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!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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51 comments

Kalboz March 21, 2013 - 10:38 am

Here goes the gravy train!

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Points Surfer March 21, 2013 - 10:42 am

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…

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Ken Y. March 21, 2013 - 10:51 am

Still worked as of yesterday here on the other coast.

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JakePB March 21, 2013 - 10:56 am

Would you mind sharing the retailer name, so those of us outside of NYC can sufficiently panic?

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afkabp March 21, 2013 - 11:06 am

A quick google search for “Albany LLC” with quotes will reveal the answer.

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autolycus March 21, 2013 - 11:07 am

@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.

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Mike March 21, 2013 - 11:07 am

Worked last night for me And my one location knows me and does not even need my Id anymore lol

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adam March 21, 2013 - 11:19 am

@Mike – In Manhattan?

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Grant March 21, 2013 - 11:09 am

@Ken, yup, bought one in CA on Monday.

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dealswelike March 21, 2013 - 11:09 am

I was able to purchase two reloads two days ago in NYC, but maybe that changed over night?!

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adam March 21, 2013 - 11:19 am

@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…

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Marc W March 21, 2013 - 11:12 am

Lucky you that you have been able to even get them in the city. I have tried for months without success.

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adam March 22, 2013 - 1:37 pm

@Marc W – shoot me an email if you need assistance finding locations

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Carole April 14, 2013 - 12:03 pm

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.
Thanks.
Carole

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Joe March 21, 2013 - 11:14 am

they had them at 96th and lex but the manager is a real hardass about it.

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adam March 21, 2013 - 11:18 am

@Joe – Have you purchased in the last 24-48 hours?

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geoff March 21, 2013 - 11:15 am

Purchased my usual 2 a few hours ago. CVS!

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adam March 21, 2013 - 11:18 am

@geoff – In NYC?

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geoff March 21, 2013 - 11:31 am

@Adam. No, not NYC. I was responding more to the ability to still purchase anywhere. Sorry not to clarify.

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Mct March 21, 2013 - 11:38 am

Still avail in Midwest

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SMS March 25, 2013 - 9:27 am

Where in the Midwest? I tried a CVS in Chicago and one in a suburb of Detroit and it was cash only at both places.

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Thrifty Tourist March 21, 2013 - 11:41 am

As others have mentioned, just purchased 2 VRs from 3 different CA CVS locations using both credit card and gift cards

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Mike March 21, 2013 - 11:45 am

another island in NYC

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Cruisr March 21, 2013 - 11:55 am

Works fine in MA today and worked fine yesterday in NJ

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adam March 21, 2013 - 11:59 am

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!

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Jane S. March 21, 2013 - 12:44 pm

Still fine in central Virginia and we have lots of them 🙂

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Jon March 21, 2013 - 1:08 pm

Report this potential merchant violation to MasterCard at http://www.mastercard.us/support/merchant-violations.html

“A merchant/retailer displaying the MasterCard decal in their window refused to accept my MasterCard card”

Visa and AmEx likely have their own methods to report this type of violation.

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Ken Y. March 21, 2013 - 2:12 pm

Just have to say- I was in a tiny town in the Midwest last month and was amazed at how plentiful they were.

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Voice of reason March 21, 2013 - 2:14 pm

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?

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adam March 22, 2013 - 1:36 pm

@Voice of reason – Nobody (besides CVS and InComm) was earning money from Vanilla Reload purchases…

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IPG March 21, 2013 - 7:00 pm

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!

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SteveO March 21, 2013 - 9:06 pm

Tried to buy 2 VR’s at a location on the upper east side and was told “Straight Cash Homey”

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Joe March 21, 2013 - 11:00 pm

Steve 84th and lex is fine as is 53rd and lex. 96th is a no go

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SteveO March 21, 2013 - 11:32 pm

Really? When did u go? I went to 84th and Lex Thursday afternoon and got shot down. Might try again tomorrow.

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bk3day March 22, 2013 - 6:00 am

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

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SteveO March 22, 2013 - 11:21 am

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.

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adam March 22, 2013 - 1:33 pm

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

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SteveO March 23, 2013 - 4:46 pm

Just went to a CVS in Queens and bought 2. I wasn’t a big fan of Manhattan anyway.

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The Miles Professor March 25, 2013 - 1:34 pm

More for us! 🙂

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Sfgadv02 March 25, 2013 - 2:21 pm

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. 🙂

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ben March 26, 2013 - 9:27 pm

Hi, SteveO, can you share which CVS store in Queens you went to? Thanks.

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Derek March 27, 2013 - 10:03 pm

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…

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Vanilla Reload D-Day Averted - Point Me To The Plane March 28, 2013 - 8:02 pm

[…] week I sadly posted about my Vanilla Reload D-Day experience at a local chain that seemingly stopped accepting any non cash payment types for Vanilla Reload […]

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David April 1, 2013 - 6:09 pm

I live in NYC and we’ve struggled to find a reliable carrier for Vanilla reloads – any advice would be appreciated.

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adam April 3, 2013 - 12:36 pm

@David – email sent

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duffman April 4, 2013 - 1:08 pm

Hi Adam – any tips on which CVS locations still stock the VR’s? Need 6 more to cover my spend.

Thanks!

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shopaholic61 April 14, 2013 - 4:12 pm

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.

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Elise April 16, 2013 - 8:32 am

Hi everyone,

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

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Dan April 17, 2013 - 8:54 pm

CVS on 9th ave and 58th st doesn’t accept CC for VR anymore.
Need to find a place that still does.

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JohnG April 21, 2013 - 11:22 am

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…

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DaveM April 11, 2014 - 1:20 pm

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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