Plain Vanilla

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I’ve used up a fair bit of bandwidth on this blog discussing the bluebird card and loading Visa gift cards onto it at Walmart.

This is the bread and butter of manufactured spend for me.  But this is not a Portland, Oregon specific Blog.

And this sequence might not be the the most convenient route for you.

Why do I say this?

It has to do with the regionalization of drugstore chains.

Now that I’ve got you spellbound, I will proceed.

You see there’s a more direct (read Walmartless)  route to loading your bluebird card.

It is the Vanilla Reload Card. And it looks like this.


It’s truly a beautiful thing. It’s got a low fee (3.95$ for $500 loaded) and the moment after you buy it you can load it directly onto your bluebird card via smart phone or computer.

No trips to Walmart. No wasted gas. No sweet chemical perfume of subway bread greeting you as you walk past the greeter.

So why is this not my chosen method for loading my Bluebird?

Because of the drugstores at my disposal here in Portland, Oregon.

Although we do have Walgreens Pharmacies which do have Vanilla Reloads, they do not accept credit cards for their purchase. (What are they, Free Masons?)

CVS stores both have vanilla reloads and do except credit cards. Unfortunately there are none of those north of the California Oregon border.

For brief time I was able to taste the sweet nectar of Vanilla Reload simplicity when 7/11 would allow their purchase with credit cards. But that train has left the station. (It’s got to be the Free Masons)

But the point is this. If you’re interested in the miles game and manufactured spending, and live in a locale with CVS drugstores, please check those out first.  Go with sweet vanilla.  You’ll find it very satisfying.

Just because Walmart has become a regular part of my life, does not mean it must become a part of yours.

(This public service announcement brought to you by your local farmers market.)

Take-home point: Vanilla Reload Cards are an excellent tool to have in your arsenal for manufactured spending via bluebird card. Unfortunately they are geography specific in terms of their availability for purchase with a credit card.

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2 Responses to “Plain Vanilla”

  1. Flor V. December 14, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    This idea really interests me. I started looking into both Bluebird and Vanilla, and can’t see what the difference is between the two.

    Also, whichever of the 2 cards I decide (unless you think getting both is good), can I refill at Wal-Mart via credit card?

    If I can’t, then to do my manufactured spending (I have a Marriott Visa promotion that works for my case) of $3,000, I need to buy 6 of these cards. Will Bluebird/Vanilla let me register all 6 of these cards under 1 name?

    I attentively await for your response.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. December 16, 2014 at 10:03 pm #


      Thanks for the question.

      The Bluebird and Vanilla reloads are very different products. BB is the prepaid card that you load, and VR is the card you buy to load cash onto your prepaid card.

      Also Vanilla reloads are almost impossible to buy with credit cards these days, so if you find them…buy them all!

      In terms of prepaid cards, I like the Serve the best because I never have to go to a big box store to load them up, and I can autoload them each month with credit and debit cards. But Redbird is the cheapest option, as you can load them for free by credit card at Target. Bluebird is an oldy but a goody, but it’s the worst of the bunch IMO.


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