Surviving the last day CVS scramble


This is it.  Today is the day…


Today (April 3rd) is the last day to buy reload cards at CVS (with a credit card)

Incase you’ve been hiding in a cave, I should mention that the rumor of CVS going cash only for reload cards is true.  The only slightly false part of the rumor was the date.  Yes, some CVS stores went cash only on 3/31, but most of the country is going cash only on April 4th (Friday).  What to do?  Run out today to your favorite CVS store, then read this when you get home: 9 ways to cope without reload cards.

Swipe reloads at at CVS

Before the fateful CVS memo was leaked, I thought I had found something fabulous.  Do you remember how I said that you can “swipe reload” Amex Serve cards at the register at CVS?  Well, I found out that you can do the same with almost all Vanilla Reloadables (one exception I found is the Bluebird card that has stayed faithful to Walmart).  So, bring in a stack of Vanilla Reloadables (MyVanilla, NetSpend, JH Preferred, etc.) and load them each up one at a time at the register, up to $500 per transaction.  Simply hand the cashier your reloadable card and say  you would like to reload your prepaid card (say “please” too).  Other than Serve which is free, you will be charged a $3.95 fee per transaction.  It’s basically just like buying Vanilla Reload cards except that it doesn’t matter whether or not the reload cards are in stock (and guess what, they’re probably not in stock today).  Unfortunately, swipe reloads are going cash only too.  So, you have today only to try out this trick (sorry).

Finding cards where they’re not supposed to be

If Swipe Reloads aren’t enough to keep you busy today, you’ll probably make your way over to the gift card rack to look for your favorite reload cards.  And, they won’t be there.  After all, everyone else in the world has been scrambling to buy them before April 4th, so it should come as no surprise that they’re sold out.  Or, are they….?  Grab random piles of other gift cards and fan them out.  If you’re lucky, you’ll find some that were previously hidden there by others.  If you find more than you plan to buy, do the next customer a favor by leaving the extras exposed.  After all, they won’t do you any good after today!

8PM EST deadline: Today!

Amol, at Hack My Trip tells us that CVS computers switch over to “the next day” at 8PM EST each evening (see “The Reports of Vanilla Reload’s Demise Have Not Been Exaggerated“).  So, if you’re reading this on April 3rd, you have just until 8PM EST / 5PM Pacific to use your credit cards to earn points and miles at CVS.  Hey, I’m just the messenger.  Blame Amol if you don’t get there in time.

What about load-once MasterCard/Visa gift cards?

The memos stating that CVS was going cash only refer specifically to reloadable cards.  So, it might still be possible to buy load-once gift cards such as OneVanilla.  The problem is that I doubt managers and cashiers will understand the difference.  So, I expect it will be hard to buy just about anything of value at CVS for a while.  We’ll see.

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