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Getting Around Issues Unloading Visa Gift Cards at Walmart

Bluebird Kiosk

This weekend I spent more time than I had intended to, hopping from one Walmart to another. My objective was to unload that batch of $4,000+ Visa gift cards I purchased from Staples.com, so I ended up visiting Walmart three days in a row. It wasn’t so bad on Friday, when I found a working Bluebird ATM for literally the first time at that store.

The money order function worked fine, but I wasn’t able to use the kiosk to load the Visa gift cards onto Bluebird, so I headed to the cash register and it worked fine. Following all those complaints about issues with unloading Visa gift cards, I was initially worried, but glad it had turned out ok.

The next day, at a Neighborhood Walmart, I got a “card type not accepted” message when I tried to do a load at the register. The cashier let me swipe the card myself without looking at it, so no red flags raised here. When the message popped up a second time, I was freaked out over how I would liquidate $4,300 worth of gift cards, but decided to give it another shot.

The next day I headed to a third Walmart store in my area. This one usually has a working Bluebird kiosk, though the last time I was there, it was down. This is also the store where I was prevented from buying money orders with a Visa gift card, so if the kiosk didn’t work, I knew I would be screwed. What ensured was a long, drawn out, cluster****. It ended well, but I’ll be damned if I ever try to unload $4,300 in mostly $200 increments again.

The trick, I discovered, is to load $199.99 of the $200 gift cards. First, I unloaded the full $500 from a Visa card I picked up at Safeway. No problems there. When I tried to load the $200 card purchased from Staples.com, I got a message saying, “card type not accepted.” However, $199.99 went through every time. When I hit close to the $1,000 maximum on all three Bluebird cards, it was time to switch to money orders.

The machine lets you buy money orders in increments of up to $500 and the fee at this location was a reasonable $0.55. Taking this fee into account, I tried purchasing a money order for $199.45 (which would come to $200 with the $0.55 fee). I got a “card type not accepted” message. However, $199 (plus the $0.55 fee) went through just fine. Now I have a bunch of Visa gift cards with $0.45 balances on them, but I prefer that over having $4,000+ in gift cards I can’t liquidate.

At the end of those 45 minutes spent at Walmart (part of it was spent standing in line to buy money orders with my Alaska Airlines debit card for legitimate reasons), I was pretty beat. If you’re a masochist who’s had trouble unloading $200 Visa gift cards at Walmart, follow these tips:

  • If you purchased your GCM Visa gift card at a store rather than online, you can load the full balance onto Bluebird.
  • If you purchased your CGM Visa gift card online, load $0.01 less than the gift card balance.
  • If you’re using your GCM Visa gift card to buy a money order at the Bluebird kiosk, keep your purchase at under $1 to be safe.

It took a lot of experimenting until I got the gift card to go through for money order purchases, so I didn’t try this, but you may be able to get away with unloading the same value as you would with Bluebird. With so many cards to unload, I really didn’t have time to keep trying.

Have you had issues unloading your Visa gift cards lately?

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Ariana Arghandewal

70 Comments

  1. Have you tried buying money orders at the grocery store? I’ve had no problems buying money orders in $500 increments.the cost is usually $.78-$1.00. I usually pay the fee in cash and cash out the gift cards for the full amount.

  2. No problem at all unloading full value ($200 or $500) on BB or MO with Kiosk, MC or CS.

    • Were these purchased online or in-store? I think it’s more of an issue for people who bought them from Staples.com

      • Cards from Staples (b&m), Staples.com, GiftCardMall.com and the local grocery all work fine here.

  3. I had no problem loading 5 $200 visa gcs onto my Serve card and another 5 onto my husband’s Serve at Walmart on Saturday, and then another 5 to my Serve again on Sunday. Important not to swipe the gc until after you have pushed the “yes” button to confirm amount, otherwise it seems to initially add in a $3 load charge. Also, I usually had to swipe the card twice, until I realized that if I waited for a few seconds, the screen seemed to load twice after the amount confirmed page, and then I could swipe just once.

        • Yes, after confirming the amount you must ignore the first request to swipe the debit card and a couple of seconds later it refreshes and asks again – then you are good to go.

  4. No trouble for me either….I did get shot down for bill pay though. “Need to bring in paper statement”.

    • GiftCardMall – those Visa gift cards purchased from Staples.

  5. I was able to unload four $500 gift cards purchased at a store on two BB accounts at Walmart kiosks (the Gods were with me and the kiosk worked) on Saturday. I’ve found that going slowly (which is torture since the kiosk already operates like it was built in 1985 on the MSDOS system) helps. If you push the buttons in anticipation of the command, it “breaks” and requires a customer service rep to come over and unlock it. I DID have problems, however, with the gift cards, purchased at a grocery store a week before. There was an outage for the network on the Friday I bought the cards and I had to fax in all my information and wait a week for my $1,000 to load. That was another round of torture. Luckily, the end justifies the means and all this effort is worth it for (almost) free travel! Thanks for the tips, though. They will help me not pull all my hair out at my next trip to WM.

    • Lynn, I literally thought the same thing when I found a working kiosk (“this is an act of god!”). Glad to hear your ordeal worked out fine in the end.

  6. I buy $500 One Vanilla debit cards at a CVS that stocks them. Buy money orders at Walmart money center counter for bank deposit. Sooooooo much simpler.

    • Definitely simpler (and I might just do that going forward). But that 6% profit going through Swagbucks was pretty hard to turn down.

    • Also, depositing MO’s into your account is exactly the cleanest and safest way. Aren’t you worried about drawing attention????

      • I deposit money orders into my Bank Of America branch. $1,000, $2,000, $3,000 deposits are small change to them. Attracting attention is a silly joke. Worry about crossing the street instead.

  7. I have just returned from Walmart where the machine was broken as usual so I had to stand in line for about 4 minutes. Then I loaded 10 x $200 cards from Staples-online (2 Bluebirds) with no problem at all.

  8. I unloaded my $200 visa gift cards I had ordered from Staples. I found a kiosk for the first time at Walmart. Everything went so smooth, I couldn’t believe it!

  9. Spent my own 45 minutes at the Walmart kiosk two weeks ago. I bought a $500 GC from Kroger and got the card not accepted message. I had to call the 1-800 number three times to set the pin and then reset the pin 2X. it was a pain, but it worked. I miss VR.

    • Sounds awful, but glad it worked out. A psycho Twitter follower ranted at me for spending 45 minutes at Walmart, calling it unrealistic. Thanks for proving my point.

  10. I unloaded lots of GCM $200 Visas at the kiosk (also was surprised to find it working) this weekend with no problems.

  11. I never had an issue loading, I’ve done 16k from staples.com (in 4k batches as well!) this month alone and have been doing staples B&M cards for a while. There was one store that gave me issues last month but i quickly discovered it was the card reader having issues instead of the cards them selves

  12. Not tried yet to unload Visa GCs purchased at Staples. Been loading Amex Target with no problem, but want to switch to MOs at WM or loading BB at WM. What is the pin for the Gowallet Visa? Is it the last four numbers on the card or do you have to go to Gowallet and set? Are you limited to using four GCs at one time to load BB or can you use 5 $200 per1000 load? Real noob on this, so detail answer would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Are you referring to the Visa cards purchased through Staples? You can set up the PIN online once the card is activated. You can load Bluebird up to $1,000 per day, so 5 $200 cards is ok. You’ll just have to do 5 separate transactions on the kiosk.

      • The included T&C says the initial PIN is the last 4 digits of the card.

      • Pointchaser, thanks for all your posts and your blog. Is there a rule with this 4 card swipe? I want to load $1000 to BB with $200 gcs. But I always have to do 5 separate transactions. Is there a way around this?

  13. The WM near my work’s MoneyCenter has been down for over a week. I went to the next closest WM and found one that worked…I unloaded one full $200 amount (GCM Staples.com) and it went through, then the printer jammed and required assistance, and they had no idea what they were doing so they put a sign up saying it was out of order and I left. Came back the next day and it was fixed, so I unloaded 5 more GCM cards (full $200 again) and went home. Came back today and it said “Lane Closed” and I asked a cashier and she said it was broken…so I went home. >_< I still have 14 GCM cards to go…I probably should have switched to MOs when the machine was working! I really prefer not to stand in line and liquidate 14 with the cashier haha. There's never a line for the MoneyCenter!

    • That thing is a total mess. Those gift cards were lucrative, but unloading them was a major hassle. I wouldn’t go to the cashier too often – it can draw attention to the whole loading BB with gift cards scheme and get it shut down faster.

  14. I added $1000 in visa gift cards ($200 increments) purchased at Staples.com to Bluebird using the ATM with no problems and then $400 (two $200) to Bluebird at a different Wal-mart machine the next day with no problems at all!

  15. No prob unloading my $200 Visa GC purch at Staples, for the full amount. I did wait a week after registering the card with CGM, and assigning a custon pin.

  16. I’ve discovered and confirmed, three times, that I can only load $1500 of GCM $500 Visa Debits to Bluebird (2 cards) at Walmart. When I try the 4th card, it stops the transaction and the screen says, ” An associate will assist you, blah blah blah.”

    • I’ve been able to load five cards without issues, but that Bluebird kiosk is unpredictable.

  17. you can only load $1999 every ten minutes otherwise you trigger the alert.

    • Figures! Plus, Swagbucks no longer pays out on gc’s, so that’s out.

  18. Can you share which Walmart has a working ATM? I live in the Bay area too!

    • I’ve tried Richmond Hilltop (out of order), and called the ones in Oakland / San Leandro where the stores that have a MoneyCenter Express machine say it is out of order. No go’s all around right now.

      • Were you in Richmond recently? I hear Hilltop is actually pretty consistent. I’d check with Kendra who does ms around the area and can direct you to a good source.

    • The only one I’ve had some success with is Vacaville, though I was just there recently and the machine was down. Check in with Kendra, who is a Bay Area blogger and might be willing to share her source with you/

    • I’m puzzled. Why would anyone look for an ATM in Walmarts? You can use ATMs of your bank and credit union. And what is the relevance of ATMs to manufactured spending? (I call it recycling of minimum spending into my bank account to pay off the credit card bills.)

      • It’s not a normal ATM – Walmart has a kiosk called the Money Center Express, that allows you to load a Bluebird card. No other ATM lets you do that.

          • 1. Coy? ATMs disburse money. Does the kiosk do that? 2. No kiosk in my Walmart money center.

          • So does the Bluebird kiosk, but I understand you’re on a quest to keep this as hush hush as possible.

  19. I visited two WM stores today to transfer some funds to BB from gowallet.com VGCs which I purchased at Staples (brick & mortar). Personnel at the first WM told me flat out I could not use these cards to load my BB account, even after I informed them they were debit cards with a pin. The WM person– someone slightly above cashier level– told me their system “sees these cards as credit cards, so you can’t use a pin.” So I went to my usual WM and was told by the cashier “We just changed our policy today. You can only load funds from one (of the five cards) that you have. One per day.” Neither of these stores has a kiosk of any kind, just normal ATMs that dispense cash.

    • The WM BB game has ended. I’ve chatted with Walmart mgmt and store managers about it. They are having fraud issues.
      It’d be nice to have Amex find another partner besides such an awful retail store like WM.

      • I guess they wanted to capture that particular consumer. It’s such a mess: The long lines, no parking, the kiosk is always broken, service is slow…

    • That’s unfortunate. Did you go to the money center cashier or the regular register?

  20. I went to the money center at one (not my usual store, the first one where they flat out turned me down) and the customer service desk at the second one (my usual store, where I have done all my BB funding without a hitch previously). Do you think it would be worth trying a usual register? If so, where in the store? There are many registers to choose from; in the front, at various locations inside the store, the auto center, even the garden center.

  21. My local WM does not have a money center, just a customer service desk where they process BB filling, returns, etc., and no kiosk. Why, I have no idea; maybe because it is in an area where the median home price is north of $650K. In any case, I went back this morning, and the cashier (a different one than yesterday) was quite helpful; I told her I wanted to load $800 onto BB using four cards for one transaction. At first, all appeared to be well, but at the end, after I had put in the pins for all four cards, their system generated some kind of error. It wasn’t clear whether it was objecting to four cards on one transaction or the error described in the blog post above; the cashier mentioned something about debit cards not working, so I suspect the latter. So I asked if we could try it again with just two cards, and we changed the total to $399.98, doing $199.99 per card. This worked. But when I asked if I could do the other two cards, she said “no, you can only do one transaction per day.” In any case, I very much appreciate the $199.99 tip.

    • You can ONLY use four cards, INCLUDING the BB card. WM will only let you have four scans of any cards. So, could load 600 in three VGCs PLUS BB card scan as your first scan. @Ray. QUIT talking to MGR!!! You will ruin for others. If you don’t know what you are doing, research first before you do. Lots of info on Flyer Talk and other blogs on how to do it right!

      • @Marshall. Relax, lady. I didn’t go out of my way to talk to the manager. She came out to talk to me. I know what I’m doing. More so than most on these sites.

  22. All,
    This is very helpful, but I am trying to MS on my new CC and was wondering if Staples charges for purchasing their VGC’s? If so, how much?

    I am looking at AP alternative, which does not cost anything other than my time.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.

    • The fee on $200 Visa gc’s from Staples is $6.95. If you’re using the Chase Ink Bold, it actually works out well since you earn 1,000 points for $6.95.

  23. October in Dallas, Texas-Walmart, CVS, and Kroger no longer accept PIN-enabled VISA and Master Card cards for money orders. So, I called to use the $2,000 in cards (minimum spending on two other new credit cards) to advance pay on my Citi AAdvantage credit card. It is my every day card for AA miles and I have 7 monthly bills on autopay. I’ll get it back from no monthly credit card payments for a number of months. It is NOT limited to your current balance.

    • Jerry- you can make an payment to your bank issued credit card with gift cards? Was unaware that something like that is possible and haven’t read about that. Details???

      • May 3. Now, Citi no longer will accept loaded VISA/MC gift/debit cards to pay your statements. I’m told that Capital One will permit it.

    • Jerry, I’m searching for a way to do a little bit of MS in the Dallas area. Any tips? I Purchased a VanillaOne MC yesterday at 7-11. Unfortunately, Wal mart money center didn’t let me load to BB, even I was able to hit the change payment key and choose ‘debit’ .. 🙁

      • Jason—Here in Dallas, I use new credit cards for big signup bonuses by prepaying utilities, cell phone, and cable. You get it back from no monthly payments for a number of months. And no gift card fees. Just pay off the credit card bills on time. Also, if you can time it right, pay off the annual life, home, and car insurance bills to get the big signup bonuses./Galleria service desk sells loaded gift/debit cards with PINs-$250 per card for $2 fee. Max of four per day.

  24. I purchased a Visa gc from Kroger yesterday ($500). I called and set the pin and it will not load to my bluebird through Walmart’s atm or at the cashier.

  25. Waiting on my Bluebird card to arrive. I bought $1,200 worth of PIN enabled Visa Cards from Staples using my Discover it Miles card 3%. Staples had $20 MIR and $30 off. So pretty much offset the fees on the 6*$200 Visa GC plus getting 3%. Will I have issues loading my BB with these cards?

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