Is Bluebird The Next Dollar Coin Churn?


For years the mint sold dollar coins at face value and allowed you pay with a credit card.  I ordered well into the 6 figures and deposited them into my checking account before the mint finally sent me a letter to take it easy.

Since they stopped selling coins via credit card that left Amazon Payments as a good source for free credit card spending to meet spending thresholds, but that’s limited to $1,000 per month.

Along comes Bluebird from American Express. A card with practically no fees that allows you to send a check to anyone to pay a bill or even to pay off your credit card.

While it can be funded via debit card at Walmart for free the real beauty is that it can be funded with Vanilla Reload cards.
You can buy a Vanilla Reload card at Office Depot stores (except in NYC) with a credit card. There is a $3.95 fee to load $500.

-If you have a Chase Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash card you earn 5 points per dollar spent at office supply stores. So a $500 Vanilla Reload card purchase earns you 2,500 miles for a $3.95 fee, or 0.158 cents per mile. You can earn 5 points per dollar on the Bold/Plus cards on $50,000 of annual spending and on the Classic-Cash cards on $25,000 of annual spending.
If you spent $24,000 over the course of a year ($2,000/month) you would earn 120,000 miles, enough to fly in business class round-trip to Israel. The fees for the cards would total $189.60.
-Or on a Chase Freedom Exclusives card for example and you would earn 560 miles, or 0.7 cents per point, still a great deal for miles.
-On a Starwood card you would earn 500 Starpoints or 0.79 cents per Starpoint. Of course if you then transfer Starpoints to miles at a 25% bonus that means the miles were bought at an effective rate of 0.632 cents per mile.
-Or of course you can just use this to meet a spending threshold for a signup bonus. The Ink Bold and Plus cards give 50,000 bonus points for spending $10,000 in 3 months, so spending $10,000 at Office Depot on a new card would earn a total of 100,000 miles. The Ink Classic and Cash cards give 25,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in 3 months.  Read more about applying for business cards in this post.

You can use the Vanilla Reload card to fund your Bluebird card from the Vanilla Reload site and use Bluebird to pay off your credit card bill.  You can also use it to pay any other bills you may have like your mortgage, rent, or utilities, which may raise less of a flag then paying a credit card bill.

It all seems simple enough, I wonder how long it will take for them to plug the loophole?

Beware that Chase won’t exactly be pleased if you run out and max out your Ink card at an office supply store, so take it easy with this aspect and don’t spend too much in one shot.  Don’t say I didn’t warn ya’

HT: FT and regalhome, via DDF

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157 Comments on "Is Bluebird The Next Dollar Coin Churn?"

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What’s a legit explanation for frequent spending of high dollar amounts at OD of questioned?


This is really cool, I just wish there was a way to get the vanilla card without going into a Office max store as the nearest one is a half hour drive from me.


Can it be used to pay your mortgage/rent?


I’ll leave that to your imagination.

You’re lucky. Closest to me is 2 hours away 🙁



Oy gevold! Here we go again! The bank manager use to laugh from me every time I came with boxes from the mint at one time I use to walk in with a hand truck


1 mile away from me i found 2 stores and another 3 miles away! here we go..


Can you order it from here?


On FT they keep mentioning “beans”. Can someone fill me in what thats’ the secret code for?

Also, I live in NJ so no vanilla reloads at any OD’s 🙁


What’s the difference between Bluebird and Amex prepaid CC’s or is it the same exact product?


is serve EXACTLY the same? bluebird isn’t letting me create an account because i have a serve account? does the vanilla refill strategy work with serve now too?



Vanilla comes from a bean 😀

Bluebird allows you to pay bills that you can’t pay with a credit card.

You need to first close your serve account.


can you reload a vanilla card or must you purchase a new one each time


Q#1- First, how can bluebird pay your cc bill? By sending a check to my cc company or can it be done through online, b?c Idk any cc account that lets you type in a cc or prepaid card # to pay the bill.

Q#2- Can I reload my vanilla card from a office depot in nyc??

Thanks Dan. Great catch.


O man now i feel stupid :-[



You buy vanilla reload cards each time to fund bluebird.

Click on pay bill and type in your Chase credit card number and have the bill paid electronically.

OD in NYC does not carry Vanilla reload cards as far as I know.


officemax sells VR cards? how about in NY?
any non-office places (pharmacies etc.) sell them?


What about if I get one outside nyc can I load it in nyc office depot stores?


why do i need to go through the vanilla card, if i can use my debit card? also bluebird is an american express card are ther any benefits for spending on the card?


The cap on this by BB is 5K/month. Instead of buying 5K worth of Vanillas at an OD, which I am assuming would be a crimson red flag, lol….what are some other options on acquiring Vanillas?

Sorry if this is listed somewhere but my initial thoughts would be walk into a grocery store like a Kroger’s that sells all kinds of prepaid Visas, and buy one of those. Then fund your Vanilla at OD with the prepaid Visa you bought from Kroger’s. Is that possible, has anyone tried that or can you not fund a Vanilla with a prepaid Visa or Visa gift card? I would think if you can fund a Vanilla at OD with your CC, you could do it with a prepaid one but wanted to see if anyone has. That would make it much more easier to max out this at 5K from various sources rather than trying to put 5K/mo on a card at OD.


I think when I was in Florida I bought one at my local cvs store


Wait is there a $ 500 limit or I can load, let’s say $10000 at a time


how do you load up the venilla card to the bluecard? the venilla card option does not really have a place to put in the numbers etc.


Will american express do a hard pull when you order your bluebird card online?


Dan have you tried this personally? Isn’t there a $2 fee to load from a debit card to bluebird (on their fee schedule)/are you factoring that in?


All sounds very “sketchy”….


You can buy vanilla cards with your cc


do they do a credit check?


Don’t they usually make you pay cash for prepaid cards (Vanilla)…???


Dan any advice for us New Yorkers?


What is the nearest store to NYC that you can purchase Vanilla


Do they check your credit for opening this?
Also anyone see any risks?


The Vanilla reload site shows you can reload in 7-11 and many other grocery/convenience stores can that be done for this to work?


@Meir: @yitz:
many 7-11’s sell them too, call your local store


If I understand this correctly, there are many places to reload, including online. But the only place to do it for free is at Walmart!! Am I correct?

Also, Can you get a Vanilla reload card at an office depot in NJ?



So this would really be 3.95 vanilla card +2.00 debit to bluebird per $500?


It says on their website that you can reload VR cards at 7-11, so maybe they can be purchased there as well?


Did you mean office depot or office max?


Try to buy it with a credit card and let us know what happens.


No fee for Vanilla reload or for debit reload at a Walmart store.

Try looking at drug stores, grocery stores, 7-11, or gas stations for a vanilla reload card and see if they’ll take credit card. Make sure you buy the reload version.

Office depot.


This is great but….
All the Office Depot’s near me are completely SOLD OUT of vanilla reload cards.
Is there any other store that sells them??


Is there a limit on bluebirds account, how much money I can load every month?


The maximum you can load in a month is $2,500 and the maximum on one day is $1,000

Loading the Card

You can load funds to the Card at any time(i) using your Funding Source or , (ii) via direct deposit of your paycheck or (iii) using a Green Dot MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload Network Card or other cash funding sources and methods accepted by us from time to time (each, a “Cash Loading Method”). We reserve the right to delay the availability of funds loaded to your Card using any of these loading methods until such funds have cleared and posted to your Card. Funds loaded to the Card from your savings or checking account will generally be available within five (5) business days after load instructions, funds loaded to the Card using Cash Loading Methods will generally be available shortly after loading, and funds loaded to the Card using Direct Deposit will generally be available on the business day we receive the transfer. We may change accepted tender types and funding methods for the Card at any time for legal, risk management, security or other purposes.

The amount of each load to the Card using your Funding Source must be at least $25 and the amount of each load to the Card using Cash Loading Methods must be at least $20. You may load funds to the Card using your Funding Source or Cash Loading Methods until the aggregate balance on your Card (and Cards you purchased for others) equals $2,500, and you may load funds to your Card using Direct Deposit until the aggregate balance on your Card (and Cards you purchased for others) equals $5,000. Not more than $1,000 may be loaded to your Card on any day using Cash Loading methods, not more than $2,500 may be loaded to your Card in any [28-day period] using your Funding Source or Cash Loading Methods, and not more than $5,000 may be loaded to your Card in any month using Direct Deposit. The maximum aggregate balance on your Card (and Cards you purchased for others) at any time may not exceed $5,000. We may change these limits at any time for legal, risk management, security or other purposes.

You will not receive interest on funds loaded to the Card, and funds loaded to the Card are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


There are a ton of “My vanilla” cards available, but those are not the ones we want, right?


Looks Like you can reload the vanilla cards at Family Dollar and Dollar General among other places. Am I missing something? Or is Office Depot preferred because of higher points per dollar because its a office supply store?

Menachem M

Is there an F/R risk associated with this since its run by amex?


@Menachem M: Absolutely.

@Aaron: Correct, OD because its 5x.

@Anonymous: Yes, $1,000 per day, $5,000 per month.


Any place near NYC that the card can be purchased.


I just called an OD in nj. They have them and accept cc as long as you have proper id.

Chani S.

Will this system work as well with Amex as with Chase Ink?
(Or is it an issue due to same ownership?)

I don’t need the 5X Chase UR as much as the Amex MR right now…


Will I get the 10% open discount for spending $250 or more with my business amex?? That might spice things up on this deal, no?


@Chani S.:
You do know you can sell Chase UR for more than you can buy AMEX MR for.
But you if need 1 MR more than 5 UR go for it.

There is no OPEN savings at Office Depot.


hey Dan would i be able to buy Vanilla cards with my amex and then turn around and pay my amex bill with Bluebird?


@mmb: Welcome to the discussion


The Chase website says that the offer for extra points is not valid when buying gift cards or any other cash equivalent products. Has anybody tried this yet?


Here is the exact verbiage:

Not eligible on gift cards, gift certificates or any other similar cash equivalents. Orders placed through Contract Account are not eligible. Promotional codes or coupons not listed on this site are not eligible. Any return, exchange or other adjustment made at a physical store location for an on-line purchase may result in your purchase being deemed ineligible for reward.


I have a feeling that the end result will be that you will NOT be given points for the Vanilla purchases.


Hi, I’m new here. Could someone explain to me what is going on here? Why does everyone want this Amex card? So they could buy dollar coins and get points? Sorry for the question, Im very new to all of this. Thank you.


Question, how often would you open a new credit cards (using the 3 browser trick)?


My IB was shut down/banned 4 months later, though they wouldn’t answer me why exactly, I know it is due to the visits to office store for perk abuse. it sux but nothing to do now.

I strongly urge folks to stay away from these gift card things( ABNORMAL PERK ABUSE LARGE PURCHASE) if you don’t want to get banned for life


Does anyone know if they do a credit check?


@ jeff- what’s IB?


Blue bird website says you can load $100 off a debit card, max


IB = Ink Bold

Vanilla reload does not count as a debit card it counts as funding from cash, scroll down that same link.


I feel like an idiot, but I really don’t understand this at all – and I’m usually fast to pick these things up. You have to pay $3.95 to load a card for $500? Even if you’re getting to spend the $500 toward a bonus, what to you gain from paying money for the transaction? If someone could explain this a little clearer, I would appreciate it.


@newdanfan I’ll copy and paste what Dan wrote: “-If you have a Chase Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash card you earn 5 points per dollar spent at office supply stores. So a $500 Vanilla Reload card purchase earns you 2,500 miles for a $3.95 fee, or 0.158 cents per mile.”


If that is not clear…you will get 2,500 UR points for a small fee of $3.95. Just the cash value alone of selling 2,500 UR points @ 1.8 cents per point would give you $45.00. So, it is worth it 🙂


dan just to make sure… can someone else pay for the vanilla card and then can i transfer the amount to my bluebird after i pay their bill for them? or does it all have to be in the same name?


So this only worth it if you a) have an Ink card and b) live an area that allows you to purchase this with a credit card? Did I get that right? So, if I live in NYC and don’t have an Ink card, then this isn’t for me, right?

I do have a Starwood business card, if that will help. But I live in NYC. Is this still possible?


This could be awesome – I may have to finally break down and get the Ink Bold card from Chase


@newdanfan: or this is also great if you are trying to reach spending thresholds for bonuses on new cards.


I just picked up the last 5 at the OD close by. FYI, each card has to be called in separately. If your cashier is an old lady with Parkinson’s and a mouth like a drunken sailor, it may take 40 minutes and be an interesting experience like mine.


I haven’t been able to find any place in NYC that sells the vanilla cards for anything but cash. Please advise.


You can buy a Vanilla Reload card at Office Depot stores (except in NYC) with a credit card. There is a $3.95 fee to load $500.

just in nyc? what about queens or brooklyn?


People have been buying vanilla reloads at OD for months. Wake up and smell the coffee.


spending on bluebird does not earn any amex points, correct?


i looked in the chase freedom rewards it say that it gives u 5 per doller on office depot. is that right or did i make a mistake.


SHI$ i baught the wrong vanilla card!! from 7elevin i got the ONE VANILLA CARD!! what can i do i baught 2 cards for a total of 1000$$$


Wow, you people don’t read so well, do ya…


Why do you need to get the reloadable Vanilla card as opposed to any visa card they sell at grocery stores? what is the benefit? Will bluebird only accept the reload version for some reason?


Do you load the vanilla card online when you get home, or do you actually do it while at OfficeDepot? I have a 2 hour drive to my nearest office Depot outside of Arkansas and don’t want to mess this process up?


1) Can anyone tell me how to use/sign up for Amazon payments?
2) Can payments be sent to my own bank account or do they have to be sent to someone elses?
3) I have two rates on my Discover Card. 7% and 12%. New purchases get the lower rate while payments above the minimum go to paying off the old rate.
Ergo, what I want to do is use AmPayments to “transfer” the old/higher rate to the new/lower rate (ie by “spending” on the new rate and then paying back the old).
That should work right?


@RGreen: I already have an Amazon account.


go here
click “no cash? send payments etc..”
click “sign in to send money” (left side midway down)
follow instructions
FYI – just thinking, this should also work if you get a new card with zero percent for a year but have to pay a transfer fee.
use the new 0% card to fund the transfer and then pay back the old card that has the interest rate


1) where is a good place for a Clevelander buy a VR card?


(continued) I dont need a office depot. I need to meet spending threshholds on a few amex cards.
So my question is- where in cleveland can I buy vanilla reload cards with an amex cc?
(7-11, dollar genera, and family dollar dont work.)


Dan, these specific cards – the vanilla reload- isn’t sold in, cvs, walmart,office max, home depot, or whole foods. Where can they be bought in cleveland??


how do you transfer the money from the vinilla card to blurbird



I purchased 4 Vanilla Reload Cards ($500 each) from OD. I then attempted to
a. Load over the phone using the 1877 number – No Joy
b. load at Walmart – No Joy

They said the card i have, Vanilla Reload Network, Prepaid ReLoad with the following MyVanilla, MIO, NetSpent, Reload netSpend, is not able to reload the BB account.

Did i purchase the wrong card? did i miss a step?

Either-way, i contacted vanilla reload and they are going to issue a complete refund for the balances, so i still get my points and money, however, i would like to keep doing this.

Please Help.


I gave the link right in the post!



I tried and they said that it could not load a bluebird account. Please advise



Last annon was from me. I called and attempted to load at WalMart,no joy.



Thanks Mate, i just was able to load online $1,000.


@Avi, @Dan, what was the trick? I have the same problem. They said it won’t work for Bluebird when I called.


Online I get errorcode (90)


You have to enter online.

You need your 15 digit bb card# (needs to be the number of the card they sent you) and then scratch off the pin and enter, and Walla, Chu chu chu ing

I have to wait for one of my card refunds as they deactivated the vanilla reload card.


Just to inform,

When i just purchased new cards, i was told @OD that on amounts $2000+ they have to call a number and verify not money laundering ( do not know what she was on about.

I just purchased another 8. Thanks Dan.

BTW i have 105K southwest points (2 sw cards) and i need 5K more for free companion ticket, any advise on the best method to get the 5K


Per phone call with Vanilla, you cannot load the Vanilla funds on the Bluebird starter card. You have to wait for the personalized card that comes in the mail. I confirmed this with both Vanilla and Bluebird.


If you can find VR this card would be your last choice to use.





@Avi: Vanilla Reload


Duh, having a blond moment


Had a serve account, but just used my e mail and password from serve to log into bluebird, received a message saying thank you for activating, your bluebird card should be received within 7-10 days.


Someone PLEASE address #53 and #54 above by SDN.

Is there confirmation that the OD purchase will earn the 5 points/dollar for a Vanilla Reload?


I can confirm that it does.


Dan does it make sense that these r one time use cards meaning 500 and then u need a new card? Also for the bold ink how much can I put a month


So a $500 Vanilla Reload card purchase earns you 2,500 miles for a $3.95 fee, or 0.158 cents per mile.
should be .00158 cents per mile (you missed a couple of zeros)


There is no monthly limit.

Nope, it’s .158 cents per mile. In other words 6.3 miles costs 1 penny and 630 miles would cost $1.

Or you can call it .00158 dollars per mile, but I’ve never seen miles referred to in dollar terms, that would be awkward.


I’m a little bit of a newbie here. Where does it say on the vanilla website that you can reload bluebird? I am very tempted to do this with my freedom card but dont want to get stuck with a useless vanilla card. Thanks for your help

John Q. Public

Deal over, Off Depot shut it down, too many blogs harping about it.


@John Q. Public:
It’s not over, still many many ways to take advantage of this.


is there a point of using the freedom card for this or only the chase ink series?


dan i still wanna fund my BB card how do i do it now with a credit card so i can at least get 1% back ? better then nothing, Thanks


Is it better to register with a starter card or can I register without one and still get all the benefits?


I see there are a bunch of over loadable prepaid cards like green dot. What’s so special about the vanilla variety? Why can’t I use those too for blue bird?


Can I use bluebird to pay an Amex cc (business or personal cc) bill and will this trigger a red flag?


I bought a paypal reload card at CVS with my spg card and immediately loaded onto my account and transferred to bank, not a great a idea paypal called me 15minutes later an asked me to explain what I did, I said for credit card point he said that’s ok but don’t do it anymore because it looks like money laundering because people “clean up their money” a small fee like this. I guess I have to be more careful next time.


Just went to Office Depot. They had the Vanilla Reload cards, but the register would not allow them for sale – regardless of method of payment.


@Dan: What are the other methods you reference to use your points credit card to load the BlueBird card now that OD is not selling the Vanilla Reload cards?


Tried reloading my personalized Blue Bird card (One I received in the mail) with a Vanilla card and got an error. Is the gig up?


Are you using Vanilla Reload?



Yup, that exact card on the right. The card is valid too because it detects the amount I loaded but gives me an error.


Have you already loaded $1K in a day or $5K in a month?



No, I have only made one Vanilla purchase and some other everyday items like gas and food.



Ok, disregard. Looks like my BlueBird account is locked. I will have to call later to find out why.


I bought the Vanilla prepaid and registered the card online. I know show a balance online but I’m not sure how to buy the bluebird without a fee. Do you go to transfer to transfer the money to a bluebird?


can bluebird pay an american express cc bill???


Cvs wont let you load with cc only up to 100 dollars. OD doesnt sell vanilla anymore. Wallgreen only debit or cash.


Dan im looking for a place where i can buy vanilla reload cards rh a cdt card ovr 500 dollars. Please tell me where?


bluebird has terrible customer could wait hours till you get someone on the phone.and a lot of people have complained that they had a “security” hold on their account for no good reason and had a very hard time getting access to their i missing something here?to me this doesnt sound like the way to go…

The Newt

Is there any way to still take advantage of the deal, now that office Depot has stopped selling the Vanilla Card?


FYI- those who keep asking what the point in this is… even w/o the extra points for purchases, this is an easy way to meet a spending threshold for a new card bonus (like amazon payments $1000p/m)


whats wrong with buying vanilla debit and cashing out at the bank why is everyone trying to get vr?


I second qwerty’s question.


Can I use my VR money to fund Amazon payments and then withdraw that amount to my bank account?

orrin davis

I’m having trouble finding the $500 vanilla visa gift cards at my local Office Depots……I was at three different ODs today, and there were only the $25-100 denominations.


Bluebird only allows to deposit $100 per day from a vanilla reload and charges $2 per transaction. Any other way of transferring the vanilla reload amount into it more efficiently?


It is $1,000 per day and there is no charge.


can i fill up a VR card at CVS with a GC?


Has anyone used BB and/or VR successfully from Israel? I need to max out $10k in 4 months for AMEX. Any other ideas for doing so from Israel besides Amazon Payments ($1k/mo max). Todah m’Rosh 🙂


i cant for the life of me figure out how to pay a bill with bluebird. if im paying a chase credit card do i put in the account number or zip code on account number slot. none are working


So with VR into BB or Debit card funded into bb through walmart no fee. But if I use a Green Dot MoneyPak to fund into BB directly..Will there be a $2 fee???


Hi Dan… I opened an ink bold card and hoped to use it to pay a large monthly bill…This week, I was told by the 2 Office Depot in my area that Office Depot has stopped selling the $500 Visa gift cards and the $500 American Express cards. Now they only offer $200 gift cards. They received an email from corporate headquarters that Office Depot will no longer have $500 gift cards available. In addition, the Office Max in my area only has $200 Visa gift cards.
The fee for the $200 gift cards is the same as the fee was for the $500 gift cards. I belive $4.95 and $6+ for the $200 American express gift card.
There is no Staples in my area.
I wanted to use my ink bold card, which I need to still spend $3,5000 to get the sign up bonus and I wanted to get the 5x points at the office suppyl store. I am not sure it is worth it if it has to be done with $200 cards. Then add the vanilla reload cost… Please advise! Thanks!!


sorry if this was discussed already just point it out. i purchased 7 $500 my vanilla (personal reloadable prepaid card) is that the right cards I’m trying to figer out how to loud them up to my blue bird account with out much success


Is there anything wrong with paying an American Express bill with Bluebird if I bought the Vanilla Reloads with my Amex card?


No different than paying any other bill.


Only load $1000 per day.


why exactly is this vanilla reload better than gcs?

paying amex bill

1. Has anyone had a problem buying VR cards, loading them onto bluebird and paying their Amex bill?
2. Is there a way to transfer money from bluebird directly into your bank account?
3. I believe, if someone can confirm this- that would be great- that you can load money from a VR onto a My vanilla debit card and then you can take a cash advance at your bank and the money will go directly into your checking account- if you are not comfortable paying a bill directly from your bluebird account.


Not sure if this was brought up before: Can I purchase discounted gift cards online (e.g. CVS GC’s @ 6% off) and use those GC’s to buy VR cards?

eve w

is it possible to buy visa/amex gift cards with a credit card and load them onto bluebird?

Joe s

@Curtis: What do you mean by “you people”? Though, much as I hate to admit it, it seems idiotic the way some on this site ask the same questions over and over and over again.


@Joe s:
The people he’s referring to don’t read so well – they won’t read his comment either.


I just bought a bluebird card but it says on the website that CASH can be loaded on the card at walmart. Can people confirm that debit cards can not be loaded onto bluebird anymore?


When trying to load a PPGC onto, error message “Billing address does not match debit card address” appears.. DAN – HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THIS?? I used the address they were shipped to, billed to, and that were mailed from, Nothing works

Mike Twersky

Dan – I’m in NJ. I just called 3 office depots and none of them carry credit card payable vanilla reload cards. Please advise.


Can you use Visa Gift Cards to purchase the vanilla Reload cards?


Just heard from a friend that AMEX did not credit Delta miles when he purchased Vanilla Reloads at CVS. He called AMEX and was told that they do not credit miles for purchases of prepaid or reloadable cards. I looked at the AMEX website for Starwood cards, and it had this language, as did the Delta AMEX site:
1 Starpoint® on Eligible Purchases
Eligible purchases mean purchases for goods and services minus returns and other credits. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of traveler’s checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents.


Are there any gift cards i could get a refund ?