posted: May. 15, 2009 @ 6:11p
So I happened to find out some information about Wal-Mart's money services. For those of you are have never used Wal-Mart's money services it's located at the customer service or at some stores it has its own location. Wal-Mart uses MoneyGram which is similar to Western Union and offers services such as bill payment, money orders, and international/domestic transfers of money. In the past these services must be paid with a cash or debit card only.
However I recently found out that YOU CAN USE A GIFT CARD AS A FORM OF PAYMENT FOR THEIR BILL PAYMENT SERVICE! It used to be cash or debit card only however gift cards are acceptable to use as well. I believe the current fee is $0.88 per bill for 3 day service (will need to doublecheck). However some stores may deny you using a gift card for a bill payment if they have problems with fraudulent gift cards (you know those customers who take items without paying then return it to the store w/o a receipt and receive a hefty gift card). Also the customer service rep may just be unaware of the policy and say you can only pay for bills with a debit card or cash so it's YMMV. However the new MXC (Money Express Centers I believe they are called) are like self-serve kiosks similar to ATMS where you should be able to do all this (not all stores have these yet) without some annoying CSR unaware of acceptable forms of payment.
The real interesting part comes in (for those who minds are already turning and thinking about how to exploit this) would be for those wanting to purchase Wal-Mart gift cards on a credit card or at a discount at eBay/craigslist. For those with a 1% reward card you could essentially for example purchase a $500 gift card ($5 in rewards) and use the card to pay for your bill payment back to your creditor less -$0.88 for a net of $4.12. Wal-Mart is considered a grocery/retail by many credit card companies so there many be additional 2%-5% for rewards if you purchase the gift card in store or earn even more CashBack by purchasing a gift card online on various CashBack websites. In addition you could simply buy discounted Wal-Mart gift cards on eBay or craigslist and have some simple arbitrage there as well.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Following the "Don't call rule" simply go to your local Wal-Mart customer service center/financial money center to make sure they take Wal-Mart gift card as a form of payment for their billpay service to avoid being stuck with Wal-Mart gift cards in case your payment with the gift card is denied by the CSR. Next just buy a $5 gift card at Wal-Mart and do a test run to see if the purchase is categorized as a retail purchase to possibly earn additional points by most credit card issuers. I used to work at Wal-Mart's customer service and I still receive some information about their services and thought this would be valuable to the fatwallet community. With that said I do not know exactly how their bill payment service works so here are some additional answers I am trying to get.
1. Since you can use a Wal-Mart gift card as a form of payment for bill payment I wonder if there is a possibility you can use a Wal-Mart gift card to pay for a money order. I believe money orders are $0.30-$0.40 and if so you may be able to take it straight to the bank for deposit! Heck you might even be able to pay your Wal-Mart credit card with a Wal-Mart gift card now that would be something!
2. My second question would be can you bill pay yourself or a checking account? Others may be able to answer this who have experience with Wal-Mart's bill pay system but that may also be an opportunity to use some interest free cash (for most credit card users) for about two months (purchase month+grace period).
If this all works out this may be better than the US Mint deal simply because you can receive the cash/payment quickly instead of waiting weeks for the Mint and the possibility of having the money stolen. Plus it appears a good way to rack up some serious points, rinse and repeat, especially on discounted gift cards from eBay or craigslist that would offer instant arbitrage. As always YMMV and have fun!
UPDATE 1: Haven't done it myself but read an internal Wal-Mart email stating this can be done. Going to try tomorrow and report back results. Also purchasing a gift card with a credit card at the store/or somewhere online should be considered as a purchase and not cash advance. Also Wal-Mart associates or Sam's Club workers for a limited time can do their billpayments for free (no $0.88 fees applied). The expiration ends sometime towards the end of June of this year. I will try to get more information on this as well.