An awesome new 5X (and beyond) game. Let’s play…

UPDATE 5/18/2015: Based on many reader reports, I’m declaring this opportunity dead. It seems that the store in question has stopped allowing gift cards to be used to buy other gift cards.

Here’s a little Thursday morning treasure hunt…

I received a tip last night that a certain store is now carrying Vanilla Visa gift cards loadable up to $500.  I knew from experience that this store often accepts their own gift cards as payment for other gift cards (I call that “upgrading” gift cards) so I rushed out to see what I could find.  My first view of the store was not encouraging:


Luckily, as I walked past the sign an employee informed me that the systems were once again working.  Whew.  I then quickly found the treasure:


As expected, these were the Vanilla Visa gift cards that are loadable from $20 to $500.  I took one to the register and opened Google Wallet on my iPhone.  There I found a $5 promo gift certificate to this store which was going to expire in just a few days.  I asked the cashier to load $500 to the Visa gift card and I paid partially with my $5 promo gift card and the rest with a credit card.  Easy as pie.

There was, though, one little catch before I could declare victory in my quest to buy these Visa gift cards with store gift cards.  The fee for the card was $4.95 and, surprisingly, this store charged sales tax on that fee.  As a result, my total charge was $505.25.  So, $500.25 was charged to my credit card.  It was still possible that one could pay the fees with a gift card, but not the primary balance.  I had to find out if more than just the fees could be paid by gift card…

I ran over to a nearby office supply store and bought a $25 gift card to this store in question.  Then, I returned to this store and bought another $500 Visa card. I had no problem paying $25 of the total with my new gift card.  I paid the $480.25 balance with my credit card.

Why this is awesome

Gift cards to this store are available at many stores in which you can earn credit card category bonuses: office supply stores, grocery stores, drug stores, and probably even gas stations.  You can also double dip by buying these gift cards at grocery stores that offer fuel points.  Or, you could go through a portal to, perhaps, and buy an e-gift card.  Pay with your Chase Ink card to get 5 points per dollar, in addition to the portal rewards!

This particular store is also sometimes available through Amex Offers where you could save as much as 20%.  Even better, gift cards to this store are often available at a discount through sites like eBay.  And, of course, we know we can earn extra points on eBay too!  You can also buy these gift cards from resellers (search, usually for more than 10% off of face value.

Sears?  Nope.

Why I haven’t named the store

There are a few reasons I didn’t name the store here. One is simply that I think it is fun to find things like this, and I hope that you’ll enjoy the challenge of figuring it out. Please don’t blurt out the answer!  More importantly, I believe that many companies monitor the press and blogs for mentions of their store names. While I don’t think we would be doing anything wrong here, I worry that drawing the company’s attention to this might kill it prematurely.  And, finally, there were only a few of these $500 cards on the entire gift card rack.  If too many people run out at once to buy these, most people will go home empty handed.


There is a big risk in tying up a lot of your money in gift cards to this store.  At any time they may stop allowing gift cards; they may be out of stock; or they may stop selling $500 Visa gift cards altogether.  If that happens you’ll find yourself using the gift cards to buy anything from bikes to trains to video games…

Also note: several readers have said that the store in their area does not allow gift cards for purchasing gift cards.. So, your mileage may vary.

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.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »



      • I knew it as soon as you mentioned $5 GC in your Google Wallet, because I took advantage of that promotion last month too! I spent mine on an iTunes GC though since [that store] never restocked on Amazon GCs here, and I checked both [that store] and [their partner store]. 🙁 Anyways, I was at Target this morning, which is right next to [that store] and there was a small crowd of people waiting outside for it to open! LOL I think they’re all FM readers…they definitely did not look like parents. Mostly male too.

      • Oddly there does seem to be an issue with these cards. They appear to be a separate Vanilla variety than those found in grocery or pharmacy. The Target POS DOES NOT auto drain them like you’d expect.
        Last month the $50 cards were transacting with $0 fees and now I’m stuck with a bunch of these as they failed for AFT and RB.

        • I’ve found that the Target POS will only drain debit gift cards automatically if you switch the payment form to credit. When you swipe cards like these, the terminal assumes debit, but you can hit cancel and select credit and then it will auto-drain

  1. Aaaawesome! Check out Fuel Rewards Network for a bit of a stacking opportunity. Not for using store gift cards, but for maximizing points by linking a master card.
    (I’m not an expert at this avoiding the eye of Sauron thing, but I’m assuming it’s alright to talk about the deal in the comment, just as long as we don’t explicitly state the name of the store?)

      • Just did this and it worked for me. Drained the rest of a gc I bought to do the amex sync before Xmas and paid the rest with a AA mc. Not an eye batted about any of it.
        The cashier did mention that they’d had trouble with the gift card system yesterday and was delighted when my transaction worked.

  2. This is awesome if it works for you. I know that this particular store in my area doesn’t allow purchases of gift cards with store gift cards. I tried to use the store gift cards to buy amazon gift cards recently at two different locations, and I failed.

  3. I’m probably showing my age (though I don’t wanna grow up), but I see what you did there at the end 🙂 Anyway, just to add a data point, my experience using GCs to pay for other GCs at this store is YMMV. Perhaps I need to improve my ability to pick the “right” cashiers…

  4. Also watch for targeted offers with category bonuses… I just noticed I have a targeted 5% category bonus on a Citi Diamond Preferred card which will work with this. Capped at $25 back, but an easy $20 with no gift card YMMV hassle.

  5. This post is a little bit late. I can give a hint [edited]. In December and early January the store did not even charge fees for the visa gift card, but $500 ones sold quickly. I ended up buying a lot of $50, it is really a pain to load them into redbird.

  6. Miler, little confused on the advice to possibly going through a portal to Staples. I thought that quit working for gift cards? (I still yearn for the Upromise days…….)

  7. from my experience the Times Sq store doesn’t allow purchasing gift cards with gift cards. cashiers are willing, but the system won’t let it thru. i guess too my fraud in NYC. sad.

  8. I’m not sure I get the point of this. If I go to an office supply store and get 5X UR, that gives me 2500 UR for the $6 fee on the $500 vgc. Why go through all the hassle of going to this store? It’s not worth the shoe leather cost.

    • If you have a local office supply store that still sells $500 VGCs with a $4.95 fee then lucky you. All we have in my neck of the woods are the $200 VGCs w/ a $5.95 fee.

      • If you have a local office supply store that still sells $500 VGC then I am a monkey’s uncle. Some things grow better with age but not 2013 blog posts.

    • I think the point is to go to an office supply store to buy $500’ish worth of gift cards for this store. Then use the store gift cards to buy Vanilla GCs at said store, which you should be able to load onto Redbird, or Bluebird for that matter (haven’t done that in a while, so maybe not.) You will still pay the $4.95 fee for the Vanilla cards, but earn 2500 URs at the office supply store, and pay the fee on $500 instead of $200.

      Chase Freedom is 5 pts at grocery stores this quarter which sell these store cards, too. I have targeted promos from Barclay for my USAirways card and from Citi on my Exec AA card to get bonus miles at grocery stores, gas stations, drug stores, etc this quarter. I’m sure I could find these store cards there too.

      Redbird accounts reset on Sunday with the new month… another $5000 of opportunity.

  9. Thank you FM for the tip, seems another way to MS for more points/miles. Just be cautious people, only do the amount you feel comfortable, don’t get stuck with a stack of the store gc, that you are only allowed to buy toys and diapers.

  10. Yeah, my biggest concern is getting stuck with a high value store gift card. I might try the $25 method first. I actually might have a $20 gift card lying around, now that I think about it.

  11. You made this too easy with a few of your hints. Can you reword one in particular to make the guess work a little more challenging?

  12. Is it possible for people to just figure it out and NOT post afterwards?

    I feel like some of you need to stick with the bow-tie website, and quit patting yourself on the back for being able to spell ‘Cat’ after being spotted the ‘c’ and the ‘a’.

  13. Is this a baby- friendly method? My baby likes to shop at a store that’s conveniently located next to a target…

    If not, I need some new stuff anyway at the other store. All my baby’s toys rusted out and are unusable.

  14. It’s wise you included this: “There is a big risk in tying up a lot of your money in gift cards to this store. At any time they may stop allowing gift cards; they may be out of stock; or they may stop selling $500 Visa gift cards altogether. If that happens you’ll find yourself using the gift cards to buy anything from bikes to trains to video games…Also note: several readers have said that the store in their area does not allow gift cards for purchasing gift cards..”

    Because you are likely to have a number of folks pretty angry when they try to buy that VGC and can’t find any or the store stops allowing the GC to GC thing. I know their kids will hope for this to occur if you get my drift.

    At least you warned them. The risk is theirs.

  15. I was just at staples yesterday, I saw this GC only came with denomination of 25 and 50s , only times before cashier gets tired of swiping thru all the gc and call it off gc for gc…

  16. @Jung

    You can do multiples on the terminal at the merchant in question. The cashier doesn’t have to do anything but wait. Once you know what you are doing, it’s fast. I am not talking about this promo. I have not done that. However, when Amex had a sync offer I used multiple credit cards, 7 in fact at this merchant and everything was done by me alone, hitting partial payment each time. I even used a gift card and cash in the same transaction. The only thing the cashier had to do was take the cash. So I wouldn’t worry about using multiple GC if you are willing to take a chance on this promo.

  17. Went to both my local [edited] stores, 1 store all they had were $50 cards @$4.95; the other no Vanilla cards (yet?). Will try again soon, but I’m thinking about abusing the REDBbird card situation, the stores involved are closer.

  18. I know this is convoluted, but I don’t have REDbird access. I still have two bluebirds. Anyone had luck using the vanilla to buy Simon Mall GC to unlock Blubird? Yes, this is very convoluted, but cheaper than Target Amex.

  19. Went to the store during lunch break. Didn’t find any VGC. But…. to my surprise, found a stack of $100 ($2.95 fee) white card hanging there… without ‘Cash Only’ printing anywhere on the card. Brought one to register, cashier scanned the barcode but couldn’t find the product in the system!!! Too new to be true, I guess.

  20. The $50 and $75 VGCs also rang up zero fee at the branch I went to. I can confirm that they took the $500 GCs I bought from the drugstore to pay for their vanilla variable GCs. I had a store in mind and the 3 items mentioned confirmed it. Thank you!

  21. Whenever there are AmEx sync offers, I always buy this store’s GC’s (if Amazon or gas cards aren’t sold at the qualifying merchant) or GC’s for a store that is tailored for gamers because of the “upgrade” feature. I was disappointed when they stopped carrying Amazon Kindle GC’s. In December, my store was cleaned out of any worthwhile GC’s. When I went next door to its baby sister store and found an abundance / variety of GC’s, I was in heaven. I still have a fair amount of GC’s from random promotions where I was able to snag these at 15-20% off.

    I only go late in the evenings when it’s more quiet.

  22. Has anyone seen the up to-$500 VGC (or MC or AMEX) at any office supply stores? I have only seen the $200 w/ $7 fee there. I have a Chase Ink and wanted to take advantage of the 5x point. Have only seen the high denomination at a local supermarket, but doesn’t seem worth it to get one there (or any other GCs) with 2x miles (with United Chase card) via supermarket spend when I’m getting 2x miles already at gas, restaurants, supermarkets and home imporovement. I’m in Northern Calif.

    Curious if anyone has seen these at Staples, Office Max or Office Depot. thanks.

    • Good luck but the best you’re likely to do is $200 at $6.95 at Office Supply stores. At 5x for Ink, using a Cat 4 Hyatt for example, it would cost you $104.25 for a 15,000 point night based on GC fees. You will have to liquidate all 15 of those $200 cards, drive around, etc as well. If you value your time at minimum wage, maybe it’s worth it to you. With the elimination of the Visa Sav Edge as of 12/31/14 it’s not so sweet. Then again if you go for the low end of Hyatt properties (5,000 points) or for the high end, it may work out – you can stay in an incredible Hyatt Cat 7 at 30,000 points for a cost of $208.50 which is a bargain if you were WILLING to pay double or triple that anyway. Then again for 30,000 points you will have to liquidate thirty $200 cards. Kind of takes the fun out of it.

  23. Their cc gives 8% back towards their merchandise on the purchases in that store. However, their merchandise is often overpriced (assuming you need it – I do 🙂 )

  24. Success in Lynnwood WA. Funny thing is that I tried to pay the balance with an Amex Card and the transaction was denied: no high value charges at this store allowed 🙂 The 2K Simon Mall charge just 30 minutes earlier went through fine.

  25. Oh man.. thought I had it figured out based on the breaaadcrumbs and then confirmed in the comments… and even have some orphan GCs to the merchant that will remain nameless. Wish I would have seen the post earlier as today would have been the day for me to experiment with this. Maybe tomorrow, though!

  26. So, what’s the point of the whole runaround? As someone said this before, unless you get 5x and buy $500 worth of store cards at the office supply store (w/ the risk to get stuck w/ them), you are getting a vanilla vgc that can be liquidated only w/ RB.
    Why not just load RB directly? Just to ‘cover your steps’ and add some variations to your spending?

    • To increase your point earnings dramatically. For example, if you took advantage of the one-day 6X Staples portal promo and paid with an Ink card, you would get 11X on those dollars spent instead of the usual 1X to 5X (depending on the card and where it is used)

  27. It hasn’t “fizzled out” near my dog house. Just came from the store. Now I’m going to Staples via Mileage Plus Mall to buy gc with my Ink card as suggested for 11 miles/$ and back to the store tomorrow to finish.

      • Greg, Staples was going to charge me $9.50/ea tax on every $100 e-gift card…that definitely makes this a no go. I thought gift cards couldn’t be taxed. I don’t have a Staples in my area. Office depot didn’t have the said card.

      • In my case the checkout screen showed that I would be charged tax, but my email confirmation and credit card records showed that no tax was charged. If you are charged tax you can online chat on and have the tax reversed out.

  28. What will I do with all these $500 visa debit gift cards I have now? I can’t get the redbird and tried to load Bluebird at Walmart but of course it failed. Had success using (edit) store GC to by 12 $500 Visa Gift Cards!

  29. This store has been selling 500 VGC since last Dec…and at that time there was even no fee for the vgc purchase. Although now they fix the bug and apply the fee to these gift cards, getting vgc with their store gc is still a pretty good deal. The only problem is if you can find the store still has 500 vgc stock in your region.

  30. @Jim,

    Spend them?

    Unloading Vanillas was such a problem I gave up on them until I got a Redbird.

    There is a way to unload them at WM onto BB *if* you have a Kate. I had a couple left myself when WM shut them down, and I was shopping at WM anyways. Transactions below $50 seem to pass just fine. So I’d unload $40, then $40, then $20. 3 transactions per visit to get $100 off it. Spread out over visits I was making anyway, I got them unloaded. Tedious.

    Much better to ditch BB and get RB. Target will unload Vanilla just fine, as a debit card. Just punch in any 4 digit PIN as usual at load time.

  31. OK someone email me the answer before I spend the whole weekend trying to figure it out please….lol…. pv goe cke @ gmail . com

  32. Will appreciate the name and location of the store by email. Also add any tips tricks and experiences manufacturing cc spending
    Thank you so much

  33. i guess i will just have to wait before million mile secrets to write up a post with lots of big red arrows!!

    That will surely killed this!

  34. It would be lucrative only if you can fund the entire purchase with GC purchased from office supply store. Besides, buying more than one at a time would look suspioious.

  35. greg, would you email me the name of the store? it might be too far for me to be worth the hassle just for MS but worth for meeting minimum spending requirements. thanks!

  36. Man, if you can send me store name via e-mail, it would be awesome. Trying to get few more miles to transfer to Korean Air for a trip this summer…and this would make thing much easier.

    Thanks in advance.

  37. Dear people, it’s not that hard to figure out from this blog what store/stores he’s talking about. There are clues everywhere; good grief! If you can’t take the time to research on your own you shouldn’t bother with this game. You want everything spoon fed to you like a baby. It’s time to be a big boy or a big girl and research on your own to find deals. This is getting ridiculous. I’ve been ms’ing since before any of these ‘give it all away to the masses’ blogs existing and before most of these youngin’s were out of high school and somehow I managed to find the deals on my own. I’ve watched as deals would vanish once blogs outed them to the masses whom some are not really ready for this and can do great damage to themselves by getting stuck with a lot of money tied up in cards they can’t liquidate in their area. At the very least, he should not have to email you store names and you should be made to investigate on your own. That’s the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t in your area. This very chain of stores doesn’t even carry gift cards at all locations except their own gift cards so this is very YMMV. Be careful you don’t get stuck with this store’s gift card only to find out you can’t do anything with it in your area except buy their merchandise. This blog did warn you, but the spoon fed ones need reminding.

    • YMMV means ‘your miles may vary’ which has become a sort of nickname for saying what you experience in your area may be different than what is being discussed. One person may experience a different outcome than another. YMMV basically means ‘this does not work everywhere and in fact may be rare’.

  38. im not picking up on any clues here, so its probably not in my area, so no harm in telling me where to find these 🙂

    donnuyen @

    • Doesn’t matter. Deal is dead. This chain now widely prevents their gift cards from being used to buy other gift cards. Didn’t take long for the memo to get out. If anyone can find a single cashier that allows it you best not tell a soul or that store will have problems and this deal is not worth causing a cashier to get in trouble. Consider this deal dead. I tried and first thing out of their mouth was “…can’t use our gift card to buy gift cards.”

        • Wow… I bought 2x $500 Vanilla Visa gift cards Friday night (3/13/15) using this technique. It’s still alive and well in my area.

        • I’ve been buying these in my area for the past few weeks. Kind of a pain to jump from Staples to Ebay to wherever, especially with SWA portal possibly not paying out anymore but still fun.

          A Manager did tell me in one of my local stores that they discontinued the variable load VGC’s. Fingers crossed they show up again in the next couple weeks!

        • Any chance anyone could email where this is? I have tried multiple stores and read this posting multiple times and had no luck. Maybe not in my region?

          jaketlee23 at gmail


        • It’s not that hard. Think of all the stores that are in a typical Gift Card Mall rack. Now look at the photo carefully and see what items are sold in the background, or the kind of stickers that this store uses for pricing. It took me 5 minutes. FM should not be spoon feeding.

        • OK, *NOW* IT MIGHT BE DEAD…
          I tried this yesterday at a store (not my usual store (my store is out of $500 Vanilla Visa GC’s) and was told that the cash register system was reprogrammed 2 weeks ago to no longer accept store gift cards to buy other gift cards.(!!).
          I’m going to keep trolling my local store to see if they get more VR Visa cards in and hope I’m not stuck with over *$1000* of store GC’s. (!!)
          “I don’t wanna grow up…” but I.. don’t want to be stuck with this much $$ in store GC’s either.

        • Yep, dead. Same experience. I was told by store employees it was due to so many coming in since February from something they read on a blog. Figures.
          Thanks (sarc).

        • This whole thing is an excellent example of why it’s best not to out something that can only tolerate the number of people that have already found it on their own. Blogs need to use more restraint about types of deals like this. I know FM has wisely held back some ms opportunties in the past because he felt it was too limited and outing it would kill it. Maybe he thought this deal was less at risk of quick shutdown, but all bloggers should realize by now the negative impact they have when they give too many clues to deals like this. He obviously knew it was fragile enough that he didn’t name the retailers, but any clues lead to too many involved in a fragile deal which ends up killing it for everyone. Yes, I had found this little ms method on my own as many others did. It could only tolerate the numbers of people who found it on their own and continued to find it on their own. When this became widespread by the power of blogs, it brought in too many into the stores and that prompted a change. Retailers will tolerate certain numbers for certain transactions, but too many and they kill it. Weigh more carefully whether a method can truly tolerate more people involved in it beyond the numbers who found it on their own. Remember, bloggers do not have an obligation to out everything as though without them no one will found out. Weigh carefully, please. I appreciate this blog, but knew when this article hit back in late January it wouldn’t be long for this method to die.

        • You’ll probably have to do what a lot of others are having to do with these GCs, sell them on a gift card reseller site. You’ll take a bit of a loss, but that’s better than being stuck with that much. Also, heard there are thieves reading this blog and other blogs to find certain types of GCs at retailers which is leading to many shutdowns like this one. All bloggers need to realize there aren’t just newbie and veteran travel hackers reading their blogs, but also criminals looking for certain information.

  39. Interesting to see the recent comments on this thread. I successfully bought 2 $500 VGCs at my local store last week (SW PA) with physical gift cards. It worked so well I went back yesterday only to be told my an employee that they no longer take giftcards for VGCs…. he said it was a new policy as of about a month ago but due to my experience last week it seems the registered aren’t hard coded to reject giftcards.

    I’ll go back and try to get a different cashier and hopefully get rid of the $1K+ I have in my pocket, but that’ll likely be it for this retailer.

      • Fortunately for me, after a second unsuccessful attempt I finally had a cashier not question the process. Took my three giftcards and the register let the transaction process – whew! It’s been close to two weeks since and safe to say I’m not going this route again. It was fun while it lasted though but looks like that ship has sailed.

    • In my experience this week (midwest region), registers began being hardcoded. Most cashiers are already denying the transaction from the start, but found one who wanted to try and the register rejected the transaction. Another time it looked like it went through, but the VGC didn’t get loaded! Had to go through trying to at least get the refund back to the store GC. That was a pain. I knew a while back this deal was killed, but still wanted to try one last time once I saw more VGC after a long absence. Now stuck with a large store GC which I’ll have to resell at a loss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *