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If you keep up with many blogs, you are probably already away of the “5x everywhere” system from blogger Frequent Miler. While I love his creative thinking, it is more challenging for me (and others in NYC) as the Office Depot in NYC does not the sell the Vanilla Reload cards that is required to take advantage of the deal. However, I was in California this past week and strategically gave Mr. Deals directions that happened to take us right by an Office Depot! With that said, I made a quick pit stop, and purchased a $500 Vanilla Reload Network Prepaid Reload card. There are a few cards out there that give you bonus points at office supply store so make sure to use one of those cards. P.S. – Office Depot is a office supply store so you get 5x points on ANY purchase, including gift cards, prepaid cards, etc. with a credit card that gives you 5x back. With this purchase I earned 2,500 points, which is great! I already had an American Express Prepaid card so was able to add the value of the Vanilla card to the permanent Amex card.
So now for those who have NO idea what I am talking about, here is a brief explanation: As I mentioned briefly above, some cards give you bonus points when purchasing items (gift cards, prepaid cards, etc.) at Office Supply stores. The better ones give you 5x points on all office supply store purchases. You can learn more about the various credit cards and their offers/benefits on this page here. At Office Depot, for instance, you can purchase with a credit card these Vanilla Reload Network Prepaid Reload cards for any denomination between $20 and $500 (due to fraud, some locations will not allow you to use a credit card to make a purchase, but ask for the manager to see if they’ll allow it). They cost $3.95 regardless of the amount you load onto the card, thus the $500 amount makes the most sense. You can then load this amount onto your permanent American Express Prepaid Card, which you can then use on all of your everyday purchases. It works just like a credit card and actually has the same benefits (if not more) as your typical American Express credit card. This means you are ultimately getting 5x points on all of your everyday purchases! You can learn more about the American Express Prepaid Card in this prior blog post, but essentially, it has the same purchase protection benefits as all other Amex credit cards, you can withdraw up to $400 per day at ATM machines, there are no foreign transaction fees, and it is reloadable up to a $2,500 balance (also, you are only allowed to reload $2,500 per month and only $1,000 every 24 hours).
How to fully take advantage of this:
- Step 1: Purchase an American Express Prepaid Card online. Some of you might already have this as this was the card that was offering $25 or $10 gift cards when loading a certain amount on the card. If you order it online there will be no fee. They will not, however, ship the cards to Arkansas and Vermont.
- Step 2: Purchase the Vanilla Reload Network Prepaid Reload Card at Office Depot using either a bonus earning credit card (preferably one that is 5x points). This is only worth it with a bonus point earning credit card, so no real benefit or value there by using another card.
- Step 3: When you get home from Office Depot immediately load the value of the Vanilla Card onto the American Express Prepaid card. This takes about 2 minutes to do online, if that. I would recommend doing it right away so you do not misplace the Vanilla card and are out $500. Directions to do this are on the card, but essentially all you need to do is:
- Go to vanillareload.com
- Enter your prepaid card number (this is the Amex number) and the pin that you’ll scratch off from the back of the Vanilla card
- The total amount on your Amex Prepaid card will be confirmed
- You can also call 1-877-429-8140 to speak to a representative and have them load if for you if you’d prefer that over doing it online
- Step 4: Use your American Express Prepaid card on all purchases. Since it is a prepaid card, if there are not enough funds for the purchase, the merchant will just deny your purchase. There are no overdraft fees or bills to pay.
- Step 5: Or… you can use the Amex Prepaid card like an ATM card and take out cash when needed. Your first withdrawal per month is free and then you will be charged $2 per withdrawal. Many ATMs, however, impose their own fee, so try to find a no fee ATM. If anyone knows of a no-fee ATM in NYC please let me know! Make sure not to abuse the ATM policy as they can always close your account for suspicious behavior.
- Step 6: Go back to Office Depot and purchase more Vanilla Reload Network Prepaid Reload cards when needed. Make sure you are making other purchases with your Chase card as well. Chase can always shut down your account for anyone who is abusing the privileges given. If you are purchasing these cards often, make sure to spread them out throughout the year. The 5x points at office supply stores are maxed out at $50,000 per year, so keep that in mind. This is my warning to you – do not go crazy with this!
- Step 7: See your account balance increase! Every $500 reload will earn you 2,500 points. For the flexible point accounts, you can transfer these points to a loyalty partner program that works best for you.
Let me know if you have any questions! You can learn more about the credit cards to use and maximize for this bonus on this blog page.