Bluebird Tweets On; WalMart ATM Gets Even Easier Than Before

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The naysayers said it wasn’t sustainable, but 13 months later Bluebird from American Express is still going strong.

The Bluebird thread on DDF has over 6,200 posts, the most of any DDF thread.

Bluebird is a checking alternative where you can get free checks, pay your credit card bills, pay your mortgage, etc.  You need a social security number to get it but there is no credit check or hard pull.

Vanilla Reloads:
If your local CVS has Vanilla Reloads loading your Bluebird is easy. You get a $500 Vanilla Reload for $503.95 and load the $500 to your Bluebird online. You can buy up to $5,000 per day.
If you’re going for a signup bonus this is a no-brainer.
But let’s say just using your Starwood card and not trying to meet the $5,000 needed to have a total of 30,000 Starpoints. You are buying 500 Starpoints for $3.95. With the 25% bonus for transferring Starpoints into miles that’s 625 miles. That’s like buying miles for 0.63 cents each.
-You can use 60,000 ANA miles for a round-trip to Israel on United or USAirways without fuel surcharges. If you did that with Vanilla Reloads it would cost $378 for the 60,000 miles for the round-trip.
-You can use 25,000 Flying Blue miles plus $280 in fuel surcharges for a round-trip to Israel. If you did that with Vanilla Reloads it would cost $157.50 for the 25,000 miles plus the $280 in surcharges or $437.50 for the round-trip.
-You can use 90,000 ANA miles for a round-trip in business class to Israel on United or USAirways without fuel surcharges. If you did that with Vanilla Reloads it would cost $567 for the 90,000 miles for the round-trip.
-You can use 90,000 USAirways miles for a round-trip in business class to Asia without fuel surcharges. You can even get a free stopover in Israel for as long as you want along the way. If you did that with Vanilla Reloads it would cost $567 for the 90,000 miles for the round-trip.
-You can use 135,000 American miles for a round-trip in first class to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific without fuel surcharges. If you did that with Vanilla Reloads it would cost $850.50 for the 135,000 miles for the round-trip. That’s a flight that would normally cost $25,000.

Gift Cards at WalMart:
Yesterday at one of my local WalMarts I was able to load $2,000 onto 2 Bluebird cards using the ATM. Previously I had chosen to load my WalMart Money Card and the machine would require an override to load more than $1,800 within about 30 minutes.  When I had used the Bluebird option previously it didn’t work.  This time the “load Bluebird” option worked perfectly.  Even better, when using this option it had no problem with the $2,000 of back-to-back-to-back loading.  Plus it didn’t give me any errors and it seemed to work a lot faster than with the WalMart money card option.

If the ATM machine is broken at your local store be sure to file a complaint with WalMart corporate.

Today some people on DDF reported issues loading using a WalMart cashier so I went back to try that as well. I’m happy to report no issues at all. At customer service last time they asked if it was a gift card and I replied that it was a debit card with a pin, which is the truth. They said it wouldn’t work but of course it did. This time I just went to a regular cashier and loaded it with them without problems. On occasion a regular cashier won’t know how to do it-just tell them to use “70 action code” to process a Bliebird load, they should know what the means.

Gift cards at other stores:
I’m sitting on a nice pile of gift cards and Bluebird has a $1,000 daily load limit at WalMart so I also went to a grocery store to buy a money order. The store charges 58 cents for a $500 money order.  WalMart also sells money order and has a billpay option without going through Bluebird, but those are tougher to do thanks to the customer service counter often rejecting gift cards and frowning upon split tender transactions when you use more than one card at a time..
I had no problem splitting the charge using 4 gift cards to get a $500 money order for $500.58. I won’t be depositing it into a checking account with a bank at which I also have credit cards.

Many of these gift cards came from when Chase was still offering free gift cards. But I also have lots of gift cards from Staples and Office Max bought on Ink cards.
A $200 Visa gift card costs $206.95. At Staples you can get an automatic $3 rebate on each card thanks to Plink.
The pin on these gift cards is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.

Again, if you’re just trying to reach the spend threshold this is a no-brainer.
But let’s say just using your Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash card and not trying to meet the $5,000 needed to have a total of 55,000 points. Thanks to quintuple points on cable, telecom, and office supplies you get 1,035 points for each card purchased.
You are buying 1,035 points for for $3.95 ($6.95 fee less $3 plink rebate). That’s like buying miles for 0.38 cents each.
-You can use 22,000 points transferred to Hyatt for a $1,500 villa in the Maldives. If you did that with gift cards it would cost $83.60 per night.
-You can use 30,000 points transferred to Korean for a round-trip to Hawaii on Alaska or Hawaiian. If you did that with gift cards it would cost $114 for the round-trip.
-You can use 30,000 points transferred to Southwest for about $570 worth of paid flights. If you did that with gift cards it would cost $114 for those flights.
-You can use 80,000 points transferred to United for a round-trip to Israel. If you did that with gift cards it would cost $304 for the round-trip. (Effective 02/01 this goes up to 85,000 or $323)
-You can use 120,000 points transferred to United for a round-trip business class ticket to Israel. If you did that with gift cards it would cost $456 for the round-trip. (Effective for tickets bought after 01/31 this goes up to 140,000 on United or $532. On partner airlines this goes up to 160,000 or $608.)
-You can use 160,000 points transferred to Korean for a round-trip in Kosmo Suites class to Asia. If you did that with gift cards it would cost $608 for the round-trip. That’s a flight that would normally cost $20,000.  Just be sure to enjoy the open bar with $200 bottles of scotch 😀

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95 Comments On "Bluebird Tweets On; WalMart ATM Gets Even Easier Than Before"

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Nice & clear. Thanks Dan


you mentioned that you buy money order and deposit it into bank. Would this make the bank or IRS think you have an extra source of income and then require you to pay tax on it? if that happens, how do you defense yourself?



Unless you’re depositing huge sums at a time it’s not going to raise eyebrows.
Heck even with huge sums like the $$$$$$ people were doing in the mint days it didn’t alert the IRS.

But even if you are audited this isn’t what the IRS cares about. And you can easily show them what you were doing.


Can I pay my sapphire bill with this blue card?


You can pay any bill with it.


How many points to go to space?


How do you do a stopover in Israel on the way to Asia for 90K US miles? What would be the itinerary?

Chaim Leib

@Dan. Staples in NY area has stopped selling the $200 Visa card. All they now sell is $200 MasterCard. Would MasterCard work at Walmart BB?


I have no problems loading BB at the WM cashier, but when I try loading BB at the WM ATM, I enter the PIN and hit enter, and the PIN clears and prompts me to re-enter the PIN, and it keeps on doing that. Any suggestions?


Is it ok to then use blue bird to pay off the cc i bought the vr’s with?


Did you ever have a problem unloading vanilla visa?
For a while I’m going strong with vanilla visa, but just now I got 4×200 and the PIN isn’t working on any of them. (I tried the PIN for a regular purchase and it did’n’t work.)




@Chaim Leib:
You managed to check every Staples???

The MC will also work, you just need to set a pin. If you use them at a cashier you need to click cancel and change payment to debit.

Never had a problem.
Are you trying to load “Money Card or “Bluebird.”
I’d try the other option.

Should be OK though there are probably better ideas.

Just used one today without issue.
You used the last 4 digits?


@Dan: Do they actually let you go back from TLV to FRA on the way from EWR to HKG?


@dan , what about the serve card ? can’t we use it to load $1,000 a month for free with a CC and then just do a bill pay or transfer to a bank account like amazon payments ? Isn’t that a good deal for those who can’t find vanilla at CVS , or don’t have wa walmrt nearby ?


Dan you have 2 mil virgin miles?


Nice chesbonos!


What are your thoughts on buying VR and paying off a CC with the Bluebird funds simply for the purpose of accumulating points and not paying off bills, etc. With two Bluebird accounts in my household, that’s 15k points a month on my United Club Card or 10k on any other…


Hi Dan, I’m new to Bluebird. I have an Ink Bold and would like to buy gift cards/VR at an office supply store. Couple newbie questions: 1) Can you no longer pay for VR with credit card at office depot/staples? 2) Can you purchase visa gift card at office depot as well as staples? Or do you just list staples b/c of plink tie-in? Thanks!


Yes though you may have to HUCA to find a good rep.

Then again USAirways has reps that think that Johannesburg is in the Caribbean and will let you stopover in Tel Aviv on the way to the Caribbean. (And will charge you the Caribbean rate :D)

Bluebird is $5,000 vs $1,000. There’s plenty or Vanilla Reload even in NYC, just have to find the right store.


I’m pretty sure those thoughts are in this post.

1. Correct.
2. There are no ODs in CLE so I’m not an expert. But I understand they have a cash only policy for many cards.
OM and Staples are easier though no VR there.
But Plink makes Staples the favorite.


@dan, for plink you need separate transactions per card, to get $3 each?
how safe is your personal info on plink? cc info?

Chaim Leib

@Dan: I checked at least 10 stores in total between Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. A few of the managers told me that card vendor came into stood and took entire stocks of Visa and replaced them with the MasterCards


Thanks! Very helpful!


According to the CVS managers at the 3 stores near me in NJ the policy is that Reloadable cards can not be bought by credit card. Of course the ones on Mayfield rd let you do it.


@chuk. I’ve had the same exact problem with the WM ATM using the MC gift cards from US Bank. I tried the cancel hack and it didn’t work either. I’ve never been able to get the MC cards to work. No problem with the VISA cards from MetaBank.


Is there any way to load multiple gc to bb with the atm at once or must you do it in multiple transactions?


Seems to be safe.

Ask to see where this policy is stated 😛

There’s always Amazon Payments!

One at a time.


Hi Dan, which grocery store did you go to in order to get the money order? Dave’s? I tried taking a MO using a gift card at the new warrensville Walmart and the lady told me that only debit cards with pins are allowed.


Ask me at the seminar 😀


Dan – Am I misreading your post about loading $2k onto bluebird? Isn’t there a $1k daily cap?


cute response..
WM near me has been like that for a while..



haha..I will definitely try to be there.


Hi Dan, you mentioned about the complaint to Walmart corporate. Please let me know how to initiate it? I have 3 Walmart locations and all of them have a Paper put on it saying “CLOSED” or “NOT IN SERVICE”.I can see the screen display behind the paper..I want to file a complaint..Not sure where to do it. Thanks.


Or just lift up the paper?


Dan it appears you are having more success than others because of where you live. In lakewood, ny, monsey etc.. people seem to have trouble as the ATM is usually broken, cashiers refer you to customer service and customer service appears very irked, frustrated and not very helpful when we ask them to load these onto bluebird; lets put it this way it is an uphill battle almost every time


Can you please explain how to load a vanilla reload onto bluebird directly online?


@Dan: How do I work out how many United miles & Surcharges I would need to pay for a trip to South Africa? From NYC or WAS…


@Mendel: If you really can’t figure that out, then you need to find another game to play.


“Dan it appears you are having more success than others because of where you live. In lakewood, ny, monsey etc.. people seem to have trouble as the ATM is usually broken, cashiers refer you to customer service and customer service appears very irked, frustrated and not very helpful when we ask them to load these onto bluebird; lets put it this way it is an uphill battle almost every time”

couldn’t agree more


How long will the 90K usair last for?
When/if they merge when will they officially leave star alliance?


any other stores that you know about that will let you buy gc’s with a cc besides the ones mentioned in your post?


Poor excuse.
Just drive 5 miles outside of where there are 50,000 frum Jews and these problems go away…



They will leave Star if they merge.



Does Blue bird also give an extra year warranty if I were to use it for a purchase like other american express cards?


Why would you ever use it for a purchase??


Oh good old Blue cash by american express is the best at CVS with vanilla.. I have not seen a better card for that.
20,000$ in vanilla gives you 1000$ in cash back. that beats miles for sure!


Ty but my question is if us and American merge WHEN will usair stop there alliance with star alliance? Is there a date to that? Will it be immediate?


I don’t understand. when u buy thousands of dollars of gidt cards and deposit and withdraw the money on different bank accounts why dont u have issues with the irs for not reporting income? how is thia different than having a cash business and not reporting it? it doesnt look any different on ur bank statement. what happens if u get audited?

get the point

WM in lakewood area (besides the cashier sending to customer service and they know what this debit card ‘with a pin number’ means) they actually dont allow you to use the the atm machine to load. they get very tough and insist on stopping u. u write to drive 5 miles away… there is no other WM around. may be 1/2 hour.
also, can u but $ order in post office with them? how much can they be? tks



It’s not income!!!
And it’s all traceable via what you’re buying on credit cards, etc.

@get the point:
So that’s why on it shows 3 WM within 8 miles of Lakewood and 6 WM within 16 miles of Lakewood…..


Hi Dan
i was told by bluebird that they changed their policy regarding adding debit cards like vanilla, that they allow it anymore, only bank credit card’s, is that true?


@farj, are you referring to a gift card or a credit card with cash back?


The ATM machines @ the local walmarts are always out of order. How do we file a complaint with Walmart Corporate? Dealing with cashiers is a hassle since some of them give you a hard time.


We all know that you can use up to 4 debit cards per transaction for WM bill pay/MO. But the WM employee doesn’t always know, which sometimes leads to uncomfortable moments.

Did you ever try doing it without telling them? Meaning- just swipe one; let the balance go down; swipe the other.
I assume it won’t work, but did anyone try?

David R

@chuk: Unless the cashier enters a lesser amount, the machine tries to charge the full balance to the card you swipe. If there’s not enough available on the prepaid card, it will get declined.


Would this be the right place to file a complaint about the Money Center ATM?


Ok, I’m new to all this too and just started on DD. So what is the actual purpose of the Bluebird card (besides the obvious paying bills, etc.). Is it to build up miles/points for your other reward credit cards? And if I’m understanding correctly, you do this by buying the Vanilla cards or gift cards and then loading? them on the Bluebird and then withdrawing the money from Bluebird and then put it back in your bank?


@Naz: yes


@David R: did you ever try?


Is Farj right?


@jesse: Using proper spelling?

David R

@chuk: Not intentionally. But a few times my cards were declined and I am reasonably certain that it was because the cashier did not enter the amount properly.


OneVanilla debit cards are hard to find in gas stations these days. But I do see that some gas stations have the $25-$500 vanilla gift cards. Since I have not used the vanilla gift cards before, do you know that the gift cards can be treated as pin based debit cards and are used to buy money orders? How to set the pin if it is the case?


if you have 160,000 points you can transfer and get…

ok, so in order to get 160,000 points, need to purchase $120,000 – $160,000 value of gift cards, and then use them. or charge for this amount.

Sounds like a long path…………..

charging $120,000 would take me 12 years… or more


With 2 BB cards you can do $120k in one year.
Plus with Ink cards you get quintuple points so $120k would earn 600k points.


can one have more than one bb ac?
pls explain comment on 2 BB cards. how does it work/ generate points.


does plink have a max monthly to be earned?
do they cash back or cards only?



With 4 BB cards you can do $240000 in one year…over 1 million pts with 5X pts at OM and OD………….


I haven’t tried it but can I load a $3000 Amex gift card which costs $3.95 plus 8.95 shipping and load it onto bluebird via walmart without having to find a CVS that takes CC?


Can you make an ACH transfer using your BlueBird account?
The only way I can pay my rent is through the rental company’s website, which uses the ACH system and that requires a checking account number and a routing number..
Any advice?


I had the manager in the downtown Brooklyn order me vanilla reloads. Now she is saying I can only pay for them with cash. Any advice?


Dan the visa gc are programmed to not allow for debit or cash withdrawals that’s why people ( including myself) can’t load them onto bb any advice?


I applied for the AMEX card when they had promotion for 50000 miles. I need to meet my 5000 min. to get promotion by Dec 4, Any ideas how I can do that? still need to spend $2500. Not understanding the blue bird thing
any help would be appreciative



I’m new too, but from what I understand, you meet your CC spending requirements by buying Vanilla Reload cards which you then load to Bluebird. With this strategy you get the bonus points/miles, etc. on your purchase of the card and you’re able to meet the spending requirements of the card. Aside from a small card purchase fee, you still have the money to spend via Bluebird, where you can pay the CC back or pay other bills.

Another common way to meet spending requirements is via Amazon payments, which allows funding from credit cards without fees up to $1,000/month. You would pay a trusted person, then have them write you a check for the full amount, which you then use to pay the card back or buy a huge TV (NOT!) With a Chase Freedom card, I believe you also get 5X points per dollar in this fourth quarter 2013. Can anyone confirm or deny this?


So let me get this straight. all i do is:
1)buy vanilla card or a gift card with my starwoods credit card and pay the small transaction fee
2) transfer the money to my bluebird account
3) pay my cc bill from my bluebird account and repeat indefinitely??? can this be done?


Yup, that’s how it works. I’ve just started doing this & it’s really easy. The Vanilla reload card fee is $3.95 & has a cap of $500. That makes the cost just 0.8%. You’re in effect getting a cash advance for this tiny fee. From my reading, AMEX could shut your BB account down if you use your account only for this purpose. Best to mix it up a bit by paying your CC as well as other bills and keeping a balance. FYI, BB checks are free thru 1/4/14.


Instead of being limited by the Bluebird $5k/month why not buy vanilla reloads, load them to a MVD card with your name on it, and get cash advances for 5k a day at your local bank?

whats up

I tried buying money orders from the post office with visa gift cards and when I swipe the card and put the pin in, its declined, anyone know why? will this happen if I try buying money orders from a grocery?


@whats up:
Will not work at post office.


Hey Dan, what can i do with amex gift cards? at walmart they said that these are not debit and the cashier tried a bunch of times to load to bluebird and she said it wont work as a money order either.. thanks


As for Bluebird at Walmart, does anyone in the 10952 vicinity know if the ATM in Walmart located in Tallman works with bluebird.
To me it seems like a regular ATM with no features for Bluebird options.

Velvel B

So, Dan, I was very excited to be at the seminar in LA yesterday. A lot of information, head exploding from all the possibilities… LOL So, I’ve just opened a BlueBird acc’t. I will get the card shortly. Also, just opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred acc’t as well. So, if I understood you correctly, as soon as I get both cards, I should proceed to CVS and buy Vanilla Reload Card(s) and pay with the new Chase card to get the UR points, correct? Now, I have these Vanilla card(s) with $5,000 in charges. How do I load them onto Bluebird?


@Velvel B: Pretty simple, you go to Vanilla reload website, put in the vanilla card pin number, then it will ask you for a reloadable card number and you will enter your bluebird card number and it will transfer over the amount from the Vanilla reload to your BB acct.


Once you have let’s say 10 vanilla reload cards, you could add $5,000 (at CVS or 7/11) and then have $5K of spend at a time, right?

You don’t actually need to keep buying the physical cards, which are hard to find (especially in Jewish areas).

You would just reload and pay using your credit card (freedom, sapphire, ink, etc), right?


@Jeremy: And then keep unloading to your Blue bird ($2K a day for you and your wife), right?


step 1 you BUY the vanilla reloads with your INK card to capture the 5x in points (that means you have to find a location which has them)
step 2 you load 1K per day on your BB,
step 3 you use your BB balance to pay bills

Velvel B

Ok, so now I’ve got the VR card load under control. The only problem is the $5,000/month limit. Opened a 2nd acc’t for wife and trying to do the same for my son. I see only 2 possible ways to overcome the monthly limit that I can see. Open more BB acc’ts for kids. Can I open BB acc’ts for businesses? I have several entities and could grow my monthly mile purchases exponentially like that. The other question about BB involves the gift cards. Is there a limit of how many one can load on BB? and how do you load them without having a Walmart within 20 miles of you?


Do you need to use a Walmart ATM or any money pass ATM will work?


@hudak: meaning to load up a bluebird do I need to specifically go to a Walmart or any money pass ATM will allow me to load?


I bought several AMEx and MasterCard gift cards and am trying to load them on a Bluebird account but Walmart is saying I cant, I guess I do not understand what I need to do


So much info I got confuse 🙁
But it looks awesome to do


The Monsey Walmart ATM does not seem to allow you to load to Bluebird!!


Are there any cards I can purchase with a CC and post to my BB account online? I have been having to many issues with WM and the Kiosk.



I am getting the Visa Gift cards from Staples with my Chase Ink card. I will be loading them onto Blue Bird. Would it be a bad idea to pay my chase CC (Ink or sapphire or Freedom) bills from Blue Bird?


@Dan, what about paying Amex from Blue bird?


I’m new to this. I purchased the visa debit cards talked about above, activated them but when I went to walmart and tried to put in a PIN (used last 4 of card #, small number in front, even the activation 4 digit number) it didn’t take and the cashier had enough of me I think 🙂 Any ideas what I’m doing wrong ?