Bluebird Life After Vanilla Reloads

Since the big news last month that Vanilla Reload cards were going cash only at CVS stores nationwide, some manufactured spenders have been scrambling for alternatives. There are definitely options, though none easier than the good old Vanilla Reload.

Enter the OneVanilla Prepaid Visa Card.

You can still, at the time of this post, purchase these prepaid cards at CVS stores (and other stores) with a miles/points earning credit card. The fee on these cards is $4.95 ($1 more than the old Vanilla Reloads).

You can then go to Walmart and load you Bluebird account at a MoneyCenter kiosk or at a regular cashier by using the OneVanilla as a debit card. The PIN is whatever 4-digit number you enter upon your first purchase. In this case, the first and ONLY use of this card so enter any 4 digits.

There are, of course, caveats to this. You need a Walmart within a reasonable distance. The further it is from you, the more time & gas you waste, adding to the overall cost of points. Also, you can only load $1,000 per day with this method so to max out your spend potential each month, you would have to visit a Walmart a minimum of 5 times.

My process (which includes Joann) is as follows:

  1. We each buy 2 $500 OneVanilla Prepaid Visa Cards at our local CVS using credit cards. (Note: Your store’s policy may differ regarding the number of prepaid cards you can buy in one transaction)
  2. With our $2,000 worth of OneVanilla cards, we go to Walmart (ours doesn’t have a MoneyCenter so we do this with a regular cashier)
  3. We each load our Bluebird accounts with $1,000 (in 2 separate $500 transactions)
  4. We go home and pay our credit card bills with Bluebird Bill Pay!

Again, we try to maximize our trips to Walmart so we both load the maximum $1,000 per day to our Bluebird accounts. It wouldn’t be worthwhile to just buy one $500 OneVanilla, drive to Walmart, and load only $500.

It’s never going to be as easy as it was with Vanilla Reloads, but Bluebird is still a viable option for manufactured spend. It just takes a little extra effort now.

30% Transfer Bonus From American Express Membership Rewards to Virgin America

Get 30% more Elevate® points when you transfer Membership Rewards® points to your Virgin America Elevate account. Offer ends April 30, 2014. Terms, conditions, and restrictions apply.

Instead of the normal 200 Membership Rewards points to 100 Elevate points, the limited time bonus turns that ratio into 200:130.

You can calculate how many points you need for partner redemption on this page.

Transferring MR points to Elevate points rarely makes sense due to the non 1:1 transfer ratio. Hopefully, this is just an appetizer of Membership Rewards transfer bonuses to come.

Let’s hope for better transfer bonuses in the coming months (come on, Avios!), especially with great new products out in the EveryDay & EveryDay Preferred credit cards.

Plenty of American Airlines Changes – Awards, Stopovers, & More

Big news this morning from the American Airlines – US Airways merged camp. There are a few changes that most flyers are not too happy about.

List of Changes

  • AAnytime awards increase and are broken out into 3 tiers, effective June 1, 2014
  • Free stopovers at North American international gateway cities (JFK, LAX, ORD, MIA, DFW) are eliminated
  • Oneworld Explorer awards completely eliminated, effective immediately!
  • US Airways has updated their “sweet spot” North America – North Asia Business Class award from 90K to 110K, aligning with AA
  • AA award ticketing fees for international tickets booked over the phone will go from $25 to $35 per ticket
  • Lots of checked bag changes – see further down.

Continue reading

American Express EveryDay Preferred Sign-Up Bonus Posted

Since the American Express EveryDay & EveryDay Preferred credit cards are so new, I thought I’d give updates through the whole process. Last week, I wrote about the card arriving and posted some photos and screenshots.

The latest news here is that the 15,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus for the EveryDay Preferred has posted to my account.

amex everyday bonus

“Amex Ed Pref $1K Spd/15K MR Pt” posted on April 2nd, shortly after I reached the $1,000 spend threshold. That’s surprising to me because, if I recall correctly, I’ve never seen an Amex MR bonus post before the statement closes. Regardless, the bonus has posted, as expected, and I’ve also just completed the 30 transactions before my initial statement closes on April 8th!

amex transaction tracker congrats

In this short, initial statement period, swiping $1 transactions to myself via Square Register has come in handy.

I hope these posts help people who are interested in this new product from American Express!

Discover IT Second Quarter Bonus Categories Are Live

Similar to the Chase Freedom bonus categories, the Discover IT card has its own set of bonus categories that are directly competing this quarter:

  • Home improvement stores
  • Furniture stores
  • Bed Bath & Beyond

You will receive 5% cashback on any purchases in these categories, up to $1,500 in spend.

The second quarter runs from April 1 – June 30, 2014.

You can sign up your IT card for the bonus on this page.

You can redeem Discover cashback on gift cards from a plethora of retailers, but for me, the best value is to just redeem it for statement credit.