Cash or credit? Either way, watch out for tax.

After reading my earlier post “One card to rule them all” many people ran out to their local Office Depot stores to buy Vanilla Reload cards with their Ink Bold credit cards.  This is a brief follow up…

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Cash or credit?

So far, most people (with a couple of exceptions) have reported success in buying reload cards with their credit cards (I’ve done it 3 times now). However, many people have mentioned the fact that the reload website (vanillareload.com) is pretty specific about using cash.  Here’s a screenshot for example (the same image is on the back of each reload card):

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I haven’t found any place that specifically says “credit is not allowed”, but that is a reasonable assumption given the text on both this site and the American Express Prepaid site.

So, one question now is whether “cash only” is really a rule, or more of a recommendation.  It’s possible that it is up to each merchant (like Office Depot) to determine the rules.  I was able to find out that InComm (the company behind the reload cards) specifically supplies technology to merchants that supports credit card processing (see this page, for example).  So, it’s safe to say that InComm specifically allows credit card purchasing of some of their products, but it doesn’t tell us anything about the rules for this one product.

When I first purchased one of these cards using my Ink Bold, I was sure it was a fluke.  However, I then talked to an industry insider who promised me that these cards are different from others (Green Dot MoneyPaks, for example) and that the ability to use credit cards won’t go away.  Was he right?  We’ll see.  A number of commenters on my previous posts are betting against him.

Say no to taxes!

A couple of people have reported being charged sales tax for purchases of these reload cards (and for Vanilla Visa cards).  Don’t do it!  Sales tax should not be charged.  If you do pay sales tax, it will wipe out the benefit of using these cards.  Argue or walk away… just don’t pay.

Chase fear away

I do want to remind people about my post “Why Chase cancels accounts (and how to protect yourself).”  This will probably scare you.  Good.  Read the post and specifically read the “do” and “don’t” section for some help in how best to proceed.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. The more we mention the play by play, the more likely it will get bad attention and the deal will go away.

    Don’t make Office Depot regret their decision.

  2. Here’s an interesting possibility. The back of some of these gift cards say you can’t refund purchases back on them. What would a store do in those cases, give you cash back?

  3. @Carry: Don’t you know that FM’s philosophy is to disclose ALL info as quickly as possible so that the deal WILL be killed ASAP? No sense keeping this hush hush, when I get a little free time I’m certainly going to go post this 5% cashback on everything loophole on FatWallet and SlickDeals. Why keep our friends over there in the dark if they don’t yet know about this great deal? Afterall, the more knowledge everybody has about everything, the better, right? Then the whole world can get 5% off all purchases, think of the great service FM is doing for everybody worldwide!!!!! 😉

  4. @JD: Because they can’t charge you salestax both when you buy the giftcard and then again when you go to use it to buy other merchandise. Stores do not charge sales tax on gift cards to eliminate this from happening……………

  5. @JD – if you paid sales tax on the purchase of the gift card, you would then also be asked to pay sales tax when you used the card. I went onto various websites (eg. Target, Staples, Office Depot and pretended to buy gift cards. They did NOT charge tax. I think the OD computers are messed up and they don’t know what to do.

    I did report here that I was charged sales tax. I called AMEX and they said no way. Office Depot had to call corporate and they have not yet returned my call.

  6. I just bought one at my local Office depot (MN) and used my chase ink and no tax, just the $4.95 activation fee. Will go back tomorrow and purchase a reload card the same way. Great way to have your spouse use these while you use the ink card for daily expenses…

  7. Haven’t heard anything back yet. I don’t want to make too many waves yet…don’t want them to totally wake up! But need to get this resolved. Boy are their computers/people dumb.

  8. 2 questions

    Why would this not work the same at Staples or Office Max for the 5 X

    and

    Explain the advantage of buying the reload card vs just buying another $500 card ?

    • Jerry: They don’t sell these at Staples or Office Max. The reload cards are much more convenient because you can load more than $500 onto them. They also allow ATM use. If those things don’t matter to you, then the one time use Amex or Visa for $500 would work (also not sold at OfficeMax or Staples).

  9. @FM

    I went back to the OD that charged me 6% state tax, manager said they could not override it, and said they can only do refunds before their system is updated. No luck for me today.

    Gonna try a diff store tomorrow.

    Wonder if they will fix this glitch first or the loophole. Bets?

  10. I got one of the Amex cards and a vanilla reload card at office depot, but the cashier didn’t want to sell it to me. First He scanned the card and I swiped my credit card, and paid for the cards. But the employee started acting strange, he didn’t want to give me the cards. He called his manager 4 times on the radio but couldn’t get ahold of him. He then asked another employee to come over and help out. They spent a couple minutes talking about how I should have paid with cash, not a credit card. I pointed out that the relatable card didn’t say anything about “cash only” like some of the other cards.

    He eventually gave me the card, but was looking at me the whole time like I was trying to scam the store. I was a creepy feeling. I knew I was right, but they clearly didn’t want to sell me the cards.

  11. The store manager called me and said they know it wasn’t right and not to worry about being screwed. I had the feeling that they have to figure out what to do. They did get this word from up high. Sounds like a class action lawsuit to me!

    I’ll report tomorrow on the refund.

  12. @tbob
    Same here. Ive only visited my local OD twice, each time for 1 vanilla visa. The second tine I was asked by the store manager why I am purchasing these gift cards?? At the same time giving this “criminal” look, not a good feeling. I still got the card, but unconsciously, a little reluctant to go back

  13. Is there a reason to not get the Visa gift card as well? How is that different in terms of points accumulation vs. Amex (not comparing benefits)?

  14. Lawrence: the Amex, once upgraded to the permanent card, is reloadable, offers purchase protection, is easier to use online. In terms of points earned, the Visa is a great option

  15. I just got one of these to reload my prepaid card thinking that I could use the amex card with pin to get cash back at stores. Guess this card is not able to be used that way to get cash back at stores. I even called amex up and asked. Does anyone know of anyway to get cash without using atm?

  16. can’t figure it out all that well. don’t know where to find where it asks to add money with credit card

  17. I’m trying to use two temporary AmEx prepaid cards to do Amazon Payments but it keeps declining the cards. Any idea why?

  18. on their site it says can’t send money to self and don’t know anyone that has amazon payments

  19. interesting tidbit…I bought the reloadable card and put the max amount on it. I then went to a different store a day later and bought the vanilla reload card and put the maximum amount on it. Nobody blinked an eye about using the credit card, and at the second place, they actually gave me a card to fill out a survey and told me that if I fill out the survey I will get $10 off my next purchase of $50 or more. Say what!? Haven’t filled out the survey yet and not sure how it would work, but thought it was an interesting twist.

  20. I was able to get the credit this morning. The nice manage just manually gave me the credit and he’s still waiting on the word from the vendor. He knows it wasn’t correct to add the tax, just seems that nothing can be done about it yet.

  21. So far 2 different Office Depot stores said no to using the credit card to buy the Amex prepaid or Vanilla cards, and 1 said yes.

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