Last week I stopped by my local 7-11 and came across a rack filled with Vanilla Reloads. I immediately got excited at the potential of buying reloads whenever I needed. I didn’t know that 7-11 began to carry Vanilla up until this point.
My positive thoughts quickly changed when I went to pay. I asked for $500 to be loaded onto two cards. I then got the dreaded Cash Only response. I asked why, didn’t get much of a response and walked away, disappointed.
I decided to go on a 7-11 Vanilla Scavenger Hunt to see if I could get some positive results. Having 7-11’s all over Brooklyn would make visiting other stores pretty simple. Finding stores accepting credit cards for gift card purchases would be the hard part.
|Photo of Vanilla Reloads at CVS|
Some of you might wonder what a Vanilla Reload is?
Vanilla Reloads are pre-paid cards that can be “loaded” with up to $500 per card. The fee to do this is $3.95. Vanilla Reloads are (were) available at drugstores and office supply stores.
After purchasing Vanilla Reloads, you then go online and transfer the money to Bluebird or other PrePaid cards and pay bills (even the credit card you had purchased Vanilla with) that you usually can not charge. For example- I’ve used Bluebird to pay my mortgage and car lease in the past.
There are 2 main benefits for buying Vanilla:
- Earn cheap points– some credit cards offer bonuses in select store categories. When I was buying Vanilla’s at CVS a couple of months ago, I was using my Hilton Amex card which earned 6x points per $ in drugstores.
- Quickly hit the minimum spends on credit cards. Some cards require high minimum spends to earn bonus points or miles. It’s not so easy to charge $5000 in 3 months for everyone so for a small fee this could be done relatively fast.
After coming up empty when I first spotted Vanilla at 7-11, I headed over to 6 more locations over the next couple of days. I was told at every location that gift cards could only be purchased with cash. Definitely a bummer but I plan to keep trying.
However, at my second 7-11 stop I got very lucky. I went to the register with 2 Vanilla Reloads and asked to have $500 placed on each card. The cashier went ahead and rang up my purchase but there was a problem. One card purchase went through while the other was declined.
The cashier asked another employee what happened and was told that gift cards could only be purchased with cash. They went to the back room to talk to a manager and came back out 3-4 minutes later.
I was told that once a gift card is loaded, the purchase can not be refunded! This was perfect. I had one Vanilla purchased from a 7-11.
Then the news got a little better. The cashier said that he didn’t know which card was loaded so I could just take both cards!
I know that you can check the numbers on the back of a gift card to figure out which was loaded. Each time I buy a gift card I actually check the cards with my receipt to make sure they were activated.
I now have an extra Vanilla Reload card which I plan to take to a CVS that I know allows credit cards for gift card purchases. I’ll load it there, giving me another successful Vanilla Reload purchase!