Manufactured Spending

Issues with Unloading Vanilla Visa Gift Cards

In a recent post, I mentioned using Vanilla Visa gift cards to purchase money orders at Walmart. Some readers have been asking me how that’s possible, after Walmart banned the use of gift cards for money order purchases a while back. The only problem I’ve ever had with buying money orders was when the cashiers noticed the card and told me I could’t use it. Other than that, there’s a misconception that the registers are hard-coded to reject Visa gift cards as a payment option. That’s only partly true.

Vanilla Visa gift card

Right after swiping your Vanilla Visa gift card, you’ll notice a brief message pop up on the PIN pad. You’ll have the option to choose between debit or credit. This message only appears for a brief moment. If you don’t choose, it gets automatically processed as credit and thus your card gets rejected. The solution here is to have the pen ready and select debit as soon as the option appears. Most of you know this, but those who don’t know and have a large stash of gift cards they’re trying to unload, this might be helpful. 

I personally hadn’t even noticed the options on the PIN pad the first time I encountered this problem. When several transactions got declined, the cashier actually pointed it out to me. After following her instructions, I was able to complete the transaction without problems.

An issue I’ve reported when using Vanilla Visas to load Redbird is a “card type not accepted” error message that pops up sometimes. I always come prepared with a purse full of gift cards. So on the occasions when this happens, I set the offending card aside and had a back-up. I think the problem may be that these gift cards, despite being confirmed as active upon purchase, can’t always be used right away. Waiting 24 hours after purchase may be the solution. I can’t say for sure if that’s the cause of the problem, but in my case it worked. 

If there are any other issues you know of involving Redbird loads or money order purchases made with Visa gift cards, feel free to share it below. If you have a solution to any of those problems, feel free to share.

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  1. I guess a clarification is in order. My local Walmarts do take Visa gift cards for money orders. They just don’t take the Vanilla brand of Visa gift cards. Anything else seems to fly ok.

  2. Have you been able to do this recently, as my understanding is this change payment trick on Vanilla Visa GC stopped working at Walmart last June.

  3. Hi Ariana,

    have you had success with the gift card pictured as well as vanilla visas in the black and silver packs? Also, have you tried using these for a bill pay or just MOs? Regular wal mart or do neighborhood stores work as well?

    I’m really curious if WM MOs are back in play. I know it’s widely reported on FT that these are dead but maybe it’s a regional thing and to be honest, after reports on FT came out I didn’t bother trying again. I’d be super excited if our little pocket of nor cal is still good to go!


    • I usually purchase the gold packs (I don’t know about the others, but these cards are silver and look most like actual debit cards). I’ve never done Walmart bill pay, but mo’s are still a go at Neighborhood Walmart.

      • I tried today, 2 neighborhood stores and 2 regular stores, MO and BP. Also tried using the same exact cards you have pictured here and the vgc in the black package. No issues hitting the change payment, entering pin, but after that it kicked it back. Nothing worked, I am super curious how you are able to get these to work.

        FWIW, the gold packaged cards I tried to use today had an exp date of 6/21 and the black package ones exp 6/22.

        I really would like to get wal mart up and running again without having to go to Simon for cards.

        I think you might be the first person that I’ve heard of to successfully use vanillas at Walmart, Id love to find out the workaround.

  4. I have the Same question as Steve. My understanding is that vanilla cards only work in increments of 49.99

  5. I have purchased 1vgc’s and tried to load them right away. They don’t work since one needs to wait an hour or so before unloading at target. These cards have needed to wait 24 hrs before I can load to Redbird. Just m experience…

  6. Loaded $500 with onevanilla card on Redbird on Monday 8/24 in NYC. The following three attempts 8/25, 8/26 & 8/27 I was denied by three separate cashiers stating that only bank issued debit cards are excepted. All three cashiers asked to see the card before proceeding with reload. Wanted to through it out there that cashiers may now be looking specifically for bank issued debit cards. Is this the end of GC Redbird reloads??? 🙁

    • It’s not the end. It’s just very hard to reload in NYC. The Target on Queens Blvd only allows 200 dollar reloads! Store policy.

    • I’ve noticed that too lately. Sometimes they ask what I’m paying with. The other day I had one ask me to show my cards and ID on a split transaction. I gave her both gift cards with the ID and even though there was no name, she handed it back and allowed the transaction.

  7. Is the POS terminal at your neighborhood WalMart the new “chip & dip” terminal or the old side swipe only version? I know VV’s are not chip enabled but trying to determine if the POS makes a difference.

  8. As far as loading Vanillas to Redbird, Ariana is right in that sometimes it takes hours from when you purchase until they activate. For this reason I usually load the next day, not the day I buy them.

    The other thing–and this applies to all gift cards–if you can’t use a particular gift card as debit (can’t load with it to Redbird or cant buy MO), check the balance of it by calling the nr on the back, if it is there, re-set the pin of the gift card to a different number and try again.

  9. Regular walmart. Vanilla VISA GC. Money order at Money Center. No go. No change payment appeared. Cashier didn’t care, but I never saw an option to change payment, nothing. Just declined. Will try again at a Neighbourhood walmart to see if that is different.

    • Neighbourhood Walmart in San Jose, CA. Fail again. No change payment appeared. Again cashier never looked at my card or said debit only or anything, just swiped my card and got the decline. A strip prints out on the cashier side saying must use cash or debit. I think you’re just lucky your local NW hasn’t updated their terminals yet. I consider this dead.

      • you won’t see a “Change Payment” option when you slide the card. When you swipe you have to press the yellow hard button on the keypad to trigger the Change Payment option to see if that will work. Don’t rely on the screen yellow button to do Change Payment because it may not appear.

        I would suggest you try those things and come up with new data points. I think what you provided in your experience is expected behavior.

        • My test results- Walmart Neighborhood Market, color POS screen, swipe $500 Vanilla VGC, hit yellow Change Payment button on screen, gives about 5 payment options on next screen, select Debit, screen then asks for PIN, put in correct PIN, then register rejects with message on screen and small slip of paper prints out saying Alternative Form of Payment Required.
          Since I got to the proper screen to choose Debit this way, I don’t expect hitting the yellow hard button on the keypad is going to make a difference, but I will try that next time.

  10. So every Target in Indianapolis that I have used in the past all denied my one vanilla visa gc. Reset the pin, still no go. And none of it was due to the cashiers. They were quite helpful actually, they said the register had an alert that said it couldn’t load funds from this payment type! Hopefully its just the one vanilla cg’s and any others but I think redbird and walmart (tried there too and got nothing either) are about to go extinct as far as MS is concerned!

    • Adam, how many Target stores did you try, out of curiosity?

      I’m guessing either you were exceeding the Redbird calendar monthly limits, or (more likely) the cashiers weren’t following the right steps, which I’ve described in detail on the K8 guide:

      If Target was to hard code something like that, it stops loading right away (very likely nation-wide) and without advanced trailers and teasers, like the credit cards were stopped for Redbird right away on May 6th. Where people are not able to load at Target stores so far it is not due to hard coding (except for NC and AR) but due to individual store policies enforced by employees.

      • I tried five Targets in Central Indiana and two Wal-marts. I never exceed my monthly limit as I only typically MS about $2,000 a month if that depending on what new bonus I am trying to get. I may not have been as clear with what I meant, I didn’t meant that it was target that was doing this but more so the one vanilla prepaid card. I even tried to pay on evolve money just to get rid of the funds and I couldn’t. Called evolve and they said it was the card saying it had no funds. I called one vanilla to see if it was just an issue with the card.

        According to customer service and supervisors at one vanilla, anything that resembles a financial institution or something like a moneygram or cash back, you can NOT load with one vanilla. I made sure they were clear that I was trying to pay a car payment and they understood and still said the same.

        I am going to try a different visa/ master card product this week and hope it works! If not, then it very well might be that it’s just Indiana stores right now. I will report back with my findings. Keep those fingers crossed!

        • Try the Gift Card Mall Visas for sale at grocery stores.

          • Thanks, I’ll give that a try today!

          • Well I was able to load my redbird with a visa gc from staples issued by metabank! So I think the issue was really just with the onevanilla card issued by bancorp. Also, it was the preset $50 gc, not sure if that makes a difference or not. I tried buying one of the 20-500 gc at my grocery store but as soon as whipped out my credit card they looked at me like I just slapped their child!

            Will need to check CVS and Walgreens to see if they have those gc issued by metabank or us bank.

    • I went to Target today and thankfully did not have this problem with Vanilla. A lot of readers are emailing me, reporting the same issues you’re having. I’m sure it’s a matter of time, though, until Target hard-codes all of their registers.

  11. adam shimrat

    Can I download a Vanilla gc at the USPS ?
    and which PIN to use ?

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