While Manhattan locations of a certain chain hardly stock any Vanilla Reloads, their stores in suburban locals east and west of the city seem to have 30-60 cards available per store. My goal was to see if they all had the same rules when purchasing the cards. I visited several locations east of the city the last few days and all followed the same rule, credit cards are allowed for purchases, but transactions cannot total more than $1000. This means you can only buy 1 $500 vanilla card per transaction (or as Bob points out two at $496.05) as two brings the total above $1000 and causes the register to freeze. A call is then required to authorize an unlock code in order to continue with the transaction. Believe it or not, the locations I visited had no concerns about actually having two or more Vanilla Reloads per transaction. It was explained to me that the restriction is not Vanilla specific, but is a “security feature that freezes any type of transaction over $1000 at any location in the district”.  The one transaction that I tried with two cards was ultimately approved but required the authorization call and lots of extra time. Interestingly enough, the few times that the Manhattan locations have had cards, they do allow two per transaction without any similar restriction (even at self-checkout, though a manager key swipe was required). In my opinion the restriction is actually a nice thing. These stores have a large inventory of cards and I hope this will prevent a VR obsessed individual from purchasing more than his/her share of cards. Each purchase would require a separate transaction and therefore several may arouse suspicion. So if you’re in a big city, the best advice is to head out to the suburbs, there are plenty of cards for the taking! Please remember to share the wealth, I limited my purchases to 2 per location! I also spread the love across my different cards as to not raise any alarms with the banks.

Details of my experiment – 8 stores visited, 16 VR cards purchased, 8 different credit cards utilized across 6 different banks, a nice dent of required minimum spend for some new cards hit, and rent prepaid via Bluebird for a few months. I even got in some bonding time in with Dad who needed to start working towards minimum spend on two of his new cards!

For those of you who mentioned in the last Vanilla post that you were looking forward to a NYC meet-up, good news we are working on a late January get-together and details should be posted on the blog soon. Please send an email to adam@pointmetotheplane.com in order to receive updates on the event.

Posted by Adam | 17 Comments

17 Responses to “Checkout Experiments in Vanilla Reloads Continued”

  1. Adam says:

    I imagine you are talking about locations in queens? Or do you have to go further east? How about west? Is Hoboken west enough?

    • adam says:

      @Adam – Queens isn’t far enough east and Hoboken isn’t far enough west. Think LIRR and NJ Transit

      • David says:

        your dedication is amazing. Thanks for sharing, but I am not sure the cost of a LIRR ticket and the time spent is worth it for me, but great to know in the event I find myself out there.

  2. Ron says:

    Is anyone aware of Vanilla reloads available in the Chicago area?

  3. Mike L. says:

    Not in queens. Where did u go?

  4. Indy says:

    @Ron–a certain 3 letter chain drugstore has them in their Chicago stores.

  5. Bob Gilbert says:

    I buy two cards for $496.05 each and that way it ends up being an even $1,000

  6. smitty06 says:

    @Ron- I have only found one Walgreens that will let me buy with a credit card. All but one CVS store has cards available (able to purchase with credit or gift card)

  7. Bob beat me to the suggestion: just buy two for $496.05 each. My local stores have a two VR limit, but not a $1K limit, but I tend to do $496.05 anyway since I use $500 prepaid cards to pay

  8. JetsFan says:

    Do you have any trouble using an AMEX prepaid card? I had a problem the one time I tried. The register at the chain would not take it, but I had no trouble with a Visa prepaid.

  9. Ben L says:

    As FM said, in my area there is definitely not a 1k limit as I routinely buy 2 $500 VRs bringing the total to $1007.90. However, I also usually try to pick up an additional small/necessary item just to keep my transactions from all being exactly $1007.90. I believe it’s probably a 1k limit as far as only being able to buy 2 $500 VRs. I haven’t tried to buy 3 $500 at one point, but don’t really feel like it’s necessary. I REALLY hope this lasts for a long time. Especially the use of GCs :)

  10. DJ says:

    Thanks for the tips…look forward to the meetup. End of January isn’t looking to good for me though but please send me the details and I’ll see what I can do. Hope you’re enjoying SEA!

  11. EGWG says:

    I’m based in NYC also & know how hard it is to find VR reload cards. I don’t have a car so it’s not feasible for me to travel so far to buy the cards. I have to wait until I have a road trip out of town then I can pick up some cards.

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