How do you liquidate gift cards if you can't use them to load AMEX Bluebird at Walmart? A TravelSort reader writes:
“Last Saturday I bought my normal $1000 of One Vanilla Visa. I went to load my AMEX Bluebird at Walmart—-did NOT work.
Now, I am stuck with the $1000 One Vanilla Visa Cards. I NEED to pay: My Rent to a private Landlord + Blue Cross Health Insurance + Utilities + Credit Cards at the end of this month. One Vanilla said I could get a Refund Check in 4–6 weeks. That is NOT an option for me. I NEED the money NOW to pay my monthly bills!
1) How do I load my AMEX BlueBird NOW and get mileage points? Or is BlueBird dead to mileage people now?
2) My private landlord is NOT listed on Evolve. How else could I pay him to get points? He said he does not have an Amazon nor Paypal account….
3) BlueBird was EASY because I could pay whomever I wanted INCLUDING paying with credit cards. Will EVOLVE eventually allow us to do this?
4) What do I do with the $1000 in Vanilla One Visas? Do I pay to change them into a Money Order at a grocery store? Is that expensive? Can I add them to my PayPal account? I do not have an Amazon Payments account. What is your best suggestions? I see that others got stuck with them recently too!”
Vanilla Cards Can't Be Used to Load Bluebird at WalMart; MetaBank Cards May Still Work
While most MetaBank issued Visa debit cards still seem to work to load AMEX Bluebird at WalMart using an ATM or a WalMart Cashier/Customer Service, that doesn't help this reader since Vanilla debit cards can no longer be loaded onto AMEX Bluebird at WalMart.
You Can't Add New Payees to Evolve. For Individuals, Try to Get Them to Verify an Amazon Payments Account
Unlike with AMEX Bluebird, you can't add new payees when using Evolve. If you're seeking to pay $1000 or less to an individual, try to get them to agree to be paid via Amazon Payments, which allows you to pay up to $1000 per month with no fee, to an individual who has verified their Amazon Payments account.
If and When Evolve Allows Payments Using Regular Credit Cards, It Will Be a Paid Service
has hinted that they will eventually allow regular credit cards (not just store branded credit cards) to be used, but that it will come at a cost. I wouldn't expect the fees to make this worthwhile for most, except perhaps for meeting minimum spend for a credit card signup bonus. In my view, best to max out Amazon Payments and other ways to meet credit card minimum spend before paying these fees, should Evolve even make this available in the future.
Liquidating One Vanilla Visas: Use Amazon Payments or Buy a Money Order
My first recommendation to this reader was using Amazon Payments, since there's no fee to send up to $1000 per month to another registered Amazon Payments user. Unfortunately, the reader wrote back that she had no one to send it to: no spouse/partner or family (and apparently no trusted friend either) who resides in the U.S.
The next best way to get the money back quickly is to buy a money order using the One Vanilla Visa, at any store that accepts a debit card as payment. I've heard (but not verified personally, since there are no WalMarts in NYC) that WalMart no longer takes debit cards as payment unless your name is on the card. The Post Office won't work either, so it may involve some trial and error to find a store that will allow you to pay for a money order with a One Vanilla Visa.
Reasons to Limit Your Gift Card Purchases and Manufactured Spend
It's tempting to earn even more frequent flyer miles and points via gift cards, but I highly recommend:
1. Don't Purchase More in Gift Cards Than You Can Afford to Be Without for Several Months
While you may be able to liquidate gift cards in the same ways you have before, consider the worst case scenario of suddenly not being able to load Bluebird anywhere, no Amazon Payments, potentially a problem with the gift card that takes months to resolve. If your finances are so tight that you would be stressed and scrambling, you shouldn't be purchasing gift cards.
2. Consider That Some Have Encountered Fraud with Their Card Purchases
Awhile ago I wrote about a Vanilla Reload Card Fraud Alert
. While this involved Vanilla Reload cards, there may be others who have enountered similar problems with Vanilla or other gift cards. If you have the misfortune to encounter this, that's another reason to be conservative in the amounts of gift cards you purchase, because it could take weeks if not months to resolve.
3. Avoid Potential Shut Down by Credit Card Issuers
While not common, some who have abused their credit cards' category bonuses have been shut down by the credit card issuer or had an American Express Financial Review (FR). Neither is fun, so you want to avoid raising red flags.
4. Diversify How You Earn Miles and Points, as Well as the Miles and Points
I've written before about the top reasons to diversify your miles and points portfolio
. You also want to diversify how you earn these miles and points, so that if something doesn't go the way you expected, whether it's a mileage mall not honoring a purchase (such as the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Shopping Deals
, which I don't expect to be honored) or not being able to liquidate a gift card the way you expected or a signup bonus not posting exactly when you expected it to, you have other sources of miles and points.
What are your tips for liquidating gift cards and your strategy where manufactured spend is concerned?