An alternative to the elusive Vanilla Reload card

Ever since the Amex BlueBird took flight, there has been a surge of people looking for Vanilla Reload cards at places like office supplies and drug stores. As a result, most retailers have limited the availability of this card or the type of funds that you can purchase it with. Some of them are requiring cash only and/or are limiting the number of cards you can purchase per day. Some of them are always out of Vanilla Reloads altogether.

There is an alternative to purchasing VRs that hasn’t been publicized to the best of our knowledge, and that’s the Vanilla VISA prepaid Debit card.

Vanilla debit card-


Just like the VR card, this card comes with a purchase fee of $3.95, and you can load it with up to $500. The funds are FDIC-insured. The card comes with lots of ridiculous fees, such as $0.50 for both debit and credit swipes, 90-day dormancy fees, etc. However, this is not how we planned on using the card.

The difference between this card and the VR is that once registered online, this is a debit card, and therefore it can be used to cash money out right away. There is a $1.95 ATM withdrawal fee, which makes it pretty steep to get cash, but there is a better and cheaper option, which are money orders, which you can buy if you need to pay someone this way. A few days ago I went to a national drug store that has the cards readily available and purchased one $500 card for a total cost of $503.95 and immediately registered it online. With the $500 available balance, I then went to a local supermarket which charges $0.89 for money orders (you can find them cheaper) and purchased a money order for $498.61 ($500 available, minus $0.89 money order fee, and $0.50 swipe fee). I then immediately took the money order, wrote it to myself, and deposited it in my bank account. Done. Total cost of a $500 transaction: $5.34, or approximately 1%.

While this method yields a slightly higher cost than purchasing VR cards to load into BlueBird, it appears to be readily available in our region, and it takes the hassle out of having to load to BlueBird and then having to pay someone to convert into cash. It is also a great alternative to others around the country who are having so much trouble purchasing or even finding Vanilla Reload cards, and if you’re trying to meet a huge minimum spending requirement, this is an additional option to get there.

A few things to note: I called the reps and asked them if there is a limit on the amount of cards you can register under your name. I was told there is a 3-card limit, so this deal is potentially worth a maximum of $1,500 in spending. However, we have yet to test whether you can delete a debit card once you’re done with it and potentially register more once you’ve had 3. We were also told there is no tax reporting, and their site doesn’t have any language on this issue. Also, once you register your temporary card, it will be ready to go, but you will be issued a permanent card in the mail. Originally the website said you could potentially go to their reload locations and add more funds to the permanent card without purchasing a VR card, but this language has been removed from the site, so it is possible that once you drain your card, you’re done with it. We will test and report back as soon as we receive the permanent card, but we would love to hear from you if you’ve had any success reloading without a Vanilla Reload card.

Finally, constantly purchasing and depositing money orders into your bank account is not something I recommend abusing, as your bank might close your bank account and terminate your banking relationship for good. Banks don’t like to see tons of money order deposits all the time, as this could be associated with certain illegal activities, so exercise caution if you do this and do at your own risk.

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19 Responses to An alternative to the elusive Vanilla Reload card

  1. Jose Augustin says:

    I made the mistake of using the cashback option at Publix. The maximum withdrawl limit is $75 and they charged me a $1.95 fee for a $75 cash back. Not worth it.

    I have a permanent card which I reload using VR. I will now try the money order route. Is there anything stopping from getting a high value money order…like 2K in one go?

    • travelguys says:

      Jose, I would not try draining $2,000 out of the card on one shot even if I could, although I’m not aware of any place that would let you buy such a high denomination. You could get your account shut down if you load and reload immediately and the entire amount. If you are able to find VR cards, BlueBird by Amex is a much better option. I would really only use this option if you cannot find VRs.

      • Jose Augustin says:

        I agree. Till the time CVS is selling VR in SoFla, I will stick to that. Thanks for the insights!

        BTW, you should add an option for people to subscribe to comments. I have seen those on other travel websites. It is unreal to expect posters to come back and check frequently for comment responses.

  2. pasta says:

    But can you purchase this Vanilla Pre-Paid visa with a cc?

  3. Chanel @ La Viajera Morena says:

    I know CVS stores all over NYC offer Vanilla Visas. Will try to use these to purchase money orders for MS. 😀

  4. Glenn says:

    Anyone know if they shut down your card if you can go get another and register it?

    I have had to cards “converted” from reloadable cards to gift cards by Vanilla.

    • travelguys says:

      Glenn, if I understood correctly you’re saying you’ve had your account shut down already and wondering if you can just reopen with a new card? If so I’m not sure, but given that they verify your identity with your SSN I don’t know how you would get around that other than just having someone else open the account in their name.

  5. April says:

    My CVS and local retailers in the Bay Area won’t let me purchse any giftcard/ VR with a credit card. Is there any way around this ?

    • travelguys says:

      I’m afraid not. If they won’t let you, the only solution is to find another store that does. Yet another solution is also if you have any relatives or anyone you can trust on a different part of the country where there are plenty of cards, you could set them up as authorized users and have them do the purchases for you.

  6. Jon says:

    Did anyone find out if you can have more than one card? Mine one card only allows me to reload $500 per day

    • travelguys says:

      Jon, I haven’t used this card in a long time, so I really can’t comment on the current rules. I know back when I was using the card you could register up to three of them. Not sure if the rules have changed since then. BlueBird is a much better option, as this card charges a $0.50 transaction fee each time you swipe. Not a good option for everyday spending in my opinion.

  7. Madeline says:

    Hi everyone,

    I recently came upon this website (therefore I am completely new to everything) about a day or two ago. My question is what is the main reason/s for going through this entire reload/deposit process?

    I am ignorant to the facts.


  8. Jacqueline says:

    Hi everyone,

    I would like to know as well, what is the purpose of the reload/deposit process for the vanilla visa card?

    Thank you,

  9. G.E.Brand says:

    I, too, am confused as to why one would purchase the card with $500 cash, convert it to a money order, and then deposit the money order into your bank account. Why don’t you just deposit the original $500 to your bank account?
    I am completely flamboozled as to why I would go through all these transactions. . . . unless I’m missing something. What, tell me, am I clueless on?

  10. Linda says:

    Hello Everyone,
    I agree with Jacqueline as well, what is the purpose of the reload/deposit process for the vanilla visa card? Do you need to have these cards? I’m sorry but I’m not understanding the use of these cards and I am a traveler and have been to Europe, Asia and South Pacific.

  11. debra says:

    I dont understand the purpose of getting a reloadable Vanilla card….someone please explain…thanks

    • vidonna says:

      I am new to this site….and just reading through these comments and questions…but, isn’t the purpose of purchase and reload in to create income use…to grow bonus points in travel miles and other options?….am I misunderstanding this

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