Manufactured Spending

How to Buy Visa Gift Cards with Your Name on Them

I’ve gotten some emails and comments on the blog over the weekend about Walmart cashiers no longer accepting gift cards without names on them for Bluebird reloads. I ran into this issue once, along with other issues with loading Bluebird at the kiosk. For those of you worried about being left with thousands of dollars worth of gift cards to unload, there are a few ways around this issue:

Simon Mall Visa Gift Card

1. Reload at the Bluebird Kiosk

This sounds like a no-brainer and yes, I’m aware that some people don’t have access to a working kiosk, but it would be worthwhile to find a location that does – even if you have to make occasional trips out of town. Reloading cards at the Bluebird kiosk is easy – nobody asks to see the card and you can unload several cards without drawing attention to yourself.

2. Avoid the Money Center

By some miracle, Walmart has gotten a memo to their Money Center employees instructing them not to accept debit cards without names on them as payment for money orders or Bluebird reloads. So don’t be surprised if the Money Center employee won’t just let you swipe your card and be done with it. That’s why you should avoid the Money Center altogether. Head to the register and the cashier won’t so much as look at your card. If you go this route, I suggest you reload one card at a time and move on. The last thing you want is to draw attention to yourself by asking the cashier if you can reload your card with two different debit/gift cards. One Bluebird, one gift card, and you’re done.

3. Simon Mall Visa Gift Cards

Reader mbh left a comment yesterday, asking if there are any debit/gift cards that have your name on them. The good news is there is such a gift card. I’ve talked about the Simon Mall Visa Gift Card as a better alternative to Vanilla Reload cards. You can buy these at the information desk of your local Simon Mall or online. When you purchase them online, you’re asked to provide a recipient name, which will be imprinted on the card. This way, when you have no choice but to reload your card at the Money Center, you can present the cashier with a card that has your name printed on it.

Simon Mall Visa gift cards have a $2.95 fee per $500 when purchased at the information desk. But when you purchase them online, you instead pay a $5.95 standard shipping fee. On the up side, when you make a purchase, you’re given a code for $2 off your next purchase. So you’ll pay $9.90 per $1,000 as opposed to $5.90 at the information desk. Steep, yes, but if this is your only option for loading Bluebird, it may be worthwhile.

I’ve tried registering my American Express Gift Cards (on which I had earned a hefty profit thanks to generous shopping portal bonuses), then using those to buy Simon Mall gift cards to off-set the cost, but I kept getting a message that my credit card information was invalid.

4. Visa gift cards from

These Visa gift cards can be purchased at most grocery and office supply stores. But if you buy them from Gift Card Mall, you can add a name that will be printed on the card. Of course, the giant “Gift Card” text on the top of the cards may be a hinderance at the Walmart Money Center. It’s still one step above those gift cards without a name on them.

5. American Express Gift cards

American Express gift cards can be personalized, regardless of whether you’re purchasing the business or personal version. They do take a bit longer to process and ship, but at least they are easier to unload if you are going the Amex for Target route.

For high-volume card churners, there’s always the fear of unloading options like Bluebird going away on a whim. Thankfully, as the whole CVS/Vanilla thing taught us, there’s always a workaround. I’ve outlined some alternatives in case Walmart stops accepting gift cards for Bluebird loads. When one manufactured spending door closes, another one opens.

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  1. Thanks for the information about Simon Visa cards. If you are just loading Bluebird with them and not making any purchases at Simon malls, is there a way to still .get the $2 off per 1,000?

  2. The issue starting last week was not about Walmart cashiers or money centers not accepting gift cards, it was that NO Walmart register or kiosk would accept gift cards from Bancorp (e.g. Vanilla network). So the workarounds you suggest for Walmart WILL NOT WORK.

    There are conflicting reports that Simon Cards won’t work either.

    • PointChaser

      Not the case here. I unloaded one $500 Vanilla Visa gift card and about $1,500 in Simon Mall gift cards over the weekend.

  3. Thanks for the info. I found several other sites online, as well. You can search “personalized gift cards” and shop around. There is a variation in prices, and some charge more for shipping if the totals are over $250. But, Simon sounds like the way to go for now. Thanks again for your valuable help.

  4. Dear Ariana,

    Unfortunately I bought $1000 of Vanilla One Visa from CVS on Sunday—and WalMart declined them.

    So WHAT CAN I DO with the gift cards??

    Vanilla One said they could refund the money by check—but it takes 4–6 weeks to process. I NEED that money NOW to pay my Monthly Rent + Health Insurance + Utilities + Credit Card bills. Is my ONLY choice to wait for a Refund Check??

    Thanks for your kind help!

    • PointChaser

      Sorry to hear about your trouble. You can head over to Evolve Money and use those gift cards to pay the bills you mentioned. It’s fast, free, and completely within Evolve’s rules.

  5. On Sunday I tried without success to unload my $1000 worth of Vanilla One Visa at WalMart. There was NO talk of name on card—this was a computer problem—the system would simply NOT accept my Gift Cards.

    I was thinking of using my Vanilla One Visa to buy Ariana’s suggestion of Simon Mall Gift Cards—But you said you heard that that does NOT work either. Where did you hear that??

    There are many of us that are stuck with Vanilla One Visa Gift Cards—and don’t know what to do with them…

    • PointChaser

      The issue with One Vanilla is different and has been going on for a while. There was a workaround that involved pressing “change payment” right after swiping your card, then choose “debit” and your PIN. Not sure if this is still working, but it’s what people were previously doing to get around the issue.

      If you have no other options, this post covers alternative ways to unload your cards.

    • Kim, I would say that although “fun” and at times lucrative, this is not a game for those that can’t afford to have a thousand locked up for a few months from time to time. That said, I wish you well in unloading via evolve/money order/whatever.

      • PointChaser

        Very true, Kristian. Thankfully this isn’t like that situation where people bought home improvement gift cards by the sound ands and had no way of unloading them.

    • Kim, the One Vanilla debit card can be used to load the AMEX for Target card, for $3 load per $1000 load, no issues; did it AFTER WM started their block of OV. The AFT card can be used to withdraw cash from ATM. Also, many large supermarkets will allow you to but MOs with the OV card still…like Safeway. Just have to look around. Happy hunting.

  6. Ariana, having your name on the debit card, can you load more credit on to the card at the mall after you unload at WM ?

  7. Jerry Mandel

    Ref: Simon Mall gift cards are worthless for min spend if they can’t be converted into debit cards with a PIN>

    • PointChaser

      Since Simon Mall gift cards can be converted to debit cards with a PIN, that is not a problem.

      • Jerry Mandel

        My main concern is Walmart no longer letting you buy money orders with a debit card, That was my way of meeting min spend,

        • Jerry Mandel

          Walmart now accepting debit cards for money orders but money center clerks haven’t all been informed. Lazy supervisors.

          • They’ve always accepted debit cards. It’s PIN-enabled gc’s they have a problem with.

  8. Went to 3 Simon Malls in Boston on 4th of July Weekend. ALL of the Simon Mall Gift Cards are NOW AMEX!! Can I use the AMEX Simon Mall Gift Cards to load my BlueBird at WalMart?? Is this a problem ONLY in Boston??

    Hopefully I can buy the VISA Simon Mall Gift Cards online? Where is the BEST ONLINE place to buy them? I just applied for the Lufthansa Card and need SPEND! Thanks for your reply!

    • PointChaser

      I’ve heard of this happening on the east coast. You can buy the Visa version online, though you’re restricted to $500 per day. You can find the website by doing a Google search for “Simon Mall Visa gift cards.”

    • Jerry Mandel

      Yesterday, 07/07, I charged 6 VISA gift cards in the Simon Mall here in Dallas, Texas. (Only $2 fee for each.) Are AMEX gift cards (converted into debit cards with a PIN) really a problem in buying money orders for bank deposit? #ASK.# I don’t waste time with silly Bluebird, Serve, and Amazon (needs two persons). I went home to call for PINs, went to Walmart, went to bank. Quick recycling of funds for min spend.

  9. subscribing

  10. I’ve purchased two $500 Simon GC in the last few days (two separate times) and successfully loaded to BB. Each time I got the GC, I was asked for my license and the CSR entered my # into the computer. Is this typical? Seems excessive to me for just $500.

    • Jerry Mandel

      Don’t sweat the small stuff. Such procedures make it safer for all of us.

    • PointChaser

      It is, unfortunately. That’s one of the major hassles of buying Simon Mall gift cards.

    • It’s not so much a hassle as a privacy issue. Why does anyone need to know I’m buying a gift card? In fact, about a year ago, before MS, I bought a family member a $500 gift card as a wedding gift. I don’t recall if I had to show ID then, but I think I would’ve been equally surprised.

      • Jerry Mandel

        If you don’t want to play by the rules, don’t play. What privacy? My drivers license is public record.

      • I understand that. At some Walmarts, they actually write down your SSN and DL number in folder rather than electronically. With the incompetence of most Walmart employees, I would be concerned about my privacy and identity theft as well.

        • Jerry Mandel

          At my Walmart, they merely look at the Drivers license to compare me with the picture. I would never give my SSN. Tell them it is against the law. (actually true.) Same at Simon mall.

  11. Can Metabank and US Bank Gift cards bought at a grocery store be used at walmart to buy money orders? If so what is the dollar limit on money orders daily?

    • Jerry Mandel

      If a Walmart money center clerk says you you need a debit card with your name on it, the clerk is giving obsolete information. Get a supervisor. I don’t know of any place you can get one with your name on it other than from Simon malls and outlets.
      Yes, at CVS and grocery stores. No daily dollar limit. Limits on number of MOs and debit cards in one transaction. If you need more, you must make another transaction. Don’t let a clerk tell you otherwise. No daily limit on transactions.

      • You can get GCM gift cards with your name on them as well. Not true RE clerks giving obsolete info. It’s now Walmart policy. And getting a manager involved is a huge no no.

    • Yes, they can. You should limit yourself to $2,900 in mo’s a day. Anything over that will require you to give them your personal info, including SSN. Considering they keep that info in a binder where any employee can see it, I wouldn’t recommend doing this.

  12. Jerry Mandel

    As before, no place in Dallas, TX area will sell money orders with a gift card. Local Simon mall does not have the ability to put names on cards. Walmart cashiers cannot sell money orders–only money centers can.

  13. Just purchased a VGC from Simon but it didn’t come pre-printed with my name. It said “GIF CARD RECIPIENT”.. Any ideas why? I put in my name in the from & to so I was shocked to see it not there. Does it matter which VGC you pick on Simon? (I did this online). I liquidated it OK, but was hoping for my name on it. Simon is a bit cheaper than GCM so I figured I’d try to stick with them. Any idea what happened? All the DP’s seem to suggest they print the name, but not sure why mine didn’t.

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