Vanilla hunt

Last week I was excited to see that Point Princess had found Vanilla Reload cards at a TA gas station.  I immediately checked online here and found a TA station close to my home.  Then I waited impatiently to return from my latest vacation so I could check it out.

Monday morning I zoomed to the TA station and hunted for the gift card rack.  I searched every nook and cranny of the store, but couldn’t find anything that looked remotely gift-cardish.  Finally, I went through a doorway to the back towards the video games and rest rooms.  There, tucked away in a corner was the gift card rack!  I had to spin the rack around to find the good stuff…

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I took two Vanilla Reload cards to the register and asked for $500 on each.  After ringing them up, the cashier said “you know this is cash only right?”  Um… what?  Are you sure?  “Yes,” she said, “we only accept cash for these purchases.”  I felt like saying “but Point Princess paid with a credit card.”  Instead, I left empty handed.

Why I care

Quite a few credit cards standardly offer extra cash back or bonus points at gas stations (see “Best Category Bonuses“) and some offer bonus points at gas stations as an occasional promotion (For example, Freedom and Discover cards offer 5X this quarter at gas stations, up to $1500 in spend). 

If a gas station allowed you to buy Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card, you could do really well by paying with a card that offers gas stations bonuses.  You do need to be careful, though, because some cards reportedly restrict the bonus to payments made at the pump (if you have specific experience with this, please report your findings below).

Vs. gift cards

As I’ve reported before, gas stations like Speedway sell Visa gift cards that can be loaded up to $500.  And, you can move the $500 from the gift card to your Bluebird or GoBank card at Walmart.  While this approach costs slightly more ($4.95 per $500 vs. $3.95 per $500), the results are almost the same.  For me, though, Walmart is out of my way, so I would much prefer a reload card solution.  Too bad that my local TA station didn’t allow me to pay with a credit card!

Other locations

The Vanilla Reload Network web site shows the following locations for reloads:

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They seem to have forgotten to take Office Depot off the list.  If you visit any of these stores, keep in mind that there are two different types of Vanilla Reload cards.  The usual kind is the one that you take home to transfer its value to your prepaid card.  The other kind is the one where the load to your prepaid card happens in-store (see “Pursuing the Other Vanilla Reload card“).

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. I went to a 7-11 gas station on Monday looking to buy a Vanilla Visa card with my two gas station bonus cards this quarter. They now sell Vanilla Reload cards and I was able to buy them with a credit card. A different 7-11 nearby in the past wouldn’t accept credit cards as payment so each store is different.

  2. Been hammering thousand in vanilla’s through Kum and Go, but now they finally “fixed” their tills as of July 1 to only accept debit….and no way I pay that fee and use Sun Trust when I can get those miles for free or nearly free.

    Funny part is I have ignored their Visa gift cards due to this, but I will see if they have $500 cards.

  3. Does 7 11 categorize as gas station? I haven’t seen vr at them only paypal and those in my area only take cash.

  4. I bought a Vanilla Reload at the Next Door Store which was at a Marathon Gas Station. Paid with a credit card a got the activation slip. Went to Walmart 7 minutes away and couldn’t load it to my BB account. Went home and couldn’t load it online. Called the toll free number on the back and they opened up an investigation on what happened. Incomm looked into this and concluded after 7 days the store activated and deactivated the card 7 minutes later and told me to go back to the store to get my money back. The store manager had to call corporate after the rep at Inconm explained to her the case when I call the toll free number at the store. She called corporate and told me that they will issue a refund to my card and gave me a contact number. A week later and no refund I decided to do a charge back because I couldn’t reach the contact at corporate. Several days later I was able to reach the contact and he said the policy was no credit card for vanilla reload purchases, which is way they deactivated the card. They issued the refund a few days later after they checked on a few things, which was three weeks after they deactivated the card. I was upset because they essentially and me something and took it away without informing me. It was a training issue with the employee, so they shouldn’t punish the customer because of it and deactivated the card without immediately issuing a refund. Long story short, I will stick to gift cards at gas stations. The one dollar savings for me isn’t worth the hassle.

  5. Yes, 7-11 does categorize as a gas station. I’ve bought cards there since last summer without any issues. The reloads are a new development there though.

  6. So I have hit up many gas station in the C-bus Ohio area. Sadly I have been met with you can no credit cards, cash only or yes there is tax on this vanilla reload!, or policy is we can only load up to $150 in cash and the rest in credit card. It is quite exhausting.

  7. Bad news, Kum and Go is also gone to debit/cash only on gift cards as well. I still have some more stores to try, but after hammering Hilton Diamond status and lots of points that are good for domestic flights, my fun there may have come to an end. I bet I put 60K through there at least…..

  8. I’ve also tried a TA here in town and when I said I wanted a Vanilla Reload a manager came out of nowhere and said they’re cash only. She wouldn’t even let the other employee try my CC. And the Kum $ Go here doesn’t work with credit cards. We tried twice at one here and it just kept saying tender not allowed. No luck finding VR at 7-11s here though.

  9. I’ve gotten up trying to use my store card with a VR purchase at my local gas station because it screws up the transaction, then the cashier swipes my cc twice and I end up on the phone for about 3 hours trying to unwind the duplicate charge. Not worth the hassle although I’m leaving a lot of money on the table every month.

  10. I went to 7-11 and tried to buy 2 x $500 VRs. My United Explorer and SPG Amex were declined. Then my Sapphire Preferred Gold was approved.

    I got a fraud alert from Chase on the Explorer card and after I indicated it was not fraudulent, my card showed approved but the transaction was declined.

    The same thing with my Sapphire Preferred and Amex card.

    The clerk could not figure out why this was happening.
    Tried ringing up $500 VR at a time, but still no go.

    Oh well, at least I got 1000 URs. I think I’ll stick to CVS in future.

    • Tried a 7-11 by my house today and they had VRs, but cashier said their policy is only cash for them. I asked if she could try and she said no. I even tried for only $200 load as a test. A few months ago this 7-11 did not have VRs.

  11. @FrequentMiler – Bought $1000 VR at my local 7-eleven that has a gas station last night with my Chase Freedom. Hoping this transaction gets coded as “gas station” for 5x UR points. Was your 7-eleven gas also?

  12. I found some at a MurphyUSA (Walmart gas station) today. The boss lady was working this morning and said cash only. Stopped by this evening and bought 4 with no questions asked. I have activation receipts for all four. They are not activating via Vanilla website. I am hoping their system is just delayed and they will be available tomorrow. Error (4002) was given. Anyone have this problem?

  13. I had similar experience at one 7-11 where first my Ink Bold and then my AMEX Gold declined on $1000…..then tried $500 on each card and they also declined…….Then drove down the road and used the Ink for gas so there was nothing wrong with the card…….It Appears? that some 7-11s have hard wired their cash registers to decline all the reload cards with a credit card……….Office Depot does indeed have the VR cards in my area but their cash registers are all hard wired………CVS same thing in my area………My only success has been a Paypal card at Rite-Aid and one 7-11 left that isn’t hard wired or on the “new program”……….But once everyone completely goes to ALL CASH there is going to be a lot of plastic cards sitting on shelves………..

  14. Just had a similar experience tonight. I stopped at two different 7-11 stores in MI and both declined my card. Just a few days earlier, I had purchased two cards without any problem at all. I ended up buying a paypal cash card without any problems. The stores I stopped at weren’t gas stations, but my cc statement did code it as a gasoline purchase. I used my Discover and Freedom card. Bummer on the vanilla reload cards. One of the girls said they had just gotten an email about the change a few days ago.

  15. Email that’s great as I have one store where I am certain they aren’t reading the emails!
    I’m sure it’s just a matter of time until it is verbally communicated to them.

  16. I tried buying a Paypal cash pack (not Greendot) at my local Speedway store, no go. Did not try the One vanilla or other visa prepaid cards, did you recently buy any of these cards with CC? Is their system consistent nation-wide or state specific? Thanks!

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