Google Wallet: Dead Already!

RIP, Google Wallet

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Well that was a fun week! I first wrote about Google Wallet a week ago and how it was going to be a huge points machine for a limited time.

Well that limited time has come to an end.

At some point today, Google made it clear that only the first $250 you send to someone will be fee-free. After that amount, they will levy Paypal-like fees of 2.9% and 30 cents if you use your credit card.

Sending money funded by your bank account will still be free, but that’s not what we’re in this game for! We’re in it for credit card miles and points!

Takeaways

What we can learn from this is that you have to be quick to punch, strike while the iron’s hot, all those inspirational sayings.

When a points-earning method like this comes about, let the pros test it out. That’s what we’re here for, to take the guesswork out of things like this.

In the meantime, get your ducks in a row. For this, you should have:

  1. Signed up for Google Wallet (I was giving out pennies to get you into the program)
  2. Verified your identity – DOB, SSN, etc.
  3. Verified your bank account (so cash could be withdrawn)
  4. Decide which points or miles-earning credit card to use

Once we give the go-ahead, don’t waste time! Do what you have to do to earn your points before things get shut down.

Oh well, it was good while it lasted. I earned several thousand points so I can’t complain. Hopefully, I’ll write again soon about the next great points-earning scheme!

On to the next one…

Google Wallet

The Internet is abuzz about the debut of the newest feature of Google Wallet, Google’s online payment processing system. Using Google Wallet’s latest enhancement, you can now send money to anyone similar to Paypal, Amazon Payments, etc.

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You can either fund the payments with your checking/savings account or a credit/debit card. Obviously, the value proposition here is sending money with a points-earning credit card.

Also, this is a limited time value proposition because, normally, Google would levy a 2.9% fee with each payment. However, they are currently waiving that fee! I have no idea when they will stop waiving the fee, but I’m not going to wait around to find out. I’m going to get my points while the getting’s good!

Timeline of a Google Wallet Hustle

  • May 20: Sent $4K+ to Joann.
  • May 20: Joann received email to claim money. She clicked the link in the email to claim money.
  • May 23: Payment cleared/released to Joann. Google emailed me to notify me as well.
  • May 23: “You’ve claimed money and it’s now waiting for you in your Google Wallet.” It was not actually available in Joann’s Wallet balance; it was still pending.
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  • May 26: Money posts in Wallet balance and withdrawal to bank account initiated.
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  • May 28: Money posts to bank account (one day after national holiday)

That’s it! We will now pay the credit card bill that we used to send the money and voila… over 4,000 airline miles (or hotel points… or whatever you want!)

Observations

Large payments like the one I detailed above will probably take longer than usual to clear. My bank’s fraud department actually called me; I told them that this was a legitimate purchase to push it through. I’m not sure if that held up the process at all.

I’ve also sent smaller amounts like $100 and that went through instantly, similar to Amazon Payments. We were able to receive the money and immediately initiate a withdrawal to our bank account.

If you have an American Express Business Gold card, you may be in luck. People are reporting 2x points on the “Business Services” category that Google Wallet is posting in.

Frequently Asked Questions

I won’t reinvent the wheel here. Head on over to Frequent Miler’s wonderful post where he answers just about every question imaginable about this new (albeit temporary) point machine.

Pay close attention to the section where he discusses limits and how NOT to get banned from this program.

Also, Dan’s Deals had the Director of Product Development for Google Wallet answer questions about it. Pretty awesome!

Invitations to Google Wallet

In order to be a part of this hustle, you need to have someone send you any amount of money. People are sending other people 1 cent and that will get them into this program.

If you’d like me to send you a penny to get you started, please leave a comment below or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter! I’d be happy to help out fellow hustlers.

American Express Bluebird: Earn Points for Mortgage Payments (and more)

What’s the deal???

The latest craze in the world of points-hungry travelers is the American Express Bluebird prepaid card. For all intents and purposes, it is a prepaid debit card that also has checking features (i.e. Bill Pay).

The biggest value proposition comes from the fact that you can use it to pay bills just like a checking account. This alone isn’t a big deal, as everyone has a checking account with this feature.

The big deal is that you can fund your Bluebird account in two ways that will earn you points/miles:

  • Swiping your points-earning debit card to directly fund your Bluebird at Walmart
  • Purchasing Vanilla Reload cards with any one of your points-earning credit cards

Step 1: Open a Bluebird account

This part is easy. Click here to go to the signup page for Bluebird.

You do have to supply your social security number, but it does NOT result in a hard inquiry on your credit (like applying for a credit card does). It is just like opening a checking account; they are only using your SSN for identity verification.

My card was mailed to me in about 10 days.

Step 2: Fund your Bluebird account

Funding your Bluebird using the Vanilla Reload Network (#1 method)

This is the only worthwhile way to earn points in this process. It does hinge on the premise that you are able to find a Vanilla Reload card.

These have been a little hard to find for those of us in larger markets (NJ/NY, CA, etc.) but they are appearing in more stores lately – CVS, Walgreens, 7-11, Family Dollar, Valero. Please see the Vanilla website for every location.

Not every location will let you buy one with a credit card. It can vary from store to store, even within the same chain. I personally went to a few Walgreens where I was told “Cash only” when trying to buy a card, but I do know that others have successfully purchased them with credit cards so find out for yourself to be sure.

Whether it is accepting cash only or imposing a limit on how many cards you can buy, just be polite and move on if things don’t go your way! No need to argue or speak to managers about this precious card that is the key to earning points for paying loans and mortgages.

Thanks to Mile Collector for finding a CVS that’s close to both of us that let me purchase 4 cards at $500 each with my credit card!

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The Bluebird and its bird food (Vanilla)

There are a few general Vanilla Reload restrictions, but nothing bad:

  • The max value Vanilla Reload card you can purchase is $500
  • Each card carries a $3.95 fee that you must pay
  • You are limited to loading $1,000 per day (the day starts at 12AM EST) on the Vanilla Reload website
  • You are limited to loading $5,000 per month

Funding your Bluebird at Walmart (#2 method)

Funding at Walmart is the easier of the two methods of loading your Bluebird card. There are certain restrictions that go along with this method:

  • You can only use a debit card to pay
  • You are limited to loading $1,000 per day
  • You are also limited to $5,000 per month

As you can see, this method is VERY limited considering there are so few points earning debit cards. I just wanted to put it out there but it is definitely the less preferred method.

Step 3: Pay your bills

This part is basically like any other Bill Pay system you’ve seen before. Set up any number of Payees – American Express for paying your CC bills, Wells Fargo for your home mortgage, Sallie Mae for your student loans.

You can even set up a PERSON as a custom Payee – a friend whom I owe money to, a landlord to pay rent.

The possibilities are endless and if the Payee isn’t in the Bluebird system, Bluebird will simply mail them a check in about 6 business days.

Wrap-Up

So to recap, the basic process goes like this:

  1. Open Bluebird account.
  2. Fund it somehow, preferably with a Vanilla Reload card purchased with a credit card. The less preferred method is to fund it with a points-earning debit card at Walmart.
  3. Use your Bluebird account as a Bill Pay and pay things you would normally not earn miles for!

It’s a bit of learning curve starting up, but it’s absolutely worth it. You could be earning thousands of extra miles a year because of this.

The first step is opening a Bluebird account and getting yourself that card!

I hope this helps and if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.