BlueBird and Vanilla Reload - Don't Understand

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by Traveling Momma, Feb 24, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

    Hi all - I'm active with my first round of card and had even met some of the min. spending thresholds. I'm now diving into more non-mainstream ways to build points like BlueBird and Vanilla Reload Cards. I did a search by both topics and read everything I could find. I still don't entirely understand.

    Am I correct in thinking this:

    Sign up for Bluebird account online. This will allow me to load cash on the card in a prepaid format to make online payment for Mortgage, car payments and the like.

    Then, find a CVS or Walgreens that sells $500 Vanilla Reload Cards, and buy one a day with a Chase Ink or some other card that has more than 1X the points for shopping there.

    Then, load the cash from the Vanilla Reload onto the Bluebird and pay my mortgage, car payment or anything else not payable by my active credit cards.

    I get more than 1X the points for the $500 purchase
    I get to pay for mortgage, car, etc.. essentially with a credit card (when typically I can't)

    If I find a CVS or Walgreens that will allow me to load up on $500 Vanilla cards over the course of a week, I can make monthly payment for a $2,500 mortgage getting points for this at more than 1X the value because of having purchased these at a CVS.

    Is this all correct? This seems very confusing but I think I'm getting it.

    Darius at MMS suggests newbies be careful and buy the right cards. I need the Vanilla Reload correct?


    Kamaruddin likes this.
  2. c2d

    c2d Active Member

    You got the overall picture, and yes you need the "vanilla reload" card (not myvanilla etc). Just two missing points:

    1. Each Vanilla Reload card purchase will cost you $3.95. So, you will pay $503.95 and get a card with $500 loaded on it. But if you are buying with a card that gives you >1x points and/or you use it to pay stuff that you otherwise cannot pay with a credit card, you come out ahead.

    2. It has become quite hard to find Vanilla Reload cards at CVS. Even if you find it, it is hit or miss on cashier/manager to allow using credit card to load the card. My nearby CVS used to carry these cards back in Dec, but I haven't seen them for the last several weeks.
  3. mapenn

    mapenn Silver Member

    Count yourself lucky if you find a source for buying Vanilla Reloads with a credit card. Those streams are drying up, unfortunately. But, yes, you have the overall concept. I would be careful not to overdo it, although I don't know if there is a magic amount that might raise a red flag with your CC company. I played it pretty conservative when my Walgreens was selling these -- usually one $500 card per week, mixed in with other "normal" spending (filling up the tank, fast food, etc).

    The AMX Hilton card earns 6x on Drug Store purchases - but rumor has it that this is on the way out soon (I've not gotten an official notification yet). There are some other options out there of credit cards that offer bonus rewards on drug stores.

    Good luck!
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
    • Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Speaking of picture... this is the Vanilla Reload card:


    I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked into a CVS here in the Bay Area and actually saw one on the shelf. Not only one actually, three! That's like discovering a pack of Tasmanian Tigers!

    There are lots of other Vanilla-branded cards around. Those can't be loaded onto the Bluebird card and are meant as debit cards by themselves while this is a reload card that needs to be loaded onto some other card.

    I don't write a whole lot of checks these days (I guess other than taxes and credit card bills), so I am going to try and resist the temptation. For now I have loaded enough on my Bluebird to pay the HOA fees for the rest of the year, and it helped me meet spend on a recent card acquisition.

    Oh, and I think the Chase Ink doesn't give 5x at CVS or other drugstores. People used those cards at office supply stores, from what I read, and those don't carry the cards anymore.
    freebird and mrx900 like this.
  5. c2d

    c2d Active Member

    This is technically correct.

    But, Chase Freedom has rotating 5x categories and the current Q1 includes drug stores, so if you have a Freedom card, you can do up to $1500 spend at drugstores yielding 7500 pts.

    And also, people have had success buying other normal Visa/MC/Amex gift cards from Office supply stores using Ink Bold to get the 5x bonus and then using those gift cards to buy the vanilla reloads from CVS/Walgreens. Of course this adds a little more in fees and a lot more of time/effort. You have to decide for yourself how much effort you want to put into this kind of thing.
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  6. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

    Got it. Thank you!

    I've seen the VR cards at my local Walgreens. And, I live right downtown Chicago so have lots of CVS and Walgreens at my disposal. I'll look today to see what I can buy with one of my credit cards. I'll look to pay my HOA fees with a check then from my Bluebird account. Does anyone know if you can set up a reocurring billing for the first of the month automatically?

  7. autolycus

    autolycus Gold Member

    You cannot do auto bill payment at this time. Each check has to be requested manually. It does, however, save your payee information, so the process is very simple after your first check.
  8. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

    Can I buy a bunch of Vanilla Reloads, load on my Bluebird and then pay my credit card bills with a check from Bluebird? This seems too good to be true so please let me know if this is against some rule or will shut down my account in some way.
  9. MX

    MX Gold Member

    There are no rules against any bill payments. Some are sent out by EFT, and others by checks. Just keep in mind that bill payment is a money losing service for AmEx. If you want to act more like their target customer, you should also mix in occasional retail spending with your bluebird card, and keep a balance in your account.
    Cdnblue likes this.
  10. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

    Understood. Thanks for the tip. I'm on it!
  11. Dad to GO

    Dad to GO Silver Member

    Isn't it hard coded into the Walgreens system that they will no longer take credit cards for VR purchases? I believe you'll want to focus mostly on CVS stores.
    autolycus likes this.
  12. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

    As it turns out I'm mistaken. There are no VR at my local Walgreens or at the Office Depot. I'll focus, as you suggest, on my CVS. Wish me luck.
    autolycus likes this.
  13. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

    Just checked CVS here downtown Chicago and there are no Vanilla Reloads. Perhaps VR here in Chicago are dead. Just FYI.
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
    • Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    I suspect they'll be restocked on a certain day of the week when new deliveries come in, and then they quickly get picked up by the Vanilla "mafia". Cities like Chicago or the Bay Area (where I am) have a higher density of point and miles manufacturers than more rural areas.
    Cdnblue likes this.
  15. autolycus

    autolycus Gold Member

    Make sure to check all three possible locations within each CVS: 1) gift card rack toward the front of the store 2) gift card rack near the pharmacy at back 3) magazine stands at the register

    VR tends to be at the bottom of the rack with the largest # of generic cards like MyVanilla and Amex gift cards. There are usually PayPal and Greendot reloads as well. Those will likely require cash though.
    Cdnblue likes this.
  16. Traveling Momma

    Traveling Momma Silver Member

    I'll keep checking as you suggest. And, there are tonnes of other CVS's here downtown Chicago so I'll be on the hunt at all of them. Wish me luck and stay tuned.....
  17. HaveMilesWillTravel
    • Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

    Be sure to think about the cost of that effort. How do you value your time? Easy to get hooked on the idea of free miles/points, but are they really? Anyway, good luck!
    mapenn, KentyMac and autolycus like this.
  18. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

    Yes Walgreen's will no longer take credit cards for Vanilla Reloads. I've tried and even tried to get the manager to override it and he couldn't.
  19. emtesenair

    emtesenair Silver Member

    I have has great experience purchasing 2 VRs per store per day but no more. When attempting to purchase 3 at one store, a manager was called over and informed me I could only purchase $1000 per day. So I went to a 2nd CVS and purchase 2 more later that day.

    I second that unfortunately but at least CVS is still alive in most cities. In Charlotte, there is 1 well stocked CVS but most others are hit or miss when trying to find reloads.

    Has anyone been asked by a cashier why they are purchasing VRs? I've been doing this since Nov and still haven't been asked why and I go to the same cashier every time!
  20. Dad to GO

    Dad to GO Silver Member

    Do you purchase that many in one day on one card? I feel like that is just asking for trouble...
  21. mrx900
    • Original Member

    mrx900 Silver Member

    Unfortunately, because of that fraud issue, a lot of them have been pulled off the shelves. I know O.D.'s here in the PDX area pulled them off altogether, and not a single Walgreen's will let you purchase them with a credit card.
  22. emtesenair

    emtesenair Silver Member

    I always purchase 2 when I make a trip to pick up VRs to cut down on the number of trips I have to make per month. I have never had an issue with makes these purchaes or loading up to the 5k per month to my BB.

    The most I have purchased with one card is 3 in one day but time was running out before the statement period ended for that card and I needed the extra points to book a trip.
  23. servo

    servo Silver Member

    I've bought $8,000 worth in one day, at various stores. The issue isn't that amount, it's where you put it. (ok, minds out of the gutter people) I've got 17 active cards spread out among 7 different banks (I count BOH and BOA as the same lender for the Hawaiian cards). If you're putting $8k of spend a month on one card? Yeah, that's more likely to raise flags than if you spread that $8k out among different cards from different lenders in a month. I try not to do more than $4,000 a month with a particular bank, but that's relative to your own credit limits, income, risk aversion, etc.
  24. emtesenair

    emtesenair Silver Member

    You must have quite a few BB cards in your inventory to purchase that many VRs!

    I agree with you, if your making a $4,000 purchase at CVS in one transaction... that's going to raise a few red flags and probably a call from your bank to confirm your the one making the purchase.
  25. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

    That could also raise red flags from the IRS or other federal agencies also. They watch that sort of thing for money laundering issues. As long as you are using different cards and limited the amount on any one card at at time you should be ok.

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