Vanilla Reloads Available at Family Fare Grocery Stores!

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Emily and I are visiting family in Michigan and Ohio.

I’m always excited to check out new shops (but not actually buy anything!) when we travel because I’m a marketing nerd and I like seeing how products are merchandised (displayed) in different stores.  And to check-out what’s on the gift card rack!

We were able to buy Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card at different Family Fare supermarkets in Michigan!

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

Vanilla Reloads at Family Fare!

Family Fare belongs to the Spartan Stores chain and they sell Vanilla Reloads according to the Vanilla Reload website.

What is a Vanilla Reload?

One of the best uses of American Express Bluebird is 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 with Vanilla Reload cards which you can usually buy at CVS and a few other stores (if you’re lucky!).

You can also 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.

Here’s what a Vanilla Reload looks like and how to load it to your Bluebird card.

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

This is a Vanilla Reload Card

Family Fare

Link:  Family Fare Store Locator

We saw Vanilla Reloads at a Family Fare shop in Michigan and we asked the cashier to load $500 on each card.  But the register asked the cashier to get a manager to approve the transaction.   And the manager asked for our ID to match it to the name on the credit card!

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

I’ll Gladly Go Shopping Here!

We’ve just moved from Kansas to Texas, and we had a temporary Texas Driver’s License which was folded up in our wallets.  The Texas temporary Driver’s License looks like something you can print out at home and doesn’t look very official, so we were a little concerned that she’d just laugh us out of the store!

But this was small-town Michigan (everyone seems to know everyone!), so we chatted with the manager and explained that we were visiting family.  The manager checked our ID and we were able to complete the purchase with a miles and point earning credit card!

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a miles and point card which earns a category bonus or extra points at grocery stores.  But we were thrilled to find a new place which sells Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.

Spartan Stores

Link:   Spartan Stores Store Locator

Spartan Stores has shops mostly in Michigan and Northern Ohio.

I was curious to see if other shops in the Spartan chain such as Oleson’s Foods & Tom’s Food Market (which were nearby) would sell  Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.  You can see if there is a Spartan Store near you via the Spartan Stores Store Locator.

We went to Oleson’s Foods, but they didn’t sell ANY gift cards!

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

Oleson’s Didn’t Sell Any Gift Cards

Tom’s Food Market didn’t have any gift cards as well.

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

Tom’s Food Market Also Doesn’t Sell Gift Cards

We then went to another Family Fare store and bought $100 on each Vanilla Reload.  This time the cashier didn’t need to get a manager to approve the transaction.  But she did look closely at our temporary Texas licenses!

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

We Got Some More Vanilla Reloads Here!

We didn’t check out other Spartan Store shops such as Forest Hills Foods, Glenn’s Market, VG’s, & Valu Land because they weren’t nearby.  But they could potentially sell Vanilla Reloads.

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

Spartan Stores Runs These Stores

Bottom Line

You can now buy Vanilla Reloads at Family Fare stores with a credit card.  And you will earn miles and points when you buy the Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.

You can can then use American Express Bluebird to pay your bills such as rent, mortgage and student loans which you otherwise couldn’t pay with a credit card!

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46 responses to “Vanilla Reloads Available at Family Fare Grocery Stores!

  1. Bryan Schmiedeler

    I live in KC and my local CVS are out of Vanilla Reload cards, and have been for 3 weeks or so.

    Does anyone in the KC area know where I can get some?


  2. Moved from Kansas to Texas? How did I miss this news? 🙂

  3. Thats why they moved from KC, no more VR in kc! Lol

  4. Wow, you were very close to my area. My local Spartan store, D&W, has an empty space for the VR cards. I need to visit other Spartan stores. Last year, they had bonus points for buying $300 or more in GCs. That was my 1st time buying the Home Improvement cards.

  5. Good stuff, I was just curious why you only got $100 on each of the VR at the second store — As a test to see if the process (i.e. checking ID, etc.) was different if purchasing $100 vs. $500 or some other reason? I guess, just curious, due to the $4 fee for only getting $100 spend for points…

  6. I have been doing this deal. Thanks for killing it. I can’t wait to see the empty shelves tonight.

  7. it’s like an elephant jumping into the swimming pool….

  8. Welcome to Texas! Where in Texas?

  9. Which credit card would you recommend using at CVS to buy Vanilla Reloads to get the maximum points?

  10. The CVS’s near me have been completely restocked with lots of VR’s. I notice that the VR’s have changed as has their website. I wonder if they’re going to start spreading out now? I’d love to see them in a supermarket near me.

    • @Bryan Schmiedeler – Lawrence and Topeka usually had quite a bit, but I haven’t checked for the last few months.

      @Lively – Because this is the first time I’m mentioning it on the blog!

      @Troy – LOL!

      @Mike – I was trying to see if a lower purchase amount would also require a manager to approve the transaction.

      @FreeTravelGuys – Austin!

      @Juli – There are no cards with good long-term bonuses at drug stores. So I’d use the card whose points you most like to earn.

  11. Whats the benefit of these over the GreenDot MoneyPaks? You can walk into any store and get them (along with the prepaid card), no monthly limits just a balance/daily that can be recycled easily. Seems it should be looked at as an equivalent to BB not the ugly cousin.

  12. @ Flybynight Not to be rude or anything, but isn’t this what blogs are supposed to do? To let readers know about deals, so they can take advantage of them. I don’t get this hate towards Daraius, I really don’t.

  13. @D, congrats on the move to TX!

    @Juli, there are lots of cards that earn bonus points at grocery stores. The AMEX Blue Cash Preferred earns 6% cash back at grocery stores. That would equal $30 cash back per VRC. I think some of the Hilton cards also earn bonus points.

  14. KS to TX? What prompted the move? Do you get to telecommute form home now or has MMS taken over your life full time now?

  15. Welcome to TX!

  16. Hey guys,

    Still new to this…If i’m understanding this right- we could purchase VR cards with a rewards earning card…then transfer said amount on the VR to the AMEX bluebird which allows you to pay your rent? How exactly could you pay your landlord (who doesn’t accept credit cards) with the bluebird? This would be an awesome way to hit my minimum spends 🙂

  17. @Chance, just fill in your landlords name and address and bluebird will mail a check on your behalf.

  18. Thanks, but what grocery stores? and do they still earn 5% cashback on ink/bold chase card to maximize UR points earning?

    If not which cards would be good to earn maximized cashback at CVS?

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  20. Imagine my surprise I ran into both Emily & Daraius at a grocery store here in Austin! Nicest & friendly couple:-) Been reading their blog for a year & enjoying greatly the info. Thanks!

  21. Welcome to Austin, from a fellow Austinite!

    I can see the VRs being useful to meet min spend on new credit cards. But none of the cards earning bonuses on grocery stores (here for example: are the 3 main programs I use to accumulate points: Amex MR, Starwood, or Chase UR, other than Amex PRG, which is not worth the fee to me.

    What am I missing? Is it still worth buying VRs on a regular 1x bonus card?

  22. DOes anyone know of other stores besides CVS and the one mentioned in this post that accept CCs for VR purchases?

  23. Welcome to TX guys, I hope you like it here.

  24. MM,
    A big WELCOME to AUSTIN for you! Please post if you find other ways to find VRs or GCs in Austin.
    IMO, you made the right choice to move to Austin. It is one of the fastest growing cities w/ lots of jobs. I came to Austin from Oregon’s depressing weather ( i was about to go crazy with no sunshine/warmth) and loved this place since then. Austin is a very young/energetic town, one of the best Universities (u can buy prepaid tuition fees for your kids at today’s cost!), constant year around sunshine/warmth cheerful weather, green/hilly and natural lakes, no state income tax (2 income families comes out way ahead compared to higher property tax since living under the same roof, cheap housing, great variety of food and they are cheap, great downtown by the lake for rowing/jogging/swimming, Zilker park similar to Central park (I actually like Zilker better since it is more functional (sand volleyball, soccer fields, swimming at spring fed pool, large playscape for kids to play, lots of picnic areas, fishing areas, train ride etc.), year around festivals (SWSX, Biker rally, Austin City Limits, Kite/Shakespeare outdoor festivals etc.), 3 major cities close-by (Dallas, Houston, San Antonio)with their own attractions (Sea World, Fiesta Texas, Champion Football/Basketball/Baseball/Hockey teams etc.), One of world’s best waterpark (Schlliterbahn), beaches where u can actually swim almost all year-long as opposed to only in summer, Lots of Lakes within few hours of driving for camping/swimming etc. Basically your Quality of Life goes up. The cons are traffic, allergy and summer heat (but good for swimming in the lakes and swimming pool).
    I have visited all around the coasts (LA, SD, SF, OR, WA, NY, FL etc.) and there is no place that can match Austin, hands down.
    BTW, I do work at High Tech and Austin has probably more semiconductor hiring (AAPL, INTC, QCOM, AMD, AMAT, NVDA, IBM, Calxeda, Silicon Labs, Cirrus, Samsung’s only Fab outside South Korea and design, GOOG, BRCM, Freescale etc.) than San Jose. It is constantly voted top for most entrepreneurial city, high quality of living, pretty liberal thinking (in last two elections Democrats actually had won in Travis County), pretty cheap groceries (lots of competition from Wal Mart, Randalls, HEB, Fiesta, Sams club, Costco etc.).
    This is just to name a few….

  25. I struggle with the $3.95 fee…for$500…for 500 miles. $197.50 per 25,000 freq. flyer miles….It seems like a lot of “fooling around” and money for 25,000 miles. I suppose it might be worth the time and effort for international flights….????Maybe??? Please…show me the wisdom and insight….hard for me to see any great benefit. Am i missing some

    • @Matt – GreenDot closes accounts down quite frequently.

      @ Bob – The Ink cards never earned 5% at grocery stores, but at office supply and telecom stores.

      @DJ – It was great bumping into you as well!

      @austinpop – It is worth it to me, but it depends on how you value your time.

      Thanks for the welcome to Austin and Texas!

  26. I went into a local Sunoco today and was told that they were cash only. She started explain to me that the network that activates the card won’t active them if paid with a credit card. Then she proceeded to tell me they were tagged for credit card fraud in the past. Maybe certain stores have a higher rate of fraud than others (like gas stations, etc).

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  28. Some stores carry VR but don’t display them for whatever reason. I’ve gotten a few store clerks/managers to look under their unwrapped gift cards and had success finding VR cards. Also most stores can perform a search of others in the area with them in stock.

  29. Wow – congrats on the move. That might be why you are understandably behind on emails about travel to Japan/Tokyo (hint 😉 ) by the way, I know you like Indian food, so you should try naan sense and g’raj mahal if not done so already. Austin is such an awesome town and has amazing everything including food. So jealous of the move. More so since you will have nonstop 787 service to LHR soon to be able to blow some avios on!

  30. I checked out a few CVS/Walgreens here in Metro Detroit and they all had a sign up saying “cash only for all Vanilla reload cards”.

  31. Has anyone run across a CVS that will take credit cards for VR cards in South Austin?

  32. I tried to purchase the VR card at CVS tonight and was prompted as cash only. Then I went to Dollar General and was the CC was denied for a $200 load. I will continue to look. I am in Maryland.

    • @Seanp7195 – You can’t buy them with a credit card at Walgreen’s. But CVS still sells them with a credit card despite the sign.

      @Case – Try again at CVS. You should be able to use a credit card to buy them at CVS.

  33. I miss spoke, I attempted to purchase at Walgreens and was prompted to pay by cash. I will head to CVS and try it there. Thanks!

  34. Can somebody tell me, if they know of grocery stores in Ohio or Orlando, Florida area where you can purchase Vanilla reload cards with a credit card? Thank you for any information.

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  36. Can I use any credit card to buy the Vanilla Reloads to add funds to my BlueBird card?

    Or is that not ideal? Do I must have to use the cards you mentioned in order for me to be ahead of the game?

  37. welcome to Austin!

    I am relatively new to purchasing the VGC. I have been purchasing at CVS but was wondering if any other stores (Randalls, Kroger, etc.) allow purchase with credit card. I know HEB doesn’t. Would appreciate any input if you know any.

  38. vanilla reloads specifically

  39. @Daraius; I went to HEB yesterday and i have asked them can to see I can use HEB gift card to buy VGC but they said no?..