Manufactured Spending

Avoid ID Swipes at CVS When Purchasing Vanilla Reloads

Vanilla Reload

This is pretty elementary stuff, but CVS recently began swiping ID cards with the purchase of Vanilla Reloads. Some folks are under the impression this is done to combat money laundering, while others think it’s simply to ensure you don’t go over the daily limit. I think it’s probably a combination of both, since more than one CVS store in my area has stopped selling them and cited money laundering as a reason.

In any case, the way I’ve gotten around the ID swipe is to purchase one $500 card at a time. Making multiple trips to the same store is not an option, so simply convey to the cashier that you’d like to purchase these in two separate transactions. The register won’t prompt an ID swipe on a single card – at least that’s been my experience at multiple stores in Northern California and LA.

Outside of the miles/points world, it’s pretty unusual to buy $1,000 worth of giftcards multiple times per week, so the cashier will understand that you might need to split the transactions among different credit cards to cover the transaction or avoid fraud alerts.

What has your experience been at CVS stores?

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  1. I’ve always bought $1500 at a time. $1000 for my Chase Sapphire and $500 for my Starwood. I’ve had ID checks, but no problems. I’ve done this probably 20x over the past half year.

    • Actually, I did $1K at a time before I got into the Chase GC deal. Now, I don’t do any VRs.
      It’s true that all I’m getting is UR points and UA miles from my Chase cards, but that’s all I want, right now.

      • PointChaser

        Love UR points – I can do without the rest, to be honest. I’d be careful with those Chase prepaid cards though. I avoid them just so I’m not tempted to overdo it and then get shut down.

    • PointChaser

      I don’t mind ID checks either, but I’m weary of them swiping my ID at the register.

  2. Anything I post here would just be, well, incriminating…Let’s just say the $5K daily limit works for me just fine…

    • PointChaser

      Don’t worry, the banks aren’t reading this blog. 😉 Would love for you to do a guestpost, detailing all of your antics. I’m sure they’d put mine to shame!

  3. I bought $1k shortly after they removed the limit, which triggered the ID check. I don’t know what they do with the information, so I have always been doing 2 transactions any time I buy. Lucky for me I have a CVS 2 blocks from home so I am able to go in for 3 different shifts in a day if I really feel the need.

  4. If you’re worries about an ID check, why not just load 2 cards with $495 each to stay under the $1K. I’ve done this multiple times with no ID check.

    • PointChaser

      That works too. But lately these big transactions have triggered way too many fraud alerts, so doing $500 at a time might be best for now.

  5. do you know if the ID swipe will alert IRS in anyway ?

  6. I tried to buy 2 $500 VRs at CVS yesterday. after my ID was scanned the clerk said I could not purchase the cards. Se said she was sorry, but she has to abide by her “system”. I pushed slightly for more information, but could not get any. I have only bought VRs twice before at this store. Is it possible I’ve been flagged? Is there anything I can do? Contact CVS corporate? I dunno?

    • PointChaser

      You haven’t been flagged – it’s just protocol for them to swipe your ID and limit the number of cards you can purchase per day. If you were denied, it might have been because the 24-hour period wasn’t up between the two purchases.

      • I had the same thing happen to me actually – tried to buy 2 vanilla cards at CVS and the clerk scanned my ID and then said the system was saying she could not continue the purchase. I had not bought any other vanilla cards that day anywhere.

        Interestingly enough, my husband went in line after me and he was able to buy 3 with his ID no problem. For three days in a row already I have tried at a couple of different CVS’s and at each one as soon as they swiped my ID they said their system is down, or the system is not letting them put the transaction through.

        Is my ID flagged, and if so who do I contact to get it unblocked? Is the magnetic strip on my license damaged? I wish the system would provide more information ‘like could not read card’ if it’s the latter.Has anyone else experienced this?

        • That happens to me every time I buy $1k worth of cards. I wouldn’t dig into it. Instead, but one card for $500 and the other for $499 – just keep the total under $1k. That as worked for me so far.

          • I hear you, but what is surprising is that my husband goes in line right after me and has no issues buying 3x$500 with his ID. This has happened three times this week, and neither of us has ever had a problem purchasing them before at those same locations. Isn’t that odd?

          • It is odd. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find out I’ve been blacklisted, considering the ridiculous amount of VR’s I used to buy.

        • Ok so I didn’t want to “dig into it” too much as you say but I just had to get some answers and I thought I’d share…

          It turns out that the magnetic strip on my license has stopped working. I went in to CVS to try again and decided if my license doesn’t work I’ll provide a different ID. When I did that the clerk offered to key in my license manually – low and behold it worked! Three vanillas at $500 a piece no problem, just like I used to do only a few weeks prior. I don’t know why the CVS staff never tried keying it in manually before.

          I told them it would be nice if their computer told them “Cannot read card” or something, instead of the current “Cannot process this transaction” message that it says. In any case, my mystery is solved and I now know to re-order a license and in the meantime have them key it in manually!

          Hope this helps somebody out there!

          • Thanks for sharing, Carol! It’s good to know we may not be blacklisted after all. Will definitely give this a try on my next visit.

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