There have been a few changes recently that impact some people that participate in “manufactured spend,” which is basically spending a lot of money on your credit card buying items (usually gift cards) that you can easily liquidate for a very small fee. Here are some of the recent happenings:
Bluebird Can Now be Loaded with a Debit Card for Free Online
Before a few days ago, there was a $2 fee associated with loading your Bluebird account with a debit card up to a maximum of $1K per month. This combined with the fact that you were only allowed to load $100 per day made it a terrible option for loading Bluebird. But it could be a very worthwhile way to gain some more points per month now that the fee is gone (even though the $1K limit is still in place). I believe the $1K debit card load is in addition to Vanilla Reload loads.
I haven’t tried using gift cards with PINs to load Bluebird and there are mixed reports of success. If you do happen to get it to work, be careful – you’ll have to add the new card to your account every time, and that might raise some eyebrows over at Amex. To be clear, I DO NOT recommend doing this. People have reported being shut down for this (they tried it back when the $2 fee existed).
Other ways this could be useful is if you have a mileage earning debit card, like the ones from Delta or Alaska (this is my recommendation to avoid getting any accounts shut down). Additionally, it might be an easy way to move money around from other PIN-based prepaid card accounts (like PayPal if you have the debit card). There are lots of options to get creative to get that extra $1K.
Some Walmarts Don’t Take PIN-enabled Gift Cards Anymore
One of the easiest and best ways to unload your PIN-enabled gift cards was to take them to Walmart to either load your Bluebird card or buy a money order. Again, this was a great way to unload the cards you got at 5x from office supply stores using Ink. There have been a lot of reports lately of some Walmarts no longer accepting them, meaning it’s hard-coded into the register. These are from Walmarts that they worked at previously.
I’ve heard this from several different people, but others report no issues at their local Walmart. Hopefully it’s a temporary thing rather than Walmart learning. I believe the machines still work if you can find a Walmart with one.
Some (very few so far) CVSs Are Saying Cash Only for Vanilla Reloads
I’ve had several people contact me asking if CVS has a new “cash only” policy for Vanilla Reloads since their go-to stores are saying there was a change. As far as I know, there is no CVS policy that says this, but it’s becoming a little more common for individual stores to make this policy. I’ve also heard other reports that some stores have reduced the limit to $500 a day. This one is VERY YMMV though.
For what it’s worth, the several CVSs I frequent have had no policy change and I’m still able to purchase $5K per day with my credit card. I’m hoping it stays that way, but the increasing reports I hear are a little disconcerting.
Have your experiences been different or have you learned anything new lately?