No More Office Depot

So if you haven’t heard the news, “supposedly” Office Depot has stopped carrying Vanilla Reload Cards.

The reason I say “supposedly” is because I have been on the Star Mega DO 4 all week and haven’t had a chance to check my local Office Depot yet. My Office Depot always was in stock with Vanilla Reloads and never had any issues, so I have a extremely tiny flicker of hope that maybe they still have some left…

It is unclear why Office Depot pulled the Vanilla Reload Cards since they were a hot item and Office Depot wasn’t losing anything by selling them.

It would have been hilarious though if these flimsy pieces of plastic that we know as Vanilla Reload Cards, suddenly made the news as the “Must Have Item” for this year’s Holiday Season.

Although it is a surprise that Office Depot pulled the Vanilla Reloads Cards, (I personally thought it was going to be Chase that stopped the 5x UR Points at Office Supply Stores), it was going to happen eventually.

This is really unfortunate because for the time being, it means no more earning vast sums of Ultimate Rewards Points for pennies.

On The Bright Side

Although the situation may look bad, it isn’t as bad as it seems. I promise!

As I stated last month, even if Office Depot or Chase pulls the Vanilla Reload Cards and the ability to earn 5x UR Points per $1 spent, Vanilla Reload Cards and Bluebird Prepaid Card are still AMAZING!

The reason for this is because OTHER stores still sell Vanilla Reload Cards, you just don’t earn 5x UR Points.

Why this is important is because it can help you substantially if you are trying to hit any Minimum Spend Requirements.

With Vanilla Reload Cards, you can purchase them with a Credit Card, then load your Vanilla Reloads on to your Bluebird Prepaid Card, and then simply use Bluebird to mail a check to your Credit Card company!

More information on that here

My Experience

My 8 Credit Cards from my most recent App-O-Rama were waiting for me when I returned from the Star Mega DO 4, so I have been trying to start to meet the monster $14,000 Minimum Spend Requirement.

I was walking to Dinner on Friday Evening and stopped in to Walgreens to see if they had any Vanilla Reload Cards.

I was able to find the Vanilla Pre-Paid Cards (that you CAN’T load onto Bluebird), but was unable to find any Vanilla Reload Cards. I thought Walgreens must have pulled those too, but then when I went around the display, all the way at the bottom, I found the Vanilla Reload Cards. It was almost like they were hidden.

I then simply went up to the Register and asked to load the Vanilla Reload Card with $500. The Cashier did it without hesitation and I was able to use my American Express Platinum Card to make the purchase.

After Dinner, I decided to go back and try my luck again with a different Cashier. I did the same thing and asked for another $500 Vanilla Reload Card. It went through but then my AMEX Fraud Protection kicked in and the screen asked for manual override with a “Voice Verification”.

I didn’t even know they did this kind of stuff, but the Walgreen’s Manager had to call the Phone Number on the back of my AMEX and said he needed to Voice Verify. After about 10 minutes, he handed the phone to me and the AMEX Agent asked me for the last 4 digits of my Social Security Number, and then asked me information from my Public Record such as what Streets have I lived at. After I answered the questions, I was “Voice Approved”, so the AMEX Agent gave the Walgreen Manager a manual override code and he entered it on the screen and the transaction went through.

When I got home, I had a missed call and email from AMEX Fraud Prevention. I simply called them and told them I did in fact make the purchase.

If you are reading this and getting freaked out, don’t be. The only reason this happened is because it was 2 large purchases at the same location, for the same exact amount with a few hours of each other. At a minimum, to AMEX it could have looked like a Walgreens computer glitch. Had I simply bought two $500 Vanilla Reload Cards at the same time, it would have gone through without issue.

If you are planning on making a big Vanilla Reload purchase, just call your Credit Card company and give them a heads up. As long as you tell them in advance that you are going to be making a big purchase (don’t have to say what it is), you shouldn’t have any issues

As soon as I was home, I simply scratched off the PIN on the Vanilla Reload Cards, loaded them onto my Bluebird, and then sent a check to AMEX for $1,000.

I also used Amazon Payments Friday night to complete another $1,000 in free Minimum Spend. So in the span of my Friday Evening, I was able to clear $2,000 of my $14,000 Minimum Spend Requirement (MSR) with a trip to Walgreens, $8 in Vanilla Reload Fees, and a couple clicks of the mouse. Not bad!

In fact those $2,000 in “purchases” combined with my LA and Star MegaDO Trip have me almost past the $3,000 Minimum Spend Requirement mark on the AMEX Platinum. That is fairly astonish because I got the Card in my hands only 10 days ago!

The point of this post is to encourage people not to freak out about not being able to get 5x at Office Depot but instead look at this as an opportunity.

In my case, if I did 5x solely with Office Depot and a Chase INK Card, my $14,000 MSR would net me 70,000 Ultimate Rewards Points, which isn’t bad.

However because I can purchase the Vanilla Reload Cards anywhere, by getting 8 Credit Cards and “spending” $14,000, I can earn 420,000 Miles / Points. This is 6x more than I’d earn if I only used an INK Card at Office Depot!

Where To Buy Vanilla Reload Cards

So I went in to Walgreens on a hunch that they might sell the Vanilla Reload Cards and allow you to use Credit Cards to purchase them. In this case, I just happened to be right.

You may go into your local Walgreens and they might not carry them, or the Cashier might not know how to ring it up with a Credit Card, etc. Basically YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), but you just have to find 1 Store that works for you.

If you don’t have Walgreens near you, try Duane Reade, or CVS. I have read on Twitter that CVS works well.

You can also try most Big Box Retailers like Walmart, Target, etc or even Gas Stations or Grocery Stores.

You can literally find Vanilla Cards everywhere, it is just finding a Store that will let you pay with a Credit Card.

How To Take Advantage Of This

One of my Friends asked me today if he should sign his Girlfriend up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or INK Card.

The Sapphire Preferred gets 40,000 UR Points after $3,000 MSR in 3 months while the INK Cards get 50,000 UR Points after $5,000 MSR in 3 months.

Although the INK Cards have $2,000 in additional MSR, you also get 10,000 more Ultimate Rewards Points! The best part is that with Vanilla Reload Cards, you can easily “spend” an additional $2,000 more for $16 in fees! Not bad for an additional 10,000 Ultimate Rewards Points!

Anyways if you haven’t done an App-O-Rama or gotten a Chase INK Card, I’D HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! As I said above, you can purchase Vanilla Reload Cards at most Retailers with a Credit Card and complete the entire Minimum Spend Requirement with Amazon Payments & Vanilla Reload Cards in 3 months for $16 in fees and earn 55,000 UR Points (after you complete the MSR)!

That is almost enough miles for a FREE Economy Trip to Europe!

Link To Chase INK Plus

Link To Chase INK Bold

To put this all into perspective, if I was to do my entire $14,000 Minimum Spend Requirement with Vanilla Reload Cards (which I’m not doing but am doing a substantial amount with them), it would only cost me $98 in fees for 420,000 Miles & Points!

I’ll let you be the judge if that is a good deal or not…

-Parag

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