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What to do If Walmart Stops Accepting Gift Cards for Money Order Purchases

Walmart Money Order

I dislike Walmart but simultaneously recognize that it keeps me in the manufactured spending game. I just saw something on Twitter that almost made me choke on my calorie bomb Twix Frappuccino. Twitter follower @SimonK was having an interaction with @PatMikeL about Walmart money orders.

Walmart Money Orders

As I’ve said before, money orders are an important tool in manufactured spending because they allow you to earn miles cheaply if you have a mile-earning debit card, and they make it easy to off-load Visa and Mastercard gift cards cheaply.

Now, there have been issues for some time with loading Bluebird with gift cards, but now it seems the Money Center cashiers are getting in on the fun by rejecting purchases made with prepaid/gift cards.  There are also reports on FlyerTalk of this happening: The cashier catches sight of your gift card and says you can’t use it.

I just unloaded some gift cards at Walmart earlier today without problems. That’s because I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in town involved in manufactured spending, and I manage to stay off the radar by keeping transactions under $3,000 and hopping around three different stores.

Despite the fact that you can split money order payments between four cards, I always stick to two. It’s understandable for most Walmart customers to not have $1,000 in a single account, so I’ve found the cashiers never have a problem with this. So I recommend you do this, in addition to swiping the card yourself (unless the cashier demands you hand over the card, which has never happened to me).

Despite how slow operations at Walmart are (judging by their retail stores alone), I do think eventually Walmart will put a stop to manufactured spending activities by implementing a cash-only policy for money order purchases. When this happens, my Plan B after the Vanilla Reload shut down will be eliminated and we’ll have to move on to Plan C:

1. American Express for Target. Back when I couldn’t find a Vanilla Reload source to save my life, the American Express for Target card was a good alternative. The fees are higher, but with American Express gift cards purchased through shopping portals, the fees are eliminated and you end up with a nice stash of points and a cash profit. Sure, it will be less with Amex for Target, but at least you have a way to unload your gift card balances. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?

2. Buy Money Orders elsewhere. I’ve looked everywhere: Grocery stores, drug stores, the US Post Office. Every one of these places requires cash for a money orders. Don’t let my experience stop you though. You might have better luck at your local branch. Keep looking and you may stumble across a new gold mine.

3. Evolve. I have yet to use this service (and don’t have much use for it), but Evolve Money is a service that lets you pay certain bills using a PIN-enabled gift card. The list of participating merchants you can pay isn’t too extensive, but if you can find at least 1-2 bill to pay each month, that should help you offload at least one $500 Visa gift card or two. If your bills just aren’t high enough, see if you can pay a trusted friend/family member’s bills this way.

4. Amazon Payments. I’ve done what some folks would consider some pretty reckless things when it comes to manufactured spending, but it’s important to note that I never concentrate on a single activity or card. This is one I’m steering clear of. For years now, people have been sending money to each other using mile-earning credit cards via Amazon Payments. It’s been smooth sailing so far, but as more people are doing it and blogging about it, I think Amazon will catch on and shut people down. Maybe my fears are unfounded and I’m just paranoid, but I don’t want to risk account closure over a measly 12,000 miles per year. I always follow my gut because when things go wrong (or I simply kick myself for having missed out on a 12,000 mile payday each year), I only have myself to blame.

5. American Express Serve. If we lose out on the ability to unload Visa gift cards via Bluebird and money orders, it may be time to cut Bluebird out of the equation altogether and simply go for the Amex Serve card. You can load up to $1,000 per month  ($200 per day) with your mile-earning credit card each month. Not as good as loading $5,000 and coming away with a $150 profit via Shopping Portals – > Amex gift cards -> Vanilla Reloads/Visa Giftcards, but an option nonetheless.

I haven’t thought beyond Plan C, but I’m sure more opportunities will arise to keep this game going. How will you cope if Walmart does reject gift cards as payment for money orders?

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Ariana Arghandewal

84 Comments

  1. “I’ve looked everywhere: Grocery stores, drug stores, the US Post Office. Every one of these places requires cash for a money order. ”

    The post office accepts PIN-enabled debit cards, although some systems will code the transaction as a cash advance so certain mileage-earning debit cards may not award miles for the transaction.

    • Thanks for the info, Gary. At my local post office, I was told “cash only” twice. One of these days I’ll brave the long lines and give it another go.

        • This is similar to when individual CVS stores stopped accepting credit card payments for VR’s long before the chain-wide roll-out. Either this branch has their own policy against debit cards, or the employees don’t know better.

      • Ariana – I found a grocery store that sells MO with debit but charges a cash advance. Would a pin enabled gift card work?

        • That’s odd. I think since they accept debit, it should work. Let me know your findings.

        • Cash advance only applies to credit cards. No such thing with debit cards. Ignorant clerk in the post office and USPS does accept debit cards for money orders but they cost more than Walmart MOs. On May 1, I bought two $500 One Vanilla cards in CVS. Here in Dallas, Texas, not all CVS stock them.(charged $504.95 each) Bought a $1,000 MO in Walmart money center and paid 68C fee in cash. Deposited into my bank account. A quick round trip for a $1,000 minimum spending for 81,000 ihg.com bonus points.

  2. I bought about 8k today, no problems. I did run into a cashier last month who wanted to ID me for an $800 MO because I was using GCs. I walked out and went to a different Walmart.

    • Walking out was stupid and short sighted. That only increases already-suspicious cashiers fears that you are a scammer.

      I have zero problem showing as much ID as asked for. And I do it with a smile and some chit chat (works nicely if you get to know them well enough to ask about kids/pets).

  3. I have 2 Target Amex cards. I have not seen them in my stores in months. Anyone know if they are still available?

    • Odd. I’ve heard the same from co-workers who are looking for alternative MS tools. He looked at city Target stores and we assumed those just didn’t carry them.

      • I asked about the reload policy at one of the two city targets in SF and was told there is a rule that states the store has to be open for 1 year before the store is approved to load the Ax for Target. This is consistent with the store listings on the website that show each store where they can be loaded.

  4. When you bring in an inch hig stack of GC you are asking for trouble, and the fool leaves them behind, while bragging about how much money he gad.,

    • Agree, that’s a stupid thing to do. If nothing else, the cashiers will think you’re a criminal as opposed to a travel hacker.

  5. You keep writing about Walmart and buying money orders with “gift” cards. Please don’t do that any more. I use **debit** cards to buy money orders. I use One Vanilla debit but gift cards converted to **debit** cards with a PIN also work.

    • My **debit** VISA that I just bought at the grocery is labeled **Gift Card** prominently on the front.

      • Besides One Vanilla at CVS, which says “Debit” on the front, CVS and grocery stores carry cards which say, “This is not a gift card” on the front and ones that say “Debit” on the front.. Many, but not all, of the loadable ones that say “Gift Card” can be converted into debit cards by getting a PIN by following the directions on the folder. Read the instructions before buying any gift cards. If a card says “Gift Card” on the front, it is not automatically a debit card. Any card which is not loadable is a pure gift card and cannot be used to buy money orders.

        • The distinction seems to be the lack of a name on the card. Regardless of what it says, if there’s not a name on it, they consider it a gift card and not a debit card.

    • The reason I did that in this post is to distinguish between the two. These stores are still taking debit cards, but it’s gift/prepaid cards they have a problem with.

      • That might have been true a month ago, but as of today, “if your name is not on the card, we can’t accept it for BB or M.O.” –at two WM within 15 min. of each other. This party may be over, unless someone knows where we can get “debit cards” with our names on them. : (

        • Thankfully I haven’t had this experience, since the cashiers in my area don’t even look at your card. I’d avoid the money center and go to the register if there isn’t a kiosk. There actually is a gift card with your name on it! Post to come tomorrow morning.

          • Please let us know. I am very interested since I’m now left holding gift cards which now will have to be applied on other bills, etc.

          • The post is scheduled for midnight (PT) along with a few other work-arounds.

  6. I went to Walmart a few days ago and tried to load just $500 on Bluebird and was denied because she asked to see the debit card. She said she cannot accept it because my name is not on it. This was in the Bay Area 🙁

  7. Does money orders and loading Bluebird still work at the Walmart Money Center kiosk? While the natural reaction for this is to be shocked upon hearing the rumor, as of now, it is only a rumor that Walmart cashiers are rejecting Visa gift cards. Unless it becomes a nationwide policy, we shouldn’t be too concerned about it. I hope frequent flyers learn from the end of VRs at CVS and don’t ask Walmart store employees about this rumor. I also hope frequent flyers don’t call Walmart asking about this rumor.

    One back-up option to explore is money orders at K-Mart. I saw a sign there one time saying that they offer money orders for 70 cents. I don’t know what the maximum money order amount is. However, one time I was in line at K-Mart, and I heard someone else saying she plans to buy a money order. I asked her if you can use a debit card to buy a money order, and she said yes.

    • There are some reports of issues but generally yes, you should still be able to load MO’s onto Bluebird via the kiosk. The lines at Kmart are much shorter and there’s a Kmart next to my local Walmart (if you can imagine that), so this scenario would be great.

      • What I meant was, does using a Visa gift card to load Bluebird at the Walmart Money Center machine still work? Does using a Visa gift card to buy a money order at the Walmart Money Center machine still work?

        • Yes, both mostly work – aside from a few technical issues at the machine and the fact that a few people have reported that the cashier told them they had to pay with a debit card that has a name printed on it. I hopped around 3 stores yesterday and did not encounter this issue. It’s definitely not a nationwide policy – just a few isolated incidents.

    • Brandon-At Walmart, the maximum money order is $1,000 (2 X $500 debit cards) and three (3) MOs ( 6 X $500) is the maximum number of MOs at one time. I would never consider trying to use the flaky kiosks and poorly trained checkout cashiers. The clerks in the Money Centers are more knowledgible. I never have any problem buying MOs as long as I have called the card companies of new cards to get the cards unblocked. Their computers’ fraud alert programs don’t believe you are buying thousands of dollars in grocery or drug store supplies. Pay the MO fees in cash.

      • No, never pay MO fees in cash. Needless waste of time and adds unnecessary complexity. Just deduct the 70c fee (so $1998.60 uses up 4 $500s).

        • I tried doing that for a $999.30 MO. When I tried to deposit at the CU, the teller grilled me with questions about what the MO was for because it was an “odd amount”. Now, I always buy $1,000 and pay the 70c.

          • What nerve! I steer clear of odd numbers to avoid suspicion, but the teller really has no right asking.

        • Paul-April 12. The odd amounts confuse the clerks. I tried it once.They and I find it simpler to pay the fees in cash. And $1,998.60 does not = 2 $1000 money orders. I have never had a problem with the WM clerks by paying the fees separately and it only wastes a couple of seconds in time. I did it again on May 1 to meet a $1,000 minimum spending. /// Here in Dallas, Texas, the fee is 68c per MO. You must be in a high cost of living area. (Joke)

    • MOs cannot be bought at Walmart Money Centers with gift cards. Only with loadable debit cards or gift cards which have been converted into debit cards by getting a PIN. To get a PIN, see instructions on the card folder.

  8. By “Walmart Money Center kiosk”, I meant the machine, not asking for a money order from a cashier.

  9. I bought a MO with a Visa GC at my local Walmart last week, and the cashier said that it was a new policy that she had to look at my card. So she looked at it and said okay. LOL I don’t know what that means exactly!

    • Lots of poorly trained WM employees – huge turnover. So expect to hear everything under the sun at one time or another. If you don’t like what you hear, go back another day/different shift and you’ll often have different result.

    • This is probably just a store policy. But like Paul said, if you don’t like the answer, come back later.

  10. the pressure and squeeze are getting harder. I dont know any other method of MS if the two variables are shutdown, three letters store and WM. the letters store is on the last hope of buying big with CC and although WM is closing in, they dont have a national policy but without the DB cards from CC, what good is WM. I dont know what plan C or D or whatever after, it will never replace A and B, not in the amount that is worthwhile for aspiration journeys. can anyone think of present or even future MS that VR was able to bear in the 500k or more, not likely and I m afraid will never again. the sun is on its way down

  11. Relatively new MS’er here and was using the VR/BB bought at CVS along with AP exclusively. Now that it’s shut down I’m looking into other ways to keep going… I read in your blog about the post office idea to buy MO and my local post office did confirm that I could do so (up to amount of $2999) with a debit card. On FT someone said that OV debit cards would not work and that the post office only took OVD. Will have to try next week.

    Until then I will also try loading my BB at WM (and/or buying MO) with the $200 GC bought from Office Depot – any potential issues doing so with multiple BB? Or should I just do one BB at a time – I have a BB each for me and my spouse. Thanks!

    • Walmart has never accepted actual *gift* cards for money orders. Only debit cards or gift cards converted into debit cards with a PIN.

    • There shouldn’t be an issue loading multiple Bluebirds each day. Another MO option that a reader alerted me to: Kmart. I have yet to try it, but if you want another place to buy MO’s, you may want to give this one a shot.

  12. Won’t my bank find it odd if I start coming in with thousands of dollars in Money orders? I’d love for this to replace BB, but it just doesn’t seem feasible.

    • I haven’t had a problem so far, Kristen. I don’t think I’ve ever gone over $10k per month and usually keep it around $5k. That might be a good number to stick to.

    • My Bank Of America branch doesn’t consider $3,000 in money orders to be a large amount.

    • Walmart has never accepted pure <> to buy money orders. Only ones which have been converted into <> cards with a PIN and ones which are labeled <> cards, such as One Vanilla.///See my April 11 and 14 postings. When you are new, read all comments and you will find your questions have already been answered.

    • Kiosks seem to give problems to a lot of people. With such history, I would only use the Money Center clerks. And no, I don’t have an answer to your specific question about MOs.

    • You can buy up to $500 at a time, though my local kiosk (when it’s working) limits MO purchases to $200.

  13. my question is Can you use 2 $500GC with PIN to buy a MO for 1K at the Kiosk?

    • Luchex—Numerous people write kiosks not working or other problems. I have no problems buying MOs for deposit at the WM money center counter. Maximum of six One Vanilla debit cards for three $1,000 MOs in one transaction. 68c cash per MO. I don’t know if you can have more than one transaction in a day. Ask. If not, come back another day. Yes, gift cards with a PIN or debit cards, such as One Vanilla.

  14. Yes, It’s just that latelly they give me a hard time loading my BB with my GC and I rather deal with the kiosk. I never bought MOs. but I need to unload more than 10K in GC I have accumulated.

    • Luchex—-MOs in my bank complete the funds recycling and I pay bills online from my bank. Bank autopay available for my utilities and cable and some insurances. Also, I call them up and make big advance payments for min spends. You can split a min spend among util You get it back by no monthly payments for many months.

  15. Ariana- Which Walmarts have working ATM/Money Centers? I’ve tried Mountain View, Oakland, Milpitas and all have removed the ATMs. The people have been instructed not to load BB with gift cards anymore. Do Vacaville and Fairfield still have a working ATM?

    • To everyone—Walmart has never accepted GIFT cards-only DEBIT cards.

      • I get that you are trying to keep people from slipping up in the store and saying “gift card” but these are not debit cards in the traditional sense, and when speaking “among ourselves” I think it confuses people if you say “debit card.” Newbies in particular are likely to think you mean a real debit card.

        • +1 @mbh. Especially since both the “cards” I get from GCM and the local supermarket have “Debit” printed prominently right on them above the VISA logo, separate from “Gift Card” which happens to be conveniently obscured with a sticker (that I’ve never been asked to remove). And I don’t “convert” squat – I just set my PIN via the phone. And one, or a dozen posts on blogs is just not going to stop someone from “slipping up” – there’s too many people doing this for WM and the banks not to know exactly what’s going on.

          • I don’t really get your point. I totally agree that WM and the banks know what we’re doing. I think most people miss that WE aren’t who they are fighting. They are trying to stop money launderers, and we are just collateral damage. The “cost” of pointchasers is built into the products and programs–no one is actively trying to stop what we do. I just think we need to use plain and not “code” language in these posts so new people understand and are not confused. Maybe you agree–I couldn’t tell.

    • Vacaville and Fairfield have them, but they’re never working. I’ve been ok with register reloads, though I wouldn’t load more than one gc per bluebird at a time.

  16. I’ve spent the afternoon researching GC/DC with names on them and they can be bought, but are pricey (by MS standards). I may try a couple, but only for bonus necessities. They are easy to find, though.

  17. Just posting here as well. Be careful with the Target method. I tried using the American Express Gift Cards for Target and was not allowed to do so. I also asked American Express about their policy and they said its the same. Looks like i’ll have to use a different method as I refuse to shop at target with the way I was treated.

    • Next time, try the customer service center rather than the register. I’ve had much better luck there.

  18. DO NOT I REPEAT, DO NOT PURCHASE AMERICAN EXPRESS GIFT CARDS, IT IS A BIG RIP OFF, MOST OF THEM ARE NOT LOADED, AND WHEN YOU TRY AND CALL AMERICAN EXPRESS ABOUT THEM, THE EMPLOYEES IN INDIA, GIVE YOU THE RUN AROUND. THEY TELL YOU WALMART DIDNT LOAD IT PROPERLY AND YOU HAVE TO SEND IN THE ORIGINAL RECEIPT, A COPY OF THE GIFT CARD, AND A COPY OF YOUR DRIVERS LICENSES, WHY IM NOT SURE. BEFORE THEY WILL LOAD THE CARD. AFTER YOU DO THIS, THEY SEND YOU A LETTER TELLING YOU THAT THE INFORMATION YOU SENT WAS NOT A GOOD COPY OR SOME OTHER WEIRD EXCUSE, OR THEY TELL YOU THEY ARE IN THE MAIL, WHEN THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO LOAD IT, NOT SEND YOU ANOTHER ONE. THEN YOU NEVER RECEIVE ANYTHING IN THE MAIL. THIS GOES ROUND AND ROUND. THERE HAVE BEEN MANY CLASS ACT SUITS, BUT THEY ARE STILL GETTING AWAY WITH THIS. SOMEONE HAS TO DO SOMETHING.

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