Load Gift Cards w/o Walmart

GC Target CVS BB

Load Bluebird with Gift Cards without Walmart

Before you read this post, please read Load Bluebird with Gift Cards at Walmart. The following step-by-step guide is more complex and costlier than the above linked post, but is worth it if you do not have gift cards with PINs or a Walmart Store close by.

To load Bluebird with a Visa, MasterCard, or an AMEX Gift Card, you will need 5 things:
1. Bluebird Card
2. Target Store
3. Target AMEX Card (instructions below)
4. CVS Store (that sells Vanilla Reload Cards)
5. Gift Card(s) (PIN not required, so this will work with all gift cards)

Step 1: Go to your local Target Store and find the Target Prepaid Reloadable AMEX Cards (found on the gift card rack by the checkout counters).  You will need to use a credit card to load the temporary card.  The maximum load for the temporary card is $500.  During the checkout process, you will need to enter your mailing address, phone number, email address, and social security number (this is just a soft pull which will not affect your credit score).  After everything is complete, your temporary card will be activated and you will receive the permanent card in the mail within 1-2 weeks.  In the meantime, you can use the temporary card just like a prepaid gift card.


Step 2: When you receive your permanent Target Prepaid Reloadable AMEX Card in the mail, activate the card online, and set up an account at www.americanexpress.com/target.  At that point, the balance from your temporary card will automatically be transferred to your permanent card.  The transfer should be instantaneous.  You can view your current balance online.  In a few hours, the temporary card will no longer be activated (because it will no longer have a balance).

Target AMEX Home

Step 3: Go back to your local Target Store with your Target AMEX Card and your Visa, MasterCard, and American Express Gift Cards.  Go to the Customer Service and Returns Department and tell the representative that you want to load your Target AMEX Card.  (They may look at you strangely if they have never loaded a Target AMEX Card before).  Just like your Bluebird Card, your Target AMEX Card has a $1,000 daily reload limit and a $5,000 monthly reload limit.  The monthly reload limit is based on a moving 30 day time period.

Target Returns Department

Step 4: You can reload your Target AMEX Card from $1 to $1,000 with a $3 service charge for your entire reload.  I always reload $1,000 on my Target AMEX Card, so the total amount due is $1,003.  You can use gift cards and credit cards to reload your Target AMEX Card, but I always use my gift cards first.  When you swipe your gift card on the credit card reader, it will ask you if you want to use debit or credit – click credit every time.  The credit card reader is smart and will automatically drain the balance of your gift card down to $0.  Then you repeat with your next gift card.  If you used all your gift cards and still have a balance due, you can use a credit card to pay the remaining balance.  For example, I once used 8 $100 gift cards and charged the remaining balance of $203 to my credit card.

Target Receipt

This is the view online of my Target Reload:

Load 1000 Target

Step 5: Your Target AMEX Card will now have a $1,000 balance (or whatever amount you decided to reload on the card). Drive to your local CVS Store (assuming they sell Vanilla Reload Cards) and get 2 Vanilla Reload Cards. Since each Vanilla Reload Card costs $3.95 to load, subtract $3.95 twice from $1,000, which gets you $992.10. To make your life and the cashier’s life easier, get a $500 Vanilla Reload Card and a $492 Vanilla Reload Card. Your total will be $999.90. Use your Target AMEX Card to pay. They may ask to see your driver’s license also. If they tell you you can’t use a gift card to pay, tell them it is a credit card and the name matches your drivers license (your experience may vary).

2 VR Cards

This is the view online of my CVS Purchase:

Target Amex CVS PurchaseIf you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Got something to say?

  1. Does your credit card treat this as a cash advance? If not, can you tell me which credit cards you’ve tried this with? I’m a little nervous to get the dreaded cash advance fees!

    • If you are talking about buying gift cards with credit cards, no credit cards have ever charged me a cash advance fee. If you are referring to loading gift cards onto Bluebird, there are no cash advance fees either.

      • Thanks for the quick reply Grant! Have you ever used Citi credit cards to buy Vanilla Reload cards or Visa Gift cards (to load on Blue Bird)? Someone suggested that Citi is especially likely to treat that kind of purchase as a cash advance, but I wonder if they had much data to corroborate that claim. The card I most need to meet the spend for happens to be a Citi card! :) Thanks for your awesome site, by the way. I love the level of detail you include and all the pictures!

        • I recommend that everyone call their credit card company and have them lower your cash advance limit to $0. If you are buying gift cards in grocery stores or pharmacies, you should be fine. Are you working on a AA card or a Citi HH card?

          I personally use my Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card at CVS a lot and have never had any problems.

  2. I have the Citi AA card. I did call twice to try to lower the cash advance to $0. They insisted there is no way to do this. They got managers to make overrides and got it down to $750, but could not go any lower than that. I tried to push the issue but got worried that I might be drawing unnecessary attention. They assured me that you can’t make cash advances unless you set up a pin to enable it (though I wonder if this is true).

    I had similar problems getting Chase cards to set cash advances to $0. They insisted that the CA line is directly linked to the credit line, and that the only way to lower one is to lower the other. I didn’t really want to have them lower my credit limit, so I left the cash advance limit alone.

    Is there some particular way you get them to do it? Have you tried recently? Maybe these are new rules…

    I did buy a visa gift card with my Citi AA card at CVS this afternoon to test it out. I’ll let you know if it processed okay. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to get the card to upload to my BB account though. :(

    • I haven’t gotten any new credit cards in a while so I can’t confirm if they changed the rules on lowering the cash advance limit on your card. For Chase, you might be able to send them a secure message and ask for a lower cash advance limit.

  3. Hey Grant, great post. You’ve been helping me refine the craft. Is it possible to use the AmEx Target Prepaid card to load Bluebird? I know AmEx marketing does not call it a debit card. I don’t have access to VRs, and Target reload is cheaper than Visa/MC GCs. Looking for a way to thus liquidate Target Prepaid.

  4. Why not skip steps 1-4 and just buy the Vanilla Reloads with a credit card at CVS directly? You would then not incur the fees when you buy typical gift cards. I must be missing something?

      • Perhaps that’s the part I’m missing: is the Amex for Target card a debit card then (not a credit card), so that you can use it to buy Vanilla Reloads at any CVS (or other stores that accept debit cards for VR)?

  5. Hi Grant,
    I had a long~~~day today.
    I bought my 2x 500 Visa GC from Ralph and went to Walmart to reload to my Bluebirdd but it didn`t work, 2 employees were trying to help me out but couldn`t make it work.. so I went to cvs and bought 2x VRC using the gift card and finally I transfered the money to my Bluebird!!!

    I think we can avoid Target Amex, what do you think?

    • Good morning Alex, did you add PINs to the gift cards before trying to load your Bluebird card? I usually wait a few hours after adding a PIN before going to Walmart.

      • I tried loading a MC GC for $100 onto my BB tonight, but maybe I do need to wait a few hours after setting up a PIN on the MC GC? I tried 2 Walmarts, neither one had a functioning ATM so I tried it through the PIN pad at the registers. Glad I started small with just $100 and didn’t buy a whole mortgage’ worth to begin with! ;-)

        • Did you call the phone number on the back of the Visa/MC gift card? You can add a PIN on the phone. I usually wait a few hours before going to Walmart to transfer the balance of the gift card to my Bluebird Card.

    • I think Costco has cheap ATMs, credit unions possibly, but other than that, I prefer going to Chase ATMs since they have given me so much over the years.

  6. Hey Grant… Have you ever tried loading the Target Amex with Target store GC? I have some that I’d like to drain. Thanks.

  7. There’s a 7-11 by my house that will sell VRCs only with a debit card. I wonder if I can use the Target Prepaid card to buy it? I tried with a Vanilla Visa GC and that didn’t work.

  8. Hi Grant, Thanks for taking the time to post all of these articles, and make them so clear. In the post-CVS VR era, how would you suggest leveraging the Target AMEX to manufacture more spend? Is there a way to use both 5k per month from bluebird separately from the monthly limit on Target AMEX?

    • The hardest part about using the Target AMEX is actually finding the Target AMEX in Target stores. Some of the stores near me have it anymore, so the first thing you have to do is try to find it and sign up for an account. The best thing about the card is you can load it in store with credit cards, debit cards, and Visa, MasterCard, or American Express gift cards. You can load up to $1000 per day and there’s only a three dollar fee per load.

  9. Grant, just looking for your opinion here.

    Barclay Arrival rewards store currently has American Express gift cards (no pin) for 6miles/dollar which is an awesome deal. It literally means for every 1000 in gift card I am getting over 60 bucks rewards. I am looking for the easiest way to convert that gift card back into cash or into my bank account to pay that credit card….

    Using the Target AMEX locator there are multiple stores a few hours from me that has these cards….worth the drive if i can use it a few times of month while i am getting 6miles/dollar spent on these gift cards First question – do you know if i can reload at ANY target store…even if it doesnt sell the specific cards? (I assume that i should be able to)

    With the target card does it have a pin and can be used like a debit card? I was wondering if i could simply take that card to Walmart and get a money order for 70 cents made out to myself for the amount on the card. That would be the easiest process without having to do all these conversions and paying fees for visa gift cards and such.

    also, about the Vanilla cards….I thought that most CVS’s now only accept cash for those cards…if you can even find them. so if you went that route would it still even work?

    Assuming I can get the American Express gift cards onto the target card…any other suggestions of how to converting that money back into cash or getting it into my bank account without going through the whole bluebird route?

    • I don’t think you can use the Target AMEX to buy money orders at Walmart. I tried to use it to load funds to my Bluebird Card and that didn’t work, but it might be possible to buy a money order, I have never tried. You can cash out your gift cards with Amazon Payments or use them to buy One Vanilla gift cards, assuming your store will let you use a gift card to buy them (mine will, but I know most won’t). You can use ATMs to take money off of your Target AMEX as well.

  10. Hi! thanks for the insights.

    Since the VRs are dead, can I purchase OV gift cards or other gift cards with the credit option? If I can thinking that might be cheaper than the withdraw fees and ATM fees. Planning to load them to BB or MO.

  11. Thanks for your very helpful site and posts. They’re very straightforward and useful, especially for a relative newbie (been doing it for about three months).

    I currently use the Serve card (switched from BB) and max the $5k gift card and $1k credit card transfer limits. Thanks to your feedback, I’ll be making use of the 1.5% PayPal reward as well.

    I haven’t tried the Target Amex card yet. I understand how to put money on it (credit card or Amex gift cards) but am trying to figure out how to get cash off it now that the VR benefits have dried up.

    I’m thinking that I could buy Amex GC at a discount and deposit them to the Target card. Then, I could use that to purchase Visa GC at my local Simon mall (which sells them for $3 each). Based on my research, it seems like I could purchase the Visa GC from Gift Card Mall (at a slight discount) without going through Target and make about the same profit.

    Any other options that I’m missing?

    I’d like to up my MS but haven’t found ways that don’t involve the one Serve card that I have. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    • For AMEX Target, you get 1 free ATM withdrawal per month. You can take up to $400 out and only pay the ATM merchant’s fee. The Target AMEX is a good way to hide MS from credit card companies since they see a large purchase from Target which isn’t that unusual.

    • Trevor, could you please detail how you are loading the 5K/month in gift cards to your Serve Account? So far, I have been loading 1K/month on-line but I do not have a Walmart nearby and am looking for other ways.

  12. Grant would you please update this post .. Vanilla reloadable can not be purchased with credit card any more and
    onevanilla is very unreliable as you know some work and some wont…

    perhaps if you could please update the post with ways to drain the target amex?

    Thank you

    • There are ways to buy VRCs at certain stores still. But you can withdraw funds via ATM or use it as a regular credit/debit card to buy other gift cards or goods.

  13. Grant,
    So we can buy VRC at cvs using Target for AMEX card? do cvs allow ,isn’t it cash only. do you have to tell cashier something specific to make it work?

  14. Thanks and your blog is very informative and easy going.
    1) with Target AMEX , can you load any kind of gift card e.g vanilla visa, or some of non working card in walmart also we can load in target amex.
    2) what is best method to unload Target AMEX Card balance? e.g economical and easy way.

  15. Thanks for your reply.
    Sorry newbie to target amex.
    1) So you can buy PPMCC (PayPal My Cash Card) with Target Amex .Right?
    2) I have to do as credit or debit when i purchase PPMCC using target amex.??
    3) One more question. i got discover it card two days before . what do you recommend to maximize $1500 categories by 12/31/14 and cash it out and get some cash back.

    • You can use the Target AMEX to purchase PPMCCs. Just purchase the cards as a credit card transaction, not a PIN transaction. The Discover It shopping category for Q4 is online shopping. I bought gift cards from Gift Card Mall and I received the credit. You can shop at almost any online store.

  16. 1)from ebay or giftcardmall.com website you are referring to.
    2) is it visa/Master which you can cash out or other regular gift card like macy,sear,ebay,etc….