My First Reload Card Purchase – 5x Points!

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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. 

Comments

    • @Lively – You are absolutely allowed to purchase items, gift cards, etc. but you do not want to abuse. If you are purchasing these cards, I will personally be limiting it to $1,000/month and putting other purchases on the card as well. If you are a big churner (meaning you apply for a lot of Chase cards) you will be more at risk of a financial review. During the financial review if anything causes a red flag they can cancel your account. I would suggest not having only $500 Office Depot purchases on the card often.

  1. You really need to be more subtle than buying $1,000s of dollars of vanilla reload cards from OD. Avoid purchasing the same amount and creating a pattern.

    • @Grant – Thanks for that recommendation of purchasing in varying amounts, for example, $500 one time, then maybe $490 another, etc.

  2. yes exactly, never the same amount. I personally buy at least 2 cards each time I go. 500+475 or something. Or u can buy a candy bar or whatever to make the payments seem random.

  3. Love the Amex prepaid. For reasons that are unclear to me, I keep receiving 25 dollar gift cards from Amex. The one I got yesterday makes 6. I only bought 2 Amex reloadable cards through the offer.

    • @smitty06 – ha! Those gift cards have been screwed up all over. Some are getting many many more than they should have, while others are getting non. Seems like a mess of a promotion that Amex ran, but definitely a benefit to some! I personally didn’t receive mine, but called Amex this morning and they said they were mailed out three weeks ago. They have escalated it to the promotions department.

  4. Great article. Do you find that the american express prepaid is the easiest card to load it to? Which card is the prepaid debit card? Sorry for the confusion. I haven’t done this yet but am real excited. Thanks for the info. 🙂

    • @Kathy – The Amex Prepaid card is really easy to load. Not sure what you mean by “which card is the prepaid debit card?”. Let me know and I’ll try to clarify!

  5. My head hurts 🙂 Would you mind clarifying a couple of things?

    1) What is the Vanilla Visa that is also discussed? Is it a prepaid card similar to the Amex prepaid? Is the only difference that it is not reloadable (is that why it doesnt get as much airtime as the Vanilla reloads)?

    2) Is there any reason why you only bought $500 worth of reloads? Could you have bought more at a time? The reason I ask is I am wondering how much I can rely on this to take care of my 10K Ink Plus spend limit (Of course, using this technique within reason).

    3) Can you use the Amex prepaid at hotels (while settling the bill), for example? Wondering if it is worth hanging on to the Sapphire any more.

    Thanks for the great post.

    • @Amnesiac – No problem, hope this helps!

      1) There is a Vanilla Visa that is similar (in my opinion) to an Amex gift card, essentially. It is not a reloadable card at all. The reason why people like the reloadable cards and the Amex prepaid one is that you can just have one card at all times instead of a million different gift cards. Also, the Amex prepaid card is a registered card, so if there is fraud or if you lose it you are covered. It also has the same purchase protection perks as a regular Amex credit card.

      2) The reason I only bought one card with $500 on it is because I wanted to check it out first before I did anymore. Also, I was in California and was not able to load it onto my Amex prepaid card for a few days so did not want to have many outstanding. You can not reload more than $2,500 in a 28 day period. I probably would suggest not purchasing more than $2,000/month, but I know others have done more. Just be cautious and purchase them at varying amounts. Also, make sure to purchase other items as well with the card.

      3) Yes, you can pay a hotel with the prepaid card. I agree with the Sapphire dilemma.

  6. @Grant: I don’t really see the logic in that. I purchase the vanilla cards in $500 increments at the same time either two or four cards in the same run in a month. If anyone ever asks, you can just politely explain to them that you simply use a prepaid card for purchases sometimes, and you can explain that you get 5x points for making the vanilla purchase there. No one is going to report you for using one of your credit card’s primary feature, and OfficeDepot is still making money off of you. The only thing with buying multiple $500 cards at once is that I usually split them into multiple transactions so that no transaction goes over $1000. I had an experience with OfficeMax (not Depot) one time where I bought $3k worth of gift cards (for another promotion) and I ended up having to fill out paperwork for my business. (Which wasn’t a problem, but just a hassle.)

    Bottom line is, go ahead and buy them at $500 increments. It makes way more sense that way. If you’re really cautious, just buy one $500 reload at a time, and but another the following week. It also doesn’t hurt to get to know the workers.

  7. For me the challenge is getting the money off the amex card. I load a couple three thousand a month and then to be careful I use my ink bold for a lot of my other regular expenses. But then I have a tough time emptying the amex card. Of course you can do atm withdrawals but I try to be very careful with that. I need to find a way to liquidate that doesn’t cost too much.

  8. Also, makes sense to get two prepaid cards (one each for the wife and myself) and reload them with the vanilla reloads, right? Any possible problems with this plan?

  9. This product has been great so far…if only you can find it at your local OD as many of them are out of stock or as one store manager told me a couple of days ago, they get very very few of these on their weekly shipments and they disappear immediately. Need 1 more month worth ($10k) to reach my $50k max /year chase has on office supply purchases…hopefully I can still fiind some so I can really enjoy my 250k points…

  10. So that’s why my local California OD’s have been out-of-stock the past couple of weeks. Darn tourists! 😛

    I have no problem buying these in major bulk. Reduces my trips to OD.

  11. @Mitty – unfortunately Chase absolutely will shut accounts down for “privilege abuse” (their term) or for no reason whatsoever – and they often will close every single Chase account. They consider excessive use solely on high bonus-producing transactions to be an indicator, though not necessarily the only indicator. There are a number of reports of this on FlyerTalk, FW, DD, and other places.

  12. ^— exactly what Ryan just said. Chase will shut you down and put you in their doghouse for the foreseeable future meaning you’ll lose out on all future bonus opportunities.. not to mention all of the great Chase credit cards currently on the market. Many, many, many cases of people getting their accounts closed by Chase have popped up since this “trick” was heavily publicized. I would be very, very, very careful at purchasing multiple cards at the same time or multiple transactions per day

  13. Is there a prepaid card that could be loaded with the Vanilla card but be treated as a Debit card? Some of my monthly bills will not allow credit card payments but will allow payments via Debit Card.

    • @Kathy – You can use the Vanilla Visa gift card to pay your monthly bills. You can get these at Office Depot stores for 5x points with the Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus and it should be treated like a Debit card. It has worked for many to pay there taxes.

  14. Very new to this, so bear with me. What is the max amount that is suggested per month that can be withdrawn from an ATM with the Amex prepaid?

  15. I have been picking up the Amex “temporary” prepaid cards at OD since the vanilla cards are not around NYC.

    I notice the Amex prepaid cards are $4.95 and the gift cards are $5.95.

    I’m doing quite a bit of this for the $10k in 3 months spending bonus.

  16. I’m going to get the Ink Bold within a week, so I want to make sure about a couple things. I know Office Depot sells the temporary AMEX cards; should I get one of these first, or can I skip that step and order a new “Card” from AMEX through the link above?

    Also, I’m going to apply for some AMEX cards as well; just want to make sure that ordering a prepaid reloadable card won’t count against me as another application. Thanks

  17. At Safeway and Walgreens I see that Amex, Visa and MasterCard cards are cash only transactions. How long will it be before Vanilla becomes a cash only load too. IMHO these loopholes will be closed up within a year.

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