Many readers have commented that they aren’t able to find Vanilla Reload cards or that their local merchants won’t accept credit card payments for VRs. DansDeals reports on an alternative, using purchased Visa gift cards (which over the weekend became pin enabled) to load your Bluebird card or to get cash back:
So the big news over the weekend is that you can now assign a pin number to gift cards, effectively turning them into debit cards. The automated call number for my gift cards easily allowed me to assign a pin number for my gift cards. I took a few thousand dollars worth of gift cards to WalMart today and loaded $1,000 onto mine and my wife’s Bluebird cards. You are able to do this with any cashier. In the process I learned that you can use up to 4 cards per transaction, so that’s $400 of loads with 4 $100 cards or $800 of loads with 4 $200 cards. This saves you time over doing a separate transaction for every card. You can load up to $1,000 per day and $5,000 per month. Get cash back from gift cards: I was also able to pickup a 98 cent bottle of Softsoap and select cash back to get cold hard cash from a gift card. However I was only able to get cash back in multiples of $20, so I’ll probably use Amazon Payments to wipe the remaining balance from the cards. I went to WalMart to be able to load Bluebird and to get cash back on a purchase. I’m sure it will work at other stores as well so if you try to use a gift card with a pin to make a cash back debit purchase elsewhere please post the results in the comments. There are no fees to load the cards onto Bluebird in Walmart and there are no fees to get cash back. I did not have success though with the Mastercards from Office Max and Staples, I only had success with the Visa cards. If you get the Visa gift cards from Office Max or Staples you should be good to go. Other brands may work as well, I just haven’t tested them myself.
The full entry includes Dan’s value analysis for buying gift cards as well. Unfortunately, the comments section of the post does not yet have any examples of other Visa gift cards where a pin was successfully assigned (it seems to currently only work with the MetaBank Visa cards sold at Office Max), though one reader does comment on a rumor that Vanilla Visa card pins will be working soon too. There are also no other examples of stores where the cash back option has worked. Clearly, the best and easiest option is still Vanilla Reloads (if you are in an area where you can find them and pay with a credit card).