Cheap Points via Green Dot MoneyPak Reloads at RiteAid

A lot of people seemed to forget about the good old Amex Prepaid cards when Bluebird came along. And for good reason – Bluebird is by far the easiest way to create points for ultra cheap, but it’s not the only way. In fact, there are a couple of ways now, including one that will make you consider the Amex Prepaid card once again.

One of the methods that’s been discussed is PayPal. No, I’m not talking about just loading and then cashing out (although this also works to some extent), but using it to load your Bluebird card. For example, you buy PayPal reloads at CVS, load them to your PayPal account, go to Walmart, and load your Bluebird card for free using the pin-based PayPal debit card. No Vanilla Reloads required, and the PayPal reloads cost the same $3.95 fee as a Vanilla Reload does.

The PayPal Reload card is a pretty decent Vanilla Reload backup.

The PayPal Reload card is a pretty decent Vanilla Reload backup.

Sure, there’s an extra step or two of having to load PayPal and then load Bluebird at a physical Walmart, but hey…it’s nearly free points! You can’t complain too much when you’re at the very least meeting minimum spend with little effort.

BUT, there’s another way that isn’t discussed very often. I’m not sure why exactly, but in my mind this method is just as useful to meet minimum spend or simply create more points for cheap. I’m talking about Green Dot MoneyPak Reloads from RiteAid.

We’ve all seen the Green Dot cards and MoneyPaks hanging next to the Vanilla Reload cards at CVS and elsewhere. Green Dot is a huge prepaid company and their MoneyPaks can load dozens and dozens of different prepaid cards. Two of the accounts that you can add funds to are PayPal and the Amex Prepaid card.

You’ll recall that the Amex Prepaid card allows you to load $2,500 per month and that each person can have three cards in their name. These cards can be taken to an ATM to withdraw $400 at a time. The first withdrawal is free, but each subsequent withdrawal is $2, plus you always have to pay the ATM owner’s fee. For more info on this card, see Frequent Miler’s One Card to Rule Them All post.

While that sounds like a lot of fees, you’ll be happy to know that at almost every RiteAid I’ve been to recently, Green Dot MoneyPaks are being sold for a promotional $0 fee. That makes this a very attractive option for those of us that either can’t find Vanilla Reload cards or are simply looking to earn more points.

What do you see? I see free points!

What do you see? I see free points!

Before I continue, I have to note a somewhat large caveat. It’s not always easy to find a RiteAid that will allow you to use a credit card to purchase these, but it’s not a system/register restriction. I’ve gone to the same store over and over, and some cashiers allow it while others will not. If they allow it, it’s a quick and easy transaction because they don’t even check your ID. Simply swipe, sign, and you’re on your way. But you have to find a cashier that will work with you.

Let’s say your goal was to simply load the maximum monthly amount of $2,500 and withdraw all the cash soon after. How much would that cost? We know that Costco ATMs have a low fee of $1.25, but I’ll use $2 in my example in case you don’t have a Costco nearby.

Say you buy $2,500 worth of MoneyPaks using your SPG card (or any other points-earning card). This earns you 2,500 points. You’ll have to go to the ATM 7 times to withdraw all the cash completely. The first time is free from Amex, but there’s a $2 charge from the ATM. Each subsequent trip to the ATM will cost you a $2 Amex fee + $2 ATM fee.

With $0 MoneyPaks, withdrawing $2,500 would cost $26 if you use an ATM that charges $2.

With $0 MoneyPaks, withdrawing $2,500 would cost $26 if you use an ATM that charges $2.

By the time you withdraw all $2,500, you’ll have spent $26 in Amex and ATM fees. You’ll receive 2,500 SPG points (or Ultimate Rewards Points if using a Sapphire Preferred, Amex points if using a Membership Rewards card, etc.). That means you paid $26/2,500 points = $.0104/point. You paid just over a penny per point. In almost all cases, this is a fantastic value.

Note that the chart above is actually estimating costs on the high end. If I did use the $1.25 Costco ATM fee and didn’t bother to withdraw the last $100 in a separate transaction (you should only ever withdraw $400 at a time to save costs), then the actual cost per point would be $17.50 / 2,400 points = $.0073/point. Well under a penny per point.

If you maximized this deal, you could get points for very cheap.

If you maximized this deal, you could get points for very cheap.

Adding Money to Your Card

The process of adding money to your Amex Prepaid card is similar to the Vanilla Reload method. Simply go to MoneyPak.com, enter your card number where it says “Reload a Prepaid Card,” enter the MoneyPak code, enter your zip code, and you’re done. The money should be in your account nearly instantly (I’ve noticed a lag of a few minutes sometimes).

Simply type in your card number at the bottom left and you're well on your way.

Simply type in your card number at the bottom left and you’re well on your way.

Limitations

Of course there are some limitations and other annoyances. As I mentioned, you can only do $2,500 per card or $7,500 per person (with the max of 3 cards), per month. I’m sure you could find some willing friends or family members if you really wanted more.

There’s also the fact that this method is much more time consuming than the others. Having to make trips to RiteAid, then trips to the ATM machine to withdraw, then trips to your own bank to deposit…it can get time consuming pretty quick. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth it.

And, of course, there’s the pesky cashiers. Many of them know they’re not supposed to allow credit cards and aren’t even willing to try it (because they know it works). But there are always new employees that don’t know the rules or cashiers that simply don’t care. Find them and your points account will be a lot richer.

My personal recommendation is to use this method when trying to meet minimum spend requirements or achieve another spend requirement (i.e. $30K for BA Travel Together ticket, $10K HHonors Reserve free night certificate, etc.). It’s not easy to scale this one up like you can with Bluebird, but it’s still extremely useful.

Other Notes

  • If you find a willing cashier, they don’t check ID. That means you can use a $500 Amex/Visa gift card if you have some laying around still.
  • You cannot use more than one card per transaction – RiteAid’s system simply doesn’t allow it (i.e. Can’t use two $500 gift cards to buy $1,000 worth of MoneyPaks in one transaction).
  • Avoid the Managers. They know you’re not allowed to buy it with a credit card.
  • I recommend using the prepaid cards at least a little so it doesn’t look like you’re simply cycling the money.
  • If you hate those silver security strips on Vanilla Reloads, you’ll hate MoneyPaks’ even more. The code is longer.

Additional Reading

For more information on these methods, check out the posts below.

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Comments

  1. As you note, both Green Dots and the Paypal MyCash Cards can load Paypal. Green Dots can also load the AccountNow Visa Card, which, like Bluebird, has an online bill pay service. You can also transfer directly from you Paypal account to either Bluebird or AccountNow. You can than pay yourself using those services online bill pay services – no fees involved.

    One potential annoyance that I have had with both Green Dots and Paypal MyCash cards is that they sometime do not allow you to load, stating that I have made my monthly maximum load limit, even though my limit has not been reached. This issue has always cleared up within a few days.

    • Travel Summary says:

      I also use the Account Now Visa card. It’s a solid product and gives us another option to accrue points cheaply.

  2. I have a Paypal account that I’ve used for many years with eBay & also a Paypal debit card that I haven’t used in years. Can I load money into PayPal with these reloads & then transfer to my linked bank account from PP, the way that I always do when I have money in PP (from people paying for eBay auction)?

    • Travel Summary says:

      You can do that, but if you simply load and then transfer, PayPal will likely shut down your account. I recommend you read The Points Guy’s article where he did just that. He also has had a ebay account for years and got a warning letter. FlyerTalk is full of stories indicating PayPal had shut them down for doing that.

      I personally do it, but I put some spend on the debit card and transfer in chunks. So far I’m in the clear.

  3. Good to know. There are no RiteAids near my I’m aware of, but the Walgreens definitely will not take my credit cards, and they’re the only people with Vanilla Reloads. I can find Green Dot packs at many more places, and maybe one of them will allow it. Any luck buying a Green Dot reload pack at Walmart with a credit card? Then you wouldn’t have to visit two stores.

    • Travel Summary says:

      I didn’t try buying a Green Dot at Walmart with cc, but I know that you can’t buy the Bluebird card so I assume it’s the same for the MoneyPaks. It’s definitely worth an experiment though.

      I also had no luck at Walgreens – their registers simply don’t allow the purchase.

  4. I haven’t had any luck finding a store in Houston that will sell Vanilla Reloads or Green Dots in credit card transaction. How do you keep finding these?

    • Travel Summary says:

      I have several CVSs nearby that are well-stocked. I would be surprised if your CVS didn’t allow you to purchase them with a credit card – if that’s the case, it might be a matter of the cashier.

      RiteAid is the only store that I’m aware of that will sell MoneyPaks on credit card transactions, and even then it could be hard to find the right cashier. Keep trying!

      • I had one RA cashier who would sell me GDs. But either she quit or was fired. None of the other employees will do it, and none of the other stores will allow it. Maybe I just have to keep trying. But I have VRs, so not an urgent issue. But I do like the zero fee bit. The GDs I’ve seen all said “no fee until Dec 31, 2012″ but are still on the racks (because nobody buys them).

    • Got it to work at CVS!

  5. Great post. Can you please explain this part: “load Bluebird at a physical Walmart”? I am just trying to figure out why you must go to Walmart. Thx

    • Travel Summary says:

      One of the features of the Bluebird/Walmart relationship is that you can do what’s called a swipe reload at a Walmart store. You can take your Bluebird card to a Walmart store and tell the cashier you’d like to load $1K on it. They’ll swipe your Bluebird card, ask you if you’d like to pay with cash or debit card, and then you simply swipe your debit card and enter your pin number. This can only be done at a physical Walmart location.

      • Thanks for answering JM’s question in such detail.

        The appeal is that from what you said, Walmart seems to readily accept credit cards for loading Bluebird. Would be nice to avoid cashiers rejecting your use of credit cards.

        • Travel Summary says:

          Walmart accepts DEBIT cards, not credit cards. But PayPal gives you a debit card option that you can load with a credit card. So you can load at Walmart indirectly with a credit card, but will always require a debit card.

  6. How do you transfer money from a pay pal account to bluebird. I see that listed as an option above, but I have never been able to figure out how to do that??? Help!

    • Travel Summary says:

      Although you can probably transfer it directly to your Bluebird account, I recommend doing swipe reloads at Walmart using the PayPal debit card. You can read the MMS article I noted at the end of the post for more details since he’s already written about it.

  7. Is there anyway to leverage this with office supplies stores so we can get ultimate rewards points with Ink?

    • Travel Summary says:

      Yes, but it will be slow-going without the $500 cards. Buy the $200 cards with ink, then go buy $200 worth of the green dot moneypaks. It’s fee free so not a tremendous loss, and you still come out on top with UR points.

  8. Regarding how do you transfer money from Paypal to Bluebird: There are a couple of options. First you load money into Paypal using either the Green Dot MoneyPak or the Paypal Mycash Card. The first option to transfer to Bluebird is go into a Walmart Store and use your Paypal debit card to load your Bluebird. The second option is to simply withdrawal money from your Paypal account online to Bluebird. This involves linking your Paypal account with the Bluebird Bank (American Centurion). You can get the bank information, including routing information from the Bluebird website.

    In any case, be careful about loading Paypal and immediately transferring. Wait a few days before you make your transfer, and do not transfer the exact amount deposited. In this way your Paypal account should not come under scrutiny by Paypal.

    You can also transfer from Paypal and/or Green Dot MoneyPak to the Account Now Visa, which like Bluebird, also has an online bill pay service.

  9. Hey, thanks so much. I am very, very careful with Pal Pal as they can be touchy about many things. I Have an ebay selling business with thousands of dollars passing through pay pal each month so it makes it a little easier to mix in a $500 pay pal card here and there! I like the 0 fee on the green dots that they have right now. Great deal!!
    Thanks again for your help

  10. For unloading the prepaid Amex, doing $2400 of ATMs in a month is best, since with a $2 ATM, you’re going to be stuck at a $78 balance after the 6th withdrawal. And most ATMs only give 20s, so you’re only doing a $60 ATM. Best to save that balance for the next month.

  11. abigail says:

    You are REALLY missing the point when it comes to not asking you for ID. this is NOT a good thing, as you seem to think. no… THIS is why walgreens and others refuse to take credit cards. because people stieal or make cards then use them to buy cash equivalents (reload cards).

    next time, use your head and educate the cashier. whenever a cashier doesn’t ask me for my ID i quietly tell them they should to make sure it’s really me and really my card so they can’t get in trouble. they are all happy for the advice.

    things get shut down when they’re 5x and abused/covered by shots of Emily and circles BUT… more get shut down because of a real world problem- criminals. dumb cashiers work to our advantage in some regard, but the really dumb ones who don’t check ID are not helping us- they’re killing our golden geese.

    • Travel Summary says:

      So then they’ll start asking for ID. Not a big deal – I can provide that. CVS asks for ID which I happily provide. They stopped allowing gift cards recently, but that’s not a huge loss. I don’t see it as a problem.

  12. Many gas stations have ATMs run by MetaBank with fee-free use. Sheetz in my area is a large chain that offers this, and it significantly cuts down on the overall cost of withdrawals.

  13. paypal account so I can load my moneypak to it. Then go to walmart to load to blue bird to paybills. Now, someone said I can use credit card to load paypal so there is no reason to buy moneypak unless buying at drug store gives better points? So how do I get the paypal debit card? Also doesn’t paypal have a feature to send money to anyone in check so I can use that to pay bills? Would doing any of above would cause a shut down? Account now cost 9.95 per monthly , anyway to waive fee like greendot when load certain amt. per month?

  14. Walmart does not allow purchasing Moneypacks using CC, but it works for “debit+pin” cards. Also, the moneypack at WM loads $20-$1000 and fee is $4.64.

  15. I buy them online at http://www.moneypakreload.com

  16. I purchase them at http://www.moneypakreload.com when i am overseas

  17. CRYSTAL OLIVAS says:

    DON NOT PURCHASE THIS “SUPPOSEDLY” $0 PURCHASE FEE!!! I purchased a Green Dot and put $300 cash on it… Got home and automated system wouldn’t activated due to wrong security code… but it was the very exact code on the back of the card. When I FINALLY got someone on the phone the next day, they told me the card could not be activated, did not give me a reason, she actually said she didn’t know why and they would have to open a case and after faxing them my receipt, they would eventually mail me a refund check in 7-10 business days. I needed that money to pay my electric bill that is going to be turned off…. So let me spare you the agonizing details I’ll get to the point, its been over a week now and I called to check status of refund and was told my case was declined because the receipt said $0 activation fee. So, what Green Dot was telling me is that since I didn’t pay a $4.95 activation fee,. they are keeping my $300. WTF!!!!! Oh, hell no!! I went back to Rite Aid and had the manager call the “Green Dot Investigator” and inform her about THEIR OWN PROMOTION that apparently they didn’t even know about. WHAT? REALLY?? Finally Rite AId manager got Green Dot Manager on the line and Green Dot admitted that this $0 promotion is causing confusion at their office and there have been several people having this issue. What kind of company is this? So, people DO NOT BUY THIS CARD! I am writing every blog, BBB, and the Attorney General. I WILL GET MY MONEY BACK!

    • Travel Summary says:

      You most definitely will get your money back. I, and plenty of others, have purchased these without any issue. Hopefully your situation will be resolved soon.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] and time is worth it. If not, maybe you need to adjust your strategy. A few days ago I wrote about fee-free Green Dot Moneypak reloads, and this could help reduce the cost of these prepaid [...]

  2. [...] about the minimum spend requirements at all, because I luckily still have access to Vanilla Reload, Green Dot MoneyPak Reloads, and PayPal reloads. Even if I didn’t  there are tons of other ways to hit your spend [...]

  3. [...] back in February, I saw this post from Travel Summary on buying MoneyPaks with credit cards.  Shortly after reading and gift cards with PINs were unavailable, I went to my local Rite Aid and [...]

  4. […] back in February, I saw this post from Travel Summary on buying MoneyPaks with credit cards.  Shortly after reading and gift cards with PINs were unavailable, I went to my local Rite Aid and […]

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