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Yesterday I wrote about a new credit card offer where you can get 100,000 American Airline miles. While it currently is one of the highest bonus offers, it does come with a hefty annual fee (not waived the first year) and a high minimum spend you need to meet to earn the 100,000 bonus miles – you will need to spend $10,000 within the first three months.
While there are many ways to meet minimum spend requirements (every day spend, Amazon payments, buying gift cards, etc.), my favorite is purchasing Vanilla Reloads at CVS and then loading them to an American Express Bluebird card. While I know this isn’t an option for some as their local CVS does not carry Vanilla Reloads, for those that have this option it is my personal favorite. There are other places to purchase VRs, but not all accept credit card.
Steps for purchasing Vanilla Reloads:
- Purchase a Vanilla Reload card at CVS and load it with $500. This is the maximum amount that can be loaded onto a single Vanilla Reload. Reload cards cost $3.95 so you want to maximize the amount you put on it to reduce your out of pocket cost. Make sure the card you purchase looks like this:
- At CVS if you purchase $1,000+, they will need to scan your ID. This is no big deal, it is just protecting them against fraud. Some CVS’s will allow you to purchase up to $5,000 worth of Vanilla Reloads, while others will only allow one $500 purchase. I personally purchase in $1,000 increments. If you are looking to make a large purchase, I recommend calling your credit card company in advance to let them know you are making a large purchase. Some cards will deny your purchase and put a fraud alert on your account until you confirm that it was a legit purchase. If this happens I usually get an email or phone call immediately asking me to confirm my purchase. Once confirmed you will be able to make the purchase.
Steps for loading Vanilla Reloads onto an American Express Bluebird card:
- You will first need to order an American Express Bluebird card. This is free and will take a week or so to arrive in the mail.
- Go to the Vanilla Reload website where you will need to enter the 10 digit number (which is found under the scratch off) on the back of the Vanilla Reload card you purchased at CVS. Enter this number and click “Continue”.
- On the next page, you will need to enter your Bluebird number. The $500 will then be loaded onto your Bluebird card.
- You can only load $1,000 onto a Bluebird card each day.
Once you have money loaded onto your Bluebird card, then what?
- There are a few options to then using the money:
- Bill Pay: Insert the payee information and Bluebird will send them the money. You can pay a business or a person. This includes, for example, your Chase credit card bill, electricity bill, or your friend. If it is a business that is already in the system you can send as much as $10,000 per month. If it is a person not in the system, you are limited to sending $5,000 per month.
- Write a Check: You can write a check right from your Bluebird account. This is personally my favorite method as then you ensure the person is actually receiving the check. You must order checks ahead of time and until April 1, 2014 the fee is waived. All checks must be pre-authorized and any amount over $2,000 will take a few days. You can read more about ordering checks and pre-authorizing the checks in this prior blog post.
Also, Vanilla Reloads and American Express Bluebirds are not only to meet minimum spend. I personally purchase VR’s monthly to continue to earn points and miles. This post goes into depth on which credit card to use when purchasing Vanilla Reloads.
Let me know if you have any questions!