Vanilla Reload D-Day in NYC? Major Retailer No Longer Accepting Credit or Debit Card Purchases

I was on my way home yesterday when I stopped at a local retailer to pick up a Vanilla Reload card which would be used to complete payment on my April apartment rent. With Vanilla Reload in hand, I walked to the self-checkout as I’ve done so many times before, scanned the card, and received an error message – “Assistance Required”. An employee came over and told me that I’d have to pay at the normal checkout counter for these types of cards going forward. OK, no problem. The card was scanned by an employee and I was asked how I wanted to pay. I presented my credit card and the employee went to swipe it, however he couldn’t! Under the payment type menu, Credit was grayed out. I then tried for the debit card trick, “yep, that card is actually a debit card”. It didn’t work, debit card was all grayed out in the payment menu as well, the only available option was cash! I even had the associate turn his screen so that I could see for myself, it was all unfortunately true. It was a sad walk back to my apartment. I had been so careful, always switching locations, never buying more than two cards at a time, and sharing the wealth by rarely purchasing more than two cards in a given week and going several weeks without any card purchases.

I decided to check out two other locations within the city. The same was true, no self-checkout accepted and cash only at the checkout counter. An associate couldn’t even override the restriction as the system automatically prevented them from selecting any other payment besides cash. All visited locations did have the same owner, Albany LLC.

I have some loyal readers checking out the situation in the suburbs of New Jersey, Long Island, and Connecticut. These locations all stocked many more Vanilla Reload cards than the city locations and tended to be quite loose with the rules. Hopefully they are still allowing the credit card payment option, updates to follow.  With my March churn planned for early next week, I’ll be re-evaluating my card choices if these locations have discontinued credit card usage as well. Please leave comments with updates in your area!

Here’s some good news for locals who want to commiserate together, we finally have a date for the NYC area meet-up! It will likely be Thursday April 11th and I’ll have another post later today or tomorrow with further details. Fellow BoardingArea bloggers Deals We Like, Just Another Points Traveler, modhopRapid Travel Chai, and The Wandering Aramean are all tentatively attending as well! Additionally, if you signed up for the NYC meet-up updates back in January, look out for an email next week with full details.

Update – I just received two reader updates which indicate that NJ and LI locations are still working! From the comments the midwest and west coast are still fine as well. However, a reader was just turned down at another  2 NYC locations. So, the good news looks like the change is only impacting certain Manhattan locations. Hopefully it doesn’t spread!

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  1. Was this at CVS in NYC or Walgreens? I just got 3 Vanilla Reloads at a CVS in Manhattan this past Sunday…

    It would really suck if CVS stopped accepting credit cards for Vanilla Reloads. They’re already difficult to find as it is…

  2. @JakePB. Pretty sure it’s the one you’re worried about. Google the name of the company he mentions as the owner of these franchise locations.

    • @dealswelike – I’m really hoping that maybe it was a system error (or maybe a test), though strange that it was the same at 3 locations…

      • I live in NJ and can’t find a CVS or Walgreens that has the cards. Will be in the city Wednesday, can you please send me the locations that are still selling Vanilla reloads with a credit card.

  3. Just received two reader updates NJ and LI are still working! NYC was turned down again today at 2 other locations. Good news looks like the change is only impacting certain Manhattan locations. Hopefully it doesn’t spread!

  4. Well hot damn. Does this mean people will now have to get jobs and earn their money, rather than constantly scheme to get something for nothing?

  5. I can attest to the bountiful nature of VRs in Columbus, OH. Depending on the route I take home from work, there are at least 5 CVS stores happy and willing to sell VRs straight from the vine! Ahh, to live in this land of candy canes, unicorns, bubblegum, and unlimited VRs!! And nobody even bats an eye at credit cards!

  6. In my NYC attempts mostly below 23rd St, I’ve found few or no VRs & those that did carry them never took credit cards. :'(

    OTOH, picked a few up in HI this week using a cc with no problems

  7. Well, i went back to the CVS and the guy said no credit cards for any gift cards. I think Manhattan is officially quarantined from credit cards.

    • @SteveO – Sad, sad, day. Luckily all reports are that locations north, east, and west of the city are still allowing credit cards!

  8. For those in NYC, try the CVS on 22nd and Park. They have over 50 VR (went in and was surprised they have it there!) and I just paid $503.95 in self-checkout with my Chase Freedom about an hour ago. The girl just looked at my ID and typed in the last 4 digit. I hid the VR under a Gamestop gift card. 🙂

  9. Just checked several CVS today on Manhattan and none of them had or heard of VR at all…several close to Washington square and one on 125st.. whoever got lucky with it, any hint please…

  10. Could someone who has been able to find these in Ca please list cities – I live near Stockton, CA and all store I have tried say cash only.

  11. Hi everyone,

    I live in Manhattan and I am also having trouble finding VR at any CVS. Any advice would be extremely helpful. Thanks!

  12. CVS on westend and 70th also not accepting CC for VR anymore!! Went twice at diff day/diff timing and shoot down at counter and once at self-checkout) and the manager confirmed that. No wonder they have few VRs hanging on the rack…

  13. I’ve checked 5 CVSs in Houston, TX, and they’ve all confirmed. I did ask at the last one whether it was systemwide and told yes–no more credit purchased of VRs (and others). Any luck from Houston people at Walgreens, Kroger, Fiesta, HEB, Randalls??

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