Vanilla Reloads Are Dead: What Now?

DSCF3121As many of you know, CVS stores recently decided to stop allowing customers to buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.  At first, I was disappointed because I literally have eight CVS stores within 5 minutes of my house, and all of them were Vanilla Reload goldmines.  On the other hand, life goes on.  Most good things do come to an end, and the fact that some people were buying 5K per day probably wasn’t helping matters.  The good thing is, I was only using Vanilla Reloads to meet the minimum spending requirement on a specific card.  Now that that’s done, I couldn’t care less about Vanilla Reloads.  Here’s why: 

Other Manufactured Spending Methods

If you’re still looking for other ways to manufacture points and miles, you’re in luck.  My friend The Point Chaser highlights them on her blog all the time.  I won’t get into every method she uses, but you can manufacture spending by buying One Vanilla Gift cards or Visa Gift cards and using them to buy money orders.  There are also Reloadit cards, MoneyPaks, and Paypal Reload cards.  But don’t take my word for it.  Check out her best blog post on the topic, “How to Meet $40,000 in Spending Requirements Next Month.”

I’m Still Earning Plenty of Rewards

Vanilla Reloads were an attractive option for me since I’m practically surrounded by CVS stores.  Visa gift cards, on the other hand, not so much.  Even if I didn’t mind going to the Walmart Money Center to buy money orders (I do mind), I don’t have the time to do it very often.

The good news is that I’m still earning plenty of rewards with my regular spending.  Including groceries ($500), gas and miscellaneous ($200), and health insurance ($393), we’re able to put almost $1,100 per month on credit.  That’s enough to meet almost any sign-up bonus requirement without doing anything drastic or crazy.

I’m Keeping It Simple

I have to be honest, it was a hassle to constantly buy Vanilla Reloads, transfer them into my Bluebird account, then pay my credit card balance.  Now that Vanilla Reloads are dead, I am no longer spending time doing any of those things.  Sure, my ability to earn credit card rewards has been compromised, but I don’t mind not having to move money around all the time.  The truth: It was a pain.

My New Credit Card Rewards Strategy

My new credit card rewards strategy is much like my old one, just at a slower pace.  We signed up for a Citi Aadvantage Executive card and a Marriott Rewards Visa card last month, so we’re taking things slow for the moment.  So far this year, I’ve already booked an entire trip to Europe, flights for four to Las Vegas, and flights for two to New Orleans for FinCon, all with points.  For the rest of this year, I plan to continue building up my reserve of points for 2015.  I haven’t made any plans yet, but I want to be prepared when I do.  My goal is to take Greg, my two children, and my parents on an overseas trip for Spring Break, all with points.  We’ll see what happens.

Were you upset when CVS quit letting people buy Vanilla Reloads with credit?  If so, what’s your new credit card rewards strategy?

 
About Holly

Holly Johnson is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly, Frugal Travel Guy, and U.S. News and World Report's "My Money Blog." Holly has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Fox Business, and Daily Finance.

Comments

  1. I’m not upset. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Companies are in the business to make money and they simply were not. Looks like I will be moving over to serve until Amex decides to shut that down too. Then I might move onto the next thing. In the end I’m almost too lazy for manufactured spend (I did use the mint on a low key level when that existed because that was too easy).

  2. I was like 2 seconds away from jumping on the bandwagon…but, you’re right, keeping it simple is probably less of a headache. Although I’ll still check out The Point Chaser to make sure there is nothing I’m missing, LOL! Happy Friday & Happy Easter Holly!
    Catina Mount recently posted..There Is Still Time To Donate Items For Our Easter Project!My Profile

  3. Wow, you will gave to keep us posted on how you do on paying for that spring break trip next year!! That would be pretty awesome. I’m sure you can do it!
    Dee @ Color Me Frugal recently posted..Compound Interest: Einstein’s Friend (and YOURS!)My Profile

  4. Since I never had reloads, I don’t miss them, but I am also taking a little break from Bluebird after a huge push to get points for all our tax payments. I think we are alike in how we can get a little over the top when something good comes along, like earning points. I’ll still use Bluebird but I don’t want to step into Walmart for at least a month!
    Kim@eyesonthedollar recently posted..Paying Taxes With a Credit Card for Travel Rewards and a Giveaway!My Profile

  5. I’ve not really played the points game yet (not with credit card signup bonuses anyway), so I have never done the manufactured spending. I’ve so far gotten all mine through actual flying/hotel stays (thanks work!)
    Mom @ Three is Plenty recently posted..Rediscovering the Public LibraryMy Profile

  6. When one door closes, another one opens. A few years back it was buying coins at the mint and now it’s these prepaid cards. I was tempted but never did either one of them, it seemed complicated and a bit of a hassle. I’m like you…just need to meet the minimum spend to get the bonus. I’m not usually doing more than one card at a time anyway so Amazon payments and normal spend…plus maybe buying a gift card to a place I go to anyway is enough.
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted..My Journey to Financial LiteracyMy Profile

  7. I was pretty darn close to jumping on the bandwagon with the Vanilla Reloads, but I guess all good things come to an end. We’ve had several major purchases this year and a couple more over the next month or so, so that has made it relatively easy to hit the minimum spends on the cards we’re churning. We charge quite a bit each month anyway, around what you do I think, so it usually isn’t a big problem for us. Sounds cool on the plans for next year, I need to get working on something like that for next year as well.
    John @ Sprout Wealth recently posted..You Can Make Money Quick! Here Are Some WaysMy Profile

    • Yeah, we can charge plenty each month so we can always earn a signup bonus. That’s probably the “right” way to do it anyway.

  8. I still haven’t signed up for a travel rewards card, but I plan to this summer! If I could get even one trip out of it, I’d be thrilled. Definitely have to check out the link you mentioned for ways to earn points.
    Lauren recently posted..Marriage & Money: Going From “Me” to “Family”My Profile

  9. Amazon payments is already too confusing for my husband to participate so I don’t think I would have ever gone to Vanilla Reloads.

    I work in non-profit and we’re lucky to pay 2.25% per credit card transaction. I found out that reward cards actually charge a higher per-swipe fee than non-reward cards, so I’m sure CVS was paying tons in fees from all of this. Unless they’re like Amazon, who I swear must pay a flat rate monthly to credit card companies so they don’t care about Amazon Payments stuff.

    I also have a soft spot (lol) for CVS since Walgreen’s bought out Duane Reade, a NYC drug store chain, and now Walgreen’s (who also owns Rite Aide) is all over this damn town.
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted..Cut your losses and run?My Profile

  10. I was just thinking I needed to start using these! Oh well, on to the next thing.
    Kelsie recently posted..Our Mortgage Pay Off Date Is…My Profile

  11. I never used it because it sounded like too much trouble.
    krantcents recently posted..5 Steps to Financial LiteracyMy Profile

  12. Well, since I never got my stuff together enough to try the Vanilla reloads, I guess I don’t know what I am missing, which is probably for the best because I am feeling as though I can’t add one more “new” thing to my list at the moment or I will explode. I love that you have a goal for your rewards usage, like anything in life, goals keep us focused and it’s easier to accomplish them when we know what they are.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted..Top Ten Fun Facts About MeMy Profile

  13. ӏf some one needs experdt view аbout blοgging and sitе-building
    acter that i recommend him/her to go to seee this blog, Keeρ up
    the good work.
    buffalo Home & garden show recently posted..buffalo Home & garden showMy Profile

  14. I definitely wasn’t upset. I couldn’t do it at the CVS stores near me anyway. I am just using Amazon payments right now, which gives me $1,000 a month. On top of my regular spending, I have no issues hitting spending thresholds.
    Grayson @ Debt Roundup recently posted..A Reader Needs Your Help! – Stuck Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceMy Profile

  15. I never liked the super manufactured spends like that, so the end of the vanilla reloads doesn’t impact us at all. We’ll just keep doing what we always have.
    Mrs PoP recently posted..A Year of Bike CommutingMy Profile

  16. Darn! Just as I was starting this how churning thing and finding my footing. Thank you for sharing The Point Chaser’s post.
    Nikki @ Nikki Rae Ink recently posted..Five Ways I Stopped Torturing MyselfMy Profile

  17. Vanilla Reload is alive and well. Look harder. CVS isn’t the only one who sold them.

  18. Wish you all the luck to have a successful trip using your credit cards. Its always a good idea to spend time with family especially during a vacation or trip overseas. Saving money using the method you mentioned is good because a penny saved is a penny earned. How to retire a millionaire though when the mindset is about saving some cash here and there.
    Jeff @Project Ikonz recently posted..Ebay side hustle is awesome and crap at the same timeMy Profile

  19. Yeah, it’s a shame the VR game had to end, although I am hearing from some people that they can still be found out there… it just involves a lot more work.

    I’ve accepted it and moved on to the debit card approach. Not as convenient, but I have too many minimum spends to clear…

    Point Chaser’s methods are great too. I’ve had luck with the money orders…
    FI Fighter recently posted..What Early Financial Independence Means to MeMy Profile

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