Do You Manufacture Spend? This Is 1 Thing You MUST DO!

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A pile of gift cards.
With this many gift cards, it can be hard to keep track if they are all active, but it is very important.

Avoid Leaving With An Empty Card

Anyone who has been around this game for awhile has either read or heard about horror stories when it comes to gift cards. People have had problems with card numbers being stolen and the value being wiped out along with simple mistakes like a cashier switching out an active card for a dud.

Today that second situation happened to me and it could have been a disaster. I was at one of my favorite places to buy gift cards and the cashier was sort of trying to do a million things at once. He scanned a card to activate it and then said the system didn’t take the card. Essentially in his words it was, “A bad card”. He then put it aside and proceeded to scan the rest of the gift cards that I was purchasing.

After paying and getting the receipt, I stood at the counter and checked to make sure I had the correct cards. This has been something I have done religiously for years and today was the first time I have had an issue. I highly recommend that you never leave the establishment without verifying that you have the activated cards. This should be RULE #1!

RULE#1: Never leave without verifying that the cards in your posession are the ones that were activated on the receipt.

Each store and receipt will look a little different, but the receipt should have some identifying information for each activated card. The store that this happened at prints the entire 16 digit card number on the receipt. In about 15 seconds I was able to see that I was given an inactivate card. Of course the “bad” card that he put aside was activated with a $500 balance!

An Example From CVS

Since I have been asked not to share about the store I was shopping at today, here is an example of a receipt from CVS for the purchase of Vanilla Visa cards. On the bottom of the receipt you can find the value and last four digits of the serial number for each activate card.

This is the CVS receipt showing the last four digits of the serial # for the card activated.
This is the CVS receipt showing the last four digits of the serial # for the card activated.

After checking the receipt, simply compare it to the serial number on the back of the card’s package. Vanilla cards have two numbers on the back of the package, so it is important to look at the serial number on the very bottom as shown.

As you can see the 7310 matches up to the receipt. This card is active! Yay!


Other Stores

Every store has some form of activation receipt and it is important that you check to make sure you received the correct activated card(s). I always check before leaving so if there is a problem it can be resolved quickly since the cashier is still there. I have heard too many stories about month long ordeals trying to straighten out a situation like this.

In today’s case, I quickly pointed out the discrepancy in the card numbers and he apologized and gave me the so called “bad” card which matched up perfectly to the receipt. I also made sure to call right away on all of the cards in order to set a pin and verify the balance. I don’t think that he switched the cards on purpose, but had I not looked, it may have been a very big deal to get my money back.


When dealing with thousands of dollars at a time, it is easy to make a costly mistake. If you lose even one gift card, it really takes a lot of the value out of manufacturing spend. I highly suggest whenever you are purchasing gift cards of any kind, that you carefully examine everything before leaving the store. Today RULE #1 may have just saved me $500!


  1. Hi! I’m new to the manufactured spend, so I have a couple of questions. How much do you put/purchase a gift card for at each location per card. I have the Chase Freedom and there’s a gas station near my house that will reload a card with a credit card. I’m afraid to charge more than $200 at a time, thinking that they will see a large charge at a gas station (weekly) and tag my account. Is there a certain charge limit for gift cards (or reloading cards) that will tip off the credit card company (i.e. chase freedom) that you aren’t just buying gas? Also, I just got the Ink Plus and am not sure how much I can charge per visit at Staples/Office Max before they notice. I saw on your receipt you had $500 per card. Is that a safe amount? How often do you charge that amount: weekly, monthly? I know it’d be better to purchase larger amounts to bring the activation fee down, but I just don’t know what might “flag” my account. (Does all this make sense?!). Thanks so much for your input!

    • I know people who do thousands of dollars at a time without issue, but that doesn’t mean that you should. My best suggestion is that you should take it slow and figure out what you are comfortable with.

  2. Thanks for the reminder. I finally started to scale up as I am getting more comfortable doing it now. This is a great tip!
    Off topic question:do you keep all the receipts and reloading printouts after money circle back to your account and bills paid?

  3. Who asked you not to publish what store you were buying at? Why would you not share that information with your readers?

    • I was told about this place by a friend who asked me not to share. I always share what I can, but when someone tells me something in confidence, then I don’t have a choice.

      Also, I don’t have a lot of experience with this particular place and I always like to try things out before sharing them to make sure everything works well and so I can share my experience.

  4. I bought Greendot card by mistake, instead of greendot moneypak I bought greendot cash reload card for $500 and now I can’t load it to my serve card. What do I do to get $500 back?
    I can’t find the # of Greendot to call, the one is available require Greendot visa #!

    • I’m not sure if they will give you your money back, but their phone number is: 1 (866) 795-7597. I believe the Greendot Cash Reload card can be used to load a Walmart Moneycard. Perhaps you could pick one up and try it. Try giving them a call first though.


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