Ever since Office Depot pulled their Vanilla Reloads from store shelves, we’ve been forced to find other stores that sell Vanilla Reloads and accept credit cards for gift card purchases. In Manhattan, it’s been extremely difficult as the only easy options are 7-11, Walgreens, and CVS. Of all the 7-11s I’ve visited, none of them have ever had any Vanilla Reloads in stock! Walgreens was more of the same with only one location stocking the cards (one left in stock upon my arrival). There are however four CVS stores on the walk from my apartment to my office and I’ve been checking their inventory every day. I’ve had no luck until last Monday when I found one CVS store with 2 Vanilla Reloads randomly in a pile on the customer service desk. I didn’t have my AMEX Hilton HHonors card on me (6x points) so I put the cards back next to some Macy’s and PayPal cards in the gift card rack at the very back of the store (less foot traffic). I was then out of town until this week and didn’t have much hope that they would still be there. I returned this Monday, headed to the back of the store, and was very excited to find two white cards with all those PayPal and Macy’s cards! Up to the register to pay and yet another problem, none of the computers could connect to the system to activate the cards. We tried all of the self-checkouts and the one normal register without any luck. Back to the back of the store for the Vanilla Reloads. I returned again last night and headed to self-checkout. The checkout process was actually quite simple, I had asked if I needed to go to a normal register but was informed that I could scan them myself. I scanned the first card, entered my desired amount ($500), and then was asked to confirm that the amount was correct. The assistance sign was then activated and a manager came over to confirm the details of my transaction. He didn’t even ask me for ID, though I had it out ready to show him. With one card down, I followed the same process for the second card and the manager once again was summoned by the machine to scan his card to approve the transaction. After both cards were confirmed at $500 the assistance light was activated one final time. As the manager had already seen me holding my license, he simply scanned his card and it was finally off to the payment step. I confirmed that no tax was charged (there shouldn’t be any on pre-paid gift cards) and then swiped my AMEX. One week later and I finally had my first 2 CVS issued Vanilla Reloads! With the addition of these two purchases, my Bluebird card now has a high enough balance to pay my rent this month as well!
Remember – AMEX Hiltons are 6x at drug stores, gas stations (Valero, Cumberland Farms), and supermarkets, the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold is 2x at supermarkets and gas stations, and the Chase Ink and MileagePlus explorer cards are 2X at gas stations . CVS is also running double rewards on all everyday purchases through 12/15/12, unfortunately pre-paid cards do not count “…excludes alcohol, gift cards, lottery, money orders, prescriptions, postage stamps, pre-paid cards, tobacco products or items reimbursed by a governmental program.”