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

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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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