Can You Use a Gift Card to Buy Vanilla Reload Cards?

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Can You Use a Gift Card to Buy Vanilla Reload Cards?

Million Mile SecretsCan You Use a Gift Card to Buy Vanilla Reload Cards?Million Mile Secrets Team

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A few weeks ago I wrote that CVS was starting to sell Vanilla Reload cards.  I later wrote that you could still earn 3.5 Ultimate Rewards points by (step 1) buying a gift card using a Chase Ink card at Office Depot and then (step 2) using that gift card to buy a Vanilla Reload card at CVS, some Walgreen’s stores, or other locations which sell Vanilla Reload cards.

I wrote:

But you STILL can buy a $500 regular Visa, MasterCard, or American Express gift card with a Chase Ink credit card at Office Depot and earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points or 5% cash back.  You will pay ~$4.95 as a purchase fee for the gift card, but will earn ~2,525Ultimate Rewards points for the $500 gift card purchase +~$4.95 gift card activation fee.

You can then use that gift card (which you bought at Office Depot and earned you 5X Ultimate Rewards points) to buy a Vanilla Reload card at CVS, Walgreen’s or any other place which sells Vanilla Reloads.

For example, if you bought a $500 gift card at Office Depot with your Chase Ink card, you can use that card to buy a Vanilla Reload card for $496.05 at any other location which sells them with a credit card.

Why $496.05?  Because your gift card (which you purchased with a Chase Ink Bold at Office Depot) has only $500 in it and you have to account for the $3.95 Vanilla Reload purchase fee.  $500 Gift Card Value = $496.05 Vanilla Reload + $3.95 Vanilla Reload fee.

Yes, there is an extra step involved and an additional  $4.95 fee, but you are earning ~2,525 Ultimate Rewards points for a $8.90 fee ($4.95 gift card fee + $3.95 Vanilla Reload fee).  But that’s still 3.5 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent!

However, it turns out that not all CVS stores will accept gift cards to buy Vanilla Reload cards.  Some readers have commented and e-mailed that some CVS stores require you to show ID which matches the credit card you use to make a purchase.

However, gift card do not have your name printed on them so some CVS stores have not been accepting them – especially when used to buy Vanilla Reload cards.

This varies by store, but I thought I’d pass it along.

Bottom Line

It is best to buy a gift card for a small amount at first (as a test) and see if your local CVS accepts it to buy Vanilla Reloads or other prepaid card reloads, before spending lots of money buying gift cards which your local CVS won’t accept.


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A week ago I purchased a Vanilla Prepaid Reload Card from the CVS/pharmacy. Since then, every time I try to use it on the internet I keep being asked first, to enter my 10 digit card number followed by my Pin number. When I do that, I then get asked to enter, the fifteen to nineteen card number on the front of my card…There IS NO such number not only on the front of the card

but anywhere else on the card! I paid $100 for this card and I’m unable to use it for some unknown reason, also, the CVS say’s there is no refunds of the money paid for the card…Is this Vanilla Prepaid Reload card a SCAM????

Million Mile Secrets

@John Kirby – See this post on how to load a Bluebird card with your Vanilla Reload card.

Daraius or Rob, have either of you tried purchasing reloads at CVS using a CVS GC? I know store policy (everywhere) is you can’t buy GC with GC, so if you ask they will say no, but have you tried the card swapping trick Rob mentioned? If it doesnt work as a straight purchase maybe adding an item (like a pack of gum) in addition would work?

Have 2 CVS locations 2 miles from my house in different directions. One CVS has not restocked, the other one I have hit for 12k now. I’ve maxed out Bluebird the last two months to pay mortgage, rent, car payment, electric and water bills. No problems so far. I vary the cards I use but I was crushing the AMEX Hilton (6x pts) until the devaluation. I now use Chase cards and SPG even though its 1x pts.

Concerning the Vanilla mastercard:

I would be read the terms and be careful to follow them.

I received a $25 card and it had a service fee when it was sold. It also has a 2.50/month fee that starts in the 7th month after purchase.

These onerous fees could destroy any benefit you are trying to get.

Million Mile Secrets

@fred stevens – Vanilla Reloads have no fees. See this post for more details on what they look like since there are many versions available.

@Joe – yes. I’m sure the intent of the BB was to give people who don’t have bank accounts the ability to send checks and use a debit card rather than carry bundles of cash around. With a little profit to AMEX, of course.

Buying VR cards with a credit card and basically turning them into a points churning exercise for people who already have lots of credit isn’t what they intended. As OD and now Walgreens turn off (although apparently not in the midwest) the ability to churn points with VR, Bluebird settles in to being more what it was intended to be.

IMHO, of course. Maybe I’m missing something.

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