Manufactured Spending

Is Safeway Discontinuing Visa Gift Card Sales?

Update: The Value Traveler spoke to a store manager at a VA Safeway and confirmed they’re pulling gift cards due to issues with fraud. Several readers from around the country have also emailed to confirm their Safeway stores have pulled Visa gift cards.

The hits just keep on coming. Reader Holly just emailed me, saying her local Bay Area Safeway store was discontinuing the sale of Visa gift cards. Below is her account of what happened:

“I went to Safeway this morning and happened upon a store manager removing Visa gift cards from the rack. I tried (failed) to act nonchalant and asked her if Safeway was discontinuing gift cards, and her response was, “No, only the Visa ones”. She showed me the memo and though I didn’t get much of a chance to look very long, I saw Visa and Amazon. I think she said MasterCard, but I’m not certain. (FYI….the list was pretty long, so it wasn’t just Visa.)”

Visa gift cards at Safeway
Visa gift cards at Safeway

Since she mentions “the list was pretty long” I imagine it includes ReloadIT and other prepaid and reloadable cards as well. This is very bad news for manufactured spenders who have been using Visa gift cards sold at Safeway stores to meet credit card spending requirements or earn extra points and miles through credit card category bonuses. At times, Safeway has run cash back promotions that not only eliminated the fees on Visa gift cards, but even left purchasers with a small profit. It would be a real shame if that came to an end. If the aforementioned memo was sent out to multiple stores, a huge gift card churning source will be eliminated. I know many people in this hobby depend on it.

Upon hearing this news, I went to my local Safeway store. As I approached the gift card rack, a red flag went up. I noticed a ladder and then three rows of gift cards wiped out completely. However, upon closer inspection I noticed the ones on the top rows were still full. I don’t know if the rest had been purchased or removed by store employees. I tried to buy one with my Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red card to meet the $500 spending requirement for January, but my card got declined (I haven’t used it in a very long time) so I opted to use my Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard instead.

Everything seemed ok today. But that doesn’t mean they won’t clear out their racks tomorrow (if in fact, memos are being sent out). If you have a credit card spending requirement to meet and Visa gift cards from Safeway are your primary method of doing this, then I highly recommend you take care of it ASAP. This may be nothing – just a regional policy to remove Visa gift cards from Safeway stores. However, you might want to play it safe and bulk up on gift cards in case of a chain-wide policy.

Have you seen any Safeway stores removing Visa gift cards from the racks? Please share the location in the comment section.

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  1. Most, if not all, of my Amex cards with annual fees have groceries as category bonus. very bad indeed.

  2. not sure about my local Vons. they have all the cards up but I went to walmart to load my bluebird account with a visa gift card that has a pin and it was declined. has anyone heard anything regarding walmart not accepting pin enabled gift cards. it was dont thru a cashier using code 70
    thanks for any info

  3. I don’t like the news, Visa has been the easiest to liquidate, mastercard has to call to set up the PIN, well, this year started pretty crappy for my fellow MSer’s.

  4. my friend said that her safeways that were previously totally cool with CCs to buy VGCs now have a sign up that says Cash Only

    • Mine had that policy for a while, but they did a complete 180 back in October and said credit cards were ok. Occasionally I’ll run into a cashier who says cash only, but it’s been ok for the most part.

  5. All variable load VGCs, MCGCs and AGCs pulled from all Safeway owned Tom Thumb stores in Texas. Story is that they weren’t profitable for the store. Fixed $100 cards remain but at $5.95 per $100 they can’t be profitably used for MS.

    • From which part of TX ur from? i used to get the vgc from tom thumb in DFW area. Till last week it was ok. I thought of getting US Bank flex park card and Amex hilton card for grocery MS. Now i need to rethink .

      Damn i just got into the hobby 4 months back. Lot of changes within short period of time( Redbird dead, Serve shut down and now this one. Tom thumb as been my main source of VGC) Kroger is 2 $ costlier than tom thumb for 500 $

  6. I had one Metabank Visa gift card from Safeway, but cannot use it to load to my Serve any longer. It was working this past Saturday. My serve wasn’t shut down, so I’m guessing Walmart and RiteAid are treating the MetaBank visa gift card load attempt as a cash advance type of transaction instead of straight forward debit as before. I’m not sure if money order purchase will work, but I’ll just spend the $500 balance on it probably.

  7. I suggest everyone let the manager at their local Tom Thumb/Safeway know that you will no longer shop at their store due to this change. I’m doing this today when I attempt to buy Visas (if there are any). We spend nearly $1k/mo in groceries there in addition to the VGCs that we’ve been buying there for 2-3 years now. If they don’t think they are profitable, then they clearly don’t realize that they can also be a loss leading way to get you in the store like all of their weekly sales are. Policy changes like this will affect more than their profit on the cards.

    • Good one. LOL.

    • LOL…where will you shop for groceries, then? There has been a lot of fraud going on, which is why a lot of places are pulling VGCs from their shelves.

      • Oh, I don’t know. The Kroger, the other Kroger, the other Kroger, the Target, the Walmart, the other Walmart, the Sprouts, the Albertsons… hmm… what else is within 4 miles of us, ha.

  8. Affiliated randall’s stores also pulled the variable GCs as well. Another issue is news that GCs can’t be loaded at walmart

  9. Is this likely to apply to all the Safeway brands, for example, Vons grocery stores?

  10. Is safeway discontinuing amazon too? The Holly’s recount is hard to follow

  11. Just got back some SW’s in Sacramento, the first store was cleaned out. The second had only VGCs several left. I had an uneasy feeling which was confirmed by this posting. Probably put this MS thing to bed now. Between this and the end of BB, things are just getting too hard. Been a good run though.

  12. Checked a safeway in CO. No more VGC/MGC/AGC cards over $100. 🙁

  13. I’m a rep for gift cards. The Visa/mastercard/Amex cards with variable options, $25-500 and a few store brand with same variables have in fact been pulled. This is a government issued pull. There is money laundering involved.
    This does not affect the fixed amount cards for $25, $50 or $100. They are still being sold.

  14. Hi Ariana – Low and behold I spotted 3 very rare $500 variable load MCGCs on the rack at a Sacramento Safeway about a week ago. Not sure if they are residual product left over from the pull in the year, or part of a restocking effort. I didnt try and purchase them. Have you received any similar reports of such sightings?

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