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Sorry to all the FW veterans who may think I should know better than to start such a simplistic, amateurish thread, but I'm really out of creative ideas at this point.

Anyone have any MS strategies not involving gift cards?  Alternatively, anyone have any better way to cash out Visa debit gift cards other than buying U.S. postal money orders?

FWIW I still have an active OBC card with $6500 threshold and $50K annual spending limit in 5% categories with an anniversary date that is about to turn over so I can start a fresh new year soon.  Mostly I guess I'm looking for the quickest, cheapest, least painful way to meet the $6500 spending for the new reward year.  I also have shiti 2% DC and a few other cards that might be useful, at least once in a blue moon.

I used to stockpile large amounts of VGCs and use them for natural spending, rent, or any other large purchases where I could use Visa debit/credit cards to pay, but I'm no longer comfortable keeping more than high three figures (of dollar amounts) stored in anonymous gift cards.  I also can't use them for rent anymore for reasons that aren't pertinent to this thread.  At one point I had over $30K stashed, and some of the individual cards had been sitting in my desk drawer untouched for over two years, each worth $500.  Thankfully I never got bit and I never lost a penny, but it was risky, and some might say stupid.  Right now I have just one Amex gift card that's worth ~$470 in my wallet that I use if I want to make an anonymous purchase that I know I'm not going to have to chargeback (and can't use cash for whatever reason), but my days of stashing large dollar amounts in gift cards are over.

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Go to the PO first thing in the morning before there's a line and before cashiers are annoyed with idiot people.

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ice cream. everyone loves ice cream.

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reserve model 3's and then cancel after the statement hits

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YHPM

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Stubtify said:   YHPM
  Can I get one too please?

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Following this thread as I just applied for a Chase Sapphire Preferred, need to meet minimum spend, and plan on getting a Chase Ink Plus after that.

Is it usually a good idea to prepay cable, cell phone, water, and trash bills to meet minimum spend?

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Prepaying bills is a great idea. Also home/auto insurance are usually bigger ones that you may be able to pay early.

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Do not buy discounted store gift cards to meet min. spend.

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Stubtify said:   Do not buy discounted store gift cards to meet min. spend.
  
Curious why you say that specifically for min spend. Clawback of points? Or do you just generally advocate against buying discounted sore gift cards?

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BingBlangBlaow said:   
Stubtify said:   Do not buy discounted store gift cards to meet min. spend.
  
Curious why you say that specifically for min spend. Clawback of points? Or do you just generally advocate against buying discounted sore gift cards?

Apparently Rhiannon had some trouble buying groceries at Safeway.  https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1581219

Discounted store gift cards from a primary source (such as CVS or Walmart or some other big store that sells lots of gift cards) should probably be ok, as long as the reason for the discount is legitimate.  Don't use Card Cash.

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Prepaid electric. Flat fee $2 for any amount for me.

Quarterly income taxes or overpay with extension. Higher fees for this though.

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DTASFAB said:   BingBlangBlaow said:   
Stubtify said:   Do not buy discounted store gift cards to meet min. spend.
  
Curious why you say that specifically for min spend. Clawback of points? Or do you just generally advocate against buying discounted sore gift cards?

Apparently Rhiannon had some trouble buying groceries at Safeway.  https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1581219

Discounted store gift cards from a primary source (such as CVS or Walmart or some other big store that sells lots of gift cards) should probably be ok, as long as the reason for the discount is legitimate.  Don't use Card Cash.

This thread shows why you should be careful about discounted store gift cards:
https://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1581219

Edit: Lol, realized you linked the same thread.

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Pre-pay recurring bills such as utilities, etc.

Pastiq, Radpad and other third party payment processors allow you to pay just about anybody for a 2.5% to 3% fee that you may not otherwise be able to pay with credit cards, including student loans, auto loans, rent, mortgage, and HELOC payments (note the unlimited MS arbitrage with this option!).

While a 3% fee in non-category purchases is not very useful for regular spend, it is still well worth the ~15% rewards for meeting signup bonuses and a heck of a lot easier than running around town trying to find MS friendly Walmarts and purchasing money orders.

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buy a car with them.

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Bend3r said:   Prepaid electric. Flat fee $2 for any amount for me.

Quarterly income taxes or overpay with extension. Higher fees for this though.

  Dang, my electric company was $4.95.

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I can empathize. Last winter, Hy-Vee grocery chain offered VGCs and MCGCs at up to a 9% discount plus the credit cards rewards cashback (2% to 5%). Over a week's time, I purchased over $10K of them using several credit cards and in a few cases, cash. I visited every PO in the county purchasing MOs. I bought so many Western Union MOs that one grocery store banned me. I prefer grocery store Western Union MOs as they are cheaper.

I paid my sister's property taxes as well as my own with the GCs. I gave her a 5% discount and still made money. I paid utilities in full and up to six months in advance.

===========
Alternative MS options than GCs?  I have opened some bank accounts that allow initial deposit by credit card.
https://www.doctorofcredit.com/best-bank-account-bonuses/ 

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JW10 said:   I can empathize. Last winter, Hy-Vee grocery chain offered VGCs and MCGCs at up to a 9% discount plus the credit cards rewards cashback (2% to 5%). Over a week's time, I purchased over $10K of them using several credit cards and in a few cases, cash. I visited every PO in the county purchasing MOs. I bought so many Western Union MOs that one grocery store banned me. I prefer grocery store Western Union MOs as they are cheaper.

I paid my sister's property taxes as well as my own with the GCs. I gave her a 5% discount and still made money. I paid utilities in full and up to six months in advance.

WU isn't good for me around here.  The stores that sell it usually limit each MO to $300 and the fees are similar or worse than the post office selling a $1000 MO.  Some of them only allow up to $900 (3 MOs) per day.

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At Kroger, you can use self-checkout and autodrain the small VGC's for groceries/gift cards, up to 9 split payments at a time. I just buy Amazon gift cards with mine.

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In jurisdictions where horseracing is legal, use your prepaid cards to fund advance deposit wagering accounts and only make show bets on overwhelming favorites.

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I've been diversifying with tio. But as we know, PayPal is involved now. Just going day by day until one day I'm stuck with a few grand in Visa gift card.

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Waffles said:   In jurisdictions where horseracing is legal, use your prepaid cards to fund advance deposit wagering accounts and only make show bets on overwhelming favorites.
  Most creative FW answer I've read & understood in YEARS!

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DTASFAB said:   Sorry to all the FW veterans who may think I should know better than to start such a simplistic, amateurish thread, but I'm really out of creative ideas at this point.

Anyone have any MS strategies not involving gift cards?  Alternatively, anyone have any better way to cash out Visa debit gift cards other than buying U.S. postal money orders?

FWIW I still have an active OBC card with $6500 threshold and $50K annual spending limit in 5% categories with an anniversary date that is about to turn over so I can start a fresh new year soon.  Mostly I guess I'm looking for the quickest, cheapest, least painful way to meet the $6500 spending for the new reward year.  I also have shiti 2% DC and a few other cards that might be useful, at least once in a blue moon.

I used to stockpile large amounts of VGCs and use them for natural spending, rent, or any other large purchases where I could use Visa debit/credit cards to pay, but I'm no longer comfortable keeping more than high three figures (of dollar amounts) stored in anonymous gift cards.  I also can't use them for rent anymore for reasons that aren't pertinent to this thread.  At one point I had over $30K stashed, and some of the individual cards had been sitting in my desk drawer untouched for over two years, each worth $500.  Thankfully I never got bit and I never lost a penny, but it was risky, and some might say stupid.  Right now I have just one Amex gift card that's worth ~$470 in my wallet that I use if I want to make an anonymous purchase that I know I'm not going to have to chargeback (and can't use cash for whatever reason), but my days of stashing large dollar amounts in gift cards are over.

  Feel like these are mutually exclusive for MS.

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Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm just growing weary of the post office experience. I can deal with the confusion and suspicion from unaware cashiers, but I'm always afraid they're going to enter $500 for the first card before the swipe, which then reders all subsequent VGC cards useless for that specific transaction, and the remaining amount has to paid with alternative payment method if I want to not have the first $500 tied up in the system for weeks. This makes the second of four swipes always the most stressful. If the second $500 card works, the third and fourth swipes have about a 99.999% chance of working properly. I suppose I could do two separate $998.40 transactions separately, but that introduces a whole different set of potential problems, namely pissing off the cashier who otherwise might have been perfectly friendly and also losing the ability to alter amounts. Frequently, I sometimes buy one MO for $998.39 and one for $998.41 in able to differentiate them by amount without having to look at serial numbers. I'm also predicting, hopefully incorrectly, that once the post office finally upgrades their POS terminals to take chipped cards, we're going to get shut down with these debit VGCs, and so I'm definitely looking for alternative MS strategies. Thanks specifically to Stubtify for information sent in PM.

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DTASFAB said:   Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm just growing weary of the post office experience. I can deal with the confusion and suspicion from unaware cashiers, but I'm always afraid they're going to enter $500 for the first card before the swipe, which then reders all subsequent VGC cards useless for that specific transaction, and the remaining amount has to paid with alternative payment method if I want to not have the first $500 tied up in the system for weeks. This makes the second of four swipes always the most stressful. If the second $500 card works, the third and fourth swipes have about a 99.999% chance of working properly. I suppose I could do two separate $998.40 transactions separately, but that introduces a whole different set of potential problems, namely pissing off the cashier who otherwise might have been perfectly friendly and also losing the ability to alter amounts. Frequently, I sometimes buy one MO for $998.39 and one for $998.41 in able to differentiate them by amount without having to look at serial numbers. I'm also predicting, hopefully incorrectly, that once the post office finally upgrades their POS terminals to take chipped cards, we're going to get shut down with these debit VGCs, and so I'm definitely looking for alternative MS strategies. Thanks specifically to Stubtify for information sent in PM.
  
Don't do this. Scolding from USPS workers seems to center around breaking purchases up like this.

Keep a spare real Debit card in your wallet tied to an acct with at least $2k in it. More than once I've had to pull that debit card out and swipe it, at USPS and even WM when a casher got weird. 

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Stubtify said:   
DTASFAB said:   Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm just growing weary of the post office experience. I can deal with the confusion and suspicion from unaware cashiers, but I'm always afraid they're going to enter $500 for the first card before the swipe, which then reders all subsequent VGC cards useless for that specific transaction, and the remaining amount has to paid with alternative payment method if I want to not have the first $500 tied up in the system for weeks. This makes the second of four swipes always the most stressful. If the second $500 card works, the third and fourth swipes have about a 99.999% chance of working properly. I suppose I could do two separate $998.40 transactions separately, but that introduces a whole different set of potential problems, namely pissing off the cashier who otherwise might have been perfectly friendly and also losing the ability to alter amounts. Frequently, I sometimes buy one MO for $998.39 and one for $998.41 in able to differentiate them by amount without having to look at serial numbers. I'm also predicting, hopefully incorrectly, that once the post office finally upgrades their POS terminals to take chipped cards, we're going to get shut down with these debit VGCs, and so I'm definitely looking for alternative MS strategies. Thanks specifically to Stubtify for information sent in PM.
  
Don't do this. Scolding from USPS workers seems to center around breaking purchases up like this.

Keep a spare real Debit card in your wallet tied to an acct with at least $2k in it. More than once I've had to pull that debit card out and swipe it, at USPS and even WM when a casher got weird. 

Yes, that's exactly what I was saying.  I carry 3 real debit cards with me and occasionally large amounts of cash, but not too often.  It's easier to buy one for $998.40 and after the receipt prints, ask for another of the same, if I was going to break them up.  But even then I find it troublesome.  The ones who won't get pissed are the ones who are already familiar with me and who know how to run the system for 4 swipes of $500 each, making the splitting of a $2000 transaction completely pointless.  The other way to do it is to leave, come back 10 minutes later, wait in line again, and buy another.  Or just go to a different post office.

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jaytrader said:   I've been diversifying with tio. But as we know, PayPal is involved now. Just going day by day until one day I'm stuck with a few grand in Visa gift card.
  Just checked a year-old backup plan I used to liquidate large amounts of Paypal reload cards purchased at Walgreens. Chargesmart allowed me to liquidate at a much faster rate than loading them into Paypal, just for a slightly higher fee.

Chargesmart.com now points to the Tio website, so it looks like Chargesmart became Tio which was then bought out by Paypal. It sometimes seems like we're juggling flaming batons trying to stay ahead of this game.

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Use GCs (or simply your credit card itself!) to make your yearly donations to charity.

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What do money orders cost? Seems $1.60 up to $1,000? Pay yourself with PayPal, Square, etc. if you get stuck. It costs more, but there's no hassle.

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bobley said:   What do money orders cost? Seems $1.60 up to $1,000? Pay yourself with PayPal, Square, etc. if you get stuck. It costs more, but there's no hassle.
Until PP freezes $5K in your account for 180 days.  

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DTASFAB said:   Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm just growing weary of the post office experience. I can deal with the confusion and suspicion from unaware cashiers, but I'm always afraid they're going to enter $500 for the first card before the swipe, which then reders all subsequent VGC cards useless for that specific transaction, and the remaining amount has to paid with alternative payment method if I want to not have the first $500 tied up in the system for weeks. This makes the second of four swipes always the most stressful. If the second $500 card works, the third and fourth swipes have about a 99.999% chance of working properly. I suppose I could do two separate $998.40 transactions separately, but that introduces a whole different set of potential problems, namely pissing off the cashier who otherwise might have been perfectly friendly and also losing the ability to alter amounts. Frequently, I sometimes buy one MO for $998.39 and one for $998.41 in able to differentiate them by amount without having to look at serial numbers. I'm also predicting, hopefully incorrectly, that once the post office finally upgrades their POS terminals to take chipped cards, we're going to get shut down with these debit VGCs, and so I'm definitely looking for alternative MS strategies. Thanks specifically to Stubtify for information sent in PM.
  Why does the first $500 kill the later ones? Aren't these separate $500 cards?

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I just buy the dollar amount that I want .. often $1000.00 even and pay the fee in cash. I usually tell the PO clerk that I need to pay with more than one card as my card will not cover the whole amount. That usually avoids the preset to whatever amount <clerk hits enter and locks it in>. I have had too many problems when doing $2000.00 in one order.

I prefer to limit my purchases to a maximum of $2000.00 per clerk or location. I usually have multiple POs on my errand route. Problems vary by PO or clerk. IF you buy more than $2000.00 at one time, there is paperwork required. Never exceed $10,000.00 as that sets off money laundering alerts.

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DTASFAB said:   
bobley said:   What do money orders cost? Seems $1.60 up to $1,000? Pay yourself with PayPal, Square, etc. if you get stuck. It costs more, but there's no hassle.
Until PP freezes $5K in your account for 180 days.  

  Then use Square or others. The amount to cash out can change the best paths.

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JW10 said:   I just buy the dollar amount that I want .. often $1000.00 even and pay the fee in cash. I usually tell the PO clerk that I need to pay with more than one card as my card will not cover the whole amount. That usually avoids the preset to whatever amount <clerk hits enter and locks it in>. I have had too many problems when doing $2000.00 in one order.

I prefer to limit my purchases to a maximum of $2000.00 per clerk or location. I usually have multiple POs on my errand route. Problems vary by PO or clerk. IF you buy more than $2000.00 at one time, there is paperwork required. Never exceed $10,000.00 as that sets off money laundering alerts.

  Does depositing $10K+ trigger alerts or are money orders seen as checks for this purpose?

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bobley said:   
DTASFAB said:   Thanks for the replies. I guess I'm just growing weary of the post office experience. I can deal with the confusion and suspicion from unaware cashiers, but I'm always afraid they're going to enter $500 for the first card before the swipe, which then reders all subsequent VGC cards useless for that specific transaction, and the remaining amount has to paid with alternative payment method if I want to not have the first $500 tied up in the system for weeks. This makes the second of four swipes always the most stressful. If the second $500 card works, the third and fourth swipes have about a 99.999% chance of working properly. I suppose I could do two separate $998.40 transactions separately, but that introduces a whole different set of potential problems, namely pissing off the cashier who otherwise might have been perfectly friendly and also losing the ability to alter amounts. Frequently, I sometimes buy one MO for $998.39 and one for $998.41 in able to differentiate them by amount without having to look at serial numbers. I'm also predicting, hopefully incorrectly, that once the post office finally upgrades their POS terminals to take chipped cards, we're going to get shut down with these debit VGCs, and so I'm definitely looking for alternative MS strategies. Thanks specifically to Stubtify for information sent in PM.
  Why does the first $500 kill the later ones? Aren't these separate $500 cards?

There are multiple methods for the USPS cashier to specify partial payments.  The best way is to ask for two money orders of $998.40 each and get a total of $2000.00.  Swipe the first card, enter pin, and have the cashier change the amount for that swipe from $2000 to $500.  Then proceed to swipe the next card, enter pin, cashier changes amount to $500, and so on, until all four GCs are swiped at $500 each.

If cashier enters amount of $500 before first swipe, that first card will process correctly, but then it messes up the system for subsequent cards.  I'm not a programming coder and I don't know how the USPS computers are set up, so I don't know why this happens, but luckily the only time I ever fell victim to it, I was only buying one MO for $998.40 and I only had to cover the last $500 from a real debit card linked to a checking account.  I had a bunch of $500 VGCs on me and I tried about 3-4 of them until I gave up and paid with money from my checking account.  Those gift cards were all declined for insufficient funds according to the cashier, but when I checked their balances online less than an hour after leaving the post office, they all had the original $500 balance still available and they showed no evidence of an attempted charge/debit hitting the issuer's system.  The thing that's disturbing about it is that this is a clear indication that the system is somehow able to recognize the difference between a VGC "debit" card and a real bank-issued debit card.

If I'd been buying two money orders, I would have had to use $1500 of my own real money just to walk out with my original $500 from that first GC.  Once that first partial payment is made, the transaction cannot be canceled, reversed, or modified by the cashier.  It has to go higher up in the USPS chain of command to do any of those things, which means bureaucratic headaches and delays.  They can suspend the transaction, serve the next customer, and then go back to it, but they can't cancel or change it.  That means if you ask for two money orders and fall victim to this, you are going to have to come up with $1500 of real money to get out with your head intact.  They can't remove the second money order from the transaction to allow you to only buy the first money order for $500 GC + $500 cash.  Likewise, they can't remove the second money order from the transaction and change the first money order from $998.40 to $498.80, since the first $500 swipe would be enough to cover the cost of that $498.80 MO.  It's just not possible with their present system.  You have no choice but to proceed with the original 2 x $998.40 MO purchase or face the risk of losing the first $500 to bureaucratic headache of poor USPS customer service.

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Is this one of those Facebook memory posts?

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Yes, exactly.

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JW10 said:   I just buy the dollar amount that I want .. often $1000.00 even and pay the fee in cash. I usually tell the PO clerk that I need to pay with more than one card as my card will not cover the whole amount. That usually avoids the preset to whatever amount <clerk hits enter and locks it in>. I have had too many problems when doing $2000.00 in one order.

I prefer to limit my purchases to a maximum of $2000.00 per clerk or location. I usually have multiple POs on my errand route. Problems vary by PO or clerk. IF you buy more than $2000.00 at one time, there is paperwork required. Never exceed $10,000.00 as that sets off money laundering alerts.

  
Consider yourself lucky. This used to work flawlessly at my local PO. Since about 1 1/2 years ago the card readers haven't accepted MC or Visa prepaid debit cards, and I tried all types of Vanilla, and others, and none work .  I thought this was the case at all POs.  Apparently, it is regional or case by case? 

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How exactly does square work? Can you load excess debit cards into the square purchased empty gift card or does it only allow credit card loads? Any arbitrage opportunity here or is this just an expensive black hole? It sounds like after you get their card reader you can unload the balance to your account, as if you were a small business owner loading then unloading your own business' gift cards.

Edit: Nvm. It's a black hole. Finally found a decent website that explained this. You load/unload the cards through the Square app for a % fee of the load but no actual money changes hands other than the fee they charge. You would need a merchant account to actually accept forms of payment.

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Reddit members report it varies by geography with some exceptions. My POs are starting to see some varieties of VCG being blocked while others are not a problem. A few Kroger owned stores still sell Western Union MOs accepting some of the PO rejects (not all). Other Kroger owned locations read a memo last November requiring your name to be on the debit card. Some of those did not read the memo delaying implementation of that rule. Some are looking at the VCG card. If it says Gift Card, then those are rejected.
Another chain of groceries limit MOs sales to $500.00 each, but accept most everything.

Kroger owned stores are locally known by a variety of store names.  In addition to Kroger Stores, its groceries include Cala Foods, City Markets, Copps, Dillons, FoodsCo, Fred Meyer Stores, Fry's, King Soopers, Mariano's Fresh Market, Metro Market, Pick 'n Save, Quality Food Centers (a.k.a. QFC), Ralphs, Food 4 Less, and Smith's Food and Drug. Also owns Barclay, Fox's, Fred Meyer, and Littman jewelers, and Kwik Shop, Loaf 'N Jug, and Quik Stop convenience stores.

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