Miles and points fee free

I’ve written often of ways to earn miles, points, or cash back by buying gift cards and reload cards.  The best opportunities entail earning credit card category bonuses at drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and office supply stores.  By earning 2 to 5 points per dollar, the rewards earned often greatly exceed fees incurred when buying these cards.  However, you can profit even more if you find ways to buy reloads and gift cards fee free.  Luckily there are a couple of current opportunities:

PayPower Prepaid Card

As Milenomics discovered earlier this month, PayPower cards are now fee free in at least some locations.  The trick is to find a store that carries them and that is willing to let you pay with a credit card.  You can use this store locator to find them, but you’ll have to do your own legwork to find out if you can pay with a credit card. 

PayPower-Fee-Free

Note that if you do not want to register for a permanent card, you can instead call to setup a PIN on your temporary card. 

Serve swipe reloads

The American Express Serve card is almost identical to the Bluebird card.  It has mostly the same limits and the same bill pay functions, and both can be reloaded with Vanilla Reload cards.  There are a few differences, though.  One huge difference is that while Bluebird can be “swipe reloaded” at Walmart, Serve can be reloaded at CVS and some 7-11 locations (as of late 2013).  I’ve verified in my local CVS stores that I can reload a Serve card up to $500 at a time for no fee.  And, via two transactions its possible to load the card to its $1K per day limit.

ServeFeeFreeAddCash 

Unfortunately, each person can only have one card: either Bluebird or Serve.  Of course, if you have a Bluebird card you can continue to load Bluebird fee-free at Walmart using a debit card.

See also

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. Meijer sells their GCs at 3% discount if you buy $5k worth. You then use those in store to buy BB cards. then goto BB and buy BB VGCs with 3% fee. So now you break even. Then add on your CC rewards and portal (AA portal gives 1 mile/$ at meijer)

      • Yes I know, I keep posting to see if anyone can improve on it :-).

        I am waiting for holidays to roll around again to see if they will up it to 3x AA portal like last year (and the $15 coupons!). THAT will be worth it!!

  2. There is a $5.95 monthly fee for the Pay Power card. If I purchase $500 and spend the $500 within several days to drain it to zero, can Paypower try to collect the monthly fee from me?

  3. Corridor: Serve has the same $5K per month limit as Bluebird
    .
    steeler59: They don’t have paper checks that you can write yourself, but the bill pay function lets you pay anyone and they’ll mail a check if that person isn’t in their database for electronic payments. You can also withdraw money directly to your bank account (same as Bluebird).
    .
    jan: Those fees only hit if you register for a permanent reloadable version of the card. Best use here is not to do that. Simply call to add a PIN to the temporary card and then use that card with no fees.

    • I’ve read reports that the $5.95 monthly fee had been immediately deducted from the temp. card. I.e. after the initial purchase, the temp. card is only worth $494.05, not $500.

      • No fee charged when card gets its PIN and has not been activated, I just verified on mine. Still has $500 after a week of sitting in my wallet while I figure out what now to do with the this Paypower card

  4. Thank you. Also, can i have the BB. Can I also have the AMEX Serve card? If so, is it best to buy a temporary card first then register for a permanent card?

  5. Freq Miler,
    What is the advantage of the Paypower if we are just going to spend it like a visa?
    If I use it for purchases, I could have just used my regular rewards card
    The only place I can think of is if I can use that to load BB as a debit card using a PIN
    or
    perhaps pay taxes for 4$ fee

    Can I load Serve with CC at CVS

    • There are many ways to use a gift card that is setup as a debit card. One way I wrote about recently is Evolve Money to pay bills. Also, even when using it as a regular credit card you can do well if you bought it using a credit card that earned a good category bonus. In other words, its a way to extend the category bonus across more types of purchases.

    • Lynn,
      you have to first cancel Bluebird, then wait some amount of time (the first of the next month) then apply for Serve. you cannot convert/product change, and you have to wait for the old account cancellation to be processed in their systems before getting approved for the other

  6. What is the monthly allowable swipe cc load at a CVS for a Serve? You can load up to $1,000 on line with a linked CC each month.

  7. Has anyone tried loading them to BB ?? I will be trying to purchase with CC this evening and then try to load them onto BB, but just wanted to check if someone has had any luck with it so far..

  8. Oh crap that didn’t post to the right place.

    @Sameer, yes I’ve used one to load to BB at WM register with no trouble.

    @vadim, you can’t do swipe reloads at CVS

  9. I’ll be keeping my two Bluebirds………VR cards from Charlie Victor Sierra are like nova cane…….just stick it in and wait for the pain to go away………..and then Freedom does their 5X on gas so that Circle K purchases of VR cards are down to a measly .158 cents…..Sometimes it’s good to pay for something…………….

  10. If Serve can be swipe loaded with any CC up to $5k a month with no fees, why bother with vanilla reloads and their $4.95 fee with BB anymore? Can you transfer money directly to your bank account the same way BB lets you?

  11. These bums charged the annual fee already, and I just bought the cards this morning!!

    Went to try to load these to my BB and charge was not approved. Try another card, same problem. So, I called the number on the back of the card and it says my balance is $494.05. After waiting like 20 minutes to get an operator she tells me that I don’t have $500 on the card because the monthly fee of $5.95 was billed. I litterally had to go through an hour long conversation with her and her supervisor for them to agree to refund the $5.95. However, they disabled the card for this, and said they would have to mail me a check, and took all my information down to do so, even requiring SSN. Worse still, they said they would only do it as a one time courtesy for one of my cards I bought, they didn’t do it for the other!!! The supervisor even smugly went and said that I know guys like you are doing this for credit card miles, and this is not what this card is meant for, we’ve been more than fair in refunding one of the fees, but, we won’t be refunding any more, or something like that. I guess since they have my information for the first refunded card they can make sure of this.

    Horrible card, big waste of time, I’m out $6, and had to load an oddball amount to my BB from the other card.

    I’m going back to VRs

  12. I search the Paypower website, which lists one of the Giant Eagle around my house has these cards in stock. I went there today, did not find anything :(

  13. Any tips on coaching the cashier at CVS? They only sometimes seems able
    to figure out how to process a swipe reload to Serve.

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