The many flavors of Vanilla

I write a lot about Vanilla.  In the post “Almost too good to be true” I wrote about the Vanilla Prepaid Visa card.  The trick was to use a Chase Ink credit card to buy this Vanilla card at Office Depot in order to earn 5 points per dollar.  Then, in the post “One card to rule them all” I wrote about the Vanilla Prepaid Reload card.  There, the trick was to similar: buy the cards at Office Depot using your Ink card in order to earn 5 points per dollar.  In many other posts, I’ve written about these or other Vanilla cards.  As a result, I’ve left some readers understandably confused.

To help clear some of the confusion (I hope), here is a guide to the many flavors of Vanilla:


Vanilla Prepaid Visa: Use this card just like a credit card wherever you shop. It has a hard limit of $500 that can be loaded onto it one time only. You can register your zip code with the card so that the card will work in places that require zip code verification, but it won’t work with web sites that require your full address for verification.

Vanilla Gift Card: This card functions very similarly to the Vanilla Prepaid Visa card.

Vanilla Prepaid Reload: You can buy these in-store, but then the money from the card must be loaded onto a reloadable prepaid card such as the American Express Prepaid card, NetSpend card, or Mio card. Your prepaid card can then be used anywhere just like a credit card. Since your full address is registered with the reloadable card, it is generally accepted everywhere. Additionally, most reloadable prepaid cards allow ATM withdrawals which is a great way to turn your balance into cash (when done in moderation).  See “Vanilla Reloadables” for more information.
image MyVanilla Reloadable card: This is a permanent reloadable card.  One way to load money to this card is by buying and applying Vanilla Reload cards (above).  For more information, see “MyVanilla finally appears.”


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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  1. FM,
    Vanilla Gift Card (#2 on your list) was the default Vanilla card at my local OD. It is also the card Staples sends you if you buy a gift card online.

    It worked well for me in the past.

  2. Same here. I’ve been buying and using the Vanilla Visa GIFT card thinking that was the one you had talked about. Not sure how they are functionally different. I’ve never had a problem using it.

  3. The “MyVanilla” card that’s been “coming soon” seemingly forever — a cust service rep told me that they plan to have it out “before the end of the year.”

  4. I have the Sapphire Preferred Visa so what is the best way to get Visa gift cards that will earn me the most points and help me meet the sign up bonus spend requirement? This is awesome for Ink customers but what about for other card holders?

  5. @Kathy, just use your chase sapphire preferred at office depot and buy several $500 vanilla reload cards (usually located next to prepaid amex reloadable cards) in the gift card center located near the checkout area. Since you are not milking Chase with 5x points per dollar, they shouldn’t care how much you spend at office depot.

  6. I personally use this trick on all my new sign up cards (spg personal + biz, delta personal + biz, etc.) even though I don’t get the 5x points I would if i only used my ink bold card.

  7. this isn’t vanilla related, but I recently found a nice deal for a northeast grocery chain…buy $100 worth of gift cards, receive 40 cents off per gallon up to 20 gallons of gas…thinking about how to maximize this offer. Gift cards offered include Visa gift cards as well as various restaurants and retail stores.

  8. For the Chicago readers…I went to the OD on Ashland to buy a few reloads today. I noticed that they only had a few left. They also had to call the manager for the purchase.

  9. Yes that is what i think will happen, OD will not buy any of the reload cards. I looked at other stores that sell this but seems they only allow cash to buy it.

    7-11 and walgreens would not let me buy it using CC

  10. Well the whole point is to buy from OD or some other like store so you can get 5x pts. Buying from 7-11 or Walgreens or anyone else is pretty pointless (no pun intended) Unless you are just trying to get your minimum spend in.

  11. Yes i was trying to buy so i can see if i can use my amex prepaid for other spend requirement on other credit cards. I have maxed out my monthly limit for office supplies 5x, so looking at other ways to fund it.

    also wanting to see if OD reload is gone, where else to buy to load my prepaid card

  12. Hold on. Do you mean that OD will not be buying any more reloads after the stock they have now are sold? How do you know that?

  13. I have no information about OD not continuing these cards other than a few comments on this blog. However, I did get concerned today when my local OD, which is usually flush with cards, was down to only a few. Luckily, I have 2 more OD within 10 miles so I will check those when I get around to it.

  14. Yeah, I’ve never heard of this recent possible development until @tess said so. Does anyone else know anything about this? @tess, do you know if this is a widespread trend at ODs across the nation, or only at your 1 store?

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  16. If only office max sold the amex reloadable cards, it would be raining money.

    @ArizonaGuy, maybe you could send someone an amazon payment of $503.95 and they could then email you the code from the back of the amex reloadable card. Do you have any friends or relatives in other states / cities that could help you out?

  17. Well, I guess if OD isn’t going to be restocking the reloads any more, I better grab all of them I can get by this weekend. Do y’all think it’s time to hit the panic button on this?

  18. LOL!! Who said OD wasn’t going to restock them? You get a report that an OD is low and now thhat turns into they are done with them? Pretty funny. My OD has a ton. I’m not worried until the Mgr tells me they won’t be carring them.

  19. Thx, @patrick, for reassuring me! Further up the comments, @tess was saying something along those lines, so I wasn’t sure what to think. Finger off the panic button…

  20. Sure it could happen (and probably will some day) just like the mint eventually died. But it’s a realtively new phenomenon so until we get solid reports of OD running out and staying empty for awhile or Mgr’s reporting “we aren’t getting anymore in” I wouldn’t worry.

  21. I think the issue with OD not carrying the cards at some locations has to do with fraud. Any issue with maxing category spend is a Chase issue, not an OD issue.

  22. Personally, i dont think any of the employees at the office depots i go to know anything about the card. They just look at me strangely. Sometimes, (if im in a good mood) I will tell them what I am doing.

  23. I went to the Office Depot nearest me in the DFW area this week and they only had a few Vanilla Reload Cards left in stock. Usually they have a seemingly countless supply. As a result, I grabbed a larger quantity than I usually purchase. I will check another OD next week to see what their status is. I use my Prepaid AX card for everyday expenses that cannot be applied to category spending bonuses I have with my other cards. I am running through about 3000 per month right now. I will miss them if they go away but I never entered this program thinking they would last forever. I am anxious to learn the arrival date of the the Vanilla Prepaid VISA reloadable card.

    Of note: the checkout person told me someone came into their store to purchase these last week fraudulently for a big amount. The clerk was grabbed by the hukster when ID was requested. A Manager is always called to verify my purchases. I do not live in on the wrong side of the tracks and was surprised at the news of this happening. Apparently from previous comments on this blog there is a real fraudulent movement within this card program and it alone may bring it to a close, not the 5% rebate purchasers.

  24. I dont see why this product would be more fraudulent than others. Every office depot i have gone to wants to see ID to verify identity, so it would seem that if someone stole someone’s ID and credit card that they would purchase other items like TVs or Laptops.

    • I would assume it is because you can use a stolen credit card to purchase the cards and then extract the cash at an ATM.

  25. That seems like a lot of work to set up a card with amex, give them ur ssn and then wait to reload it. It seems like a continuous processes of refilling the cards and taking the money out of ATMs. There has got to be easier ways to commit fraud that dont involve my beloved amex reloadable card.

  26. I was at my local OD yesterday and they mentioned the fraud issue…I asked them how could this be different than any other card they sell but the manager stated she had no idea – she was told that at a meeting with people from corporate. It puzzles me how this can be pulled off easier than with other gift cards (which you can sell at a discount on line-I bought one from cardpool, checked the balance over the phone and it was correct,went to the store after a week and the card had a $0 value as it was sut down. Called the issuer and was told the buyer/credit card user had called in the purchase as a fraud- cardpool quickly refunded me)when this is easily trackable via your Amex…SSN and a real address is required…but who knows…I’m not a crook…

  27. Well, my OD has now been out of stock for over a week after I bought out all the remaining ones. Concerned. Now I’m buying the $500 Prepaids.

  28. @Preacher, are there any other local ODs you can go to? Can you call and ask if they have them in stock (granted that the employees know what the cards look like).

  29. Finally got hold of the reloadable Vanilla cards.
    Frequentmiler – You can use the Vanilla Gift Card if they ask for an address. They just place the order on hold until they receive a confirmation from you. I usually get an email requesting me to call in. This has happened to me many times.

  30. Same here dealseeker, I needed to add an address to an online payment but it went through without a call so this may be opening up in a good way!

  31. I am no longer positive where you’re getting your info, but good topic. I must spend a while learning much more or figuring out more. Thanks for excellent info I was on the lookout for this information for my mission.

    • somy: Yes. You don’t even have to set a pin. Just wait an hour or more after purchasing the card and then use any 4 digits you want at Walmart to load BB. I usually use the last four digits on the card in case I every need to know the PIN again.

  32. Will it be possible to have an update of this post?
    I keep getting confused between one vanilla and the other cards.
    What is the difference between OneVanilla and Vanilla Gift Cards? Is it that with One Vanilla we can do a cash advance? The One Vanilla’s are not reloadable, correct?

    • That’s a good idea. There’s no practical difference between OneVanilla and other Vanilla gift cards except that it doesn’t say on the card that it is a gift card so it can work as a debit card at places like Walmart even if the cashier says “no gift cards”. Correct, it is not reloadable.

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