Vanilla Reloads at CVS: Rest In Peace

As my regular readers know, I love manufactured spend (i.e. Spending Money without Spending Money).  The biggest tool that I have been using for the last year for easy manufactured spend was Vanilla Reloads that you could purchase at CVS.  As they say, all good things must come to an end and that time has come with the Vanilla Reloads via credit cards at CVS.  As of April 6, they have gone to a cash only basis for purchase at CVS.  Let’s stop and have a moment of silence for the tens of thousands of miles I made with the Vanilla Reloads.  Vanilla RIP

There.  I feel better.

But as they say, there is more than one way to skin a cat!  If you read my articles about how I made 43,000 Ultimate Rewards points in a week and how I got paid $9 to take 3000 Ultimate Rewards points then you know that it is also possible to reload your bluebird account using normal visa gift cards with a PIN such as the $200 Visa Gift cards they sell at OfficeMax.  20140306-004431.jpg

Sure the fee is a lot higher at $6.95 / $200, but for each purchase of $206.95 you will earn 5X$206.95 = 1034 Ultimate Rewards points if you use your Ink Bold card.  This means if you have a $1000 monthly rent or mortgage payment, instead of buying two $500 Vanilla Reloads each with a $3.95 fee (total cost, $1007.90, total points earned 1008), you will now buy five $200 Visa Gift cards each with a $6.95 fee (total cost 1034.75, total points earned 5174)  You will notice that your cost is now $26.85 higher.  But if you wanted to you could take 2685 of the Ultimate Rewards points you received and redeem them for $26.85 in cash which then puts you in the exact same out of pocket cost ($1007.90) as you were with the Vanilla Reloads! The math whizzes reading will notice that you come out 1481 UR points ahead doing it that way!

You could also find one of the $500 gift cards that you can buy at grocery stores such as Publix, Kroger, Walmart, or Target that is able to have a PIN set.  Then you can use that PIN either at the kiosk or register at Walmart to load it onto your Bluebird card. Their fees will typically be $5.95 or $6.95 / $500 Gift card so your costs will go up from $7.90 to $13.90 if you go that way.

The best option that I read about was to get one of the gift cards from Simon Malls which have a $3 fee for a $500 gift card. You can set the PIN on these cards and reload your Bluebird account with it.

The downside to these plans is it requires going into Walmart each time you want to load $1000 onto your Bluebird instead of just doing it online as we did with the Vanilla Reload. There are some other ways I have read about that don’t require a Walmart run, but I’ve been in China so haven’t exactly been able to test anything out. I will delve into that topic as soon as I get back stateside though.

I did want to get a eulogy post of sorts up for Vanilla Reloads and tell you hope is not lost, we just have to evolve our techniques as the game changes.

If all of this is Greek to you then read this article about the Bluebird card, and apply for your free Bluebird prepaid card now!

Author: John Butler

I live in Miami Beach but love travelling all over the world.