Million Mile Secrets supports our readers with thousands of hours of research and writing to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us (and you!) by signing-up for credit cards through partner links on our site, which earn us a commission. This keeps our small team employed and working hard for you! Here’s a longer explanation of our Advertising Policy.

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

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

Million Mile SecretsUsing The Home Improvement Card to Load Your Bluebird [Expired]Million Mile Secrets Team

Don’t forget to follow me on  Facebook or Twitter!

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.

c
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.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry, you must be logged in to post a comment.

123 comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

have no idea where to find out....

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.

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.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@Gail - Very good to know and keep us updated. The transaction may reverse, though.

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?

@ 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.

Load more