1 Year Of Bluebird


Bluebird from American Express came around a year ago and rocked our world.  It’s alternative to a debit/checking account with no fees.  Although you need a social security number to signup there is no credit pull that is done.

I first saw it on the DansDeals Forums thanks to DDF user regalhome. And I made a post after that asking if it will be the next dollar coin churn.

There have been some changes and it remains a great tool today.

Today for example they sent out an email saying you can only link 1 debit card to fund your Bluebird online. That’s no big deal as I wrote earlier this week that you should not load gift cards online to Bluebird anyway as it would cause them to freeze your account.

Vanilla Reloads remain the easiest way to load Bluebird.  Office Depot and Walgreens no longer allow you to buy them with a credit card but stores like CVS will let you use a credit card.  They’ll sell you a $500 Vanilla Reload card for a $3.95 fee and you can transfer those funds onto Bluebird from your computer.  CVS officially allows you to buy $5,000 per day though some stores (or certain cashiers) may limit that.  Ask them to find the CVS memo that talks about the $5,000 limit and allows you to pay by credit card.  That’s a very cheap way to buy miles even if you’re not trying to meet a spend threshold and it’s an incredibly cheap way to meet a spend threshold.

Heavily populated areas like NYC can be tougher to find Vanilla Reloads, but plenty of DDF members have had success even there.  Just a matter of finding the right store.  Or getting a manager to order more in when they are out of stock.

To put it in perspective the $3.95 fee is 0.79 cents per mile without accounting for any signup bonus points. That’s $35 for a BA one-way short-haul award, or $474 for a United one-way business class flight to Israel.  Of course if you’re earning 50,000 miles on top of that for a signup bonus it will be a tiny fraction of those costs.

You can also load gift cards onto Bluebird at WalMart.  At a WalMart ATM machine just click to load your WalMart money card, swipe your Bluebird, and swipe the gift card to load it onto Bluebird.  It’s even quicker to load it with a WalMart cashier though some cashiers won’t allow you to load a gift card to Bluebird.

Of course there’s no reason to ask if you can load your gift card to Bluebird, just say you want to load your Bluebird card with your debit card.  Today I loaded $2,000 of OneVanilla Visa debit cards on 2 Bluebirds cards at WalMart.  Those cards earned me 11,000 points, more than enough for a free round-trip award.  I was asked if they were gift cards and repliad that they were Visa debit cards, which is exactly what they say on them.

I buy Visa gift cards from stores like Staples and Office Max to earn 5x the points thanks to cards like the Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, and the Chase Ink Cash. The 5x points easily wipes out the $6.95 fee for the $200 Visa gift card. I just use the last 4 digits of the card number as the pin when prompted.  With Mastercards from those stores you need to call and set a pin.  Plus the WalMart system seems to recognize it as a credit card instead of a debit card.  However if you press the cancel button it gives you the option to switch it to debit which will allow you to load it to Bluebird.

Bluebird still gives free paper checks that you can request.  Or pay off your credit card bill, mortgage, etc, thanks to free bill payment.

Unless you have a lot of family members (say like this guy) you probably won’t make as many miles as I and many others did back in the mint coin heyday. That’s due to the $5,000 per month funding limit from Vanilla Reload and Walmart debit reloads per card. But it won’t hurt your back either 😀

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59 Comments on "1 Year Of Bluebird"

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What about mvd 2500 per day?


MVD can be cashed out without Bluebird.


What about this thing called square cash is it a good idea?


CVS has a Vanilla Reload debit visa card. I assume you are not talking about that? The other Vanilla reloads that I see there are not cards. They are just a cardboard that you take to the register and “load” straight onto a debit card (like the aforementioned vanilla debit..). So I suspect there is another product which is an actual card that I can then take home and load online?
So if I have the vanilla visa debit card (or any other reloadable debit card) then can I just but the green dot (on sale at CVS for a $2.95 fee) to load on my debit card, then go to walmart and transfer from the debit to the bluebird? I wonder if I am missing some fees.
Maybe I should just wait until Nov 9. 🙂


@Dan: So isn’t MVD a better choice, if there is no need for bluebird to cash it out?


I love this line from Dan’s first post in reference to buying his first 7,000 $ coins from the mint.

“Will I do it again? I doubt it (unless they offer this deal for bills instead of coins!). But it was quite the experience!”

500,000 coins later I think he proved himself wrong.


Is there any reason not to do this with Amex like by Amazon payments?


Speaking of CVS, you can exchange many other store gift cards for CVS gift cards on their new gift card exchange program with plastic jungle.


I don’t know whether you can buy Vanilla Reloads with CVS gift cards or not. If you can, it’s a perfect way to trade in other store gift cards for cash.


Are there any risks associated with paying an AMEX bill with Bluebird? If yes, does moving the funds from Bluebird to a checking account and paying AMEX from the checking account remove the problem?


Did you ever have success at Walmart with VANILLA mastercard? How? On vanilla visa any 4 numbers work, but on the MC I had no success. Vanilla CSR kept saying it should work, but it didn’t. (I never tried hitting cancel)


Doesn’t work for anything besides the Delta debit card.

There is only 1 Vanilla Reload.
It’s pictured here:

They will ban you for doing it too often.

And there are plenty of other method of manufactured spend besides Bluebird such as Amazon Payments, etc.

I don’t think you can.

I’ve yet to here of any problems from that.
AMEX own Bluebird, so they’re not shutting people down for that.

Never even seen a Vanilla MC, sorry.


Is it safe to buy high-value gc on INK? Do I need to mix other spend in?
And what about amex blue %6 &%3? Amex business 5 points at office supply?


Do you have any thoughts on the Go-Bank card to supplement Bluebird?


As long as you don’t go maxing out your lines it doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Not an expert on them, anyone else want to chime in?


Any reason to be afraid of running tens of thousands of dollars through your BB account in case of an IRS audit?


I don’t think so.


trying to get my British Airways Companion Ticket by running the $30k spend using Vanilla. Wish me luck!


Better off using that spend to meet more spend thresholds.


I thought BB ended the free checks? Where on the site can I order it?


A lot of CVS esppacialy in New York are no longer allowing you to buy gift card with a credit card.


Still free.
Hover over “My account”
Click on order Bluebird checks.

And all it takes is one store or even one cashier that works for you.
They’re out there, even in NYC.


dan you wrote you wouldn’t make a deposit from amazon payments to a checking that you have a card with is that also include AP to BB ?


You can send AP to BB safely.


Thanks. Also, Can anything happen to your cc accounts if you abuse BB, or only get your BB shut down?


not soo lucky here in AZ, sign on the register in one store and on the display 2 others saying (paraphrased) all prepaid cards must be purchased with cash, gift cards etc may be purchased using credit or debit….


Which account # should be put in to verify bb account through amazon?
I tried to instant verify the one on the checks and it failed


How does two thousand in One Vanilla Visa debit loaded to BB get you 11k points isn’t it just two thousand?


How did you earned 11000 points buy loading $2000 to BB? Where did you buy the 2K onevanilla debit cards?


On bluebird account home click “add funds”. Then clock”set up direct deposit” the will give your a form to print, on the form a routing and account number will be displayed. Just enter then on ap.
Plus you the 2 dollar ATM fee waived if you direct deposit into bb every thirty days.


I have 2 companion tickets, you can have them, they are worthless because you have to fly via London and the fees are as much as a regular ticket. Personally, there are better values out there with other cards, like Starwoods, for example


Dan, wow thanks for the shout out!


@mmm have u tried it with AP instant verify?


@bc: where in AZ? I had no problems in Phoenix CVS getting plenty of vanilla reloads on a cc


i just had a problem cashing in my giftcards in walmart, cashier told me the service was available only at customer service, when i went to customer service they said that the debit card has to have a name on it


I buy Visa $200 gift cards in Staples, call the number on the back of the card to assign a PIN and then transfer them onto my BB account at Walmart. Do I not have to assign a PIN before hand and just use the last 4 numbers on the card as the PIN?


Long time fan but never have posted. Where do I begin to learn about the subject you are discussing . From this posting I could not figure out how the bb helped in getting the mileage ? Where do I start? Thanks. Have enjoyed and benefited from your deals so appreciative !


@Dan: how do you send AP to BB? just put down your BB account # as your checking account # and it will work?


to get flight to HI, is it by doing 2 one way, or doing multi city and end in HI?

Best way for one way return from HI?

Best time of the year, weather, for HI?


Would loading 5 (or more) thousand dollars a month on bb and paying back the credit cards, will this affect gov. programs?
Do they see this activity?


Jack, it will. you cant have it all. does not work.
better safe than sorry.
IYM, no other way for now.



I always wondered why people are so bored that they spend so much time making a few bucks with these bluebird stuff. Don’t you guys work for a living?

Jack just explained – you’re on government programs so you don’t need to work. That’s why you’re so bored.


@Bruce: It doesn’t come from being bored its a hobby! have fun enjoy life!


i agree with @Mona
dan, you keep mentioning, ‘i bought the $500 mvd cards’ but with which credit card? for first timers – can someone plz simplify the circle of this process?
you buy the vanilla cards with which credit card? then you take those cards to the bank and get your $500 cash advance – and then what? finish it off plz.
thanks a bunch!!


I just got Starwoods Amex card and need to hit the %k threshold. Can I buy 5k Vanilla Reload and move it to Bluebird and pay Starwoods Amex? Or should I be doing this a different way?


I love the way you say it’s like buying a biz class ticket to Israel for $474. That means, you need to spend $60,000 on Bluebird just to get you there, and another 60k to get you back.
What do you think Chase’s LP Dept. says when they see a whopping $120,000 in CVS purchases?


Can I pay my mortgage with bluebird?


@Dan – Can you use Bluebird accounts for direct debit? Would make those tuition and mortgage payments a little more tolerable. Thanks


So a RT business class flight to Israel would cost $948?? Or am I misunderstanding (I’m a newbie to this).


@Jack2act: Yes you can


east valley tempe and chandler, what part of the valley are yo u in?


BTW, every CVS seems to have a different policy. Down in FL. One CVS told me that I could buy $5,000 of Vanilla Reloads on my c/c a day. Another insisted it’s $2,000 maximum. Also, each time I buy more than $500, I seem to get a credit fraud alert on my Amex (Centurion Card) and Chase (Presidential Plus). I have to call the c/c company to get the OK!


@Dav: I just got my british airways card I need to spend $2000. can I buy $2000 worth of vanilla cards, load it onto my bluebird account and pay my british airways card with it?? is it really that simple? ive never tried it before and just signed upto bluebird


I just come back from Walmart. The kiosk was closed, so I went to the customer service (I have used both before). She told me I was only allowed to reload personal debit card, and could not use my gift cards using the PIN. I have chase’s VISA gift cards which have a PIN and it is written debit on it. She even mentioned that was the reason they closed the kiosk.

Has anyone experienced the same? I will try another Walmart in the area, but this sucks.


@clcm…which location did you go to in Phoenix? I have tried one in Laveen Arizona and it did not work.

Louise M McAndrews

Bluebird will not allow me to send payments to P.O. boxes, so how does one use it to pay a CC bill?


@Louise M McAndrews: write p0 box. Use the number 0 instead of the letter O


I’ve always loaded my bb with vanilla reloads but they are getting really difficult to find.
I want to make sure I understand the vanilla visa so I dont mess up.
I can buy as many myvanilla visa cards at cvs or staples(do they let you pay with cc?). Then I go to walmart with my bluebird and mv visa and ask the cashier to load my bluebird with my debit card? I give them the 4 digit pin on the card- I dont need to get a card with my name on it like chase required?


Can someone tell me which points or mileage would be best to use to book a week in Prima Palace in Jerusalem?


so in the end- which cc best to buy VR and where besides CVS and Staples can it be found? And exactly how to I reload them at walmart- and can it simply be done online at home?