Bluebird/Vanilla Reloads

Discussion in 'Other Credit Card Programs' started by Makena, Jan 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Makena

    Makena Member

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    Hi,

    I want to use Vanilla Reload Cards in order to load them on my Bluebird Prepaid Card and then pay rent. The intent is to meet the Minimum Spend requirements on some travel credit cards. I can't otherwise pay my rent with credit cards directly.

    However, I don't want to piss-off the people at either American Express Bluebird or the travel credit cards (Chase, for example) and have either account shut down. But I don't know enough about their business model to know if either of them, or any of them, or both of them would be upset if I used my cards in such a manner.

    So, does American Express care if I only used the Bluebird in such a way? Or should I mix in some other regular spending?

    Do the credit card companies (Chase, Citi, etc) care if they see large transactions from me for $503.95 for the purchase of Vanilla Reload cards? Should I try to hide those? Or do they not care?

    Thank you.
     
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  2. akcae
    Original Member

    akcae Silver Member

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    Bluebird has a bill pay feature precisely for the purpose of --- paying bills. So if you load the account with VRs and then use the funds to pay your rent, that is perfectly within the accepted/intended use.

    Also, banks shouldn't care if you have transactions such as $503.95 on your cards, which isn't particularly large in the grand scheme of things. If you have an established history of much, much lower transactions, and then a bunch of multi-hundred-dollar ones popped up, some banks (Amex) might attempt to verify with you that they were valid as a fraud protection measure. But otherwise, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

    Be careful with purchasing certain cash-like instruments, as they can sometimes be treated as cash advances instead of purchases by the CC company. For example, Citi treats Amex GC purchases as cash advances and as such, they come out of a lower credit limit, and incur interest immediately with no grace period normally accorded to regular purchases.
     
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  3. NYBanker
    Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

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    There aren't any reports of Bluebirds being closed yet. Amex makes their money on Bluebird from swipe fees. Though squarely within the terms of service, customers that only load with VR and then pay bills for free are not profitable Bluebird customers. There are enough limits in place ($1k/day, $5k/month) that I think the risk of Amex shutting accounts is low - as it is tough to be abusive. However, putting a few incidental swipes on the card (coffee here, parking meter there, etc) couldn't hurt as a little insurance.

    If you value air miles at a few pennies a point, paying $0.0079 for them is pretty good.


    While Amex GCs bought online are a risk (of being treated as cash advance) for certain types of credit cards, you will not run this risk on any gift card you buy at a bricks and mortar retailer.
     
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  4. Dad to GO

    Dad to GO Silver Member

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    I may be what you would call a "worry wart" but I intentionally put about 2 or 3 very small charges (under $5 each) on my bluebird card every month just to show that I am using it for normal purchases. 99% of the time I am merely funding it with VR's or Debit cards to pay my mortgage, car payment, credit card bills, etc... but I just like to do what I can to stay waaaay under the radar if possible.
     
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  5. Makena

    Makena Member

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    Okay, how about the issue of purchasing VRs with a credit card from Chase, or Citi, or US Bank? I've heard from multiple people that Chase can shut down all of your accounts with no warning if they think you are 'abusing' the card, even though you are fully within the acceptable uses of the card as listed in the T&C. I'm only purchasing the VRs on new credit cards to meet the minimum spend requirements, so I don't have an established history with the card.
     
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  6. Singapore Flyer

    Singapore Flyer Silver Member

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    Not sure about abusing the card but they could if you are not playing by the rules of the UR account. Transferring to third parties, overpaying to inflate CL or making 1000's of $.01 purchases to get the extra UR points on a freedom card. If you are making "legitimate" purchases at different stores including favorite drug stores where the actual purchases are not itemized, I don't really see how it would flag them. It is about spending patterns to avoid the dreaded SMS about a fraud alert which can be eliminated with a preemptive call to CSR.

    Data point - friends and myself have bought many of these cards with cards from all three banks but as they say YMMV.
     
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  7. Dad to GO

    Dad to GO Silver Member

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    As long as you aren't going from what would be considered your average monthly spend to something ridiculous and only making purchases at CVS for the exact same amount I would think you should be fine.

    These are 3 things I always do...
    1. Purchase VR's in varying amounts. i.e. $498, $495, etc.
    2. Put some other purchases on your card each month from different vendors so you have "every day" spend on it as well.
    3. Don't do something stupid and max out your card with strictly VR purchases or any purchases for that matter. Keep it within what would be a normal spend pattern and slowly increase it.
    Again these are just my opinions and you can do whatever you want. I just think that you're less likely to draw any attention from the financial institutions doing this.
     
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  8. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    I'm not sure what the need is to "disguise" the purchase, Amex/Chase see an itemized receipt from most merchants anyways.
     
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  9. 98mike

    98mike Silver Member

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    While I'm cautious myself in how I buy and use VRs, unless you're slamming the system the banks algorithms likely don't give a hoot about 3x $502.95 swipes at CVS per month. Me, I only use them to supplement spend to hit my spends and I attempt to always hit spend a month early to make sure I didn't go short or make a return etc. I also try to go upwards of $500 over spend to be safe on spend, so I'll always toss in another VR at the end of a spend to make sure I'm clear.

    I'd love to mint points with them, but I can't stomach a FR or letter from Chase, I like to travel too much.
     
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  10. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    One thing I discovered in the relatively short time I've been doing this miles/points are more plentiful but far less valuable than time to use them. I have a son at home that learns a new word and trick every day. I don't have the time nor the desire to waste it on dedicating myself to earn points like others have, I am content with the earn rate I have with a relatively light "gaming" of the system, compared to some of the heavy hitters.
     
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  11. Makena

    Makena Member

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    > Amex/Chase see an itemized receipt from most merchants anyways.

    I didn't know this. If so, there's no point in adding a few extra items into the basket in order for my receipt to say something other than 503.95.
     
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  12. HaveMilesWillTravel
    Original Member

    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I am not convinced that most merchants, particularly drug stores, would provide level III data for credit card purchases to the card issuer. Do you have more details on that?
     
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  13. boondr

    boondr Gold Member

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    Not really, just speculation based off my statements, with information being such a commodity these days I doubt the banks would let something like that slip through their net. With simple generalizing of categories to circumvent privacy issues, I venture that any system designed to catch $503.95 + incidentals would be sophisticated enough to catch $497.35 too. A regular trip to the drug store with a high dollar amount is just as likely to be the same as it is to be varied due to the nature of "normal" high drugstore spend, drugs.



    Edit to add: Additionally with the Amex HHonors cards being the prevailing method of purchasing VR at drugstores a $497.35 purchase (VR load) followed up with a $493.40 BB load is all anyone at Amex with common sense and desire to check needs to see what you're doing
     
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