I believe it was Dan's Deals that broke the story this morning that CVS has instituted a new chain wide policy of only accepting cash tender for Vanilla Reload and other cash-equivalent prepaid gift and debit cards. For those of us that were avid proponents of Manufactured Spending (MS), this is a huge blow. Vanilla Reloads were the lifeblood of many of the prepaid debit cards out there including Bluebird, AMEX Serve, MyVanilla, and a host of other similar products. Not being able to purchase these using credit cards limits the extent to which many people can meet big minimum spend bonuses and is going to be a big disadvantage moving forward applying to multiple cards at once.
Of course, when the Mint deal shut down, lots of people foresaw the end of manufactured spending as well. For the uninitiated, several years ago, the US Mint allowed anyone to purchase $1 coins at cost, even using credit cards. Several miles hackers really went all-in and bought millions of dollars worth of coins using miles/points and cash back credit cards, then redeposited these coins into their bank accounts and paid off their credit card balances. Even your humble author threw out his back (and his car springs) lugging over $300,000 worth of coins to the bank over the course of six months.
Just like when the Mint deal ended, new avenues of MS – like these Vanilla Reload cards – popped up. In time, I'm positive that there will be another tool wll pop up where savvy travel hackers are able to rack up big points and miles on their credit cards. But in the meantime, let's pour out some liquor for a truly lucrative deal that's gone the way of the dodo. RIP CVS Vanilla Reloads, we're going to miss you.