Update: As of Sunday, February 22, the issue seems to have been resolved.
I’ve been MIA (aka in Canada) lately and just got back on Tuesday. Yesterday, I headed out to unload a few gift cards and ran into some issues. I was going to save this for my weekly manufactured spending column on Monday, but I’ve gotten a few complaints from readers and Twitter followers that have me worried Walmart might be hard coding their registers to reject Visa gift cards for money order purchases. Yesterday I had the worst time with my $500 mall gift cards, as well as a few $300 Visa gift cards purchased at Staples. Both gift cards are issued by Metabank.
A total of six mall gift cards and two Staples Visas were rejected at three different Walmart stores when I tried to use them to purchase money orders. Each time, I swiped the card, entered my PIN, noticed abnormally long processing times, followed by an “unable to accept payment type” error code. Each time this happened, I would try the card a second time and it didn’t work (except for one time). A few times I tried a different mall gift card and got the same error. It wasn’t until I used a Bancorp Visa that the transaction would go through.
Oddly, this happened each time I did a split payment – and only the second card would get rejected. At one point one of my gift cards triggered an “unable to accept payment type” error, but seconds later before I had a chance to pull out another card, the transaction went through – but required both a PIN and a signature on a printed out receipt. It was bizarre.
During a few of these instances, the cashiers remarked that their system was experiencing problems. One of them even gave me a twisted explanation about why he thought it was the computers and not the card. Another strange thing about this whole situation? At one point, my card was rejected when I tried to buy money orders. So I walked towards the checkout area, picked up a USB cable, and tried to use that same gift card to pay for it. I got the same “unable to accept payment type” error. Eventually, I did get a few of the cards to work at different stores, but gave up when it became too much of a hassle.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve gotten some emails from readers who experienced the same issue. I assumed it was either a temporary issue or a regional one. When I tweeted about these issues with my Metabank gift cards yesterday, a few people responded, saying they’d had the same issues over the weekend. However, Tahsir, who does way more gift card churning than I do, explained that this is a computer glitch that occurs from time to time. It’s certainly the first time I’ve experienced it, but I chalked it up to me doing much lower volumes than him. Then, gbplesh DM’s me this morning, saying he’s having trouble unloading his Simon Mall gift cards as well.
It’s too early to tell whether Walmart is hard coding their registers to reject Metabank Visa gift cards, but I find it odd that so many people around the country are suddenly experiencing this issue at the same time. Only time will tell whether this is a fluke or not, but if you have a stash of Metabank Visa gift cards, I highly recommend you go out and try to unload them ASAP. If the registers do get hard coded, you’ll be glad you did it. If not, then your gift card churning just became more efficient.
Have you had any problems using Metabank gift cards to buy money orders at Walmart or elsewhere? Please share your experiences in the comment section.
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