No More Money Orders with Gift Cards: Nation’s Largest Grocery Chain Cracks Down

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money orders gift cards kroger
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Kroger Cracks Down on Money Orders

One popular way for many to generate spend is to purchase gift cards and then use those gift cards to purchase money orders. Those money orders can be deposited into a bank account and then that money used to pay off the credit card which was used to purchase the gift card. They call it the Circle of Life.

Related: Manufactured Spend & Money Orders: What You Need to Know to Stay Out of Legal Trouble

Ok, maybe I made that last part up, but it does seem to be an effective way for some to earn rewards. There is one huge issue with the whole cycle though. FRAUD! You see, what if those gift cards were purchased with a stolen credit card? Once they are turned into money orders then that money is much harder to trace. Those darn criminals ruin everything.

Via /u/ID4TgIOBi on Reddit, Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain is about to stop allowing the use of prepaid debit cards to purchase money orders. In the bulletin which can be seen here, Kroger says the following:

What’s happening?

Effective the week of November 28th, we will no longer accept gift cards or temporary prepaid debit cards as payment for money orders.

Permanent reloadable prepaid debit cards (those that feature the customer’s name on the front) will still be accepted.

Why is this happening?

This is part of Kroger’s on-going fraud protection efforts.

Time frame: November 28 – December 2

Apparently the system will now be hard-coded to not accept these cards. I expect that even prepaid cards with your name on them such as those from GiftCards.com probably won’t work either, although we will have to wait to see how this is implemented to know for sure. It does seem like more permanent reloadable cards will continue to work.

My Thoughts

My local Kroger chain is Smith’s and all of my closest locations stopped accepting gift cards for money orders quite awhile ago. The system would allow it, but all (and I mean all) of the employees were instructed on a district level to not allow this.

There are definitely other stores where you can purchase money orders so this won’t be the end of the practice, but for many who relied on Kroger this will hurt. Unfortunately fraud works against so much of what we do in the hobby and technology will only get better to stop it.

What are your thoughts? Did you rely heavily on Kroger to buy money orders or were you buying them somewhere else. Will this change have an effect on what you are doing to earn rewards? Let us know in the comments!

Jeff H on Twitter


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63 COMMENTS

    • Our local Post Office rejected Meta Bank’s VGCs since two months ago with a error message saying “failed transaction”. Are you still able to liquidate your VGCs or MCGCs at Post Office at your area?

      • I think the Vanilla mastercards still work at the PO but that may be about it…I have heard of people having issues even with US Bank visas there

  1. Thankfully, one of the local chains here (Winn-Dixie) still allows MO purchases with gift cards. Sure hope they don’t follow suit!

    • Our local Post Office rejected Meta Bank’s VGCs since two months ago with a error message saying “failed transaction”. Are you still able to liquidate your VGCs or MCGCs at Post Office at your area?

  2. Just liquidated dining anywhere, mastercard variable (both those wouldn’t work locally at walmart, post office) and normal visa variables at harris teeter today (kroger affiliate). I bought three $500 money orders at $0.99. Guess I just got under the wire.

  3. My local PA “affiliate” worked this evening, however, one of the mini-marts nearby just over the county line told me their system, and others that would also be in that county were “rebooting” this evening. I took that to mean hard coding against. Yipes! If they are rolling it out by county, I’m cleaning out my stash first thing in the morning.

  4. Has anyone bought the “Grocery Everywhere” variation? I had dozens of 5 Back work, and even 1 Dining anywhere. But the Grocery card wouldn’t work. At least at my PA Kroger affiliate, Turkey Hill. Any other data points?

  5. I’m in L.A. and none of the Ralph’s supermarkets on the Westside ever let me purchase MOs w/gift cards. This goes back several years, so I’m not aware that they ever did. ( (Ralph’s belongs to Kroger.) I’ll continue going to WM & Post Office to liquidate GCs, but eventually, those avenues will shut down too….

    • Our local Post Office already shutdown and rejected Meta Bank’s VGCs since two months ago with a error message saying “failed transaction”. Are you able to liquidate any VGC at USPS?

      • @Eric – That happened to me too. I believe no Metabank Visa GCs at Post Offices is now widespread. Search flyertalk. But the Vanilla Mastercard GCs still seem to work at the Post Office. At least, I was able to liquidate those last week. So for the Metabank Visa GCs I now only liquidate at WM.

        • Can you share how you’ve been able to liquidate at WM? I live in West LA as well and the WM (if we’re talking about the same one) always asks to see the physical card before I swipe

          • Porter Ranch WM has never given me a problem. Also, Walmart Neighborhood Markets are good and have less Money center traffic, although there’s one in NoHo and the rest are in like La Mirada.

            Btw, usually when they ask to see the physical card I show em my chase debit.

  6. I cried a little. I was manufacturing 80k a month and I still need to hit sign up on the new Merrill. I will try the post office and I think I will be able to pay my western union mortgage at Kroger w prepaid.
    Luckily I think I just hit gold status on SPG and will be able to get one last companion pass before my life is over

      • I was doing 2k office depot and 2-4k at Kroger king soopers per day. Then getting money orders at 3 different king soopers. I have 4 simply cash cards and 2 old blue cash and one ink plus that I was making out at 25k and 50k per yr( that’s the limit)

        • I’m amazed you have not been shut down by an issuer.

          Be happy with what you got away with.
          Take that just as a warning from someone Chase shut down for much, much less.
          I guess until you get shut down, you think it won’t happen.
          They started by closing a checking account that had 60k sitting at 0% in it for months, so it wasn’t as if I was churning through a bank account with them. I still gave them tens of thousands in actual merchandise purchases.

          I finally have Chase back, but it took 3 years. Luckily, I had a huge home insurance loss and I was able to pay the contractor with credit cards. Unluckily, my homeowners insurance is likely being non-renewed.

          • I have heard that it’s better to not keep a checking account with banks you have credit cards with. Were you doing any intl wire transfers or anything that could resemble structuring?

  7. Darn. I just started this hobby w my ink card. I have been so successful unloading them at my local king Soopers. Where does one go now?

  8. I have had no luck at Walmart or Publix in the last couple of weeks. Kroger has been a ‘no’ in Atlanta for a year now.

  9. This caught me off guard earlier today as I was trying to get some MOs from GCs.. Kroger has been my primary spot for MOs so this is a challenge now for me. I am going to check out Publix and the local post office and see if they allow. I’ll report back.

  10. Post offices in NY shut it down too recently. Been trying for 2 weeks to cash out Simon gift cards which have worked for the past year at any post office and now their saying its being declined.

  11. I hit up a few Smiths last month in Vegas and was successful at all of them but one. This really sucks. I’m also in West LA and the post office stopped working so now I have to go all the way to Walmart which is in Burbank.

    • Yeah it depends on what side of town you are on. Someone hit them hard apparently in my area because one day reps I had known and been buying from for a long time simply said no. I have other places to go so it hasn’t been worth going across town.

      • I’ve seen the “no prepaid” sign at most of the Smith’s in town except for a few way across town in henderson, so I’ve been going to the other end of town, which is a real pain in the butt. Wonder if they will still work..

    • I’m in the SGV area. Just got the ink plus but sounds like the game is over before I even started. Any advice where to start? Flyer talk forum? So Walmart Is still possible? Private message is probably better than these public forum I imagine.

  12. No tears here especially when I see the comment from the guy MSing $80k a month. Congratulations it’s people like you who ruined it for the rest of us.

  13. I learned about how to travel for free or almost free from this website and I am very appreciative to Shawn and everyone that has shared their knowledge and experiences I have always traveled a lot for business but over the past year me and my family have made several very nice and expensive vacations for little or no cost so Thank You Everyone!!! I just returned from a great Holiday trip today and seen this post and though it must be a mistake? I guess I have just been lucky because I had a Kroger’s Store (Smiths) that convertedt VGC’s to Money Orders happily and as a back up I had a Walmart that would always do the same.

    Well I checked with my local Smiths and the girls almost cried when they told me it was true they were shut down it was sad I seen them at least twice a week and got to know them and their family’s very well. Then I checked with my back up Walmart store and the same thing they were instructed 2 weeks ago that they could no longer accept VGC’s for Money Orders?

    What other options do I have? I have never looked for another place because it was just to easy?It worked at the first Smiths and Walmart I went to and I never even thought this would end 🙁

    If anyone has any ideas for me in the Salt Lake area I would very much appreciate the tip.

    Thanks 🙂

  14. Are folks still able to unload the $300 Meta bank GCs at Wall-mart???I have seen signs around the financial center kiosk saying no to the pre-pard gift/debit cards.

    Just went to the Post Office today and saw/found out for the first time (since I was last there in July/August) that these weren’t working. Tried twice and watched the screen come up with the verbiage saying failed transaction. 🙁 Shawn, were you aware of this change/new policy? Hadn’t heard anything about it. Thanks

    • I just did a 500 meta g/c at Wal-Mart no problems and no signs up. Hopefully wont see any. I also bought the 500 Meta G/C from Kroger. I am wondering why people are having trouble because usually its getting the G/C that works for Wal-Mart M/O . Most people dont have Kroger Wal-Marts are everywhere. Just buy from Kroger and go to Walmart.

  15. Are all money order purchases using Visa Gift Cards banned? I have only used 1 Kroger store (Smiths) and 1 Walmart and both have stopped letting me purchase Money orders with gift cards any advise would be much appreciated

    • This really varies store to store. At Walmart it will work and some stores allow it while others don’t. At Kroger (Smith’s) now it won’t work even if a cashier will let you since the system will reject the purchase.

    • by this at Kroger and its affiliates, the software upgrade may be complete so all their stores have enforced the ban via registers. even friendly cashiers and store managers not aware of it were not able to override the new policy. at WM there is no software ban of GCs for MOs or prepaid loads (yet), but it’s a hit and miss since some stores enforce their own rules.

  16. My affiliate was still selling them last night. We’re taking it day at a time, liquidating then another buying another round of GC’s.

  17. Fortunate enough to have several Kroger affiliates in my area. They’ve been my go-to since AMEX killed my BBs. Question. For those utilizing Kroger, did you get the “transaction failed” message OR were you denied before getting to the keypad?

  18. DP: I was able to load a $500 GC at a Family Dollar using a AMEX serve card. They did charge $3.99 for this though.

  19. I’ll believe it when I see it. We’ve been told this about Kroger many times before. But it still lives on for most people. Unless it gets hard-coded somehow, it’s impossible to enforce a policy like this nation wide.

    • The memo states that it will be hardcoded. Many people have reported their local systems were updated already although some people still seem to be having luck. I agree a simple policy change will not be evenly enforced, but a change of software is the real issue here.

  20. Vanillas work at PO
    Metas work at WM
    Sunrise work at WM
    Green Dot work at WM
    Where do $200 variable Meta Dining Everywheres work? If you can’t buy MOs with them, then how else to liquidate them?

  21. QFC and Fred Meyer not working the Seattle area. I tried Seattle, mercer island, and bothell stores today. All hard coded to not work. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. Does anyone know of anywhere else in Seattle?

  22. At HEB, accepting bank issued debit card is the only option for the past 6 plus months. There is a clear sign posted in front of the customer service only bank issued debit card is an acceptable form of payment for money order purchase.

  23. I’ve been liquidating like there’s no tomorrow since the news broke. Over the weekend, notices went up saying no more prepaid at two of the four affiliates I frequent. The other two are still functioning as of this morning BUT, when trying to swipe more than one VGC, the “transaction failed” message appeared. Draw your own conclusions.

  24. The very next day, my most frequented affiliate updated. No signs, just a denial from the keypad. The cashier apologized saying that she should have told me prior to swiping that the systems no longer accepted VGCs for money orders. And just like that, another channel closes.

    • Uh oh. I somehow think your affiliate and my affiliate are the same. I haven’t tried in a couple days. Damn.

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