to Bluebird!

Points to Paradise reported that you can buy a Home Improvement gift card from Office Depot and earn extra points if you use a card which has a category bonus at Office Supply stores.  This FlyerTalk thread later started based on her post.  There is NO fee to buy the Home Improvement card!

You can then use the PIN on your Home Improvement card to load your Bluebird at Wal-Mart or to buy Money Orders!  I use Bluebird to pay my student loans and other bills which I can’t pay with a credit card.  

One of the best uses of American Express Bluebird is the ability to pay for transactions which can’t usually be made with a miles or points earning credit card.  Transactions such as your rent, mortgage, car payment, credit card bill, tuition etc. can be paid with your Bluebird card (i.e  indirectly with a credit card).

You load your Bluebird card (which you can order online) with a points earning debit card at Wal-Mart or with a gift card (with a PIN) which you bought with a credit card.  You can also reload Bluebird with Vanilla Reload cards which you can buy at CVS.

Some folks are even reporting that you can use the Home Improvement card as a regular debit card elsewhere, but I haven’t tested this as yet!

Update:  I can use the Home Improvement card (for now), as a debit card, at any store which accepts Discover!

What is the Home Improvement Card?

Frequent Miler has more information on the Home Improvement card.  In short, the Home Improvement card is a gift card which you are supposed to use at home improvement stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s etc.

You can buy the Home Improvement card at Office Depot, CVS etc.  Here’s a link to the Office Depot Store Locator.  Note that it can take up to 24 hours to activate the card and before it is ready for use, though I was able to use my cards within 4 hours.

Office Depot Has the Home Improvement Card

Office Depot Has the Home Improvement Card

Office Depot has the Home Improvement gift card in their gift card rack and I was able to buy it with a credit card.

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A Close-Up of the Home Improvement Gift Card

The card never interested me because you can ONLY use the Home Improvement card at select retailers.  See this page for a list of complete retailers.

But Points to Paradise reports that you can now set a PIN to your Home Improvement card and use it to load your Bluebird at Wal-Mart.

This means that you can buy the Home Improvement card at Office Depot, go to Wal-Mart, and load the Home Improvement card as a debit card to your Bluebird.  You can then use your Bluebird to pay bills which you otherwise can’t pay with a credit card.

Unlike Visa or MasterCard gift cards, there is NO fee to buy the Home Improvement gift card, which means that you really are getting 5X points if you use the right card!

How To Set the PIN to Your Home Improvement Card?

Just use any 4 digit combination the first time you use the Home Improvement card.

How to Use the Home Improvement Card at Wal-Mart?

Update:  I wasn’t able to use the Home Improvement card at non-Home Improvement stores on August 1, 2013.  Do NOT buy the Home Improvement gift card to use outside of home improvement stores.

You can use the Home Improvement card to load your Bluebird at either the automated kiosks at Wal-Mart or by going to a teller and asking to load your Bluebird card.  See this post for more details on how to load your Bluebird at the automatic kiosk at Wal-Mart.

However, some folks are unable to get the Home Improvement card to work as a debit card at Wal-Mart.  This happens when the card reader automatically recognizes your card as a credit card.

Swipe Your Home Improvement Card in the Card Reader

Swipe Your Home Improvement Card in the Card Reader

But just hit the “cancel” button on the screen…

Hit The Cancel

Hit The “Cancel” Button on the Screen & You Can Select an Option to Use Debit Cards

…and you will get a chance to select “Debit.”  Do NOT hit the plastic red cancel BUTTON, but hit the “Cancel” button on the screen.  This option disappears quickly, as my shaky picture above can attest!

Select Debit

Select “ATM/DEBIT” and You Should be Able to Use The Home Improvement Card as a Debit Card to Load Your Bluebird!

You should be able to use the card as a debit card then.  Or ask the cashier to ring it up as debit.

Enter your 4 digit PIN (any 4 digits will work if this is the first time you’re using the card).

Be Careful

The Home Improvement card is supposed to be used only at Home Improvement stores. It is VERY possible that at some point you will NOT be able to use the Home Improvement card elsewhere.

So buy a small amount first and test to make sure you can load it at your Wal-Mart BEFORE buying larger amounts.  You do NOT want to be stuck with large amounts of Home Improvement cards which you can’t use.

Also note that sometimes it can take up to 24 hours to activate your Home Improvement card after buying it.

I doubt this will last long, so be careful!

Bottom Line

Update:  I wasn’t able to use the Home Improvement card at non-Home Improvement stores on August 1, 2013.  Do NOT buy the Home Improvement gift card to use outside of home improvement stores.

I don’t know for how much longer you’ll be able to buy Home Improvement gift cards at Office Depot with a credit card.

But be careful before jumping in.  Test out a Home Improvement gift card with a SMALL amount and make sure you can load it on your Bluebird at Wal-Mart before buying larger amounts.  While you can use the Home Improvement card as a debit card (for now) wherever Discover can be used, I don’t know for how much longer that will be possible.

I don’t suggest buying large amounts of gift cards and abusing this, but only to buy enough for legitimate bills and loans.

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121 responses to “Using The Home Improvement Card to Load Your Bluebird [Expired]

  1. I just got an offer for 2500 bonus points when I purchase $500 at back to school type places including home improvement stores via my Alaska Airlines Visa.

    This is awesome!

  2. Thank you Darius!!

    Keep up the great work and ignore any selfish FTers. I said the same thing several times when you first started your blog, but I am super busy with work, and usually don’t have time to read multiple blogs and forums. That is why I rely on you to bring the really good deals to my attention. You continue to do so, and that is why I will continue to be a loyal reader, and continue to choose your affiliate links.

    In my opinion, this is the best deal you have blogged about in a while.

    P.S. Just got back from a nice vacation in Prague with my girlfriend to see Depeche Mode. Flew in F thanks to you! As you may remember, I’m 6’4″ tall, so you are my savior. 10-hour+ flights used to be a horrific experience for me in Y, but now I really look forward to my travels!

  3. Darius, I have a business. But, nobody and I mean nobody is buying a home improvement card for business purposes – even if they do actually HAVE a business. I know, I know, it’s only a little white lie and besides who’s going to catch us, right?

  4. @bjw Thanks..thought I had fat fingers on the pin pad–didnt work at full value 3X’s..Try again tomorrow…..

  5. The deal is officially DEAD. All HIGCs are rejected now in WM and other non-HI places. I am stuck with $1500 junk cards. Thank you, Dariush for killing another great deal so quickly!

  6. CNN reports that a sudden spike in the housing/home improvement market in August and September 2013 have boosted the US economy. When asked for reasons on this, top execs and analysts in WallStreet were baffled and one was reported saying, “well it came to my attention that it’s all due to a bunch of frequent fliers and their money laundering schemes.” In seemingly somehow related news, United, the world’s largest carrier has risen all its mileage requirements for award tickets to be double what the previous redemption rates were. Other airlines like Delta and AMR are expected to follow suit this week

  7. Clearly there are people with WAY too much time on their hands, waiting to pounce on a blogger who shares information that MAY offer a benefit.

    If you are worried that something is too good to be true, for you, it is: don’t do it.

    Me? I’m in the middle of a major home improvement project. If I can use these things to buy paint, bathroom fixtures and stain, I’m good. If they can be used to buy engineered hardwood flooring online, I am GOLDEN.

    Karma, people. It’s real, and if you act ugly, it will be, too.

  8. Pingback: Quick Notes: Gift Cards with PINs do not work right away | Travel with Grant

  9. @ Pat – Actually, our business that we have the Ink card for is managing our couple of rental properties. So, purchasing the HIGC at HD is truly part of our business expense.

  10. Pingback: [Virtual] High Five to 'Points to Paradise' for Discovering New 5x-Point Opportunity at Office Depot - Travelthusiast

  11. Pingback: Blog Giveaway: $200 Home Improvement Cards | Million Mile Secrets

  12. Are there any ways left to load the Bluebird with a credit card? I tried at multiple CVS, Office Depots, and 7-11s today, and all require cash to load the card.

    Is Bluebird dead?

  13. Pingback: What I learned from the United $0 fare glitch, how to capitalize off of companies' mistakes, and contemplating my stance on sharing "glitch" deals - Travelthusiast

  14. Pingback: What I learned from the United $0 mistake fare, how to capitalize off of companies' mistakes, and contemplating my stance on sharing "glitch" deals - Travelthusiast

  15. I just went to OD and bought $20 HIGC as a test and loaded it onto my Bluebird account from home as a debit card under the add funds tab. It looks like it worked. We’ll see.

  16. Can you still use a credit card to buy this at Office Depot/Staples etc? I’ve got a large appliance purchase coming up and looking to save some money on it.

  17. have no idea where to find out….