I need a simple primer on the Vanilla Reload/Bluebird thing

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by disambiguous1, Feb 27, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. disambiguous1

    disambiguous1 Silver Member

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    I've researched the Vanilla Reload/Bluebird MR strategy a little bit on and off this forum, and I've got to say that I'm not sure I understand it. As much as I can tell, there are no benefits for just using the Vanilla Reloads, it's just that they may enable you to get rewards when you purchase them with a credit card that DOES give you rewards. And where does Bluebird come into all this? Are there points for using Bluebird?

    Or are there points for using particular mileage rewards cards at Walmart and CVS? And what separates the Vanilla Reloads from other pre-loaded cards?

    Suppose I have a theoretical situation where I can pay for anything I need using a mileage rewards card of some sort. In that case, would there be no benefit to doing the BB/WM strategy?

    And while we're at it, could somebody please post a glossary of all the abbreviations in general use? Most of them I can figure out, but some of them I'm not sure. What, for example, is AP?

    Many thanks for all info. -DA1
     
  2. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Simply stated, the idea is to spend as much money as you possibly can using a points-earning credit card. If you can figure out how to spend $50K extra per year using a credit card, that's at least 50K more points / miles that you will earn.

    Obviously, you're not going to buy $50,000 worth of stuff you don't need -- even if you could afford it. But when you buy Vanilla Reload card, it's kind of like buying money. You only need to figure out how to the get the money "off" the card to be right back where you started (minus, in the case of VR, $3.95 cost to buy the card).

    Bluebird allows you to deposit Vanilla Reloads in your account and use them to pay bills, including credit card bills.

    The only "earning" benefit comes from having purchased the VR cards with a points-earning credit card. Bluebird is simply there to help you "cash out" the VR cards.
     
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  3. disambiguous1

    disambiguous1 Silver Member

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    So basically, if I have a Bluebird account, I could buy the Vanilla Reloads with the rewards card and get points, then deposit the Vanilla Reload into the Bluebird account and pay off the card. I imagine that if one kept a "slush fund" of a couple thousand dollars, one could go through that amount every month over and over, and use the churn to build up points. Is that the correct method? The payback is that if one gets a big enough worth of Vanilla Reload, the cost is smaller than the amount one would get back in points.

    And are you saying that the Vanilla Reloads are the only cards that Bluebird accepts for deposit?

    Seems like a lot of effort. With a $500.00 VR card, for example, if the cost of the card is $3.95, and if the points are 1 per dollar, each point is worth about a cent anyway. That would be a net profit of $1.00 per card, unless there were special deals where you got multiple points.

    Many thanks for that explanation. -DA1
     
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  4. ballardFlyer

    ballardFlyer Gold Member

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    So if you buy VR at some stores with certain cards that bonus "office supply" or "grocery" spend by 2-5x points then it gets interesting.

    Or if you are a DL flyer and want to hit your MQM boost by spending 30K or 60K a year (and paying your mortgage with all the money in the end) then the funnel can be good too.

    It enables spend on things that were never economically reasonable or even allowed to earn miles on before.
     
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  5. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    You buy a Vanilla Reload at CVS. You use a credit card to buy it that will give you miles or points for the purchase. When asked how much you want on it you say $500.00. There is a $3.95 fee in addition so total will be $503.95. At home on your computer you go to VanillaReload.com and enter the number off the scratched off back of the VR (Vanilla Reload) and the number of your BB (BlueBird) and $500 shows up in your BB account. You toss the VR.

    You can then pay bills, say the bill for the credit card that you used to buy the VR. So you spend $3.95 and earn say 500 airline miles.

    Rinse and repeat.

    You can buy up to $5,000 a day at CVS, but your local CVS may be out of them or might not allow credit cards. YMMV. You can load up to $1,000 a day to BB. And $5,000 a calendar month.

    There's more to it but that's the basics.
     
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  6. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    I buy HIGC at OD with INK, and okay my LAR at Lowes to get 5X, in the property business.

    Got a SERVE card, just started, load it for free at CVS. 5k per month! and we use it to pay some bill! that we could not with a CC, seems to be working, Never did the BB thing, WM and 4 bucks never interested me..

    Eazy Money with Serve...for the time being...
     
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  7. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

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    In a nutshell: VR cards are for buying money with credit cards to satisfy your minimum spending threshold, and eventually get the sign up bonuses. The BB comes into play where you deposit the money purchased through VR to pay off the CCs and not incur any unnecessary interest or retain any debts.
     
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  8. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    You can load Bluebird in two obvious interesting ways--you can deposit VRs online with near zero effort, or you can swipe reload at WM (Walmart). At WM you can swipe reload with any "debit" card. So a VGC (Vanilla Gift Card, meaning a VISA gift card, cost $4.95 so an extra dollar) can be loaded to your Bluebird. You go to the cashier, hand them your Bluebird, say you want to do a reload, say $500 when they ask, confirm on the touch screen, swipe your VGC and enter the PIN. The default PIN on a VGC is the last four digits. Other cards can be used as well, most you'll have to call in to an automated attendant to set the PIN. Obviously if you don't go to WM a lot, this isn't anywhere near as efficient, and it costs more. But if you can't find VRs, or you get some particular bonus for buying VGCs from the store you buy them from, it might be worth it to you. Factor in your time and gas into the equation though.

    As far as what you gain? Lets just do VRs. So it costs you $3.95. You earn say 500 SPG points if you buy them with an Amex SPG card. An SPG point might be worth 2 cents. So you get $10.00 or so worth of points for $3.95. Similarly many airline miles might be worth about 2 cents as well. So again, $10 - $3.95 = $6.00 is your "profit". As others have pointed out though, you may do better than this. If you buy your VRs at a location where you get a category bonus, say at a Grocery Store with a card that gives you 6X there, then you do better. Or if you're just trying to meet the minimum spend on a card that you otherwise might not be able to hit in the allotted time, then your return might be 50,000 American Airlines miles for say $3.95 x 6 in spend to get to $3,000 in spend in 3 months.

    Anyway, that's the basics.
     
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  9. traveler
    Original Member

    traveler Gold Member

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  10. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Serve is not charging anything at the moment,

    Pass the Beans,
     
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  11. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    I'll note that VGC, Beans, WM don't come up in the dynamic glossary...
     
  12. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    Requested them to be added...
     
  13. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Wall-Mart, where parking spots are hard to find.

    End of the month is near and the $5,000 charges starts over,

    OM and VISA are kicking in $15.00 if you purchase $250.00 in gift cards...

    3/2-3/8 let the fun begin

    Miles are so easy to get...I feel Guilty sometimes...
     
  14. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    I normally wouldn't bother with the OM thing but since I'm currently able to pay my mortgage via Evolve Money for no fee with gift cards, I'm going in this time. Normally I just find anything less than $500 too much trouble at WM.
     
  15. volsfan

    volsfan Silver Member

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    I had used Bluebird in the past, but it had been a few months since the last activity. I tried to pay a utility bill this evening, but the Bluebird website would not take the zip code for this payee I had used many times in the past. I called the rep, and found out some really discouraging news--they no longer accept addresses for payment that have P.O. box numbers--they only take physical addresses now. When the rep told me this (with an Indian accent) I could not believe it--what business uses a physical address these days for remittances?? I asked to speak to the supervisor and she confirmed the bad news. I have gotta believe they are refocusing the purpose of this card away from bill payment--for me, there is nothing left that is of any use.
     
  16. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

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    Wow that sounds totally boneheaded to me too -- I'm not sure any bill has a physical address unless it's for overnight remittances. I wonder if that would still work? It's not like they actually cut a check for most of those places anyhow.
     
  17. norge
    Original Member

    norge Silver Member

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    I just mail a BB check. Not a big deal.
     
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  18. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    All of the credit card payments I make using Bluebird I just search for American Express or whatever and enter my credit card number. I never type in an address. So in general this doesn't matter.
     
  19. Gmaj7

    Gmaj7 New Member

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    Yikes! Today I tried to get VR and CVS said they have a new cash only policy. I went to Family Dollar, but the VR had changed. No scratch off, only a bar code that can only be used for loading Vanilla prepaid cards at the store of purchase. I have a new BB account and want to fund it. I know there are other ways to do this, and I sure like the bill pay function on BB. Ideas welcome.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
  20. John Deere

    John Deere Silver Member

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    Family Dollar hasn't let credit card payment for vr, ever.
     
  21. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    The CVS thing is all over the blogs for the last week or so. End of the line for that and Serve at CVS. You can still buy gift cards, even at CVS apparently, and load those to BB at WM.
     
  22. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    Was in CVS today and sales are through the roof, the Mgr sad guy were buying 5 and 10k at a time...

    I did not let him down, and told him I would be back tomorrow...

    I loaded the Serve Card tonight, and will do the same 4 more nights this month... This could be habit forming.,,20k in 2 days...2 Serve card and AA EX loves me..

    It is so easy to get miles...
     
  23. Stils

    Stils Silver Member

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    Still trying to figure out the cheapest/best gift cards to buy for this. I want to use a 1x card (Delta Amex Reserve) to hit the yearly spend thresholds for bonuses. I can use my Chase Ink for office stores but I need to increase spending on the 1x card.
     
  24. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    Well, you can still buy gift cards at various places across the country, but try your Grocery store or 7-Eleven or your gas station or Lowe's maybe. And of course Staples, Office Max and Office Depot. You'll find lots of options, including $0 cards at some places, $2.95 after rebate cards, $4.95, $5.95 and $6.95 cards. You'll mostly have to buy these in person and not online. Almost all of them can be assigned a PIN. You'll have to do the legwork yourself checking places you frequent.
     

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