Don’t Cry Over Spilt Vanilla

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I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I was a little sad after reading Frequent Miler’s eulogy of sorts for the Vanilla Reload cards. These are the cards many in the miles and points world have been purchasing at Office Depot in order to earn a bunch of points in a hurry.  I only recently jumped on the reload bandwagon, but there is no denying it was a lucrative way to earn points in a hurry.  It was too good to last….sort of.

As Frequent Miler stated, many Office Depot stores have decided to stop selling the Vanilla Reloads seemingly effective today.  I bee-lined it to my local Office Depot (a Vanilla-reload honey hole) only to see they were indeed all gone.  I was told that they were now “discontinued” so would not be sold at any Office Depot.  It was a hot topic among all the Office Depot employees at my local store.  Reportedly, these cards have been utilized by some for various forms of fraud.  I don’t think they got the discontinued portion of the story correct (as least as far as I know), but it does seem accurate that they are no longer sold at Office Depots.  I asked if the other regular gift cards would remain available, and they indicated they hadn’t heard anything to the contrary, but they have noticed their auto-reorders include fewer of those cards than in the past.  I snapped up a $500 prepaid Visa card while I was there….just in case.

However, there really is no reason to cry over spilt Vanilla cards.  I was earning plenty of miles and points before jumping into the world of reloads, and I see no reason why that will change now.  No doubt that the Bluebird and Vanilla cards would have made earning a few more miles and points that much easier, but this doesn’t really change my strategy in earning miles and points in everyday life.  I will likely still pick up some regular old gift cards with my rewards earning credit cards at office supply stores, grocery stores, etc… I will also still likely buy some reloads at other stores even if it is for just 1x.  They will still be useful in meeting minimum spending requirements on new credit cards, and will still be helpful for earning miles on things like student loans, mortgages, etc.  The Amex BlueBird is a brand new product, so I don’t expect the world of reloads to implode totally any time soon.  Here is a list of different retailers said to stock Vanilla Reload cards.

The one positive here is that the temptation to “go big” and potentially end up on the radar of a credit card issuer is likely diminished for many.  I do believe that the big banks were on to this gig, and at least one of them that was paying out a bunch of points due to reloads probably decided that enough was enough.

I’m certain there will be another big earning opportunity before too long, and the world of prepaids/gift cards/reloads isn’t dead…but admittedly it isn’t having a very good day.


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  1. Being a fellow Houstonian – I was waiting for your update on Office Depot. Oh well – I was only going to pay a car note and second mortgage anyway – no maxing out the reloads for me – too scary. I may still try to go the indirect route of Visa GC from OD, buy Vanilla Reload at CVS (need to check if they carry), then load into BB. I just hate to lose the opportunity to pay my car note with a credit card :). Otherwise – my husband sometimes has to buy actual gift certificates for his work so I just told him to make sure and go to OD. I plan on swinging by Office Depot tomorrow to make sure they still at least have the regular Visa prepaids.
    Have a good day!

  2. Oh the irony, bluebird ended (for us) before it even took off. I guess it’s back to buying Reloadit cards at safeway for me, for Hilton or SPG points.

  3. There are still alot of 5x opportunities. My Staples just started carrying Amazon gift cards so that will make Christmas shopping 5x more awesome.

  4. Are you and the repeating snoozefest bloggers at boardingarea in some giant competition all trying to out Bluebird each other? It’s as if you’re all in a giant Ink Bold party to see who can leave the room with the most affiliate cash as possible.

    I relish the day when this elementary Vanilla reload Bluebird drivel is done with just so you guys can step out of this route of laziness and get back to your previously higher quality work that veterans of this game can appreciate.

  5. I never got the chance to jump on the reload bandwagin! as i also found out today as well as i went to a OD in NYC and they told me that all OD’s discontinued the VR cards that came from coporate thats all i was told! I recently got my Bluebird the other day and am still waiting to get my BOLD & INK Plus in the mail. RIP Vanilla Reloads & OD

  6. How do you pay student loans and make mortgage payments with regular gift cards?

    “I will likely still pick up some regular old gift cards with my rewards earning credit cards at office supply stores, grocery stores, etc… They will still be useful in meeting minimum spending requirements on new credit cards, and will still be helpful for earning miles on things like student loans, mortgages, etc.”

  7. @NoCajones, your comment is approved, but edited as the language in there was totally inappropriate for this blog.
    @Richie, it adds a step in the process, but assuming that reloads are available elsewhere with a card, it should still work. Apologies for not being overtly clear. I added another sentence in now that will help some, though it does change the meaning a little bit.

  8. I was successful in buying 2 $500 cards at a CVS in my town. I tried the other CVS in my town and tried to purchase 3 (maybe too many). I was asked if I was laudering money and tried to explain I was using it to load the bluebird card and showed the cashier the card. I was told I could only use cash. Is there any documentation or proof I can provide when in that situation? Doesn’t CVS get paid by Vanilla Reload Network? I’d be on the hook for the amount that I was charging on the card.

  9. Well, crap. Bluebird arrived on Thursday, picked up the (last) Ink/Vanilla Reload from OD yesterday! Damn. Well, at least I got 2500 UR pts out of the deal.

  10. @Richie, just be friendly. I went to 4 different CVS stores and all the clerks act differently. Try to find the one that you like the best who doesn’t give you any problems and then go the same time every week. Thats my strategy at least. You could try printing some paper from VR or BB website and showing them when you go…

  11. The main problem with that vanilla reload retailer list is that I believe only 3 or 4 of those businesses will let you use a credit card to purchase a vanilla reload. Hopefully CVS will soon stock the cards and will not quickly switch to cash only. Can’t deny that the loss of vanilla reload at Office Depot 5x UR points is a huge hit to the average persons points earning potential.

  12. I bought my first couple of VRs today and the transaction went fine, but I really didn’t like the look from the other people in line or the cashier. They all treated me like I was up to something, which admittedly I am to a minor extent, but I was getting a look like I was a felon.

  13. I would feel bad but will not be crying over this move. This is an every one anticipated thing to happen. However, one can still buy the 500$ Visa gift cards, gas cards, amazon gift cards and still get the 5X points. RIP Vanilla. Bad that this happened right after I got my Ink Bold.

  14. @Corky, you just have to act like you’ve done it a million times and make small talk with the cashier. Other people always judge you, but i bet their aren’t earning 5x either…

  15. Does 7-11 accept credit cards for the Vanilla Reload cards? Are there confirmed retailers from the VR website besides OD & CVS that accept credit cards?

  16. @ Richie Rich – I think for the most part, all the other retailers require cash payment but sometimes the cash register is not set up to prohibit purchase with a credit card and/or the clerk doesn’t know any better or does not care. So there have been reports of some success in Walgreens. If you go out and try to purchase a vanilla reload with a credit card in Walgreens you might find one that will take it because the cash register is not set up to prompt for “Cash only.” So you have to drive around and experiment a bit. If they say no just say “Oh sorry, I don’t have cash on me” and put the reload card back on the rack and leave. There have also been reports of success in a couple of the gas station minimart type places, again it depends on the cashier or manager. I don’t remember which ones exactly. I saw one report of someone being able to load $200 on a reload card at a Valero with a credit card. You just have to drive around and experiment. Look at that list of retailers, print out their locations around you off of the internet, and then spend a Saturday driving around your local area testing them. Give it a shot and if you find a place that lets you use a credit card write down the time and day and make that your time and day to visit that store in hopes that the same cashier will be on duty the next time. It might sound like a lot of work. If you visit 20 locations and come up empty it feels like a lot of work, but if you find a retailer that will sell you a $500 card once a week then you will feel a lot better.

  17. The store employees got it right with the “fraud” statement. I know people will hate me for saying it but abusing the reload cards is at a minimum an abuse of the spirit of the points earning hobby or lifestyle. I may be alone in my opinion but if you found yourself buying thousands upon thousands of dollars in these type of cards then you are abusing the system. It is like going into Costco or SAMs club walking up to the sample lady and taking every item off the tray. Sure it’s free but that doesn’t make it right. All it does is ruin it for everyone else. I have no love for the underhanded ways credit card companies take advantage of their customers every chance they get but you need morals higher than cleaning out a whole rack of reload cards at the office supply store to game the system, at least in my mind and heart. There are other ways to “earn” points.

  18. When they talk about fraud and money laundering – they are referring to actual criminal activities – drug dealers etc that are using prepaid cards to move money across the border. They can put thousands of dollars on them in America and just ATM out across the border. Google prepaid cards and money laundering. I am pretty sure the Feds are not out to get travel point hacks :). I do agree that what we are doing is against the spirit, but it is definitely not money laundering.

  19. @Corky – amazon gift card balance is totally separate from amazon payments. You can spend a balance in amazon payments like a gift card balance, you cannot ‘move’ or fund amazon payments with amazon gift cards. (I tried, failed, queried it and got a detailed answer from amazon explaining the above).

    It is a shame as this would be another easy path as amazon cards sell at Staples for no fee.

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