Did Bloggers Kill Vanilla Reloads At CVS?

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My wife just sent me a photo of her haul from this morning.
Perhaps my family’s last CVS Vanilla Reload haul!

It has now been widely confirmed that most if not all CVS stores will become cash only for the purchase of Vanilla Reloads within the next couple of days.  A POS update is being pushed out that will lock the register so that it only accepts cash for many prepaid cards including Vanilla Reloads.

Over the past couple of days I have seen many people turn on bloggers to blame them for the demise of Vanilla Reloads at CVS.  I might understand this line of thought if Vanilla Reloads weren’t so widely known or if CVS just started selling them. Considering this “trick” has been around and widely blogged about for 18 months, I just don’t see the logic.

So if not the bloggers, then who killed Vanilla Reloads?  I think you only have to go as far as the most logical answer to explain this.  Fraud!  Let me tell you a story.

The other day my wife ran to CVS to buy Vanilla Reloads shortly after that memo leaked.  After arriving, she saw something very interesting.  When she walked in, a woman was at the register buying a prepaid card with a credit card.  The curious things was that she only loaded $5 on to that card and paid a $4.95 fee for a total of $9.95.  The clerk questioned her as to why she would load so little, but didn’t even check her id.

Five minutes later my wife saw the same lady come back to the register. This time she bought a $500 prepaid card. It was obvious to my wife that the original purchase was a test to see if it would go through. On neither of the transactions did the CVS clerk check her identification. Who is going to eat that money? Most likely CVS since they didn’t verify the ID.

I think CVS liked selling prepaid cards like the Vanilla Reloads with credit cards.  It helped their sales figures and they obviously were making money off of it.  When companies stop making money, then they change their  policies.  My guess is that the cost of the fraud outpaced the profits from the cards.

While I am not saying that bloggers are completely innocent, it is far more likely that CVS changed their policy based on situations like my wife witnessed.  The main point of this post is not to place blame on anyone or anything.  In the end, this little chapter of manufactured spend has come to an end.  While Vanilla Reloads were incredibly convenient, there are so many MS methods left, that I am choosing to be grateful today.

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  1. hey i just stumble on this blog and i’m new to Shawn’s Milestomemeories blog site and thank you for your advice on the WM ATM machine.

    Anyway, making $10 purchase, and immediately after that is a $500 is a classic example of credit card fraud. That lady either stole that cc or found it on the street and try her luck to see if the purchase went through. Now i’m surprise that the clerk didn’t pick that up nor the cc company flag the purchase on the spot. Blogger did not cause this to stop. The merchant and CC company did not put a stop to it also.

  2. Agreed. I was told the same thing when I moved and was trying to find local gas stations to meet my Freedom category bonus by purchasing VR’s at a Valero. The manager said they had been hit so many times with customers buying them on stolen credit cards that they went to cash/debit only. It was nice while it lasted!

    • It was nice Rocio. Actually in Las Vegas about a year ago I all of my neighborhood CVS stores started taking cash only. For a long time I was just buying Mastercards at my grocery store until someone on Flyertalk told me of the one reliable location in Las Vegas where they took credit cards. Oh well. Every good thing must come to an end. With that said, there are still plenty of opportunities.

    • That fees statement could mean anything. We always knew that these were being charged a different processing fee than a regular purchase or CVS would lose a lot of money. If they were paying a 2 or 3% CC fee and then lets say making only the $3.95 fee then it would have been a money loser.

      Perhaps on the back end their processing fees went up to cover additional costs including things like fraud. Like I said, we may never know the exact reason why, but something changed in their profit structure. Also, that memo was meant to be shown to the public, so who knows what the real truth is.

      Thanks for posting that over here Scott. It certainly is interesting. In the end it doesn’t really matter. Its over and the time to move on has come!


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