Does Citi Charge Cash Advance Fees for Gift Card and Vanilla Reload Purchases?

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[Disclosure:  Emily and I do not get a commission for the link to the 100,000 mile Citi American Airlines Executive card in this post.  But it is a great offer!] 

Update:  You can no longer load a Vanilla Visa to your Bluebird.

Million Mile Secrets reader, Walter, writes in:

Doesn’t Citi code all gift card and Vanilla Reward card purchases as cash advances that don’t apply to the $10,000 minimum spend?

Walter is referring to buying gift cards or Vanilla Reload cards to meet the high $10,000 spending requirement on the Citi American Airlines Executive card.

Citi American Airlines Executive Card

100,000 American Airlines Miles & $200 Statement Credit

100,000 American Airlines Miles & $200 Statement Credit

The Citi American Airlines Executive card is currently offering 100,000 miles and a $200 statement credit.  You do have to pay a $450 annual fee, but you get a statement credit of $200 after you spend at least $200 on the card.  So you’re effectively paying $250 for 100,000 American Airlines miles.

Emily and I do not get a commission for this card,  but according to the mother-in-law rule we will always post the best offers even if they don’t pay us a commission.  This is the best credit card bonus offer I’ve seen in the past year!  And I recently applied and was approved for this offer.

However, you have to spend a hefty $10,000 within 3 months.  That is a lot of money to spend in 3 months!

I have written before about 40 ways to meet minimum spending limits.  One of my favorite ways to meet high minimum spending is to buy gift cards or Vanilla Reloads.

How Do I Use Gift Cards to Meet Minimum Spending?

Buying gift cards with a credit card makes it easier to meet large spending requirements.  You can buy gift cards at grocery stores, gas stations, department stores, office supply stores etc.

Does Citi Charge Cash Advance Fees For Gift Card And Vanilla Reload Purchases

Gift Cards Can Help You Spend $10,000 on the Citi American Airline Executive Card

1.   Use for Future Expenses

If Walter buys a gift card with a credit card, he can effectively meet his minimum spending now, but use the gift cards to buy stuff later.

For example, if Walter gets the Citi Executive card on February 28, 2014he has to spend $10,000 on the card by ~May 28, 2014 to get the sign-up bonus.

Let’s say that Walter can’t complete the minimum spending by the end of May, but he plans on remodeling his kitchen in July.  So Walter can buy Home Depot gift cards online, at Home Depot or in other stores. This helps him to meet his minimum spending requirement now.  But he can use the gift cards for his remodel in July.

However, he should be sure that he can pay his credit card balance in full when it comes due!  There’s no point paying high interest fees.

He can also buy Visa, Mastercard, or American Express gift cards and use them for other future purchases.  However, he shouldn’t buy these gift cards DIRECTLY from a bank because then they may be coded as a purchase from a financial institution.  That’s because Citi usually charges fees for purchases directly from a financial institution.

But it is okay to buy them from grocery stores etc. because your purchase gets coded as a grocery store purchase.

2.   Pay Bills That Don’t Allow You to Pay With a Credit Card

Many folks have bills which you can’t pay with a credit card.  Some examples are home mortgage, student loans, car payments, and rent.

To get around this, Walter can use his Citi card to buy gift cards with PIN numbers or Vanilla Reload cards.  Walter can load up to $500 on either Visa or MasterCard gift cards or on Vanilla Reload cards.

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

This Is a Vanilla Reload Card

Note that prepaid cards typically charge activation fees (~$5 to ~$6).  But it is a small amount to pay for being able to meet large minimum spending requirements.

After Walter buys the Vanilla Reload cards or Gift Cards, he can load his Bluebird with the Vanilla Reload cards or the Gift Cards and then use them to pay his bills which otherwise can’t be paid with a credit card!

How Do I Load My Bluebird Account?

If you don’t already have a Bluebird account sign-up for one on the Bluebird website.

Does Citi Charge Cash Advance Fees For Gift Card And Vanilla Reload Purchases

Bluebird Makes It Easier to Meet High Minimum Spending Requirements

You can load your Bluebird account with gift cards OR Vanilla Reload cards.  You can load up to $1,000 per day and up to $5,000 per month on your Bluebird account.

A.   Use Gift Cards to Load Your Bluebird

Visa and MasterCard Gift Cards with PIN numbers can be found at most grocery stores, office supply stores, or gas stations.  The amount of the gift card will earn miles or points (and count towards the minimum spending) when you buy them with a credit card.

However, note that you CANNOT load American Expresss gift cards to your Bluebird account.

There are different issuers of gift cards and they each have a different process to register a PIN.  Some make you call in to register a PIN and some make you do it online.  And some just require you to enter a random number when you make your first purchase!

Vanilla Reload Cards-002

You Can Load Your Bluebird with Gift Cards at Wal-Mart

Any Walmart cashier can load the money onto your Bluebird account for you.  Or you can load it yourself when you go to a Walmart with a MoneyCenter Kiosk.  The kiosks are easier, especially if you have several gift cards!  But they aren’t always available in stores.

Bluebird Reload Wal-Mart Kiosk-004

Save Time By Using a MoneyCenter Kiosk to Load Your Bluebird Account

B.   Use Vanilla Reloads to Load Your Bluebird Account

You can find Vanilla Reload cards at CVS and Family Fare grocery stores.  Remember to use your credit card for your purchase to meet minimum spending requirements!

Does Citi Charge Cash Advance Fees For Gift Card And Vanilla Reload Purchases

Emily Buying Vanilla Reload Cards at CVS

You can load your Bluebird account by visiting the Vanilla Reload website.

VanillaReloadEnterPIN

You Can Find the PIN Number on the Back on Your Vanilla Reload Card

How Do I Use a Bluebird Account to Pay My Bills?

Once you have money in your Bluebird account you can pay your bills online.  Bluebird will send your payment to your mortgage, credit card, student loan etc. provider.

Does Citi Charge Cash Advance Fees For Gift Card And Vanilla Reload Purchases

Sending Checks Through Bluebird Is Easy

Will I Get Charged A Cash Advance Fee?

A cash advance fee is a higher interest rate and charge for either withdrawing cash with a credit card.  Or for using a credit card to buy certain “like cash” items.

In my experience, you will NOT, be charged a cash advance fee for buying gift cards or Vanilla Reloads at stores.  Vanilla Reload cards and many other prepaid gift cards are purchased at stores such as grocery stores, gas stations, office supply stores etc.

The charges you make are categorized by a merchant code.  The merchant code is based upon the primary type of sale made by the store.

So if you buy a Visa gift card from your local grocery store.  It is categorized as a grocery purchase.  And not as a purchase of “like cash” items which usually triggers the cash advance charge.

Bananas

Citi Does Not Know If You Purchased $500 Worth of Prepaid Cards or $500 Worth of Bananas!

However, there are some gift cards and prepaid cards such as the US Bank Buxx card that you can purchase DIRECTLY from a bank.

Avoid using Citi credit cards when buying a prepaid debit card directly from a bank.   They usually code purchases from other financial institutions such as banks as cash advances which means high cash advance fees and interest!

Does Citi Charge Cash Advance Fees For Gift Card And Vanilla Reload Purchases

Do NOT Use a Citi Credit Card to Buy PrePaid Cards From Banks!

Buying American Express gift cards directly from the American Express website with a Citi card will also trigger the cash advance fees.

Bottom Line

You can use gift cards to help you meet high minimum spending requirements on credit cards.

Gift cards purchased from retail stores are coded as a retail purchase and you are NOT charged cash advance fees for these types of transactions.

However, do NOT use a Citi credit card to buy prepaid cards DIRECTLY from financial institutions.  This is usually coded as a financial purchase and you could be charged cash advance fees.

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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.

77 Responses to Does Citi Charge Cash Advance Fees for Gift Card and Vanilla Reload Purchases?

  1. Raghu Narayanan

    Hi
    What about using the citicard to load Amex Card for Target @ Target stores. Will this trigger a cash advance other than the $3 that Target charges
    Raghu

  2. I think a guy distinction that was left out was the fact that many stores such as Walgreens do NOT let you buy gift cards using a Credit Card. For example, only CVS lets one buy Vanilla Reloads using a CC.
    Is this no longer the norm?

  3. Buying vanilla reloads with a credit card seems to be dependent upon the store, location, and even the person working that day. At least that has been my experience.

  4. Daraius – you couldn’t have timed this post better. A week ago I received the Citi AAdvantage MC and have hesitated to start using it to meet the $10,000 spend. Yesterday I got my Bluebird card and set up the account. I plan on purchasing Visa giftcards to meet at least half of the spend. I have used my Delta Gold AMEX to purchase a $500 Visa giftcard (with PIN) at Wal-Mart and it posted as a “Merchandise & Supplies – Wholesale Stores”. I also used my Alaska Airlines Signature Visa (they are running a 3x promotion) and purchased a $500 Visa giftcard at Fred Meyer. It posted as “GROCERY STORES, SUPERMARKETS”. The card at Wal-Mart had a $4.95 activation fee, the one at Fred Meyer was $5.95.

    Thank you so much for your timely post about the Citi card!

    -Scott

  5. If I already have a personal AA citibank MasterCard will applying for an a Executive card be allowed? Is it considered a different product?

  6. I have the same question as Pam. I just received the Citi AA Mastercard at the beginning of January. Does that automatically reject me from getting the Executive card with the 100,000 mile bonus?

  7. FYI…concerning the annual fee…

    I was recently approved for this card. I spoke to someone at Citi about the statement credit and was told it works like this: For each transaction, they’ll credit $1, up to $200 in the first year.

    Has anyone else heard this?

  8. A friend of mine, who is new to the game, bought some gift cards from Staples with her Chase Ink Bold card to meet her minimum spending. She decided to call Chase (yeah, I know) to ask if these counted towards her minimum spending. Chase said no, they won’t. So she ended up putting a lot more spend on the card. I told her I was almost 100% certain that they do count. It seems that they would with the Ink Bold, right? Just asking since this post is about Citi, not Chase.

  9. Colin/Pam,
    No, you can still get the 100k card despite having recent Citi cards. I’ve been reading the 100k threads at other sites and plenty of people are still getting the cards. One tip I’d suggest is to apply for the smaller mile card (there are 60/75k mile versions which offer a $100 statement credit with $450 AF) and then send a SM to Citi asking for them to match the 100k offer (send them a link with the 100k offer). Not only will you get the $200 statement credit with the new match, but you will also still get the $100 statement credit from the previous card. In essence, you save $300 on that annual fee of $450! It works because I just did this.

  10. Just received my first statement for my new citi executive AAdvantage. Spent approx. 6 k in first month. $450 posted in fees, -$200 in credits. Pretty strait forward.

  11. So let me see if I have this straight. You buy a $500 gift card at the grocery store using your preferred credit card, then load that $500 into your bluebird account and then you pay (write checks) from the bluebird account to your creditors. Option two: buy a $500 vanilla reload card using your preferred credit card, then load that $500 into your bluebird account and write checks to your creditors. Is that right. Thanks, Karen

  12. I am considering applying Citi American Airlines Executive Card. I currently have Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage Visa Signature card. I just paid an annual fee for it in Jan. I decided to keep the card and not cancel for free bags mainly and did not want to deal with the hassle. Is there any chance to cancel this card now and get the annual fee refunded? I have not used it at all this year yet. Also is it better to do this AFTER I apply for the Executive card or BEFORE? Thanks a lot!!!

  13. @Karen That’s exactly right. The other options are:
    1) Pay bills directly thru the Bluebird bill pay feature, without using a check.
    2) Some people have been known to link their checking account to their Bluebird account, and simply transfer the funds from Bluebird to their checking account. ;)

    If you do the latter, don’t transfer more than $2,000 at a time, as Bluebird takes longer to complete transfers above that amount. For larger amounts, just do multiple transfers.

  14. @ Vicky C If it’s less than 30 days since your AF was due, you can probably get it refunded. But don’t just cancel the card on your own, as the credit line gets put in the Citi safe, where you can’t use or access it for 3 to 6 months, but Citi still considers that you have it.

    Instead, apply for the new cc, and if you have to call to get it approved, ask the CSR to transfer the credit line from the old card to the new one, and then cancel the old one. That way they don’t even have to decide if they want to extend you more credit, they just transfer the credit they have already approved for you.

    If you get instant approval for the new card, and still want to cancel the old card, your only option then is just to call and cancel it. Citi will not move credit from an existing cc to another existing cc, only to a new cc during the application process.

    BUT, if you call to cancel, and tell the CSR you would like to keep the card, but have to cancel it due to the fee, there is a very good chance they will offer you a statement credit that offsets the AF. They gave me a $100 statement credit, and my AF was only $75. So they actually paid me $25 to keep the card open. ;)

  15. Darius,
    About a month ago I tried to buy VR’s at Family Fare. They told me I could only buy two cards with a max $250 loaded to each card. The manager said it was a store policy not to allow two cards with $500 on each. YMMV.

  16. While the Citi. Cards can have a cash advance fee when buying gift cards directly from banks you picked the one example where this is not true!

    You can buy a US Bank Viss Buxx card with a citi card, and load it with one, with no cash advance fees, confirmed this last week. Purchases have posted to my bill.

    Of course they pulled the application for the US Bank Buxx cards awhile ago, so you may not be able to get it anymore. Although there are ways if you put effort into it. (Hint: they hid the page but it is still there and was still working last week). This card is very useful with Citi cards.

    Loading Am Ax for Target is fine, it records as a purchase.

  17. Jasmine- take her phone away!

    She had 3 months to meet that spend, if she was unsure all she needed to do was wait. If a purchase posts regular points it counts towards bonus spending offers.

    The $200 credit will post at the same time as the $450 annual fee. Even if you have not charged $200 yet!

    Also you can add your spouse or adult child as an authorized user to help meet the $10,000 spend and they will still qualify for the bonus offer if they open a card in their own name.

  18. If you are going the gift card to bluebird route, avoid the ones issued by US Bank. Those seem to get rejected at the kiosk for some reason. They are sold at Kroger/Ralphs grocery stores and are grey with a purple gift box. The GoWallet cards work better.

  19. @Anthony, I think you may be referring to the Mastercard gift cards. You need to change payment at Walmart terminal by hitting Cancel (quickly!) before it lets you key in your pin no.

  20. @Raghu Narayanan – I don’t have recent personal experience, so I can’t say for sure. But it usually records as a purchase.

    @NM – That’s correct and why the post mentioned CVS and Family Fare as places which sell Vanilla Reloads.

    @Pam @Colin – It is.

    @Rachel – In my experience, the statement credit posted once I spend$200.

    @Jasmine – It should count.

    @karen – You sure can. And you can use the automatic Bill Pay feature to pay your bills as well.

    @Vicky C – You usually have only a limited time (~30 days) to get the annual fee back. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.

    @John – That’s good to know. We haven’t been to Michigan in a while!

    Hayley – Thanks for the update. I haven’t used my Visa Buxx with Citi for a long time. The linked post not he Visa Buxx mentions that Citi doesn’t charge a cash advance fee, but I could have made that clearer and used a different example.

  21. This is a really timely post since so many of us got the Citi AA Executive card. Would you consider doing a series on the benefits of this cards? Namely, Admiral’s Club access and the World Mastercard perks. Looks like there are lots of restrictions using Admiral’s Club membership to access international lounges. The World Mastercard has lots of benefits, but what are the catches? Thanks!

  22. Can anyone answer this regarding bluebird & amazon payments.
    I bought some vanillas on 20th February & also used $1000 amazon payment same day. When does clock reset on both so I can use them again? End of month or since the first purchase date?
    Thanks MMS

  23. Your service is invaluable and your attitude immensely pleasant. I learn a lot. You and your wife have the hearts of teachers, something this world could use a lot more of! Thanks for what you do and I hope your prosperity increases. God bless you and remember He loves you, both! :)

  24. @Daniel The monthly clock on both AP and BB resets the first of the month. Which is cool if you just got the AA Exec card, because that means you can do 4 “months” of AP charges, and BB loads, in a 3 month period based on cc statement dates.

    The daily clock on BB resets at midnight East Coast Time. So you can load $1k on BB at 11:49pm, and another $1K at 12:01am.

    I just want to remind everyone that when the cc offer says spend $X in 3 months, that 3 months starts the day the card is approved, even if you don’t get it in the mail for two weeks after that. And cc charges don’t always post right away. So plan on finishing that minimum spend a few weeks early just to be sure.

  25. Daraius great heads up on the Vanilla Visa gift cards to upload to Bluebird. Purchased a $500 Vanilla Visa Gift Card at CVS with a credit card, drove down the road to a Walmart Money center (with cashier, they didn’t have a machine) and loaded the $500 from the gift card onto my Bluebird card. Then came home, and paid off a different credit card (I thought it wise to not pay the bill of the same card I used) via Bluebird bill pay.

  26. $10,000 in spend at $8 per thousand for Vanilla Reload cards (the cheapest option) will add $80 to that $450 annual fee…you are dumb to get this card unless you have already gotten every other variety of AA card…most of which waive the annual fee for the first year, and only require $3000 spend to get 50K signup bonus….considering there are 6 or more cards like this, unless you have them all, why would you bother with this new card?

  27. My local CVS just strictly enforced their policy of no cc for vr. Will try another CVS downtown tomorrow. This is definitely getting worse :(

  28. @Robert Hanson Thanks a lot.

    I have 30k amex blue sky points, can I transfer it to other airlines? If not, what’s best way to use them?

  29. wise2u,
    If one can’t do MS and take the edge off of the 10k spend required for the 100k AA card, then perhaps the other AA cards that give 50k miles for only 3k spend are better, HOWEVER, keep in mind that the 100K AA offer gets you a $200 statement credit…so in essence, you’re only paying a $250 annual fee….plus…there’s the Admiral Club access perk that you don’t get with the other AA cards. At the end of the day, it’s a pretty good deal as long as people are not buying things to meet that 10k that they would not have purchased had they never got the card (e.g. buying an IPAD to help meet that 10k spend).

  30. Adding to NM: If you do APs (min 2K/mo using AU (I have to explore this), then 6K of that 10K is free. So it could be down to $32 on top of the $250. In my case I have at least 4 transits through LAX this year, family of 4, so the Admirals Club access will bring down the cost of the 100K AA miles :) At least this is one way to look at this deal favorably.

  31. I was checking the link for US Bank Visa BUXX card. There is no link to open new account for the BUXX card. Is this card still available for new customers? Any idea..

  32. Thanks for a timely post, Darius. One question – So, is it possible to buy gift card at a store using Citi AA executive card, load it on to blue bird and then use those funds to repay your credit card balance at the end of bill cycle?

  33. @wise2u Yes, there are multiple Citi AA cards with no annual fee. BUT Citi will only let you get one of these. Then you have to wait at least 18 months before you can apply for another AA card of any type that doesn’t have an AF. Visa, MC, etc doesn’t make a difference, you can only get one, and your app will be denied if you try for another one within the next year or two: YMMV.

    What makes most sense is to apply for a no AF cc with 50K miles. Wait at least 8 days, and then apply for the 100K mile card. There is a statement credit of $200 for your first $200 of any type of spend on the Exec card. So in your example it’s $250 net in AF, plus $80 in VR fees. I’d say 100k miles, which is enough for a round trip saver level ticket to Europe in Business Class is well worth the $330. Without even mentioning that one can do $4K of the spend for free with Amazon payments.

  34. @HsInAz I don’t see a problem with two AUs each making Amazon payments to different people. I’m guessing they go by the Amazon member id, not the cc #.

    But do NOT send them back and forth to each other. That is a violation of the Amazon T/C and will get you both kicked out of AP.

    So person A to person B, and person C to person D is fine. But person A to person B, and then person B back to person A will get you both in trouble. (You will still be able to shop thru Amazon, of course, you just won’t be able to use Amazon payments anymore.}

  35. Can I apply both Citi American Airlines Executive Card and Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard, so that I can get 150k miles?

  36. @Angela – I can write more about the Admiral’s Club benefits. In short, you can only use the lounge access at the ~40 Admiral’s Club lounges and not in partner lounges.

    @Jan B – Thanks for your kind words and for reading!

    @Rahul – Yes.

  37. Daraius, (re @Angela) but I see this oneline “Will there be reciprocal club access for US Airways Club and Admirals Club® members?
    Yes. Club members of both airlines will be able to access Admirals Club lounges and the US Airways Club.” So US clubs are OK with this card, correct?

    @Robert Hanson, when you say 4K in AP, you assume 4 accts in the same family, right?

  38. Regarding loading on to Bluebird, is the only difference between using the Vanilla Reload card and the One Vanilla Visa/Mastercard debit cards is the fact that you actually have to go to Walmart to load the latter, while you can load the Vanilla Reloads online? Or are there other downsides to the One Vanilla Visa/Mastercards? Thanks!

  39. Have you not been banned from US Bank Buxx? I signed up and only got about $8K through it before I was shut down. Any other alternative?

  40. Just curious but do people cancel their card immediately after receiving their 100K miles or do they leave it open until you are asked to pay the annual fee of $450 again? I have to think that almost everyone getting in on this deal would be canceling.

  41. Also one follow-up question, does anyone know if these 100K miles get added to their “Million Miler” bucket in their AA account or just added to their Program to Date miles. It DOES make a difference to get added to the Million Miler bucket to get to 1M miles and lifetime Gold.

    I have the Citi AAdvantage card and believe it did not add to the Million Miler for my 50K which was a bit disappointing!

  42. @HsInAz – I should have been clearer to indicate that you can’t use oneworld airline partner lounges. You can certainly use US Air lounges (the few that they have) because the 2 airlines are merging.

    @Larrynews – That’s correct!

    @Patrick – It doesn’t count towards the million mile status. I usually evaluate cards every 9 to 10 months and see if it is worth paying the annual fee for the benefits of keeping the card.

  43. I learned this lesson about Amex gift card purchases with Hilton Citi cards the hard way last week. After an hour of calling, I was able to get the cash advance charges reversed, but the spend still didn’t count towards the two free weekend Hilton nights requirement. Grrr…

  44. Can you re-use the VR card? Like you only need to buy the reload card for one time and reload with cc next time again.

  45. I’ve heard that you can cash out Visa Gift Cards at Walmart via Money Orders. My Walmart doesn’t have an ATM. What is the process and fees for doing this? Can I just hand the VGCs to a cashier and ask for a MO, and if so, what do I get charged and what do I do with the MO? Deposit to my regular bank account? Thanks!

  46. @Junny6 – You can only use a Vanilla Reload for 1 time.

    @Shaunter – Go to the Wal-Mart money center and ask for a money order. You can use your gift card as a debit card and enter the PIN when prompted.

  47. So from this article it almost reads that you don’t need Vanilla reload cards nor even Vanilla prepaid cards – you can use your average generic prepaid visa/mc under most circumstances @ the kiosk – is that really true?? (I understand the AMEX gift cards aren’t eligible). If I’m at a grocery store or other store that doesn’t have Vanilla, I can just buy whatever brand prepaid visa/mc they carry (generally)??

    I feel as if having read through the thread I’ve had that question answered affirmatively but I figured I ought to ask it bluntly

  48. @Chris – Yes, that works. You can load your Bluebird at Walmart with most prepaid Visa or MasterCard gift cards.

  49. Thank you for your postings. They are very timely and valuable.
    I have an older American Express Blue Cash credit card that pays 5% for drug store purchases. Can I use this card at CVS to buy Vanilla Reloads and get my 5%?

  50. I need help and advice on this. I purchased amex gift cars during Xmas to give as gifts and used my citibank mastercard to purchase them as part of my minimum spending to get American Airlines bonus miles. I discovered that because these were coded as cash advances, I was not able to meet the minimum spend and on top of that, was charged interest fees and cash advance fees and citi only was able to waive one of the fees. The rep told me to call amex, and amex tells me that they never code it as cash advances and that I have to call citi to fix this issue. Needless to say, I called citi bank and spoke to a supervisor and they told me amex is the one that needs to fix the coding and there was nothing I can do, except to write to the president of citibank to a po box mailing address about this. Has anyone encountered this in the past? Could amex fix the issue? What can I do?

  51. @Mandy – There is nothing much you can do besides writing that letter. Citi has considered direct AMEX gift card purchases to be eligible for cash advance fees for a while.

  52. Hi Darius

    My question is: Would purchases from online gift card websites (like cardpool.com for example) be considered as “cash advance” by using our Citi credit card?

  53. I accidentally used my Citi AAdvantage Amex CC to purchase Amex gift cards through Amex’s website. I did go through TopCashBack so I figured at least I would get a rebate to offset the cash advance fees; well, it went through as a purchase. My statement hasn’t closed but I’m now hopeful it may not be a cash advance. Not sure if this is new or I just got lucky.

  54. Darius – thanks for all your great advice. After receiving an Executive card ( which was upgraded from the 75K offer to 100K after calling and sending in a copy of a generic 100K offer) I opened a Bluebird account and purchased 10 Vanilla reload cards at a CVS. The manager pointed out that
    I should be careful of not making it look like I was money laundering.
    I had planned to pay about $8,000 per month through Bluebird to get an additional almost 100,000 points. Any thoughts?

  55. @Adam – No personal experience recently, but I’m guessing they won’t. The best way to check is to make a small test purchase yourself.

    @Diane – You can only load $5K per month to Bluebird.

  56. Darius, first I want to thank you for all the help you have been in my travels! My question is: I would also like to apply for the Citi 100,000 mile card and want to get the Citi Hilton Honors card the same day. My credit rating is in the 800s. Will that be possible and what is the best timing for it. I want the 100,000 card the most! Thank so much!

  57. Hi, another question, can the Admirals club be used if you are flying a different airline? Thanks

  58. Hi Darius,

    I just want to confirm with what you said above regarding the Admirals Club lounges. You said we can only use the 40 Admirals Club lounges (+ the US Airways lounges). So since there is no Admirals Club in HKG and they use the Quantas lounge, that means I won’t be able to use the lounge since it’s a partners lounge and not an Admirals Club right?

    Thanks!

  59. PS – I agree and think it would be great if you could write more about the Admiral’s Club benefits. Thanks! =)

  60. Daraius: If I use Citi 100K AA credit card to pay for taxes on IRS payment web sites, do you think Citi will count that as a cash advance? Thanks.

  61. @Joy – I’d apply for the 100K card first and the other card after 8 days from being approved. You can use the Admiral’s Club even if you’re not flying on American Airlines.

    @TIO – Paying your taxes is usually never a cash advance!

    @Ang – That’s correct. Unfortunately, you get access to the Admiral’s Club and not to other partner airline lounges.

  62. Thanks so much Daraius for clearing that up for me! Sorry I misspelled your name in my first comment.

  63. Thanks Daraius, for the reply.

  64. Jerry Mandel

    I can buy all the One Vanilla debit (not gift) cards I want at CVS using ANY credit card.

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  66. I bought a 500 Vanilla card at a Holiday gas station. Tried at a Kwik Trip and was told cash only. Bought a 500 paypal at Holiday as well. FYI.

  67. Hi Daraius,

    At my CVS, the vanilla reload card held by Emily is not available. However, there are other “Vanilla card” offered. Such as One Vanilla or My Vanilla. Will they work the same way?

    Also, can the prepaid paypal card work the same way as well? I do have a paypal account, can i purchase the prepaid debit card, load the funds in my paypal account, then transfer to my linked checking account?

    Please advise,
    Thank you.

  68. @Nickk – You have to load those versions of the card to your Bluebird account at Wal-Mart. But you can load the Vanilla Reload version online to your Bluebird.

  69. Hi Darius,

    Thank you so much for all your valuable tips. I look forward to reading your blogs and enjoy reading about your travels as well.

    Could you please tell me how much time I should wait before I apply for the Citi Executive with 100K bonus points? I applied and got approved for Citi AA Select MasterCard on Feb. 14, 20014.

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  71. @Ramon – You could apply for it now.

  72. With the whole demise of purchasing any of these cards at CVS, are there other chain stores that offer any of the Vanilla cards (no matter what version, One Vanilla, whatever) for purchase with credit card?

  73. I purchased a visa gift card, registered it, set a pin then attempted to load the gift card onto the bluebird account and it would not work. Does it only work in person or at a kiosk or is bluebird not allowing these prepaid gift cards any longer?

  74. @Joe S – CVS still lets you buy the OneVanilla card with a credit card.

  75. Hi Daraius,

    Thanks for all the info, this is great. When it comes to merchant codes, is there a way to see on my receipt how i was entered? I have a citi corporate card for company travel, and I never reach my daily limit for “meal” purchases. Is Citi corporate cards able to distinguish if i did a gift card purchase at a grocery store?
    Thanks!

  76. Hi Daraius,

    Thanks for all the info, this is great. When it comes to merchant codes, is there a way to see on my receipt how i was entered? I have a citi corporate card for company travel, and I never reach my daily limit for “meal” purchases. Is Citi corporate cards able to distinguish if i did a gift card purchase at a grocery store?

  77. Will BofA post as cash advance if I purchase Gift cards online?

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