Reload updates

Quick weekend news about Walmart, the three letter drug store, and the numerically named convenience store… 

The numerically named convenience store

While I haven’t had a chance recently to revisit my local convenience store, I’ve heard report after report from readers that these stores are no longer allowing Vanilla Reload purchases with credit cards.  Apparently there was a memo.  Also, even when cashiers are willing to let people use a credit card, they have found that the rule is hard coded into the register.  I don’t know if this change is localized or across the nation.  What has your experience been (and in what town/city)?


Numerous reports have come in of people being turned away when they try to reload Bluebird with a debit gift card.  Apparently Walmart issued a memo (I’m beginning to hate memos).  Luckily, if a cashier is willing to try it anyway, it still works.  Also, so far the automated kiosks appear to be a still-working alternative.

The three letter drug store

CVS stores received a very different type of memo.  Now, instead of allowing each person to purchase only $1000 in reload cards at a time, they allow up to $5000 per day.  When you purchase over $1000, though, they will scan your drivers license.  No word on what exactly they’ll do with that info.  If you’re the type to worry about a big corporation’s sinister intentions, you might want to avoid that.

Reader experiences

Have your recent experiences matched the experiences reported above?  If not, what has your experience been?

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. Was wondering when I went to 2 drugstores today and Vanilla Reloads have been removed from gift card section. So this is news!.

  2. Three letter drug store in Washington DC scanned the drivers license.. but still no problem with the purchase. The numerical convenience store blocked credit cards weeks ago inconsistently.. and progressively. I was able to buy 2 with the Freedom prior to running out of luck.

  3. Went to reload my BB at Walmart yesterday but the kiosk wasn’t working, so I went to the customer service center and got the employee to reload my card. At first she told me that the GC won’t work until I told her it had a PIN.

  4. Hmm, when I load BB at Walmart at the cash register with a GC, I just tell them I am using a debit card and swipe it (and enter the PIN). They don’t even look at the card.

  5. I loaded 2 BBs today at Walmart (Mt. View, CA), and this was the first time that they looked at the giftcard, and the CSR asked someone else to confirm that this was ok… previously they just took the BB, and asked how much. They must have received some training or a memo…I wouldn’t try using a card that didn’t look like a debit card. I was using Chase GCs with my name, so it worked out ok. Also, the recorded activation message from Chase also had different text after giving the PIN, towards the effect of not giving out cash.

    In June, on a previous try in Fremont, CA, the CSR denied me instantly when I tried to load using a Chase GC, but I believe this was an employee specific action, and not new policy.

  6. My 3-letter drugstore in OK still has lots of reload cards. Picked up 2 today. They did scan my license but now I’m starting to rethink if I should have. Too late now but I will ask why next time I’m in there for other stuff.

  7. Went to Walmart today and did $5000k in MO’s from visa debits and there was no issue. The three or four cashiers that work their know pretty well (do around $50k/month of MO’s) and they didn’t say anything.

  8. FM: Do you know if all prepaid debit cards are considered gift cards? Do you think the Kiosks can even tell that you are using a GC with a PIN code vice a normal debit card?

  9. I was turned away from loading bluebird at Walmart last week. I actually overheard a manager at a different Walmart tell the clerk to “be on the lookout” for gift cards.

  10. Purchased one reload card at CVS in Madison, WI on 8/2/13. No apparent problem, although the cashier was holding the cards behind the register because customers were hiding the cards in hopes they could buy more the next day! Limit was $1.000 per day per customer.

  11. The MO process is what works for me, if any one has a better way I am always interested in learning. The MO’s just seemed simple. Get $500 GC’s at $2.95 or less on a CC that earns something more than 1pt/$ and keeps my avergae cost per 100k of UA miles or UR points at less than $200/100,000 . That’s my basic calculus. (note to get to the $200/100k I am plinking, kicking, BBing and fueling)

  12. per Visa’s merchant agreement …merchants cannot as part of their regular card acceptance procedures refuse to complete a purchase transaction because a cardholder refuses to provide ID…Visa believes merchants should not ask for ID as part of their regular card acceptance procedures (p. 34) Most states also have strict laws against merchants recording any information from a customer’s license. I’ve had my license scanned for returns, but never as a condition of purchase.

  13. Have been to six different 7-Elevens in NYC and have been denied at ALL of them. I’m not going to try any more.

    Then went to a CVS on 6th Ave and had no problem loading two VR cards. That was my Friday afternoon.

  14. Walmart – last week of July, had one Walmart on Long Island and 1 in NJ refuse to reload a bluebird with a pin bearing chase gift card. 3rd Walmart, in NJ, did $500 but then saw it was a gc and refused to do more (ie, it’s not hard coded onto system to deny it, but seems to be a new policy). Final Walmart try, in NJ, had no trouble loading from a gc, though I made a point of not showing the gift card.

    3 letter drugstore… Still have 1 in NJ that sells me VR on cc as of 1st week Aug, $1000, but 3 spots in Long Island that used to work are now saying cash only to me.

  15. Three letter drug store today. Bought 2 VRs. After first one, cashier was confused by the screen, then the light bulb went on and she swiped my DL (I’d handed it to her in preperation). After the DL swipe, the second VR went thru and I was on my way.

    Walmart today as well. Did Billpay to my CC for 1k, no problems using 2 GCs. Then went to kiosk and did 2 GC to BB with no issues.

  16. Have been refused at numerical gas stations last 3 attempts. Last one, two credit cards were declined, even though cashier was willing, other attempts were refusals by cashier. I haven’t had issues at Walmart, but I always use the kiosk. I haven’t gone the drugstore route lately, scared off by all the refusals a few weeks ago, but encouraged to hear the new policy. I’ll try again tomorrow.

  17. Last weekend I had my DL scanned twice when purchasing beans at a couple of drugstores. I didn’t really care since it was the first time I’d found beans in nearly two months. Twice in the last few days, however, I have had a drugstore cashier ring my two beans up separately rather than hassle with scanning my DL. I certainly had no problem with them doing that.

  18. In SE Michigan, the three letter drug store works fine for buying VR. The numerical convenience store doesn’t accept cc for VR, but it would accept for the pp cash load.

  19. Convenience store with numbers: Turned away at 3 such stores late this week. Looks like game over in my area (Southern California Inland Empire). Giving up on convenience stores – will move on.

    Drug store: still can buy vanilla

    WalMart: highly variable results and all kinds of odd stuff going on. Loading BB with gift/debit card usually works, but not 100%. Some cashiers refuse the gift/debit cards. Today at Money Center the clerk wanted my drivers license to do a 1K load (that was a first for me). MOs were successful last week at Money Center up to 2K – I was told no go beyond 2K because that equals money laundering. However, total failure today in an attempt to get more MOs – after I swiped my gift/debit cards, the machine indicated cards were invalid (but I checked cards when I got home by calling 866# and the cards were all OK).

  20. I got denied at the WMT service desk trying to load BB using gc in NW Chicago burb. CSR said it was new policy to prevent fraud. Kiosk was out of order. I walked over to regular check out lane and had no problem loading $2K with cashier. The other 2 WMT’s in the area I’ve had no issues.

  21. Maybe I am lucky cause in Miami we have self check kiosk at CVS. I do the entire transaction, the clerk just stops by to scan his id. Pretty simple

  22. Shane or anyone –I Want to learn, please explain– what $500 gift card sells for $2.95 and where?

    Also please explain math — $ 500 gc gets only 500 miles/points at 2.95 cost so $295 gets only 50k miles how do u get 100k for under $200??–thanks

    Shane says:
    August 9, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    The MO process is what works for me, if any one has a better way I am always interested in learning. The MO’s just seemed simple. Get $500 GC’s at $2.95 or less on a CC that earns something more than 1pt/$ and keeps my avergae cost per 100k of UA miles or UR points at less than $200/100,000 . That’s my basic calculus. (note to get to the $200/100k I am plinking, kicking, BBing and fueling

  23. numerical (gas) store – had been happy getting VR for months from there. ever since one blog broke the “news” (forgot which one), and the flood that followed, not surprising this came to an end. Tried 4 stores in upstate NY, all had worked before. Now all giving me DECLINED message when swiping card through machine. c’est la vie. back to 3-letter store I go.

  24. All I can say about the actual cards that have a face value fee of $2.95 is they are out there. Have to do a little research, but the best thing is that the transactions in thousands aren’t necessarily suspicious at some of these locations. Other ways to get below $2 a card are well documented. Plink it a numerical gas station for example and your effective cost is from $1.45 to $2.45/$500, or a $1k purchase at some stores costs $11.90 but for some people they get from $12 to $35 of value for other purchases. depending on your household size and miles traveled this can be a good way to pickup $3000-5000k/mo and put a fair amount of money if your pocket to subsidize picking up other cards…lots of ways to do it, let alone some of the more layered ways but a guy has to draw a line somewhere

  25. Went to Riverhead, NY (Long Island) this week and was able to load $1000 using GCs on my BB at the Walmart there each day.

    All 3 of the 7-11’s I went to in the area didn’t let me buy VR even though the cashiers were willing.

    FYI, the CVS in Manorville, NY (off Exit 70 on I-495) has tons of VRs. Store looks brand new in fact. Could go over $1k per transaction as well, but they did scan my DL.

  26. Got two $500 VR at the numbered store wed with no problem; separate transactions as well. Bought another this am with question. All in pittsburgh.

  27. Shane or anyone

    “All I can say about the actual cards that have a face value fee of $2.95 is they are out there”

    how about a HINT? I am not that sharp and have looked , can not find $500 gc at 2.95 that gives more than 500 points ON UNITED OR ULTRA REWARDS

    I can buy gc in cvs $5 only get 500points
    office supply $200 gc cost 6.95 get 1000 points all other places i know are same as cvs —1 to 1 and pay the G C fee

  28. @Stan – I believe he is factoring in other rewards that bring down his actual cost. For example, using gas rewards earned by purchasing GCs at retailers that offer gas discounts. $.20/gal discount on 15 gals of fuel = $3 saved.

    • Jake –thanks , can anyone explain , why buy $500 GC at $4 OR $5 at drug stores get 500 points — sure if it is to do a spend and cash out I understand —but– if no spend?? , sounds like to me, a lot of work for not many miles — as $2000 in vanilla GC CVS cost $16-20 GET 2000 points , why not just buy 2 X $200 GC AT staples cost $14 and 5x on INK and wind up with same 2000 points — yet I know I must be wrong since many in this thread keep buying in cvs , and load blue bird etc

  29. FM,

    I loaded $1000 Chase debit cards last night (8/9) at WalMart in Kansas. Kiosk was down so I went through customer service desk. No issue.

  30. Just did 3k of VR cards at my local 3 letter drugstore chain (seriously, it’s come to this as if no one can figure that out) and no scan of DL in NJ. Clerk knows me though.

  31. Stan, there are other benefits to generating spend. For example, I use the Chase BA card which earns 1.25x so I get 625 avios for $3.95. But on top of that, if I buy 60 beans in a year I get a Travel Together ticket. There are other examples, Delta Amexs give MQMs for high spend, United Explorer gives 10k bonus miles for $25k spend, etc.

    FM, am also being denied at slurpee store, which sucks cause I had the location to myself, one block from my office.

  32. Local Orlando 3-letter store initially said I couldn’t get more than $1K, but was willing to try it for me. Had no problems with multiple Vanilla Reloads. Did scan license though. Manager was surprised it worked, so maybe not everyone got the news.

    Numeric convenience stores (tried 3 in Orlando) consistently will not take CC for reloads.

    • DBest –THANKS!!! –anyone else want to give some input on why buy CVS g.c. — understand why DBest does it , others must have other points of view

  33. @STAN

    It’s also really good if you have a certain 5xs Gas Grocery Drugstore card thats no long offered. I think people also use it on things like the United Club card which is 1.5xs on all purchases, the AMEX SPG which only earns at a 1xs rate but has great redemption value, cards like the AMEX HH Surpass or Citi HHonors Reserve where you can buy top tier status for 40k spend a year, get free nights yearly at hotels for meeting spend thresholds, or just to meet minimum spend requirements.

  34. 3 Letter store in DC area has indeed been scanning drivers license for roughly a week. 2 number store this week declined every cc I offered for reloads but they still do accept ccs for vanilla visas (which can be used for reloads at my 3 letter store where every cashier smiles at me; less luck doing this at other Convenience, Value, (no) Service locations).

  35. The kiosk at the WM near me always seems to be down. It was finally working the other day and they now have the option for BB and the minimum load amt went from $20 to $1.

  36. I’m sure the drivers license, is about money laundering concerns. If a business becomes a conduit for it, they get unwanted attention so this is CYA.

  37. I always use the WalMart kiosks to load BB OR leave the store swearing to the air about whey the damn things are always down. Isn’t the cashier load $1 at WalMart for BB?

  38. Just purchased two bean cards at three letter store this morning in southern California. They scanned my drivers license but were more than happy to let me use CC. The clerk was extremely nice and helpful. Definitely not the same experience I got at three letter store in Las Vegas last week where I was denied CC use. Got shot down at two number store yesterday..

  39. Having no problems with Walmart and GC; ran 6k though of $500 gift cards. Just did another 1k today, in fact.

    With the kiosks, I am getting locked out after doing $1500; employee needs to put in their code and it has am mumbo jumbo on the screen about limits.

  40. Three letter drugstores in San Francisco Bay area have took of deer in headlights when you ask where these cards are and even a color printout of what they look like……..say they have never seen them……they certainly are not on the racks anywhere and I pressed them as whether they were hiding them in the safe and they just sighed…….so I need to do a Vanilla reload run but to where?

  41. I did $1K on each of two BB at Walmart yesterday at the kiosk. The older one of the BB that has been loaded quite a bit at the kiosk ($5K per month for a few months now) is tagged though. I can do the first $500 no problem, the last 3 trips in the second $500 card results in an associate needing to come over, log in and verify that I am not trying to load more than the limit. The first time they sent me to the money center to load the second card. The other 2 times I have just stated, I haven’t loaded the limit for the day and the associate clicks continue. I load the second card no problem.

  42. Slurpee Marts from South Lake Tahoe CA to Minden NV are a no go since a few weeks ago. Nice while it lasted (2X on Ink and Amex Gold).

  43. No success at several 7-11 locations in North Jersey- 1&9 and Manhattan Ave, Route 139(Valero and 7-11 in one location), Main St in Wallington

  44. Last week , two visits to two diff. VII-XI both times clerk ran credit card and both times the transaction was accepted but then the register rejected the transaction. Will keep trying but this may be hard coded into the register.

  45. I wonder if blog posts on Frequent Miler and other blogs about Vanilla Reloads at 7-11 might be partially responsible for its demise. Maybe it would have ended even without those blog posts. Anyway, I have a couple questions. What about purchases of Greendot MoneyPaks, PayPal reload cards, or OneVanilla Visa prepaid cards at 7-11; have any of those been successful? Also, at those places that do accept credit cards for purchasing those products, has anyone been able to split the transaction among multiple credit cards (so that you can have random amounts such as 338.29 on the credit card instead of 503.95 or 1007.90)?

  46. One numerical convenience store did not have them and another refused to sell them with a CC. On the other hand, the 3 letter drugstore sold me $1k worth with no problem after a DL scan.

  47. Interesting to hear that others have had trouble at WM kiosk after adding $1500 to BB also. I generally load my card and my husband’s in the same trip (duh) and starting having this issue 4-6 weeks ago.

    Lately, however, the kiosk has been out of service and I’ve gone to the customer service counter. They process all four without any issue.

  48. No VII-XI here, so can’t comment, and also haven’t purchased any beans in quite awhile. Visited WM yesterday for BB load. Kiosk STILL down but no problem at service desk, other than a wait in line.

    Once tried to load BB at register with cashier, but she had no clue. Are others having any success with this?

  49. Makes sense that pharmacy would swipe DL. Seems stolen credit cards are the reason for their squeamishness. Also, when I told wm CUST Svc to swipe one $500 at a time, her boss said, That’s because she doesn’t want to be tracked. What?

    • I believe credit card fraud is the only reason we see places taking cash only or requiring ID swipes. I have talked to numerous people at numerous merchants and each state stolen credit cards are why they no longer take credit cards. I also had an interesting call from Capital One, they didn’t care that I wash buying gift cards, what they were worried about was that I was being scammed by someone and buying gift cards for someone else expecting to be paid via a money transfer from someone in Jamaica or Nigeria. I even had one clerk tell me that the owner of a 711 was seeing someone come in every day, buying some cards and immediately going to the back of the store and using the ATM to cash out the cards. He said he never had a fraud complaint but even so just thought something odd must be going on so move to a cash only policy

  50. Just went to two reliable 3 letter stores and the first one told me cash only and the register wouldn’t allow her run the transaction anyway…Ah, OK thanks. Next store, two cards, had to scan DL, but no problem with cc…..

  51. Denied this morning at SF Bay Area Walmart MoneyCenter when trying to get MOs. The scanner accepted them, but after the second gift debit card the suspicious clerk asked to see the card, which had a small gift card reference in addition to debit. She voided the transaction, telling me they’d been told not to accept gift cards because Walmart isn’t making any money on them.

    • No problems today at WM, SE MI for $10k in MO’s at customer service desk. Purchased $5k of bean reloads at three letter drug store, no issues. Though I Did have a 711 register deny a specific card, other three cards I used for bean GC’s worked ok. Called the card and they said they said the transaction never made it to them. This is a card I have used to purchase ~$6k from 711, so maybe they are starting to tag cards? will try tomorrow. CArd deined at 711 worked for $7k of other transaction 30 minutes later.

  52. Call me paranoid but if WM is rejecting BB load w/gc in person (CSR’s) our precious kiosk maybe found reprogrammed pretty soon. Lucky for churners, this isnt like HIGC, as these gc are still liquid (via M.O. or by buying reloads at an additional cost).

  53. my CVS nw has reload cards for the first time in months. 5000 limit per day, swipe drivers license if you go over 500. they said this is new corp policy. no other issues than they do fly off the shelf.

    myu question is i have quite a few cards , which is the best for use at CVS, I do not need to use reload csrds to meet minimum spends as i charge quite a bit each month.

  54. david: There are only a few cards that offer bonus points at drug stores (see: If you don’t have one of those, best bet is to use a card that offers great everyday rewards or great big-spend bonuses. See:

    Big spend bonuses:

    Best everyday rewards:

  55. 3 Walmarts in my area (Northern California). Had been doing BB loads with GCs with no problem. Did one on Tuesday, no issues, but went in today and got refused. Employee said they were not accepting gift cards for the last two weeks, wouldn’t even attempt it. (Seems like WM will be very YMMV). Went to another and loaded BB and GoBank with kiosk, no issues.

    I guess it me back to Vanilla Prepaid if I run out of beans in the area. If it looks like a debit card instead of a gift card they’ll probably accept it if you are forced to use the Money Center.

  56. I just happen on 09/18/13 to be at a 3 lettred drug store here in IL to buy vanilla reload, and all have disappeared from the rack.
    Asked the manager and she said seems they were not working so they took it off. Asked if they gonna comeback and she said not sure.

    Are others seeing the same around in their area too?

    Are they taking them off the shelves.

    • For months my Charlie Victor Sierra store in multiple NoCal locations didn’t have them EVER……..I carried a color photo and showed a couple of managers who swore they had never seen them…….they said if I had an old one they could get the UPC? code and search in the system and let me know when they were coming……….then one day SHAZAM they had thirty cards and have had a good supply ever since……I honestly don’t think they have a plan one way or the other………..

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