Should You Do All Of Your Spending On Visa Gift Cards?

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Last week I wrote up my general spending strategy in a post about “My MVP Cards

Commenter PK asked there why I don’t just buy the $200 Visa gift cards that are sold by the major office supply stores for all of my everday spending.

While store gift cards to places like Amazon, Marshall’s, or BP are free (and thus earn you some 9.5% back in Ultimate Rewards points), the Visa and Mastercard gift cards come with fees. The $200 Visa gift card for example has a $6.95 fee barring any weekly specials.
The reason that it’s worthwhile is that you earn 5 points per dollar for office supply store spending with an Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Ink Cash card.

The math works like this, by buying a $200 Visa card for $206.95 you’ll earn 1,035 points (not including any points you are getting for meeting the $5,000 spend threshold)
If you value Ultimate Rewards points at:
-1.8 cents per point that’s $18.63 worth of points less the $6.95 fee=$11.68 or 5.84% back.
-1.9 cents per point that’s $19.67 worth of points less the $6.95 fee=$12.72 or 6.36% back.
-2 cents per point that’s $20.70 worth of points less the $6.95 fee=$13.75 or 6.88% back.
Those numbers mean that you’ll get the equivalent of somewhere between 3.24 and 3.44 points per dollar spent on Visa gift cards after accounting for the fee which is much higher than what you earn with everyday spending on other cards.

Of course “value” per point is all about how you use them.  If you use them yourself you can get several times those numbers.  If you redeem for business or first class tickets you can probably get anywhere from 5 to 50 cents value per point.  If you redeem for short-haul flights via Avios you can probably get 3 to 15 cents per point.  If you redeem for Park Hyatt hotels you can probably get 5 cents per point.  If you flip them to a broker you can probably get 1.8 cents per point.  Or transfer points instantly to Hyatt, United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, and more.

Compare that to everyday purchases on other top cards where you’ll get perhaps 2% on Sapphire, 2.1% on Freedom Exclusives, 2.2% on Starwood or Barclays, or 2.7% back on United Club.  Now bonus categories may change the math on Freedom and Sapphire, but you will do a lot better by using Visa gift cards for everyday purchases.

No matter how you slice it, those numbers via Visa gift cards are fantastic. You can be earning over 5% back on all of your purchases no matter where you shop.

The downside to this is that it will be hard to keep track of purchases and you won’t have dispute resolution and warranty protection that comes with credit cards.  Still most of your daily purchases likely don’t need that, so this can be a great way to quickly rack up points on the cheap.

Of course this isn’t even accounting for signup bonuses which will bump those numbers way higher.  Spend $10,000 between a new Ink Bold and Ink Plus card and you’ll have a whopping 150,000 points.

And the Visa cards aren’t only good for everyday spending.  The last 4 digits of the cards are the pin numbers that you can use to load them onto Bluebird at WalMart (via the WalMart ATM or any cashier) or use for Money Orders or WalMart Bill Pay.

Yes, the Ink cards are business cards. But anyone can open a business (a little side income never hurts!) and there are several huge advantages that business cards have over consumer cards as you can read here.

For example if your name is Joe Smith and you want to sell or you do sell items on Ebay or on Amazon, or if you have any other side business/hobby and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.  People have been approved like that even for a brand new business.

Plus they come with other bennies like 5 points per dollar on cable and telecom, 2 points per dollar on gas and hotels, no foreign transaction fees, and 2 free lounge visits even on each free additional user card.

So, will you switch your spending habits to rack up points quicker by doing more everyday spending via Visa gift cards? Or is it too much hassle to start chasing down points like that?  Will you just use it until you meet the $5,000 spend threshold to earn 75K points? Or will you use it to load to Bluebird but not for your everyday spending?  Sound off in the comments!

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101 Comments On "Should You Do All Of Your Spending On Visa Gift Cards?"

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@Dan. Can one use these Visa’s at Google Wallet to cash out? Also when buying gift cards, do Mastercards or Amex cash out at Walmart or only Meta Bank Visa’s?


If they would have $500 gift cards then i would go for it


I would like to ask a CC question, not directly to the current article.
By Chase when i apply in the same day for several cards they will only pull my credit report once, is this the same thing with Amex? or it has to be done in the same few seconds in order to be pulled only once?


Going to an office supply store would cost me at least $2.50 for a bus to get there. If you are driving your own car, you can evaluate how much you spend on gas for your car too once you’re counting pennies. Add that $2.50 to the $6.95 and the savings becomes much less. Obviously if you are buying multiple cards, the $6.95 applies to eaach card while the $2.50 is for all of them together… It still sounds like this is a good mehalech but is still more trouble than it’s worth for me as I like to have records of where all the spending is. I’d rather limit my spending to a few real cc’s that I can easily keep track of. So I would do most of my spending directly on Ink, Freedom, Sapphire, Amex Gold, and Barclays. Although these aren’t business cards, I try to pay them off a few times a month to limit credit usage.


You can cash them oni blueburd site as well, no? For a small fee on 2 dollar


which lounge could u use the ink card for?


@Anonymous: You can buy $500 GC in grocery category like in PathMark for the Amex PRG


@Yitzy: or the Blue cash


Visa is the easiest. Mastercard is difficult, AMEX isn’t possible.

CVS and grocery stores have $500, but you don’t get 5 points per dollar there.

You can do the same with AMEX.

True, not worthwhile for one card.
But if you need to spend $5,000 to get 75,000 points it can definitely be worthwhile to do it via Visa cards.

No, there’s a $100 limit on the BB site.
In WalMart it’s free at the AMT or with a cashier.


True, but only double points on PRG on groceries:
Though it has less fees, so it will definitely be worthwhile.

Blue Cash Preferred can be a good deal-6% back on groceries:


Were are you getting these figures from?

“Spend $10,000 between a new Ink Bold and Ink Plus card and you’ll have a whopping 150,000 points”


“Will you just use it until you meet the $5,000 spend threshold to earn 75K points”


what if im spending over $50,000 a month (mostly big purchases) what do you recommend then?


If you open a new Ink Bold and spend $5,000 on Visa cards from an office supply store you’ll get 50K for the signup bonus and 25K for the spending at 5 points per dollar.

Same goes for Ink Plus.

Depends on what you want to do with the points.
Use them to fly your family in first class? Sell them?


how relevant is this approach? if you buy only gift cards at staples, won’t Chase shut you down? you will be showing ONLY purchases to staples, in your statement


I only use my Ink cards for the 5x categories.
I haven’t read of anyone being shut down for that.


you did write in the past that one should go easy on the Staples spending. i need to look for that post, that Chase wont be too happy with that. statement: $5000, all spent in staples


Related question-are both the Vanilla Debit (black card) & the MyVanilla Reloads able to be loaded to Bluebird? Also, are there any advantages of one over the other? Why choose one or the other? Please clarify. Thanks!


hi Dan if I have the chase freedom & Sapphire after which dollar amount per transaction do u recommend to use sapphire , thanks


Haven’t written that recently as it does not appear to be the case.

The debit card doesn’t load onto BB, it can be used for cash back from a bank teller.

If you have the old Freedom Exclusives card you’ll always use that over Sapphire except where Sapphire has double points (and even then only if it’s above $10) and when you’re abroad.


Hey Dan,
I just paid off my car payment using Google Wallet. I opened the American Express CC and was approved for 75,000 points. I added it to my GW account. I then called GW AND American Express for approval on the transaction ($15,000)which they granted in an email to me. I then transferred the money to my friend who paid off my car. How cool is that?!?

P.S. My car loan does not accept Amex.


Wow, awesome!


dan- you wrote “The last 4 digits of the cards are the pin numbers that you can use to load them onto Bluebird at WalMart (via the WalMart ATM or any cashier) or use for Money Orders or WalMart Bill Pay.”
does that mean that i shouldn’t be wasting my time calling and assigning pins to each card?
the default pin is the last 4 digits?


I take it the office stores stopped carrying the vanilla cards worth $500


Can you please explain the advantage of paying off credit card bills before the end of the month?


I was just received my ink bold, can I pay rent by buying the Visa cards from an office store, and how many can I buy in one transaction?


Btw cld i use my one year old son’s ss # for an amazon payments account?


Dan u keep writing about the $200 visa gift card is the same applicable for the $500 vanilla network cards and can they also be loaded onto a bluebird?


why would you use the visa cards for everyday spending. wouldnt it be better to cash them out thru blubird, use the money to pay for the bill and then purchase your everyday spending on other credit cards so you can earn even more points?


Can Costco be included as office supplies


Hey Dan
How many $200 Visa cards can be purchased in one transaction?
How much can be uploaded to bb account in one day?
Does it have to be uploaded specifically in wal mart?


@mendy in Walmart you can upload up to $1000 a day for free, $5,000 for the month.


@duke you dont want to have more then 30% of your credit line being used when the statement closes. $20-$50 is ideal.


In Walmart they told me to transfer money to bluebird I must use a bank issues debit card and other ones like vanilla reloads wouldn’t b accepted to u have any idea how to work it out?


Haven’t read all the comments, but if your wallet is stolen you are sol with gift cards… Right? This is beauty of credit cards


@Genius: is the limit also for the ATM? And if I do more then the limit do I know the fee?


Is there another way to upload to bb?
What would be the charge?

why not?

So can I buy visa gift cards upload to my bluebird and pull out cash in wal mart?


one very big problem!
disputes and credit refunds is extremely hard with gift cards, and sometimes not allowed and not possible.So
think before doing that


@ mike @mendy you can only upload max $1k whether via cashier or atm.
You can upload it also via but its not worth it


I cashed out about $3k on my blue cash preferred in the last half year buying $500 visa cards in a grocery and using it for my daily purchases and tuition insurance home and car utility bills ect


dan, why do you keep saying you can get 75,000 points with the chase plus, but all the websites I looked at, only advertise 50,000? how do I get the extra 25,000?


I said you will have 75,000 points after opening a new Ink card and spending $5,000 on gift cards from office supply stores.
That’s 50,000 signup points and 25,000 points for spending the $5,000 in office supply stores to meet the spend threshold.


@Dovid: You are the man!


U wrote u can buy as many gc as u want from stapesl (200metabnk).

Not bý me, though cd be bc my liscense is out of state.

They card me and look me up and down and then tell me max is 400 worth a day bc of fraud.

Dan. Any ideas?


Beats me, I had no problem buying $7,000 worth.



I applied a few weeks ago for the AMEX gold card and i got the 75000 points after refreshing the page a million times. I already spent the 5k and see that only 55000 points are pending. After calling and emailing AMEX they claim there was only an offer for 50k. Is there anything for me to do about this???


Dan, 1- Are there other gas cards I can get other than Shell for the 5 points per dollar?
2- When signing up you mention to select ““Sole Proprietorship” as the business type”. Does it make a difference for credit ratio or any other credit issues if I use an actual Corporation that I have and didn’t put in sole Proprietorship?
3- Credit ratio supposedly doesn’t hurt your personal but does paying late on your business cc hurt your personal credit?

David Raccah

Dan if at the end of the year, you do not spend 100K dollars on credit cards for things you need, why not max out the usage of 5x cards? This way, you spend the 100K on 5x categories, and you use them soley for deposting into the bank and paying bills, and the the real CC usage be used with Sapphire, Freedom, Club, and Amex again depending on category.


hey dan can I use visa vanilla gift cards to load a bb to meet a threshold (not an ink card) and do I call and add a pin or is it automatically the last four digits?


Thanks for your response, as well as all your wonderful input & suggestions!! 🙂
I just want to clarify, I understand that I can only use either a regular white Vanilla Reload, or a Visa gift card for the BB. What I’d like to do is use BB to pay rent (with free 100 checks) so that I can earn points for a large monthly expense. I don’t have Ink, & am not planning on getting right now, nor do I have any spend thresholds to meet. What would be the most economical way to do this (due to the $6 or so activation fees)? Or is it not worth it?
Thank you!


One more thing, the Chase Visa Gift card is not available to NJ residents…


“-1.8 cents per point that’s $18.63 worth of points less the $6.95 fee=$11.68 or 5.84% back.”
“Those numbers mean that you’ll get the equivalent of somewhere between 3.24 and 3.44 points per dollar spent on Visa gift cards after accounting for the fee which is much higher than what you earn with everyday spending on other cards.”
Am I missing something? You counted the fee twice?

kranka mentch

Can u use bluebird to pay your amex?


I got the 75k offer and a day after spending the 5k the 75k points were in my account avalable for use! Not pending!


Can I cash out the visa gift cards at an ATM?


Dan, no Walmart near Brooklyn, how do I load $200 visa gift card onto BlueBird?

Is Vanilla Visa Card the only alternative? (do it online or phone)


Using the gift cards on anything other than paying off bills or funding blue bird seems foolish, as that would be a missed opportunity to gain yet more points with on a credit card purchase

David Raccah

@benny: Whether you buy the card from and get 5x or 1x, if it is a vanilla visa gift card – you can add it to BB, by going to Walmart and typing in the last four digits or ANY 4 digits – and you are set. The Vanilla cards do NOT give you the PIN till you use it the first time as a debit card, say to buy something at a grocery store – then the receipt will have the PIN on it. So, when I deposit my Vanilla Visa GC to BB, any 4 digits work – so be very careful of the GC you buy!

@Lkwder: The best bang for your buck right now is chase free gift cards –, they have ZERO cost, no fees at all. If your credit card is not chase (you can only buy the chase cards with a Chase credit card), the next best bet is Google Wallet: If that too fails then go with Vanilla Reload as they have the lowest fee. Understand that none of these options will multiply the benefits, but you will get points – 1x for every dollar spent.

David Raccah

@kranka mentch: BB is an Amex product, I pay my Amex bill, my Chase bill, along with many other bills with it

@Fred: Congrats!

@Mendy: No Vanilla Visa gift cards cannot be used at an ATM

David Raccah

@Moish: The next idea would be Google Wallet, Amazon payments, or you could pickup a 98 cent bottle of Softsoap and select cash back to get cold hard cash from a gift card. They only allow cash back in increments of 20 bucks – so the rest will need to be cleaned out via Amazon Payments or Google Wallet.

David Raccah

@Effie – I agree and that is what I asked Dan above, though you summed up my post much more succinctly!


Whats the # for GW? How did the charge appear on Amex?

David Raccah

Google Wallet Phone Support number: 855-492-5538. From DDF according to Mosihel (

It looks like this:

On amex it says:




I’m a newbee here. I signed up for your last Amex 100k point offer and got approved for two new cards. Need to spend 5k on each within 3 months. I’m trying to figure out how to without actually having close to that kind of spending need. What’s the simplest way to boost spending without really costing me?


Igor Ivanovich

BB – can someone explain to me in a simple sentence or 3 what is the purpose of using BlueBird, loading it etc? I am trying to follow the topic here in all the BB posts but I am not clear about that step. TIA!


Amex told me that gc’s do not qualify for sign up bonus spending threshhold. Are they lying dan?

Lovin Bluebird

@Igor Ivanovich:

The reason Bluebird helps is that it is now possible to cash out gift cards by loading them to Bluebird. Normally, gift cards can only be used for “purchases,” not for getting cash out of them. However, now that they have PINs, it is possible to use them to load Bluebird by making a debit “purchase” at Wal-Mart. Bluebird is really basically a checking account (with the important exception of having $1,000/day and $5,000/month limits) which you can therefore use to pay off your credit card bills, mortgage, etc.


To hit a 5k spending threshhold on a new Amex Business card am I able to buy 5k worth of visa gift cards (over a period of 3 months). Open a BB account and use the vias gift cards to put cash into the bb account. Then pay the Amex bill from the BB account? Does that work?

Lovin Bluebird

That’s why these are the kinds of questions you don’t call and ask credit card issuers about- of course they’re going to say that, because they think you’re doing this because you need the cash advance, and they’d much rather you do an ACTUAL cash advance so they can charge you a lot of money on interest in fees and not give you points for it. But if you just make purchases of these gift cards at regular merchants- AmEx will never know what you purchased there, it will just show up as a purchase from whatever store it is and you will get your points and it will of course count towards your bonus. And they won’t really care all that much either- they are still profiting as they are getting interchange fees for all these “purchases.” I’m not saying you can go absolutely wild- especially with AmEx, as a ton of these purchases may eventually make them suspicious. I can report, though, that I have made over 12k of purchases per month over the last 2 months (since the gift cards started getting PINs) on an AmEx card and haven’t heard a peep.
@Lovin Bluebird:
Yes, that is exactly how it’s done!

Lovin Bluebird

Yes, that is exactly how it’s done!


@David Raccah: The Chase Visa card isn’t available to NJ residents at all…


@Loving Bluebird
Thanks for the response.
Is that the most beneficial way to go? Or is there another even more beneficial route to take to 5k?

Chaia Frishman

Question is this: is there a limit on cashback from office supply stores? if so, then using them all up on visa gift cards will be less of a cashback when paying the 6.95 fee as opposed to using the whole year on office supply store limits and phone limits that saphirre has.

David Raccah

@Shmuli: The simplest way to handle the 10K, on Amex, is to use Google Wallet. It is free and it works as the note form Dan says:

If that fails for some reason – then you pay the Visa GC fee at Office Depot or whatever else you have near you and buy them and deposit them in your BB account


Hi can someone help me – Dan or anybody else – I bought 2 $200 visa metabank gift card (it says debit) on it – I assigned a pin to it & today I went to the Walmart in Monroe, Ny – I asked them to load $400 on my bluebird card -they said they can’t use these visa gift caards- they sent me to customer service – who said they don’t take these cards – I asked them to try – it asked me for my pin & then it went to authorize & got an error msg “Debit not available appr. code = 51” Any suggestions – this Walmart is near my summer home, so I’d like to do it?
Will I have the same issue with Chase gift cards online?
Thank you


has anyone found a walmart in the tristate area where they have been able to use a visa debit card to fund their bluebird acct


How many times can I say this?
Use the Walmart ATM!

Your Bluebird card is your Walmart money card that you are funding with your Visa gift card.


I applied for a Hyatt, Ink Bold and Cash card. Approved for the Bold card, the Hyatt after calling reconsideration, but turned down by reconsideration for the Cash. Told them I planned to use the Cash card for travel and Bold for utilities. Said they don’t like to give two cards out for businesses as small as mine (selling items with $1,000 revenue), but would consider it after 6 months history on Bold. Advice to get approved? Should I just wait?


I was at WallMart trying to pay my Chasd Ink using gift cards but the system wouldn’t allow so I purchased money orders insted.
1) were you able to pay a chase ink at wallmart?
2) do I have a problem cashing in my bank account to much money in money orders?
Thanks a lot,


the walmart in howell next to Lakewood has had the money center atm closed the past few days when I asked one of the workers when its gonna get fixed she responded “why? because you want to load bluebird from it? that’s why we closed it” any other ideas how to get gc onto bb for us lkwders?


I feel like an idiot but i went to the ATM at walmart and was unable to figure out how to load my BB using Chase GC can you explain how to do it?


@Yisroel Use the Walmart Money Center Express (a plain ATM can’t load Bluebird and not all Walmarts have the Money Center Express.) Click on Walmart moneycard, choose load, swipe your Amex Bluebird Card. It will ask you how much to load, say $200.00, click OK for the amount, and then pay, choosing debit, swipe your gift card, enter the pin, (either the pin you created, or could be the last four digits of the card, and you’ll see the $200 paid and it will give you an update receipt for your transaction.


Thanks, Can i do more then 200?


Of course.


“-1.8 cents per point that’s $18.63 worth of points less the $6.95 fee=$11.68 or 5.84% back.”
“Those numbers mean that you’ll get the equivalent of somewhere between 3.24 and 3.44 points per dollar spent on Visa gift cards after accounting for the fee which is much higher than what you earn with everyday spending on other cards.”
Am I missing something? You counted the fee twice?


@Yisroel You can do one entire gift card, be it $200, $500, or more (if they still exist,,) but just one gift card per Bluebird load. Repeat cycle for multiple cards. The load limit for Bluebird is $1,000 a day, and $5,000 a month per account.

Igor Ivanovich

@Lovin Bluebird: Thanks!


is huca for reconsideration at chase a risk for a/a? What about sending an sm after being denied by phone?


Not at all.


Thanks dan,
I would just like to clarify; if I was told “we have given you sufficient credit based on your income, and chase doesent feel we should give you anymore (and refused offers to move existing credit….)”. I then kept on pushing it and they told me they see lots of apps for credit from chase and they will not approve anymore cards! Now my concern is if its documented and I continue pushing it, won’t it seem that I am extremely desperate for credit? Isn’t that reason for a/a?


Why do I need to load my bb with a gc? why cant I load it straight from my cc to hit my spending threshold?


Tried buying chase cash cards with a sapphire and the don’t sell it to NJ residents any ideas how to spend 3000.00



1. Setup two Amazon Payments accounts –

2. Link the same credit card and bank account to each

3. Send $1000 from account A to B using the credit card

4. Deposit the money in your bank account

5. Send $1000 from account B to A using the credit card

6. Deposit the money in your bank account

– I currently have three Amazon Payment accounts, two for myself and one for my wife and this works without an issue. Note: Max sending via credit card is $1000 monthly, max receiving per account via credit card is also $1000 monthly


Thanks @makdim I hope it works I will try it


Found a way to get around the $2,500 monthly limit for Chase gift cards. If you have a business card (ie Chase Ink), you can request additional cards for additional employees. These cards will each have a unique credit card number. The $2,500 monthly limit for Chase Gift Cards is specific to the credit card number entered. Enjoy.


I understand that Visa GC can be uploaded to BB (either for free at Walmart or for $2 fee onlie) but I’ve seen people mention they can cash them out. How can you do this? I tried at a regular ATM and that didn’t work.

Will any Bank give me the full cash value of the card if I just walk in there asking the teller to “withdraw the funds” on the Visa GC?




Hi Harris,

The only way you can cash out the gift card is via BB either for free (at Walmart) or for a $2 online. Alternatively, purchase a cheap item at the market and opt to pay with debit. Swipe your gift card, enter the pin, and request cash back for the balance. I believe cash back is paid in multiples of $20 so it won’t be exact, but whatever dollars and cents remain can then be “cashed out” via Amazon Payments.


Thanks @Makdim

I’m a newbie to BB

Went to load via BB online today and I saw that you can only upload $100 per day from each debit card /Visa GC (really $98 + $2 fee). I was also limited to linking 4 cards at a time. Little annoying. Maybe they’re catching on?

Will Wal-Mart cap me like this in person too or is just the normal $1k day / $5k month BB caps?
Do I need to link the cards in advance of going to load them at Wal-Mart?




Hi Harris,

I would suggest just doing it in person at Walmart or cashing it out via Amazon Payments. If you choose to go to Walmart, then you are capped at $1000/day ($5000/month) and they will not charge you for the service. Simply tell you want to load your BlueBird for $___.__ using _ debit cards (I’ve only been able to get up to three to work). Considering this may be a hassle if you’re limited to 3-4 cards per bluebird per day via Walmart, I strongly suggest cashing them out via Amazon Payments. Hope this helps.



Can also load them on a Target Amex card for $3 per 1000. That way, you can track your spend AND get the protections of an Amex card.
Also, can cash out at any ATM if you need cash. Can get two AT cards with max load of 5K per month. Helps supplement BB 5K max.


I just went to three different walmart’s and all three refused to let me load my Bluebird with my vanilla visa debit cards. I tried not to show it to them but they asked to see the card and refused to do it, saying it was illegal anyone have any info or similar experience ?


I bought 5k in visa gift cards and walmart will not let me load them on BB account! Can anyone help me!!!!!!!!!!!!