Manufactured Spending

Reader Question: Churning PayPower Cards vs. ReloadIT Cards

Reader David sent me this question over the weekend about ReloadIT and PayPower cards. I thought it would be helpful to publish it because it relates to the recent Manufactured Spending series and brings up a recent trend with PayPower cards:

So I found a store that sells $950 Reloadit cards. I don’t know if they’ll let me use a credit card, but before I tried, I wanted to fully understand things first.

So, my first thought, after reading your Newbies guide post on Reloadit was to buy this and get a PayPower card to load. However, a lot of advice I’m seeing in the forums and on Saverocity is to just buy the temporary PayPower cards, and then drain and dump as quickly as possible (vs. using a permanent card).

My questions are:

1. Do you load Reloadit onto PayPower? If so, what do you think are the benefits/risks of having a permanent PayPower card vs. just churning through the temporary cards?

2. If you don’t load onto PayPower, what card do you load these onto?

Green Dot Cash Reload Cards

To answer David’s questions, there are a few things to consider. The $950 Reloadit cards have a $3.95 fee, so you’re earning 950 miles for $3.95. That is half the cost of buying PayPower cards (which normally carry a $3.95 fee per $500). However, $0 fee PayPower cards have been making the rounds at grocery stores. If you’re able to buy them with a credit card, that is the way to go. You’re earning fewer miles, but you’re doing it for next to nothing. Plus, there is no limit to how many you can buy and unload, since they can be used like Visa and Mastercard gift cards.

For a while, I did load ReloadIT onto PayPower. I stopped doing it when my local Safeway started enforcing a cash-only policy. I don’t see a risk in churning temporary cards, except your local store might wonder why you keep buying the same cards over and over again. There’s also the hassle of unloading them and making sure that if you’re buying them in large quantities, you are cashing them out in time to pay off your credit cards.

The risk with long-term use of the permanent card is that you’ll get shut down. I’ve been juggling prepaid cards for a long time now and being responsible is the key to longevity. I don’t see a reason why you can’t do both. Churning $0 fee cards is the holy grail, and being able to buy 950 miles for $3.95 is the second best scenario.

If you don’t load ReloadIT cards onto PayPower, you can load them onto a variety of other cards: Paypal, Netspend (careful with that one), Vision Visa, and Univision to name a few. Taking fees into account, I’d choose the Paypal debit card.

The obstacle in all of this is finding a retailer that lets you buy either of these cards with a credit card. Both Paypower and ReloadIT cards have “cash only” printed on them. However, some cashiers are oblivious and will ring these up and accept credit cards if the register doesn’t prompt them to do otherwise.

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  1. Have you found a Safeway in the Bay Area that sells either free Paypower prepaid debit cards or $950 Reloadit cards, and accepts credit cards?

    • PointChaser

      Unfortunately, no. I had a Safeway in Sacramento that took cc’s for a while, but they’ve since implemented a cash-only policy.

  2. Also, check out the T-Mobile Prepaid Visa, although you’ve probably heard of it already. If you load it using Reloadits, then they reimburse you for the reload fee. It’s one of the most amazing prepaid debit cards I have ever seen.

    • PointChaser

      I found it very odd that T-Mobile was getting into prepaid cards. I’ve got another Reloadit scheme in the works and if that works out, it could be 5x points everywhere all over again. Will post about that soon.

      • I have been doing Amex blue cash + Reloadit + Tmobile prepaid for a while. I will be all ears to other schemes that would work equally well. Please share with us soon. Thank you, PointChaser!

        • PointChaser

          Then you’re a step ahead of me because I still can’t find a place that will accept cc’s within a reasonable distance.

      • Would LOVE to hear about the ‘other scheme’ – you’d be a hero if you unlock a new 5x route!

  3. I went to the grocery store over the weekend and bought a Reloadit card with cc as a test after reading your other manufactured spend posts. I bought a $950 card but only had $100 put on the card. The assistant store manager rang it up without batting an eye. I noticed that the new Reloadit cards do not say cash only any longer. Only the $3.95 fee is in the upper right hand corner. I plan on getting a Paypower card and loading with Reloadit to pay bills. It will then allow me to free up BB for Vanilla reloads and paying off cc’s only.

    • PointChaser

      Wow! I will definitely keep an eye out for those cards. That would make things much more efficient for me.

  4. WorldCup_2014

    Is there a limit to load reloadit cards to t-mobile?
    Do you know any stores in the Baltimore area that sells reloadit with CC? Safeway is a no go.

  5. I was able to buy a zero fee $500 Paypower card at Von’s with my credit card. I think I made a mistake though in registering it online. Is the trick to just call and get a pin without giving personal info? I had to give SS#, address, etc.. It felt very invasive but it seemed I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to activate it. Perhaps I am just making newbie mistakes. ; |

    • PointChaser

      I think you might have registered your Paypower card and they’ll be sending you a permanent one in the mail. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. You can unload the balance via Paypower’s online bill pay.

      • Is there a trick to just getting the pin and tossing the card? I bought one that says reloadable but maybe there is one that isn’t? If there is such a thing, I am not sure.. I’ll have to check the racks.

        • PointChaser

          You got the right card. Instead of registering it online, next time you should set up a PIN via phone and then cash the card out via money orders.

  6. Pay power has monthly maintenance fee of $5.95. Instead of registering the pay power card online with personal info, shall we just setup the pin over the phone ? Also, do you think by doing this the monthly maintenance fee is not applicable ?

  7. I just bought a Reloadit card and a pay power card, but after I set up a temporary pin I can’t seem to load my Reloadit card onto the pay power card. Is there any way of liquidating the reloadit card without having to register for a permanent pay power card?

  8. I happened to be in another city yesterday and paid a visit to Safeway. Luck me. I got two $950 ReloadIt cards using credit card. Well, they realized the cash only policy right after my purchase. 🙂

    Anyway, my question is how to load it to my Paypal debit card? And I guess I have to load twice for each $950 card, since there’s a $500 daily limit from Paypal, right?


  9. Which stores will allow you to buy MO with Vanilla Visa or MasterCard Gift Debit card?

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