Sunday, February 9, 2014

Using the Final Balance of your Visa Gift Cards

Manufactured Spending with Vanilla Reloads

The point of Manufactured Spending is to artificially create spending on your credit card for little to no fees and still get points or cashback.  A perfect example is using your Citi Dividend at CVS for the first quarter of the year.  The dividend card is offering 5% cashback on up to $6,000 in purchases at drugstores until the end of March.  You can buy Vanilla Reload cards that get 5% cashback with only 1% in fees.  After fees, I am able to get about $252 without actually spending any money.

Manufactured Spending with Visa Gift Cards

One of the usual methods of Manufactured Spending when Vanilla Reloads aren't available is to use Visa Gift Cards.  It is quite simple to extract the money from a Vanilla Reload card back into your bank account online without any extra fees.

Visa Gift Cards, however, while they are getting easier to liquidate with methods that treat them as true Debit Cards (see Evolve, for example), are still more difficult to unload without fees.  You can always bring them to Walmart to load to Bluebird for free, but that is time consuming and can be a pain especially if Walmart isn't close to you.  You also have to deal with the People of Walmart.

One method to unload them is to spend them, Heaven forbid.  The obvious drawback is that you aren't using your other credit cards so you aren't generating any new points.  That being said, this method keeps things simple and some people aren't quite ready for that level of complexity yet (Your day will come, JF, we just aren't there yet).

Spending the Final Balance

The problem is what do you do with that final $1.37 when you keep getting rejected for insufficient balance?  Such a pain.  You can try to ask the store to split up the transaction, but sometimes it's hard to remember which card has $1.37 and which one has $0.52 on it.

Here's what I do: After I am rejected, the Visa Gift Card goes into a pile of cards that don't have much money on them.  I keep a few of them in my wallet at all times.

There are stores that will automatically remove the balance from that card and you don't have to know your exact balance.  If my purchase is $4.50 and my balance is $1.25, I swipe and the price goes down to $3.25 automatically.  This is not an exhaustive list.  I just know that these three work.

Dunkin' Donuts

Walgreen's is perfect for me because I can spend $4 on prescriptions every month and spend down my gift cards.

Do you know of others that work too?  Leave a comment and help everyone out!