Best options for buying $500 Visa gift cards

Recently, Visa and MasterCard gift cards became great tools for earning points and miles thanks to the new ability to assign PINs (see “Gift card PINs“).  It’s now possible to buy gift cards and cash them out easily by loading them to your Bluebird card or other means.  In other words, buying debit gift cards is now like buying cash and paying with a credit card.  One can earn points and miles and pay only the fee associated with the gift card (if any).

Size Matters:  When buying gift cards in order to earn points & miles, the best cards are those with the lowest net cost as a percentage of card value.  High value gift cards tend to have the lowest fees (as a percentage of their value) and they are easier to deal with.  For example, a Bluebird card can be loaded up to $1000 per day at Walmart (via “Swipe Reloads”) for free.  With $100 gift cards, you would have to do 10 swipes to get to $1000.  With $500 gift cards, it takes only 2 swipes.  And, while $1000 gift cards exist (at least, they used to!), they’re very hard to find.  So, currently, $500 gift cards are the sweet spot to look for.

Visa vs. MasterCard: While it is now possible to set PINs with both Visa and MasterCard gift cards, people have reported more issues in trying to use MasterCards with PINs than Visa gift cards.  Until that changes, I’d recommend favoring Visa gift cards whenever you have the choice.

Here is a roundup of the best options I know of for buying $500 gift cards:

GiftCardMall.com

large sample

UPDATE: Since this was written, cash back at GiftCardMall via TopCashBack has dropped to .5%.

Until recently, GiftCardMall offered $1000 Visa gift cards which were perfect for loading to Bluebird.  Sadly, they recently lowered the top Visa gift card amount to $500 and they raised their fees slightly.  Even with those changes, though, GiftCardMall can be a good deal, especially when you start your purchase from a cash back portal.

TopCashBack offers .5% cash back for GiftCardMall Visa purchases.  If you click through from TopCashBack to GiftCardMall and buy two $500 Visa cards with standard non-trackable delivery, your credit card will be charged $1,015.38.  If all goes well, you’ll get back $5 from TopCashBack, so your net cost will be $10.38 which is a net fee of 1%.

Note that GiftCardMall sends the Visa gift cards in one envelope and sends activation codes in another.  I think that this helps make delivery of the cards more secure and so I would be willing to accept non-trackable delivery.  If you prefer trackable delivery, the total price goes up by $2.

Pros:

  • Pay with any credit card accepted by GiftCardMall. 
  • With GiftCardMall gift cards, you do not need to set the PIN in advance.  Simply use the last four digits of the card number a the PIN.

Cons:

  • Your purchase through TopCashBack (or any portal) may not track correctly, so you might not get paid.
  • GiftCardMall often holds up orders as they investigate them.  This can be a hassle.
  • It’s not hard, but you do need to activate the cards online once you receive them.
  • It’s unclear whether any credit card companies would treat these purchases as cash advances.  I’ve never heard of this happening with GiftCardMall, but the possibility does exist (especially with Citibank cards).

 

OneVanilla Prepaid Cards

OneVanilla

Certain OneVanilla cards can be loaded up to $500 with only a $4.95 fee each.  This is $1 cheaper than most competitors.  $500 OneVanilla cards can be found at certain gas stations, drug stores, and grocery stores.  In my experience you can use these cards without ever setting up a PIN. The card simply uses the first PIN you type in.

Pros:

  • Pay with any credit card accepted by the store.  If your credit card earns bonus points at the store visited, then you should earn bonus points for these purchases as well.
  • Banks will generally treat these purchases as store purchases so you do not have to fear the purchase counting as a cash advance.
  • No need to set the PIN in advance.

Cons:

  • The $4.95 fee amounts to approximately 1% of the card’s value. This is not a bad price, but it is more than the options presented above.

 

 

Reader Experiences

Have you found any better deals than those listed above for $500 gift cards?  Have you had any experiences to add to (or contradict) what I wrote?  Please comment below.

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. Paul: Thanks for the reminder! I’ll update the page now.
    .
    Jerry Mandel: Thanks. Be careful not to deposit too many money orders to the same bank as they will likely shut down your accounts.

    • I have been many years with Bank Of America. Other than a credit union for savings, that is my only bank. Why would B of A shut down my account? ( How many is too many?)

  2. Not all Kroger stores carry the $500 loadable gift cards. Of two Ks near me one has them and one does not. Even the manager doesn’t know why not having them.

  3. Bought Vanilla gift card at rite aid with my citibank aa mastercard. Then took the Vanilla to a Giant Eagle grocery store, bought a money order. Deposited the money order and paid off the citibank aa balance. citibank counts it as a purchase and I get miles. This is worth it to me because I got the card that requires 3000 of purchases within the first 3 months to get 50,000 miles. It might not be worth it just for the miles. This all happened in PIttsburgh, PA November 2013. Hop[e this info helps

  4. I have read in posts about BigCrumbs vs. Ebates to get gift cards. However, I could not find a “store” to get Visa gift cards. Is it possible to get Visa and Mastercard gift cards through BigCrumbs? If so, what store?

  5. Has anyone had an experience using a Citi Executive MasterCard on GiftCardMall?
    Would they treat the transaction as a purchase or a cash advance – they way they treat AMEX gift cards?

    It’s unclear whether any credit card companies would treat these purchases as cash advances. I’ve never heard of this happening with GiftCardMall, but the possibility does exist (especially with Citibank cards).

  6. What’s a reasonable monthly amount I should be purchasing on GCM.com with one credit card? $5k? Anyone had experiences going over $5k/month per card?

    • Yeah, that’s my question too.

      I was able to buy $500 Visa GC from GCM using one credit card without any issue; however, after seven orders ($500 visa GC per order), GCM starts to complain my credit card info cannot be verified and throws out a message “Error Creating order”.

      I did see the pending charge of $500+ on my CC though. Wondering there might be a monthly limit for $500 Visa GC?

  7. I bought a VMC GC for 500 at CVS and I couldn’t get it to load at the Kiosk into my BB. I loaded the same day a few other brands of GC including OV. IT JUST KEPT T E LLING ME WRONG CARD THIS IS CREDIT. I used it as debit at BART snd set up a IN but I came back and no luck. I wonder if the kiosk has some kind of list of numbers that will trigger this kind of response. Do you know how to get this to work?

  8. Giant Eagle in Greensburg does not accept Vanilla Visa anymore, as of 8/14. I have tried at both stores and they tell me you have to have a debit card with a name and proper ID.

  9. I just tried to buy a $500 Visa gift card at a grocery store and was told that the policy has recently changed and these need to be purchased with cash.

    Has anyone else had this experience?
    Was that policy set by Visa, not the grocery store?

    • Which grocery store? I haven’t had a chance to confirm but Walmart Neighborhood Markets seem to be refusing $500 Vanilla GC loading with CC now. I did load a $500 GC at Kroger last week and it worked like a champ.

      • Same goes for the Walmart here. I tried to purchase a $500 VGC with my Chase Visa, but it looks like the registers are hard-coded to accept only cash and debit cards for these purchases. I ended up buying a VGC at CVS with no problem.

        • I haven’t been back to that WM Neighborhood market but thanks for posting your experience. On the bright side, I found out that if one buys multiple gift cards at Kroger, the activation fee is only charged once so I’ll be buying my cards at Kroger from now on.

        • Sweet! I haven’t seen any Krogers where I live (New Irkeans area), but since I’m in Florida today, I’ll have to have a look around.

        • Check out the Kroger website. They own a bunch of supermarkets and there may be one in the Nawlins’ area 🙂

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