CVS Vanilla Reload Update: ALL Stores Going Cash Only By April 4, 2014

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

Thanks to all the Million Mile Secrets readers who commented with their experiences buying Vanilla Reloads with a credit card at CVS.

Over the weekend, news came out that CVS would stop accepting credit cards as payment for Vanilla Reloads as of March 31, 2014.  But many folks reported still being able to use their credit cards after that date!

Via Million Mile Secrets reader Lydia, there’s a new memo stating that the cash-only policy will start systemwide at CVS by April 4, 2014.

CVS Vanilla Reload Update: ALL Stores Going Cash Only By April 4, 2014

Chainwide: Cash Only for Vanilla Reloads Effective April 4, 2014

Why Everyone’s Unhappy

I’ve written about Vanilla Reloads and how you can use them to load your Bluebird account and pay for expenses (mortgages, rent, credit card bills etc.) you wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay with a credit card.

Buying Vanilla Reloads with a credit card was a good way to earn lots of miles and points and meet minimum spending requirements for new cards.

Now, folks who relied on CVS Vanilla Reloads will have to find other ways to load their Bluebird accounts, like buying gift cards with a PIN.  This is much more inconvenient because you have to go to a Walmart in person to load your Bluebird instead of just going online.

CVS Vanilla Reload Update: ALL Stores Going Cash Only By April 4, 2014

Plan B: Load Bluebird With PIN-Enabled Gift Cards

What Should We Do Now?

It sounds like people have already been buying up Vanilla Reloads at CVS stores that still sell them with a credit card.  Some folks are out of luck, because their stores already switched to cash-only on Monday or Tuesday.

CVS Vanilla Reload Update: ALL Stores Going Cash Only By April 4, 2014

Get Them Before They’re Gone!

But if your store still sells Vanilla Reloads with a credit card, I would definitely consider stocking up today or tomorrow.  Especially if you’re still meeting minimum spending on new credit cards.

I’ll be out hunting for Vanilla Reloads today, too.

Bottom Line

According to a new memo, Vanilla Reloads will be cash-only at ALL CVS stores by April 4, 2014.

If you’re near a CVS today or tomorrow, and it still allows payment by credit card, I would definitely stock up on Vanilla Reloads!  This isn’t the end of Bluebird, but it does make it a bit harder to complete minimum spending requirements!

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71 responses to “CVS Vanilla Reload Update: ALL Stores Going Cash Only By April 4, 2014

  1. This morning I went to the CVS near my office. They had VR cards. Unfortunately, the batch of VR cards they had just received did not have bar codes on them, so there was no way for them to be scanned and loaded. The staff was just as confused as I was.

  2. Can you do a post on how to effectively use gift cards with a pin, to load bluebird at walmarts? And the best place to buy them?

    This would be very beneficial to all of us, who are used to VRs for collecting points and miles.

  3. I went to two CVS’s on Route 30 outside of Philadelphia today and they did have VR’s in stock and both times I was told I needed to pay with cash. Unfortunate situation.

  4. I was able to purchase 4 Paypal load card in the past two days. I will make another attempt today to purchase the load card.

  5. @Mike I got $4K of VR’s yesterday in CVS on City Ave across from Rite Aid using CC without any issues

  6. Daraius,

    If not CVS, which other store will still be selling VRs with a credit card? Thanks.

  7. Note the reason given by CVS management for this change: “Due to significant increases in credit card fees for Reloadable Debit Cards”. So it is not about an attempt to eliminate money laundering as some bloggers have speculated.

  8. Going to try at 2 CVS on my way home from work in the NE Philly burbs. Gulp.

  9. I have an off topic question…
    I have a new Bluebird account setup, I wanted to understand why when paying a mortgage Bill for example instead of using a Bluebird check one could not just call the Lender and pay over the phone using his/her Bluebird debit card…

    Thank you for your responses!!

  10. Went to my CVS in NE Philly and RV’s are cash only as of today 4/2/14 :((

  11. Ooop, VR’s not RV’s 🙂

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  13. Deal is dead in Houston, TX as well… Tried today at 4:30pm at my usual store and it is now hardcoded “cash only”. Clerk had no info at all, called the manager, tried override, no luck.

  14. Agree with dead in Houston. Tried 2 stores. Both worked yesterday and hard coded cash only today. Not trying anymore. Darn – now I have to decide if going to walmart is worth it.

  15. Dead! She tried everything to put it through but no luck. They had a hard stop on the register.

  16. all you do is poach FT

  17. They are only making on the penny for these type of card & gift cards etc. These card are only for customer convenience and when there is influx of people trying to purchase so much of it, they will stop it. It’s not money laundering they are worry about. Someone is losing money. You can buy 500 maybe 1000 here of there, once in a while. But when you got someone trying to load thousands, it will ultimately end people!!! That will go the same for Visa card. So stop hoarding if you want the game to last!

  18. Dead in Dallas, Irving, Cedar Hill, Desoto and Red Oak Texas. A while back I added funds from a Gift card with a pin but after a couple of times BlueBird scolded me. I tried to find that this is not allowed in the terms and conditions but could not find where this is restricted. Any idea?

  19. Pingback: CVS to Implement Cash-Only Policy for Vanilla Reloads on April 4 | mile tweets

  20. @Darius

    Thank you for your response…

    By the way I am reading your Blog from the years back, your honesty and kindness are commendable!!!

  21. Hi Darius,

    Do you if it is possible to buy reload cards like Vanilla or MoneyPak with Visa or Amex gift cards? If so where can such purchase be made? I am wondering if its worth buying the gift cards using online malls using cash rebates and buying reloadable cards using gift cards that can then be loaded on several different places like bluebird or serve, paypal, debit cards etc.

  22. Darius,

    Can bluebird be loaded at walmart with a walmart gift card? If so, are there grocery stores or office stores that sell walmart gift cards? This would also eliminate the 3.95 fee. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

  23. I purchased 2 GreenDot card from Rite-Aid using credit card. I thought i will open GoBank account and load it. But then thought not to open it. I called GreenDot and ask for refund. Within 7 days i received 2 check of 504.95 including 4.95 fees. I deposited it in bank, at the same time i also got point on point earning credit card.

  24. @mat — The answer to your first question is no.

  25. There must be some store that will accept a credit card for the Vanilla Reloads??? Anyone know of any??

  26. My CVS in Richmond VA stopped yesterday. Anyone think going to another Richmond store is worth my time? “Cash only” came up on the register, so I’m guessing all RVA stores are done with credit for Vanilla. Sad day!

  27. My daughter bought a Visa gift card with a pin and loaded it onto her Bluebird account at Walmart. A few days later someone identifying themselves as a Bluebird account representative called her and told her she couldn’t load her Bluebird account with a prepaid gift card and if she did it again her bluebird account would be cancelled. Has anyone else had this experience?

  28. CVS in upstate NY would allow 2 VR’s for $1000 at a time with a credit card, since that would leave a paper trail it would be hard to launder money. With the new cash only policy it would make this much easier to do, unbelievable! Think about that CVS.

  29. @HJ… Can you provide more details? Was it her first attempt or the first time she got flak for it? I just opened a BB account with the intent of loading through visa prepaid cards. This is very discouraging news to hear.

  30. Looks like the change took effect on 04/03/2014 at all CVS in Nebraska and Iowa.

  31. just went to cvs in south bay in calif…to buy vanilla…cash only

  32. Bought Vanilla Reload cards in San Francisco at the CVS on Van Ness Ave yesterday 4/2and AMEX payment still worked.

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  35. @Daraius: Bummer! I live in So. Cal. Too far from Michigan 🙂

  36. Does anyone know of any chains that have the US Bank National Association Visa gift cards? Target only seemed to carry small ($100 or less) Visa gift cards from their own bank. CVS had Vanilla ones which it sounds like they can’t be used as well. Thanks

  37. What other stores allow buying visa/MasterCard purchases with credit cards? My options are limited and I need to meet my spending requirements by April 10th.

  38. Got 5k on 4/1 and 5k on 4/2 of VR’s. Tried to go today, Cash Only. San Diego, CA 92126.
    I’m bummed about this change, but I guess there’s still Walmart loading via Pin GC’s. I hope I don’t get a call like HJ’s daughter.

  39. No go. Cash only in Arlington, TX today.

  40. VR @ CVS is dead in VA. Died today. Got some yesterday, but should’ve done much more. Two stores. One said no longer accept and 2nd tried but wouldn’t charge.. invalid tender.

  41. I am a store clerk and at work I often wonder, what the hell is a vanilla reload card and what is the point of buying one? I don’t know what these things are, but I sell them anyway. Today five people came in, tried to buy Vanilla Reload cards and gave me a hard time because I told them, “Sorry, you ACTUALLY NEED MONEY to buy these things.” That said, I am more than happy that they switched to cash-only, after I hear people whine and cry that they can’t use their debit card to buy them. I point to the ATM and say, “Take the money out and bring it back to me,” but apparently they can’t do that for some reason. I don’t know whether it’s that they don’t have the money in the first place, or whether they just don’t want to pay the $3.00 ATM fee, but in either case it makes me happy. Now the poor babies have to get off their fat arses and walk into a store to buy something rather than ordering it off line. No tears from me!

  42. This is EXACTLY why they stopped selling those things.The thousands of dollars customers spend in these CVS stores on these cards is ridiculous. You should’ve saw all the random customers running in the store all day today trying to buy 6 VR cards at a time and quickly put it back when I said cash only. It’s so sad how animalistic humans can be.

  43. @Erinsky89. You seem to be misinformed. But a credit card is money. You are just trading the form of money. Well there will be less business at CVS now. It would be dumb to buy one of those cards directly using fiat money or anything else for that matter with fiat money unless one doesn’t want it tracked.

    I left my products along with the cards at the counter when they said cash only.

    So if people have credit cards to buy VR with then why do they have to go into stores? Your logic is seriously flawed and you are disturbed. Lol

  44. Nobody did anything wrong, they didn’t get them for free…. If a product is offered at a store the point of being in business is to sell your product….. every time I went to CVS I bought something other then Vanilla cards even if normally I would go to the grocery store to pick up milk ect I would pay a bit more and get it at CVS because I was there…. So selling the Vanilla cards with a credit card brought people in that may not otherwise be shopping there so therefore they made money on the other products purchased….

  45. @ Jonski …. I totally agree with your post… Erinsky89 doesn’t get it…. a credit card is money and gets paid off with cash….. When she loses her job or gets her hours cut because business slows down she will wish people like us were coming in and using our credit cards …. Then she would get it…..

  46. Looks like VRs are no longer a means to get my CVS business. I actually changed my prescriptions and other business to CVS due to the VRs but now I guess I will take my business elsewhere. I hope “same store revenue” goes down enough that CVS reconsiders their “business” decision to go to cash only for VRs. Accepting CCs for VRs was a way for them to differentiate from Rite-aid, Walgreens and others but I guess that wasn’t important enough. It’s all about the bottom line so lets all hope its impacted enough to reverse their decision. Agree that Erinsky89 doesn’t understand finance or economics.

  47. The interesting thing (to me) is that the memo refers, specifically, to REALOADABLE DEBIT CARDS. The Vanilla Reload Network card is not reloadable, instead it is a pre-paid card that transfers funds something else (like Bluebird). If you don’t believe me, or don’t understand this, just try RELOADING funds onto a Vanilla Reload Network card already in your possession. This isn’t possible – you have to just throw the spent card away and buy another one.

    The memo that was released to managers last weekend made it clear that this new “cash only” rule only applies to cards already in the customer’s possession. The memo read “swipe reload cards currently in the customer’s possession”. In other words, CVS isn’t allowing you to “load up” your own debit card from a credit card. That makes sense to me, but I doubt that the store managers will understand the difference, and yesterday’s memo just muddied the water even more.

    Maybe somebody with connections can have corporate issue another memo clarifying this for the various store managers…

  48. Darius – you are a bright guy – do you have any thoughts about my post above?

  49. Hi Darius,

    CVS has left many people like us in dire straits who now cannot buy Vanilla Reload cards by credit cards. Now its time you should step in help people like me by finding out an alternative to this. Since you are well connected on social media I bet you would be the first one to know of alternate ways of completing minimum spend requirements. I had recently got 3 credit cards and haven’t yet finished the minimum spending on them. Please help me suggesting alternative ways I could use to complete my minimum spends on Credit Cards……
    Please help asap……
    Thanks in advance

  50. Mike, do a search for “gift cards” on MMS and you will find that Darious has detailed other ways to meet your spend requirements. Our fellow points chasers who live in areas where CVS’S are not located never relied on them and are doing just fine. We had it easy for a while, but now we just have to find another option.

  51. @Mike Patel, create an amazon payment account for each family member or friend who will allow you to do so. Then, send the $$$ account to account. I move about $6k per month for free. 🙂

  52. Today I thought I would go ahead and try using gift cards for the first time. I found a Randall’s grocery store that sells the visa gift cards issued by metabank. No problem buying a variable load for $500 with my US bank Flexperks.. —anxious to make sure it posts as a grocery purchase. Darius, do you think it will?

    Called the number on the back and set pin.

    Then went to Walmart and the ATM was down so had cashier load my Blue Bird. No problem, just a little more hassle than the VRs.

    Question: I think I read that you can actually load the metabank gc to bluebird online without going to Walmart. Anyone know if that’s true, and have you tried it?

  53. Another point—Randall’s did ask to see my DL to compare with my CC, but I’m OK with that as long as they let me purchase the GC.

  54. Thanks Tim,

    Well I understand Amazon Payments. But can you use the same credit card number for all the accounts at amazon. Add on card users wont be a problem but what about friends accounts? Do I need to apply for add on cards for friends whose amazon accounts I have to use? Wont it raise suspicion if all authorized users of a card use amazon to transfer funds?
    Pls reply

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  56. I just tried using my c/card to buy VR at a CVS in Manhattan and was advised it is cash only. This is a pity as I was trying to meet the AA 40K annual spend. Are there any other ways?

  57. Hi Darius
    I am late to get on the point bus and new to this. but I have platinum amex and used it for years.
    I have a high monthly mortgage and I pay it on time. I was looking to the vanilla card or gift card option and the total will be around 1.2 % expense on my mortgage and smart charge will cost me only 2.4% and I won’t have to go looking for cards.
    the questions I have is that is there a cc I can use to get like 2 points per dollar or 3points per dollar when I spend it on smart charge? so it minimize my losses?

  58. Can I still buy OneVanilla Cards with a credit card? Similar to a gift card w/ pin. Fee is $4.95, max $500 load, and you have to go to Walmart to move it to Bluebird. Just checking to see if this is still an available option. Thanks!

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  60. Went to pick up a prescription at CVS today. Threw two VRs just for kicks to try…..went though!!! Purchased with my citi AAdvantage card. Excited, went to get more. Second time no luck, cashier was deeply confused as it had just worked….maybe because I got a prescription?! Still worth trying. I’m located in Massachusetts just outside of Boston!

  61. Katie J,

    Did you buy the 2 VR at the pharmacy or the front registers?

  62. Just bought $2500 VR cards at CVS with CC. No problem.

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  66. I sent someone to get me a vanilla card and she bought the card with 16 pin..please what type of card is that?…its 100$…… is 16 pins and I’m wondering what it could be
    …..and it has 3 didgit on the back…

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