Credit Cards

IF CVS stops selling VRs – there is always another way!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


All the talk on the blogs the past few days has been about the chance that CVS is changing their policy about selling VRs (that we can then deposit to BlueBird) and paying with a points credit card. The scuttlebutt is that as of the 1st they are going to be cash only. As the “keymaker” says, there is always another way.

VR and VGCs debit

If you happen to have a Walmart near you, who cares. Why? The math is so simple. You first buy AMEX gift cards from TopCashBack with your favorite points card (not Citi cards btw). You get 2% cash back, so for a $1000 custom gift card with a $3.95 fee, with a free shipping code (google and you will find one), you are earning $16.05.

You then find a store that will let you buy a Visa debit & PIN card with AMEX gift cards (my local grocery store for me). You then buy 2x$494 of these cards. Thus with a $5.95×2 fee you are paying a total of $999.90. So, you are now ONLY earning $4.05 cents profit but also netting the points on the points credit card you pick for free!

Sure it is another step of going to Walmart to load the Visa debit cards to your BlueBird. Sure the cost has gone up by $4 per $1000. You know what, I can live with that. It is not that big a deal to me. You? – René
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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

28 Comments

  1. You are assuming that Walmart will accept gift cards for BB deposits. The one nearest to me has a policy to forbid that practice.

  2. Strawboy1230 Reply

    I assume you say not Citi because they count those gift cards as cash advances.

    Do you have any advice for those of us trying to meet the minimum spend for the Citi Exec card?

    Thanks very much.

  3. Michelle S (Miles, Points, and Mai Tais) Reply

    Agreed. Don’t understand the hype over VR. So many other decent, dare I say better, ways to manufacture spend.

  4. I accidentally used my Citi AAdvantage Amex card to purchase Amex gift cards through their website (through Topcashback) and it was recorded as a purchase. I then can use the AMEX gift cards to buy VR from a CVS to load BB. I will try my Citi Amex again next month to see if it works – especially since I was offered the 1000 AA point offer to keep the card (for another 16 months). I net around $13 going through a shopping portal with 3% cashback – which BeFrugal offers too.

    • @Liz – neat. Please do report back. Great news if Citi AA is coded purchase! Sweet! Txs. PS – by all means use another portal if you want; I use TCB because the 100% always pay and that is worth a bit to me (and they often pay 3% too).

  5. Isn’t there a limit of $1000/month when funding with debit cards? Or is there no limit with funding with debit cards at Walmart?

  6. Young_Tho®ough Reply

    Glad to see that CVS is wizing up to getting all the chargeback and disputes over fraudulent VRs (mostly) an Atlanta problem I know and am glad. Wish they would just rid themselves of the product like so many CVS stores have.. But next best thing is take cash only so customers have little recourse and CVS has much less liability. That in itself make the whole process you described worthwhile to me. Way better product to manufacture spend on.

    Another Office Max special would be lovely for the pin debit gift cards

  7. Young_Tho®ough Reply

    @Derek they don’t take gift cards without a pin. But I don’t think that they teach their employees the difference. They tell you it won’t work they cant do it, until you swipe and pin while they’re talking and it goes through.

  8. Chip Matty Reply

    I don’t see $1000 custom gift cards at Top Cash Back, only $500. Where are they hiding?

  9. Chip Matty Reply

    Found it – but it looks like Top Cash Back will only pay cash back up to $500 per card.

  10. Rene–do you use the free shipping codes often when ordering the AmEx gift cards online? I am always wary with the verbiage that says that portal discounts may be void if non listed coupons are used. Thanks.

    • @Gaurav – I pay for the $99 per year free shipping option. Just simple since I order a BUNCH! Other use the codes and seem to have no problem. I do pay the tiny fee for the cards (I could use a code for that) but for all I get I think they deserve a few bucks back! That is just me.

  11. @Liz I would be curious if you didn’t get a fee because you were using an AmEx card. Do you have a Visa or MC that you’d try it on?

  12. I don’t live near a walmart or Target. What would you say is next easiest for manufacturing spend? I already maximize AP.

    Thanks

  13. Rene-

    Great tip, thanks! Just a quick question. Have you been successful in using those pink and yellow Visa gift cards (shown in the picture above) at Walmart to unload them into BlueBird? I saw them at my local grocery store last week, and I’ll be trying this next week but I’m not sure what Visa gift cards to buy.

    Thanks!

  14. Rene, Last year CVS had a daily limit of 2 $500 VR per day. Late in the year, they raised it to 10 $500 Vr’s per day. That was sweet. If that’s gone, I take it from what you’ve said that WalMart has a $1000 per day limit. Is that correct? I also gather that WalMart will only load BB with a Visa DEBIT. Is that correct? Thanks.

    • @John – 5k max per day CVS. I like to stay under 1k per store ie $999.90 as then no ID scan. This is just me. Yes with Walmart and you must do 2 transactions now ie 2x$500. Not really a Walmart max but BB.

  15. If you look at the list in the picture of the CVS memo posted, all of the Vanilla Products listed as cash only effective 4/31 are reloadable debit cards like My Vanilla (in customers possession) etc. Nowhere is listed the so-called “Beans” or Vanilla Reload Network Prepaid Reload. I just went to my local CVS and bought 5K (10beans) at 6 PM on 4/31-the memo said cash only effective 4/31. At first try, it came back when I swiped my Delta Amex to pay as “alternate tender” in other words they wanted another form of payment. We swiped my Delta Amex card again immediately and it went through- I have a feeling that because I had just made an online payment to my Amex to have enough available credit to make the purchase before I ran off in a panic to my CVS to try and buy the cards, that it took two swipes until the on-line payment I had just made 20 minutes before credited to my Amex account and allowed the purchase go through. The asst manager at my CVS who has helped me before, has heard nothing of the cash only policy. Whew, at least I have another months worth of Blue Bird Vanilla beans if this horrible news is true. Manager said to come back in a couple of days and try and buy another VR with Amex.

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  17. Can you buy visa cards right at Walmart and then load to Bluebird? Maybe more fees, but less leg-work?

  18. Pingback: The shutdown of Vanilla Debit GCs at WallyWorld (what next)? - Delta Points - Delta Points

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