Manufactured Spending

A New Vanilla Reload Source & Prepaid Cards at Rite Aid

Save Mart Vanilla Reloads, Vanilla Reloads at Save Mart Grocery Store

This past weekend, after committing to drive my sister to a debate competition an hour away (and failing to get out of it), I found myself in a strip mall infested part of Stockton, CA. The road there was littered with more roadkill and crazy driver’s than I’ve ever encountered, but the city was kind of charming and the people were friendly. With 10 hours to spare, I decided to go on a gift card hunt.

First stop was a local Rite Aid, where I needed to pick up a phone charger. Three employees were lounging around when I walked in and headed to the gift card rack. All they had were Paypal and Visa gift cards, so I picked up a couple of those. As the cashier rang me up, a man walked in and though he wasn’t dressed in any way that would indicate he was a figure of authority, the cashier asked him if it was ok for me to pay with a credit card. He seemed unsure and when I reassured him that the Moneypaks are the only cards requiring cash because it says so on the front, he ok’ed the transaction.

There were at least three CVS stores in the area, so I headed to the closest one with the help of Google Maps. Strangely enough, there was no CVS at that location. Instead, I found an S-mart grocery store. I walked in and it looked pretty much like a Safeway store, with the gift card rack straight ahead. Later, I found out this was actually a Save Mart, affiliated with the FoodMaxx chain.

I was hoping to pick up some REloadit cards, so imagine my surprise when I found rows and rows of Vanilla Reload cards instead. I grabbed a stash and headed to the register. The cashier didn’t have an issue with me paying with credit cards, though she did get an “override” message on the register when she rang up two cards. She called a manager, explained that I was paying with a credit card and that my ID had been checked. The manager approved the transaction without any questions.

This was the first time I was able to find Vanilla Reloads at a grocery store, something I will definitely explore more, since there are two Save Mart stores in my area. Considering the recent rejections I’ve been getting at nearby CVS stores, I’m happy to have found a new source.

So even though I had to get up at 6 AM on a Saturday, drive through a highway littered with roadkill, finding a way to make 10 hours pass outside of the confines of a Starbucks, and drinking my weight in frappuccinos, it was well worth it.

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  1. Hi PC, what card are you using at rite aid and CVS?
    What card is worth using at these pharmacies?


    • PointChaser

      I used my Bofa Alaska card. Which card to use really depends on which points you value most. For example, Hilton cards generally have the highest payouts (3 points everywhere) along with Club Carlson (5 points) but not everyone wants to accrue points in those programs. My go-to card used to be Chase Sapphire preferred (earning me 1.07 points per $1) but that has been severely devalued. At this point, I value Alaska miles most, so even though it doesn’t pay a category bonus, I use it. An upcoming post in the manufactured spending series will cover the different cards you can use for VR’s and which one pays the most.

      • I am surprised to know that you use Bofa Alaska card. Why not SPG Amex? You can transfer 20k points wirh 5k bonus, so why would someone use Alaska card?

        • PointChaser

          I try to mix it up and use different cards. Don’t want to put too many large drugstore purchases on the same one.

  2. Speaking of grocery stores, I encourage you to be on the lookout for Pay Power Prepaid Visa cards at Safeway. I don’t know if you read this blog post from Milenomics. The main idea is that you can load $500 on these cards, liquidate them once using PIN-based methods, and then get rid of them. The amazing part is that they have no fee. Here’s the link if you haven’t read the post yet:

    Tell me if you happen to have success finding these cards.

    • I see these at Safeway a lot. I’ve actually used these to unload REloadit cards, which can be purchased in $950 increments. The trouble is that many Safeway stores won’t accept credit cards on prepaid/reload purchases.

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