Manufactured Spending

How to Liquidate Excess Gift Cards Without Bluebird or Serve

Yesterday’s news of the mass shutdowns of Amex Bluebird and Serve prepaid cards came as a shock to many people. There were no quiet rumblings, in-store memos, or signs of trouble like when Vanilla Reloads and Redbird went down. It all came out of nowhere. As a result, lots of readers are left holding excess Visa and MasterCard gift cards. In yesterday’s post, I mentioned money orders as an option for liquidating excess gift cards. That’s just one of the many options available if you’re trying to unload extra gift cards you were going to load to a Bluebird or Serve card:

Visa gift cards

1. Buy Money Orders. I’m repeating myself here, but money orders are the quickest and easiest way to unload extra Visa and MasterCard gift cards. Keep in mind that Walmart does not accept Vanilla branded cards for money order purchases, but you may have luck using them at other places where PIN-enabled gift cards are accepted for money order purchases. Try the post office, Publix, or Kwik Shop. For a nominal fee, you can convert your unwanted gift card to a money order and then use that to either pay off a credit card in-branch or deposit it into your bank account.

2. Pay Rent with RadPad. Reader Spencer told me about RadPad a few months ago and since then, other blogs have covered it as well. RadPad is a service that allows you to pay rent using a debit card. The maximum is $5,000 per month.

The great thing about RadPad is that they don’t impose fees on rent payments made with a debit card. According to reports on FlyerTalk, Metabank Visa gift cards processed as a debit card by RadPad. I have not been able to find confirmation on FlyerTalk or various Reddit threads of Vanilla Visas being coded as debit cards by RadPad. If you have any insight on this, please share in the comment section.

3. Send Money via PayPal or Google Wallet. Google Wallet was once an easy manufactured spending tool for me – I would buy Amex gift cards at 3% cash back and liquidated them via Google Wallet at 2.9% cash back. This left me with a stash of miles and 0.1% cash back to cover gift card fees. The best part? I didn’t have to leave the house. Of course, I eventually got shut down, but it took months of gift card churning before that happened.

Occasionally, I would also use PayPal to send money via Amex gift card to a family member. The fee was pretty much the same as Google Wallet’s. Now that shopping portals have pretty much eliminated cash back on gift card purchases, this is no longer a worthwhile endeavor. That being said, if you’re desperate to unload some of your excess Visa gift cards and you can’t use them for money order purchases, spend them, or use them for rent payments, then utilizing PayPal or Google Wallet is an option you might want to consider.

4. Buy Other Visa Gift Cards. This isn’t going to be cheap, but if you’re stuck with a bunch of Vanilla Visa gift cards (which can’t be used to buy money orders at Walmart) and you absolutely need the funds and can’t spend it down yourself, then you might want to use them to buy Metabank Visa gift cards at a grocery or office supply store. Vanilla Visa gift cards are PIN-enabled and if you pay with them, the cashier may not ask to see the card if you tell them you’re using a debit card.

Just make sure to enter the PIN and don’t let it process as a credit transaction. Then use the Metabank Visa gift cards to buy money orders and deposit those into your account. Or use them to pay off credit cards at a bank branch. This should be an absolute last resort, since it involves paying lots of extra fees. Sometimes grocery and office supply stores will run promotions waiving the fees on gift card purchases, in which case this method isn’t going to cost anything other than the money order fees. Still, I would only recommend this method as a last resort.

5. Spend it. Here’s a novel approach: Use the extra gift cards for household spending. Gift cards can be a great budgeting tool, helping you manage your expenses better. You can use them to pay household bills, in-store purchases, and even shop online. Just be sure to register the card first for online purchases. If you have more gift cards than you can reasonably spend, see if you can sell them to friends or family members.

Which of these methods are you using to unload excess gift cards now that Bluebird and Serve are out of the picture?

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  1. How many money orders do you deposit per month? Do you have multiple banks?

    • I do have multiple banks, though I hear that makes little difference. I’m not doing much ms but the most I’ve ever deposited into my account in a month was probably around $10k. I would take most mo’s to the bank branch and pay off credit cards.

      • Were you still able to purchase MO at your local WM? Looks like my neighbor WMs in South Bay did enforce no GC for several months and it’s quite tough. Is paying off a credit card at a branch lower risk than depositing MOs directly into your checking account? If you deposit multiple MOs with same face value, I am worrying a little bit if I do the same since it can look suspecious for the bank to file a SAR and get unnecessary attention. But I do have 15K VGCs to liquidate now. Any advice? BTW, I tried my Serve account which didn’t receive the shutdown email to attemp reloading at RA and WM. Can’t go through at all with the “debit not approved” message. I even tried my own Bank issued ATM debit card to load $100 and can’t process either. I think at this point, regardless if you have received shutdown email or not, the in-store reload with a Debit Card or PIN-enabled prepaid GC is dead. Thanks for your feedback.

        • My local Walmarts have been ok. There was one that cut me off about a year ago but when I went back six months later, the staff was new and they didn’t care. I would go back after a while and try again. I think it’s better to unload the majority of the mo’s via credit card bill pay. It also eliminates an extra step. In your situation, I’d deposit $5k into your bank account (not all at once) and use the rest to pay your cards off in-branch.

  2. On Sunday, January 10, I loaded $700 to my Serve at WM at the counter (not Kate) of the Money Center and at the Customer Service Center from the metabank Visa Gift cards from Staples. This particular WM has separate Money Center and Customer Service departments. I did this around noon or 1pm. I figure I’ll be shut down soon enough, so loaded my final gift cards.

  3. I have U.S. Bank visa debit gift cards that I can’t seem to get rid of. Neither Walmart (which I’ve tried twice at 2 different locations) nor King Soopers would take it to purchase a money order. I swiped it, entered my pin, but it declined it or said tender not allowed. Could I possibly still have luck at another place, like the post office or a Kwik shop? Or, should I just move forward with google wallet or paypal? Thanks!!!

  4. For paying rent via RadPad with a Visa Gift Card, I’m wondering what you do if your rent is higher than the max you can load on the card? RadPad’s site says that you can’t split payment on more than one card, and to my knowledge, you can’t load over $500 on a single gift card purchased in-store. Or, am I mistaken? Any ways around this? Thanks!

  5. I get these cards as bonuses from work and hate carrying them around in my wallet. In the past I have used google wallet to try to deposit the balance, but have had mixed results. Most recently I sold a vanilla visa gift card at and they sent me a check in the mail. It was simple and I got to throw the card away immediately 🙂

  6. I can confirm that you can use Vanilla Visa cards with Radpad and that is coded as debit. There is a 30 minute holding period after purchase so it cannot be used until that expires. I also set the zip code and imputed in Radpad.

    • were you able to load multiple cards at one time or just one? my rent is much higher than any one gift card.

  7. I get these cards as bonuses from work and hate carrying them around in my wallet. In the past I have used google wallet to try to deposit the balance, but have had mixed results. Most recently I sold a vanilla visa gift card at and they sent me a check in the mail. It was simple and I got to throw the card away immediately 🙂

  8. I purchased a $1000 money order in Walmart today, and the cashier refused to return the used gift cards to me and said its walmart’s policy not to return the used gift cards. It’s the first time I experienced something like this. I always get the cards back after money order is purchased. My name is on the cards. Does anyone have similar experience like this? Should I be worried about it?

    • I have had CVS cashiers say that to me when I would use Amex gc’s to purchase Visa gc’s back in the day. If they refuse to give the card back, then I would ask that they let you take a photo of the front and back in case there are any issues with the mo’s and you need to get a refund.

  9. This is what I do and always works for me.

    1: Get a CARD.COM prepaid card that has the Western Union Logo on the back.

    2: Go to your local grocer that has a WU station with your Vanilla Gift Card and CARD.COM card in hand.

    3: Find the form that says “Add Money to Prepaid Account” and enter on the form the amount that’s on your Vanilla Card, minus the applicable WU Fee where your going.

    *Note* Call ahead and kindly ask “Does _______ allow Debit Cards to pay for WU?” If they say yes…even better! Also, as soon as I hand the person at the Courtesy Desy my WU, I always casually tell them “And I will will be taking care of this as DEBIT.”

    As long as you play it cool and don’t come off all nervous or anything, it should go fine.

    Hopefully this helps. Good luck everyone!

    • Thanks for sharing this, Mike. None of the grocery stores in my area accept anything other than cash for money orders. I do the same thing you do when paying with a gift card – I throw in that I’m using a debit card before they can ask.

Leave a Comment