Gift Card Churning for a Good Cause

This hobby can breed greed and selfishness sometimes. I’m certainly among those who might go a little too far when it comes to earning points and miles, but I do try to think of others – whether it comes to redeeming my points and miles or doing my part to preserve deals so other people can benefit from them in the long run as well. However, some of the methods we utilize to earn points and miles are only advantageous to us: I know gift card sales aren’t particularly profitable for drug stores and while credit card companies do rake in a decent amount in processing fees, they still have to buy miles from the airlines and pay customer service reps to deal with us when our frequent high-spending habits set off security alerts. These are mere observations and I’m not selfless enough to give this hobby up because some corporate giant might not profit from it. 

However, sometimes (mainly when it’s pointed out to me by others), I think about whether my time could be better spent doing something more productive or beneficial for the greater good. If you’re in the same boat as me, you can feel less guilty. Now there’s a way to manufacture spend while also contributing to a good cause – and it doesn’t involve giving up your miles. During a trip to a newly opened CVS store, I came across these specially branded PIN-enabled gift cards. They’re Vanilla MasterCard Priceless Causes gift cards, available in $20 – $500 increments. 

Vanilla MasterCard Priceless Causes gift cards

These gift cards carry the same $4.95 fee as Vanilla Visa gift cards do and for each one that is sold, CVS will donate $1 to Stand up to Cancer. This fundraising effort will continue until December 16, 2016 and the maximum donation is capped at $25,000. Try as I might, I’m not going to be able to purchase 25,000 Vanilla MasterCard Priceless Causes gift cards, but I’m sure between all of the gift card churners out there, we’ll easily reach that number. So the next time you’re gift card shopping at your local CVS store, look out for the Vanilla MasterCard Priceless Causes gift cards. They can be unloaded in the same manner as Vanilla Visa gift cards and $1 of your purchase gets donated to a good cause.

Up until this point, I had never purchased Vanilla gift cards issued by MasterCard before, so I initially only picked up two cards. This way, if I had trouble unloading them via Redbird, I could still get rid of them by paying household bills. Lately, cashiers have asked me what my payment form is and backed off when I said I was using debit (in my defense, the Vanilla Visa gift cards do have “debit” written on them). I’ve also heard reports from readers who’ve been told they can’t use a gift card or who’ve encountered problems related to the registers when loading Redbird with Vanilla Visas. 

I was prepared for the possibility of that happening when I handed the Vanilla MasterCard Priceless Causes gift cards to my brother, who is helping me unload them. Thankfully, that wasn’t the case and he had no problems using both cards (along with three Vanilla Visa debit cards) to reload Redbird. So now that we’re clear (for the time being) to use Vanilla MasterCard gift cards for Redbird loads, I’m going to keep buying them and feel good knowing my quest to earn millions of frequent flyer miles isn’t entirely self-indulgent.

Have Vanilla MasterCard Priceless Causes gift cards popped up at your local drug store? Are you going to start incorporating them into your manufactured spending strategy?

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Ariana Arghandewal


  1. I’ve recently started a project where I’m “donating” my points, miles, and gift cards for a good cause, like sponsoring kids with life threatening medical conditions a trip to Disneyland. I do quite a bit of MS and gift card selling gift, so I always have extras that I can give away. Check out my Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/fptgiftbox. Would love to get some ideas and also get more people involved in donating their points and gift cards.

  2. Yeah, ever since I saw them, every time I buy Vanillas at CVS I buy these ones. I get the same gift card benefits as with the Visa ones, the good cause is a free bonus.

    Like you said they load with no issues to Redbird. For people that are not familiar, with Vanillas you can just make up a 4 digit pin nr; if you’re not unloading the entire gift card, that nr becomes the pin for future debit-like usage of that particular gift card.

  3. Is there a limit of number of cards you can buy at CVS per day? I noticed they always scan my ID every time I buy a gift card at CVS. Rite Aid does not do this.

  4. Which card do you use to pay for the prepaid GC at CVS? I don’t think I have any card that has category bonus at a drug store.

  5. This may be a simple question, but why do you use amex gift cards to purchase visa gift cards? Is it because redbird doesn’t accept amex for reloading?

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