Manufactured Spending

A Vanilla Reload Feeding Frenzy at CVS

Vanilla Reload

So much for my internet fast. Since yesterday, there has been a lot of speculation about CVS adopting  a “cash only” policy for Vanilla Reloads, starting March 31. I commented on this possible development and offered some tips on what to do if this does happen.

While I’m not concerned about how this affects manufactured spending, I did have about $6,000 worth of Amex gift cards I needed to cash out as efficiently as possible. So today, I drove 30 minutes out of town to make the rounds at several CVS stores in Davis, CA. There is one particular store that has been good to me in the past. It’s staffed by college students who are generally amiable and don’t make a fuss when you bring too many cards to the register.

The store was busier than usual and when I made it to the gift card rack, there wasn’t a single Vanilla Reload card left. Even the Paypal cards were gone. I ended up getting $3,000 worth of Visa gift cards instead, which I plan on unloading either via Bluebird or money orders. After paying for them, I asked the cashier if they had any Vanilla Reloads in the back. She explained that someone came in before me and bought them all. She also said the man (who, by her description, may have been The Pudding Guy) told her CVS may be going to a cash-only policy tomorrow and he was stocking up just in case. She had not heard anything about this policy from her supervisor, and if it was in fact being implemented tomorrow, the employees would have been notified.

I unloaded another $1,500 in Amex gift cards at this store, separating the transactions to avoid an ID swipe and stay under the $4,000 daily limit. I went to two more stores in Davis as well as Vacaville, which were well stocked. No word from the cashiers about a cash-only policy. I’m going out on a limb here in saying I think the change will be regional only. Eventually, CVS probably will implement a cash-only policy nationwide, like Riteaid and Walgreens seem to have done. I just don’t think that will happen tomorrow. I’ll be making the rounds again tomorrow morning, but I have a feeling I won’t run into any issues buying Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.

If you live in the Boca Raton area, though, you should probably stock up today since the cash-only policy will most likely affect CVS stores in that region.

Subscribe via email for more points, miles and free travel

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



  1. Drum roll please……..

  2. looks like nothing left in kansas city. gone – zip – nada

  3. I don’t like all the speculation about a cash only policy at CVS for VRs. It might make CVS more likely to actually do it, especially since people are calling CVS stores and telling the cashier about these speculations. My guess is that either Rings the Caddy or someone from CVS decided to do this as an April Fool’s Day joke, and we have nothing to worry about.

    • PointChaser

      I don’t think it’s an April Fool’s joke, but I also have doubts about this becoming a nation-wide policy tomorrow. Eventually, it will happen though. Every points/miles scheme has an expiration date.

  4. Luckily for me our Rite Aids still take CCs for GDs so I’m not panicking. I did get 5K of VRs today while I was out along with 1K of GDs. The joys of living in the boondocks I guess.

  5. Assuming there’s any profit in these things at all, wouldn’t it be funny if the whole thing were a hoax baked up either by CVS or Vanilla, themselves, to get some last-minute sales in before the end of Q1?

  6. I just successfully purchase $2k worth of VR and Paypal reloads with a credit card at CVS… no questions asked. Here’s to an early April Fool’s joke…

  7. I just bought 2K of Vanilla Reloads at two different CVS stores. I wonder if the change was regional?

  8. A new CVS store in Utah only allowed VR purchase for the first month of opening and then shut it off about 3 months ago. Nothing today either.

  9. What card earns 5x buying Vanilla Reload cards at CVS?

    • Hi, it makes me uneasy too, but is there a concrete reason to avoid ID swipes?
      I think I’ve read that the threshold is $1K, is that right?

      I was thinking multiple transactions in a row on my credit card might look like fraud and get it blocked, so last time I just let them swipe my ID.

      • PointChaser

        Yes, there are several reasons. First, the ID swipes track how much you’ve purchased that day. If you do three separate $999 transactions, you can head to another store and do the same. This gets you around the $4,000 daily limit. Also, I’ve heard these transactions get reported to authorities who investigate money laundering. You’re clearly not involved in anything criminal here, but it’s best to avoid the headache that comes with being profiled as a criminal.

    • PointChaser

      The old Amex blue card gets you 5% cashback. There’s a link on FT that may or may not still work:

Leave a Comment