Every year around this time American Express has a promotion called Small Business Saturday where in an effort to support local small businesses they give away free money! This year’s offer is a bit different than the last time I participated in 2012, but it is possibly even better than ever! This year Amex cards as well as Bluebird prepaid cards will work. Continue reading “Amex and Bluebird users! Don’t miss Small Business Saturday November 29”
This news might help people who have read our article on How to Get Frequent Flyer Miles for paying your Rent or Mortgage. The free Bluebird card now allows you to load $2500 a day via gift cards with PIN at Walmart Kiosks or Walmart Registers. Previously, it was $1000 per day. The monthly load limits of $5000 are still in place. The online methods of loading using a true debit card (Gift cards with PIN capability won’t work) have also been increased from $100 a day to $200 a day.
For people who have rent or mortgage (or other bills such as student loans or car payments) that are over $1000 but under $2500 this will mean you can take just one trip to the mall and then to Walmart.
This also creates a super easy way to make 25,000 miles a month that we will cover in a future article so be on the lookout for it! 🙂
I have had a love affair with the Bluebird card since I wrote my first article about it back in 2012. I literally use this card every single month to spend money without spending money and make thousands of miles every month! You can even use it to earn miles for paying your mortgage or rent! Oh, and did I mention that it is completely free to apply for, doesn’t need any credit and has no annual or monthly fees?
I’ve earned 12,000 Ultimate Rewards points so far in the last 48 hours from the OfficeMax deal I wrote about yesterday and will earn even more over today and tomorrow. As I wrote in that article, you can set the PIN code for the Visa cards and then you can take them to Walmart, load them to your Bluebird and then pay off the credit card you used to purchase the gift cards. I have written in the past about how to load your Bluebird account from the Walmart Kiosk with no fees, but when I went to my local Walmart, their kiosk was out of order! (shocker!) I had read that you can also load your Bluebird at the Walmart register using a gift card with PIN so I decided to give it a shot!
I will tell you that the employees often times won’t know exactly what to do so you might have to walk them through it. I had purchased two different sets of gift cards yesterday. One of three $200 Visa gift cards, and then one of five $100 Visa Gift cards (I got the $100 because the second store didn’t have the $200 ones). Since you can only load $1000 per day to the Bluebird, I took the three $200 cards and four $100 cards in with me after I had set the PIN online for each of the cards.
Step 1: Make sure the PIN is set on all of your gift cards.
The cards in the OfficeMax promotion I talked about yesterday allow their PIN to be set either at a web site or via a mobile app. I used the mobile app yesterday so I could literally set the PIN code in the car right before I went to Walmart. It is easy!
Sometimes the associate might need to ask someone how to do it, but most of the time, they have done it before. You swipe you Bluebird card on the PIN device and tell them the amount you want to load. I initially tried $1000 which is the daily limit for Bluebird. The touchpad (where you just swiped your Bluebird card) will confirm your amount.I wanted to see if I could load the $1000 in one transaction and pay for it with 7 different gift cards (3X$200, 4X100). But when I tried it failed after I loaded the 4th gift card. After some trials I figured out that their systems would only allow 3 gift cards per transaction. So I ended up doing one $600 load and two $200 loads to reach the $1000 total for the day. After she reentered the $600 load amount (so it said $600 not $1000 like above) then I confirmed the amount and went to the next step.
Step 3: Use your gift cards and PINs to pay for the load.
I told the associate I wanted to split up the $600 load with 3 payments of $200 each and would be using a different debit card for each one. She did something on the register then said go ahead and I swiped my $200 gift card. Then I entered the PIN code when it requested it.The balance due decreased by $200 then I repeated the process two more times with two additional gift cards until the full balance was paid. The register then printed out a receipt stating that the load was successful. I then did two more transactions to load $200 each to max out my $1000 for the day on my Bluebird.
I would recommend using the Kiosk if your local Walmart has one so you don’t have to interact with the employees which may not know the process. But if the kiosk is broken or if your local Walmart doesn’t have a kiosk, then the register works fine. You might just have to be patient with the associate and follow this guide to help them through the process. You may also run into someone who tries to say that you can’t use a gift card to load to your Bluebird, but just assure them that you have done it before and it works fine. If you do it all correctly, they shouldn’t even know you are using gift cards since they process just like a debit card.
I use a combination of Vanilla Reloads and my Bluebird card to make frequent flyer miles for paying my rent! I had heard over on Flyertalk that it was possible to load certain gift cards onto your Bluebird using an automated kiosk in the Money Center of certain Walmarts without any fee. This would save me the $3.95 fee of buying a vanilla reload if I was using giftcards. And since I had just made 16,000 miles by buying gift cards on Black Friday it was a perfect time to find out how!
The first step was I had to set the PIN on my gift cards. I received a mix of Visa and Mastercard gift cards from OfficeMax and only the Visa type currently allow you to set the PIN. The particular one I used looks like this.
This card was issued by Metabank and had a sticker that said to go to http://visa.gowallet.com/ to manage your card. I may do an article on that part in the future but is is pretty straightforward: Put in your card info, sign up for a free gowallet account so you can manage any of their gift cards, then hit the Set Pin option.
You can load $1000 per day so I set the PIN on five of my Visa Gift cards and headed out to Walmart which was kind of a haul since there aren’t any near Miami Beach. Now don’t do what I did, which was just drive to the closest one I found! Because not all of the Walmarts have the kiosks in the money center! So I went to another one and it had the kiosk but it was out of order! Then I went to yet another one and there was no kiosk to be found! Argh! But I really wanted to cover this process for this article so I was unphased. The fourth location finally had one. But since then I read on flyertalk about a great way to find them without wasting time like I did. You can use this Moneypass ATM locator to find for a moneypass ATM machine. You will need to find one that is inside a Walmart because if it shows a moneypass ATM at a Walmart location, it should be the kiosk we are after. When you arrive at Walmart, this is what the kiosk in the money center should look like.
Here is step by step how to load the gift cards onto your Bluebird.
10. Say No to Cash Back 11. Finally confirm the amount.And that is it! You now have loaded funds from your gift card to your Bluebird for no fee. I repeated this 4 more times to load $1000 on my Bluebird. $1000/day is the limit you can load and you can load up to $5000 a month. Now I can log onto my Bluebird card and pay off my Ink Bold card that I used to pay for the gift cards on black Friday. And I get to keep the 16,000 miles for my trouble! That will be enough to get my plane ticket to visit my family over Christmas. Yeah!
I hope this helps some of you to turn your gift cards into usable cash in your Bluebird account. Let me know if you have any questions.
Note: We are in the middle of a contest to give away two round trip plane tickets to The BPM Festival in January. Make sure you have gotten your entries in!
Black Friday is a crazy time of year for promotions and this year was no exception. I thought it might be interesting to share some of the deals that I came across for Black Friday and took advantage of.
Earlier in the week, Amazon had a promo on the Nexus 7 32 GB tablets that I like to buy for resale for $239.99 including free shipping and no tax. I had a bunch of Amazon gift cards I had gotten from Plink so this was a perfect way to turn those gift cards into cash when I resell that same tablet in my Amazon store for $269 after the Black Friday sales are over!
Then on Wednesday, I got an email from Staples with a $50 off coupon for any tablet so I ordered another of the Nexus 7 32 GB for $269-$50 = $219. I had to pay tax on this one so my total cost was $234.33. If you read my article on Shopping Portals for Mega Miles, you know that I always get extra miles by starting at a portal. This time I used UPromise for an extra 5% back in cash. Staples also has a rewards program where I get another 5% back in Staples bucks to use towards a future purchase. I also get Plink Points for Staples so will get another $3 back. I used my Ink Bold card to pay for it which gives me 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. This makes my net cost $210.09 plus I get 1174 Ultimate Rewards points. I will resell this for around $269 through my Amazon store.
The last deal I was really happy about. OfficeMax was offering a promo where you could buy a $200 gift card for $180. Since there is a $6.95 activation fee, this means you would make $13.05 on the card after the promo. And since I was going to use my Chase Ink Bold Card, I would get 5 Ultimate Reward points per dollar since it is an office supply store. I got there shortly after they opened at 8 PM on Thanksgiving (we did a Thanksgiving lunch instead of a dinner so I was free). They had them right up front when I asked about them and they told me “You can buy two per transaction but there is no limit on the number of transactions.” What!?! OK, I will take them all then!
Each of those is two $200 gift cards. So I ended up with 16 $200 gift cards for a total of $3200 in cards for a total cost of $2984. Since I used my Ink Bold, I will get another 15,000 Ultimate Rewards on top of making $215! Gotta love it! If you read my article about Spending Money without Spending Money you know I can use my Bluebird account to take these gift cards and immediately pay off the Ink Bold card I just used to charge it!
I am not sure if there is anything else I will be buying this weekend, but I wanted to share these deals with you so you could get some ideas on how you can make extra miles too! How did you make miles on Black Friday?
Update April 6, 2014: CVS has stopped selling Vanilla Reloads with a credit card. However there is another way to accomplish the same thing. Check out this article for more information.
One of the biggest concerns when I tell people about earning miles with a credit card is how to meet the spending requirement. For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred currently has a 40,000 Ultimate Rewards sign up bonus, but you have to spend $3,000 in 3 months to get the bonus.
For some people, this is a daunting task because they don’t spend that much money each month. But there is an easy solution that I will share with you today.
Most people are familiar with a PayPal account. It is sort of an online bank account where you can deposit money then use it for online shopping. There is a similar account called Bluebird that is backed by Walmart and American Express. Here is an article we wrote about the Bluebird account and how to apply. It is free to apply and is one of the most useful tools because it can help you get miles for paying your rent or mortgage!
Today though I am going to show you how to meet your spending requirement for your new credit card easily, safely, and without spending any money!
Back to the example of the Chase Sapphire Preferred with the 40,000 point bonus for $3,000 in spend. Follow these simple steps.
1. Buy $1,000 in Vanilla Reload Cards
Vanilla Reload cards are available at a number of merchants such as CVS, Walgreens, Rite-aid, 7-11, Family Dollar and more. We did an article about where in Miami we have personally verified they are available. You can find a complete list of stores on the Vanillareload.com web site under “Reload Locations” although all locations don’t always carry the reload cards. The reload cards will be in the gift card rack and will look like this:
Take two of them to the cashier and tell them you want to put $500 on each one. The total will be $1007.90. Use your new credit card to pay the total. You may get a call after from your credit card company verifying the charge, but that is somewhat normal since it is a large amount.
2. Deposit the Vanilla Reload cards into your Bluebird account
Go to Vanillareload.com and enter your Bluebird account number and the PIN number which is under the scratch off section on the back of the Vanilla Reload card you just purchased.
On the next screen you will put in the account number from your Bluebird card, say you accept the terms and conditions and hit next. It will bring up a final confirmation screen before the reload is applied to your account.
You will need to do this twice for the two $500 Vanilla Reloads. Bluebird has a maximum load amount of $1000 per day, so the two that you bought is all you can do today.
3. Pay off the credit card you just used from your Bluebird account
Log onto your Bluebird.com account and you should see the Vanilla Reloads reflected in your new balance. Click on the Pay Bills button.
Type in whoever your credit card is from in the “Who do you need to pay?” box and it usually already be in their system.
Enter your credit card account number in the spot provided so it gets applied to the right account. Put $1000 in the payment amount and hit continue to send the payment.
4. Repeat as necessary until you have met the spend requirement!
So you would need to do this 3 times over 3 different days to get the 40,000 mile bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred. 3 days are required because you can only load $1000 to your Bluebird account each day.
If you are paying attention, you will notice that you are actually spending $7.90 in fees for each $1000 in reloads so you are actually spending a tiny bit of money. So with the card we have used in our example, you would have to pay $7.90 X 3 = $23.70 to get the 43,000 points (40,000 for the sign up bonus plus 3,000 for the “spending” you did). This is almost enough for a round trip ticket to Europe on many carriers so it is well worth it!
So there ya go. How to spend money without spending money!
Edit 12/11/2013: This offer is no longer available. There is currently no signup bonus for the Business Gold Rewards card.
American Express just released an offer for their Business Gold Rewards card of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months. I talked in this post about how to apply for business cards even if you aren’t some big corporation using your personal credit information.
Today, I am going to show you the easiest way to meet the $5,000 spending requirement without really spending anything!
So you apply for the card and are approved. Perfect! Amex has great customer service and they will get your card to you within a few days.
Once you get your card, go to your local CVS and buy two $500 Vanilla Reload cards which will be a total of $1007.90 ($500 each plus a $3.95 fee each). They will look like this.
Read this article I wrote about using the Bluebird for paying your rent to see how to load the prepaid cards on your Bluebird account (which is really quite simple and only takes a few seconds).
You can only load $1000 a day onto your Bluebird account and most CVS will only let you buy $1000 in prepaid cards per day so it will take you 5 days to get $5,000 into your Bluebird account. Once you have the $5,000 in your account, then we set up your new Amex as a bill to be paid from your Bluebird account (just like we set up your landlord in this Bluebird article). Then we use the $5000 in the Bluebird account to pay off the Amex. This whole process can take as little as 7 days. And you will be the recipient of 55,000 membership rewards points! (50,000 for the bonus and $5,000 for the purchase of the reload cards).
This whole thing really is this easy! Don’t make it more difficult than it is!
- Get Credit Card
- Reach minimum spending by buying Vanilla Reload cards
- Deposit Reload Cards into your Bluebird account
- Use Bluebird balance to pay off credit card
- Get your almost free miles and come travel with me!
At this point you will have a paid off Amex which you can then use whenever you have to buy airfare (since it gives 3X points on airfare). That is what I use mine for mainly or when I need the additional Warranty Protection that Amex provides.
So what are you waiting for? Apply now and get travelling!
This content is not provided or commissioned by the company whose products are featured on this site. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or evaluations provided here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the Advertiser. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser’s affiliate programs.
To get miles for paying your rent or mortgage you need two things.
- A miles or points earning credit card (such as any of them from our Top Credit Cards page)
- The free Bluebird prepaid card (see our review of the Bluebird here).
We will talk in another article about ways to maximize your mileage earning, but today we are just going to cover the basics to get your started. For this example, we are going to use our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This card gives us 1 Ultimate Reward point per $1 spent. There are three steps in this process:
- Buy gift cards that total the amount of your rent
- Deposit the gift cards into your Bluebird account
- Pay your rent or mortgage from your Bluebird account
1. Buy gift cards that total the amount of your rent.
Gift cards are available at a number of merchants such as Kroger, Publix, CVS and more but not all gift cards will work. We prefer to use the Visa Gift cards that you can buy at Simon’s Malls because they only charge $3.95 / $500 card. The gift cards are sold at the customer service kiosk and will look like this:
For the sake of our example we are going to assume that your rent is $1000 per month. To pay $1,000 you will need to buy two $500 Visa Gift cards with a fee of $3.95 each. Pay for the cards with your mile earning credit card of choice. You will get 1000 Ultimate Rewards points for the purchase if you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, but you can use whichever miles earning credit card you like. You will need to go through the process in this article to set the PIN codes for the gift cards before the next step.
2. Use the Gift cards to load your Bluebird account at Walmart
Both of these options will require going into a Walmart.
A. If your Walmart has one of these ATM looking machines that is working, then follow this article on how to use the Kiosk to reload your Bluebird with a gift card and PIN.
B) If your Walmart doesn’t have one of the kiosks then you can load at any register, the customer service desk, or the Money Center. Follow this article on how to load a Bluebird Card at the Walmart register with a gift card.
Bluebird has a maximum load amount of $2500 per day, so if your rent or mortgage is over that amount, you will need to wait until the next day to enter more reloads. There is also a $5000 limit each month on Bluebird deposits so you would only be able to do this for $5000 of your payment each month.
3. Pay your rent from your Bluebird account
Log onto your Bluebird.com account and you should see the Gift cards reflected in your new balance. Click on the Pay Bills button.
Type in whoever your rent checks are payable to in the “Who do you need to pay?” box and it will prompt you to create a new payee. Enter all of the information requested. I actually deposit my rent into my landlord’s bank account each month so I make my landlord the payee then put my address with a C/O my name on the Address 2 line so the check comes to me to deposit.
Click Save and Pay now. On the next screen you will find a place for the amount and a memo. Enter the rent amount and any memo there. Note it will tell you in the upper right corner what date the check will be delivered by which I have found to be accurate.
That’s it! Miles for paying your rent!
Note that this method can be used to pay any bill that you normally have to pay with a check such as electric bills or student loan payments too! Now, open up that Bluebird account and start getting miles! And if you are looking for a great credit card and a 40,000 sign on bonus, then check out the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®.
If you follow any other points and miles blogs, then you have probably heard about the Bluebird card. I haven’t written about it here yet though and it is too awesome to not talk about.
Bluebird is a new prepaid debit card backed by American Express and Walmart. Prepaid debit cards are reloadable gift cards that you can “load” with funds then once you use those funds for purchases, “reload” by a variety of methods. There are ways to reload using your miles earning credit card which we will cover in a later article that make this card incredibly valuable. Think about tens of thousands of miles per month. Think about getting miles for your rent or mortgage payments, student loan payments, electric bill payments and things that were historically not possible. Here is a video Amex put together on it.
Features of Bluebird
- No credit check or credit pull needed – Anyone can get a Bluebird!
- Almost no fees – High fees have been the problem with prepaid cards in the past but with the backing of American Express and Walmart they have gotten rid of almost all of the annoying fees. No transaction fees, no foreign transaction fees, no load or withdrawal fees, and no ATM fees with direct deposit.
- Online account access via the web and smartphone apps – See all of your transactions and authorizations in real time. In addition, you can remotely deposit checks to your bluebird account using the app.
- Free bill pay to anyone – Pay up to $10,000 / month to vendors in their system and up to $5000 a month to anyone!
- Free transfers to and from your bank account – Checking and Savings accounts can be linked
- Free ATM access at Walmart and a network of fee free ATMs – Free with a direct deposit or paypal deposit. Limits of $500 per day and $2000 per month.
- Ability to reload at Walmart registers with your debit card or by reload cards you can purchase elsewhere – Reloads are limited to $1000/day and $5,000 per month.
- Personalized Card registered to your address – Gift cards have always been problematic to use online because many online merchants require your billing address to match the one on file with the bank who issued the card. Bluebird takes care of this and you can use it anywhere!
How to get Bluebird
Say “no” to Did you purchase a Starter Card at Walmart? Then fill in the rest of the form with your information.
One the next screen, create a username, password, PIN (to be used for ATM access so remember it), SSN (they will NOT run a credit check though so don’t worry), and a security question and answer.
That’s it! Within about 3 business days you should get your permanent bluebird card in the mail and you are in business! In our next article we will talk about how and where to buy reload cards using your miles earning credit card and some of the best cards to use.