July 3, 2013
Last week I was excited to see that Point Princess had found Vanilla Reload cards at a TA gas station. I immediately checked online here and found a TA station close to my home. Then I waited impatiently to return from my latest vacation so I could check it out.
Monday morning I zoomed to the TA station and hunted for the gift card rack. I searched every nook and cranny of the store, but couldn’t find anything that looked remotely gift-cardish. Finally, I went through a doorway to the back towards the video games and rest rooms. There, tucked away in a corner was the gift card rack! I had to spin the rack around to find the good stuff…
I took two Vanilla Reload cards to the register and asked for $500 on each. After ringing them up, the cashier said “you know this is cash only right?” Um… what? Are you sure? “Yes,” she said, “we only accept cash for these purchases.” I felt like saying “but Point Princess paid with a credit card.” Instead, I left empty handed.
Why I care
Quite a few credit cards standardly offer extra cash back or bonus points at gas stations (see “Best Category Bonuses“) and some offer bonus points at gas stations as an occasional promotion (For example, Freedom and Discover cards offer 5X this quarter at gas stations, up to $1500 in spend).
If a gas station allowed you to buy Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card, you could do really well by paying with a card that offers gas stations bonuses. You do need to be careful, though, because some cards reportedly restrict the bonus to payments made at the pump (if you have specific experience with this, please report your findings below).
Vs. gift cards
As I’ve reported before, gas stations like Speedway sell Visa gift cards that can be loaded up to $500. And, you can move the $500 from the gift card to your Bluebird or GoBank card at Walmart. While this approach costs slightly more ($4.95 per $500 vs. $3.95 per $500), the results are almost the same. For me, though, Walmart is out of my way, so I would much prefer a reload card solution. Too bad that my local TA station didn’t allow me to pay with a credit card!
The Vanilla Reload Network web site shows the following locations for reloads:
They seem to have forgotten to take Office Depot off the list. If you visit any of these stores, keep in mind that there are two different types of Vanilla Reload cards. The usual kind is the one that you take home to transfer its value to your prepaid card. The other kind is the one where the load to your prepaid card happens in-store (see “Pursuing the Other Vanilla Reload card“).