Quick card shut-down news

Today I have some miscellaneous stuff to report about credit card and prepaid card shut downs:

  • Citi ThankYou: In May I reported that Citibank was shutting down accounts of ThankYou Preferred cardholders (see “ThankYou Citi, can I keep my points?“) who were capitalizing on one year of 5X earnings.  Since then, a few people have reported that their accounts were restored, and I haven’t heard any new reports of shut-downs.  Maybe it’s safe to go back in the water?
  • Serve / Bluebird: Some people had previously managed to get around the Amex limit in which each person can have either a Serve card or a Bluebird card, but not both (see “Bluebird vs. Serve“).  Recently, though, Amex has cracked down on this and has instructed those customers to pick just one.
  • GreenDot, GoBank, AccountNow, MyVanilla prepaid cards: There have been many reports of people having these accounts shut down when they are used primarily to manufacture spend.  Thankfully, I have not heard of anything similar happening with Bluebird.  See also this Jason Steele post from The Points Guy: What To Do If AccountNow Closes Your Account – And An Alternative From H&R Block.
  • Bluebird gift card debit loads: Via email, The Miles Professor told me that Amex is no longer allowing gift cards to be used for online debit loads.  I’ve never been a fan of loading that way, in any case, since they limit you to $100 per day and charge $2 per load.  However, it may be a warning sign that the end is near for the much more lucrative option of using gift cards for debit loads at Walmart (see “Gift card PINs” and “Bluebird swipe reloads via ATM“).  I hope not.

Frequent Miler is on vacation

Posts have been scheduled in advance. See you in September!

Comments

  1. I’m not sure if anyone else had this experience but in the last month I tried to load a $500 debit card (Metabank pin enabled) onto BB at Walmart. I tried 3 different Walmart s and it always failed. The funny thing is that after I enter my PIN, the PIN pad displays shows “approved.” Then after a few seconds the receipt prints “Declined.” Every time I asked the cashier why they either tell me they don’t know or I have the wrong PIN. Don’t know what is going on there…

  2. Will- When did you last try this? I was able to load them as of a few weeks ago! But it does sound like the end is near.

  3. I don’t believe the debit card system will go away anytime soon. Banks are making a killing from the fees entailed with them, and there is little or no overhead on their part to implement it into existing accounts. As long as there isn’t rampant abuse (excess ordering of gift cards like $8,000 worth at a time), you should be safe and life goes on and the world is happy :)

  4. Wal-Mart and Amex have too much riding on Bluebird to shut down the load at Wal-Mart feature. Plus separate businesses like VR would be upset if their business model was wiped out. On with the show.

  5. @Will. By chance, did you already load the maximum 1000.00 in one calendar day, or 5000 in one calendar month? If either of these are true, the response from the register will first be approval and then a decline. BB tell the register to decline once the amount is sent over to them for the second approval. The first approval is just to be sure that there really is money on the card in the first place.

  6. @Chuck – I was just going to say that. Happened to me a few days ago where I loaded $5,000 and didn’t realize it. I got the same Approved from the pinpad but then declines by Bluebird. I waited a few days for a new month and all was well again.

  7. Second Ken & Chuck. I freaked out a bit when my load was declined on two different days. I found out later that it was because my card already reached its 5k limit. Phew!!

  8. I accidently tried to add more than 1k at a WM atm. Same thing happened, rejected. The odd thing was I tried to load another account with that same gc and it was rejected. As a matter of fact a 5 days later I tried to load it again and rejected again!! I used it for buying gas for both our cars (Not pay at the pump but going inside and requesting a specific amount like $50). Odd…

  9. @Will
    If none of the above suggestions worked, try calling the customer service number and ask them to “unlock” your card and then reset your PIN. This happened to me before with Kroger’s giftcard, and I was able to get the PIN to work again after calling.

  10. Thanks for all the tips everyone! Doesn’t seem like anyone else is having this problem. I shall try again especially since all the CVSs in my area (Los Angeles) don’t carry Vanilla Reload cards anymore. When I asked the manager at one of the stores I frequently visit she told me that lately a bunch of the cards were not scanning correctly (don’t really know what that means) so they are delaying putting them on the racks.

  11. FM and everyone else participating in TYP 5x deal,

    I have an urgent request. I’ve been steadily churning away on my special 5x Citi TY Preferred (nothing crazy, just under $10,000 per month) for the past two months. After not seeing the points post, I called and talked to a rep. She said that my terms say not only do I earn 5x points on gas, groceries, and drugstores, but that I earn 5x on everything considered a daily expense. She said she didn’t have the categories that would fall under this but said for instance, electronics would probably not be considered an everyday expense but dining would. What concerns me is that she said none of my TYP would be deposited into my account until the full year of the special offer was up (next April.) Has anyone heard anything about this? If I keep up at the same rate, I’ll have earned ~600,000 points by next April. I really don’t want to risk them pulling a fast one on me.

    Please help,
    Brad

  12. FM and everyone else participating in TYP 5x deal,

    I have an urgent request. I’ve been steadily churning away on my special 5x Citi TY Preferred (nothing crazy, just under $10,000 per month) for the past two months. After not seeing the points post, I called and talked to a rep. She said that my terms say not only do I earn 5x points on gas, groceries, and drugstores, but that I earn 5x on everything considered a daily expense. She said she didn’t have the categories that would fall under this but said for instance, electronics would probably not be considered an everyday expense but dining would. What concerns me is that she said none of my TYP would be deposited into my account until the full year of the special offer was up (next April.) Has anyone heard anything about this? If I keep up at the same rate, I’ll have earned ~600,000 points by next April. I really don’t want to risk them pulling a fast one on me.

    Please help,
    Brad

    • @Brad – You think $10,000/month of manufactured spend is nothing crazy? What do you think is crazy? That’s almost $120,000/year.

  13. @Ken – $10,000 is not crazy based on comments on Flyertalk. The people that were getting shut down were in the $50K/month+! My limit on this credit card is $10,000 so, by not spending over my limit in any given month, I don’t think this is crazy.

  14. Hey FM,

    I was wondering if you’ve heard anything recently regarding the TYP 5x card. For 3 solid months now, I’ve spend about $8-10k/month mostly on VR @ CVS, but I sprinke in some other random expenses, and of course all groceries and gas. My limit is $12,500. My pts post every month and as of yesterday I am up to abt 140k. My goal was to apply for the Premier card so I can book 1.25x flights, and get another sign up in the process. I am not too int in gift cards and don’t have any flights to book right now at 1:1 as I also just got SW companion pass so I’m trying to fly SW as much as possible. When I did Citi TYP it was more of a long term plan.

    With all this being said, what should I do with my existing pts? Bite the bullet and get some gift cards for a rainy day or take a chance that the storm has passed and go for a premier card as intended, so that I have about $6k of free flights by May 2014. So tempting to do the latter.

    Anyway just wondering if you had a a temperature on this topic. Thanks!

  15. Ed: I haven’t heard of any new shutdowns since this was posted (but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any). So, I think it is probably safe to keep collecting ThankYou points. I would still be nervous about trying to cash out the points for mortgage or student loan. Personally, I’m still going to sit on my points until I have a good (flight) use for them unless I see a really good gift card option.

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