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Why Pin-Enabled Cards
Visa and Mastercard gift cards with pin numbers are popular in the manufactured spending world because you can use most of them to load Bluebird/Serve at Walmart and buy money orders at certain stores. This page is a reference covering where you can buy these cards.
Once you set a pin on these cards, you can load Bluebird/Serve at the Walmart kiosk (how-to) or at a register by using them as a debit card. These are considered “cash loads” and are limited to $2,500 per day and $5,000 per month on both Serve and Bluebird.
Where To Buy Pin Enabled Gift Cards
Office Supply Stores
Staples & Officemax have both Visa and Mastercard gift cards in fixed denominations up to $200. (Officemax also carries variable load Visa & Mastercards, but they are cash only.) The Visa cards sold by both stores are issued by Metabank and the Mastercard gift cards are issued by U.S. Bank.
- Costs: $200 cards cost $6.95, $100 cards cost $5.95
- Verdict: Good to use with a 5x earning card such as the Chase Ink Plus.
Office Depot sells Vanilla branded gift cards. (Variable load Vanilla cards are cash only, while fixed value cards can be purchased with a credit card.) Despite being pin-enabled, these cannot be loaded to Bluebird/Serve at Walmart in denominations over $50 and are not generally recommended. They do work to load Serve at Rite Aid or Family Dollar.
- Costs: $200 cards cost $6.95, $100 cards cost $5.95
- Verdict: Staples & Officemax are better options.
Most grocery stores will allow the purchase of Visa/Mastercard gift cards with credit cards. Grocery stores generally sell variable load cards which can be loaded up to $500 for a fee of $5.95. Alternatively, they sell $100 fixed value cards for $5.95. Availability and prices will vary by store and region.
Cards issued by U.S. Bank, Metabank and Sunrise Bank have all been confirmed to work in the past.
- Costs: Generally $5.95 for a variable load card up to $500 and $5.95 for a $100 fixed value card.
- Verdict: Good easy way to meet minimum spend. Try to use a card with a category bonus such as the Old Amex Blue.
Walmart sells $500 variable load gift cards for a $4.94 fee. (Some stores carry cards with a slightly higher fee.) Most stores allow you to use a credit card, but you can generally only purchase one card per transaction.
- Costs: $4.94 per $500 card at most stores.
- Verdict: Can be convenient since you may already be at Walmart, but most cards will not earn a category bonus.
Many drug stores have moved to cash only for Visa/Mastercard purchases. Depending on the region, Walgreens, RiteAid and CVS may sell gift cards with a credit card. CVS has a limit of $2,000 per day, but many stores have moved to a cash only policy.
- Costs: $5-6 for a $500 variable load card. (Most drug stores sell Vanilla gift cards.)
- Verdict: Look for a card with a category bonus at drug stores such as the Old Amex Blue.
Some gas stations carry prepaid Visa/Mastercard gift cards as well. Like with grocery stores, availability will vary by region and brand. Many gas stations no longer allow the purchase of Visa/Mastercard gift cards with credit cards.
- Cost: Varies by region.
- Verdict: Once again look for category bonuses. A number of cards pay 2x or 3x at gas stations.
Simon & Macerich Malls sell $500 Visa gift cards for a $3.95 fee. These gift cards are issued by Metabank and can be loaded to Bluebird/Serve at Walmart.
- Cost: $3.95 per $500
- Verdict: Best for meeting minimum spend since purchases at Simon Mall don’t earn a category bonus on any credit cards.
Other retailers also sell Visa & Mastercard gift cards. Many of them don’t allow the use of credit cards, but some do. Sears is a good example. In some stores they sell the same $200 Visa cards sold by Staples & Officemax.
Giftcards.com sells $500 Visa gift cards online. Since shipping and purchase costs are high, this generally isn’t the most cost effective way to purchase cards, but sometimes they run promotions.
- Cost: $6-8 per $500 without a promotion.
- Verdict: Not really good unless you want to put forth minimal effort to manufacture spend.
Staples sells $300 Visa gift cards on their website for a $8.95 fee or $200 cards for a $6.95 fee. The cards are issued by Metabank and can be loaded to Bluebird/Serve at Walmart. (How to activate these cards.)
- Cost: $200 card for $6.95 fee or $300 cards for $8.95 fee.
- Verdict: Use with 5x earning card such as the Chase Ink or Amex SimplyCash.
Buying Money Orders
Walmart and some grocery chains will allow you to purchase money orders by using the pin on these cards. I highly caution against this unless you know exactly what you are doing. In the past people have had their bank accounts shutdown for depositing too many money orders.
Pin-enabled Visa/Mastercard gift cards are still widely available to be purchased with credit cards. The key is finding the right store and the right category bonus to outstretch your value. Try to avoid Vanilla branded cards since they will not work at Walmart.
Did I miss any gift card opportunities? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments.
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