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.

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.

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