I’ve gotten some emails and comments on the blog over the weekend about Walmart cashiers no longer accepting gift cards without names on them for Bluebird reloads. I ran into this issue once, along with other issues with loading Bluebird at the kiosk. For those of you worried about being left with thousands of dollars worth of gift cards to unload, there are a few ways around this issue:
1. Reload at the Bluebird Kiosk. This sounds like a no-brainer and yes, I’m aware that some people don’t have access to a working kiosk, but it would be worthwhile to find a location that does – even if you have to make occasional trips out of town. Reloading cards at the Bluebird kiosk is easy – nobody asks to see the card and you can unload several cards without drawing attention to yourself.
2. Avoid the Money Center. By some miracle, Walmart has gotten a memo to their Money Center employees instructing them not to accept debit cards without names on them as payment for money orders or Bluebird reloads. So don’t be surprised if the Money Center employee won’t just let you swipe your card and be done with it. That’s why you should avoid the Money Center altogether. Head to the register and the cashier won’t so much as look at your card. If you go this route, I suggest you reload one card at a time and move on. The last thing you want is to draw attention to yourself by asking the cashier if you can reload your card with two different debit/gift cards. One Bluebird, one gift card, and you’re done.
3. Simon Mall Visa Gift Cards. Reader mbh left a comment yesterday, asking if there are any debit/gift cards that have your name on them. The good news is there is such a gift card. I’ve talked about the Simon Mall Visa Gift Card as a better alternative to Vanilla Reload cards. You can buy these at the information desk of your local Simon Mall or online. When you purchase them online, you’re asked to provide a recipient name, which will be imprinted on the card. This way, when you have no choice but to reload your card at the Money Center, you can present the cashier with a card that has your name printed on it.
Simon Mall Visa gift cards have a $2.95 fee per $500 when purchased at the information desk, but when you purchase them online, you instead pay a $5.95 standard shipping fee. On the up side, when you make a purchase, you’re given a code for $2 off your next purchase. So you’ll pay $9.90 per $1,000 as opposed to $5.90 at the information desk. Steep, yes, but if this is your only option for loading Bluebird, it may be worthwhile.
I’ve tried registering my American Express Gift Cards (on which I had earned a hefty profit thanks to generous shopping portal bonuses), then using those to buy Simon Mall gift cards to off-set the cost, but I kept getting a message that my credit card information was invalid.
4. Visa gift cards from GiftCardMall.com. These Visa gift cards can be purchased at most grocery and office supply stores, but if you buy them from GiftCardMall.com, you can add a name that will be printed on the card. Of course, the giant “Gift Card” text on the top of the cards may be a hinderance at the Walmart Money Center, but it’s one step above those gift cards without a name on them.
5. American Express Gift cards. American Express gift cards can be personalized, regardless of whether you’re purchasing the business or personal version. They do take a bit longer to process and ship, but at least they are easier to unload if you are going the Amex for Target route.
For high-volume card churners, there’s always the fear of unloading options like Bluebird going away on a whim. Thankfully, as the whole CVS/Vanilla thing taught us, there’s always a workaround. I’ve outlined some alternatives in case Walmart stops accepting gift cards for Bluebird loads. When one manufactured spending door closes, another one opens.
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