A week ago, I shared a possible MS shut-down on social media. A Twitter follower from Tennessee reported that his local Walmart may have begun hard-coded registers to reject gift cards for money order purchases. It turned out to be a false alarm. Readers continue to email and comment with their data points, so I wanted to share a post to alleviate everyone’s concerns. To my knowledge, Walmart has not begun hard-coding their registers. You can still buy money orders with PIN-enabled visa gift cards.
Since I began churning gift cards six years ago, there have been many false alarms like this one. In some cases, the news came from trolls who were trying to create a panic. In other cases, it was a legitimate concern from readers who had encountered issues at specific stores. It was either a tech glitch or user error. In any case, I appreciate people sharing these alerts with me because inevitably, the day will come when it isn’t a false alarm.
I highly doubt Walmart will get its act together any time soon to impose a system-wide ban on Visa gift card usage for money order purchases. For starters, they’d have to distinguish between PIN-enabled gift cards, debit, and prepaid cards. The Money Center is a substantial revenue source for Walmart, which caters largely to the underbanked. Many of their customers rely on their prepaid Visa cards as a primary banking product. If they were to hard-code their Money Center registers to reject Visa gift cards, their prepaid card customers would be alienated.
I don’t want to sound overly confident about Walmart’s ineptitude. We all need a back-up plan in case they ever do hard-code their registers. Do a little research ahead of time and look up other places that sell money orders. Think of reselling opportunities that could help you unload Visa gift cards in case of a shut down. More importantly, never buy more gift cards than you can unload through normal spending. It helps to be prepared, so you’re not left holding tens of thousands of Visa gift cards you can’t liquidate. In the meantime, take advantage (within reason) while you can.