We stumbled on a great deal today and wanted to let you know about it as soon as possible. This month, AAA offices are waiving the typical activation fee on Visa gift cards. Cards can be purchased with any value up to $500, and the representative I spoke with stated there’s no hard limit on the number of cards you can buy.
You need to have a AAA membership in order to take part in this deal, but thankfully I keep one to take advantage of discount theme park tickets and other benefits here in Florida. I purchased four cards loaded with $500 each on them earlier today in an effort to replenish my BlueBird account. Because the service fees are being waived, that meant my total was simply $2,000.
By calling the number on the back of the card, you can set a PIN number for each card easily. I was able to accomplish this in less than a minute per card.
At this point, I went to a nearby Walmart and attempted to load two cards with $500 of credit each to my Bluebird. Each went through with no problems whatsoever! I’ll be loading the others in the days to come.
This is a great deal and more travel-oriented than some of you may think. There are a number of reasons why purchasing prepaid Visa cards can be a good idea:
Meeting Minimum Spend Requirements
Some of you may find it difficult to meet minimum spend requirements in the time you’re allotted. Let’s say you need to spend $3,000 in 90 days and after about 80 days, you’re still $500 short.
Rather than purchasing something you don’t need or – maybe even worse – missing out on your sign-up bonus, purchasing a prepaid card is a great way to put yourself over the top. That’s why we mention it as a great option in our piece on conquering minimum spend requirements.
This can be true of any gift cards, but prepaid Visa cards have much more versatility since you can use them almost anywhere. The downside is typically a service charge of $4.95 or so that doesn’t apply to store-specific gift cards. While that’s a bit less than 1% on a $500 card, that’s a steep fee if you’re only in need of, say, $100 or $200 to put you over the top.
Earning Points and Miles on Expenses When You Normally Can’t
There are many times when it’s simply not possible to pay with a credit card, or when doing so requires a high service charge. A few examples include making car and mortgage payments, paying your taxes and paying bills to some utility companies.
Oftentimes, these companies will accept debit cards when they won’t accept credit or levy a service charge on credit purchases. By purchasing the prepaid cards and using them for these bills, you can effectively earn points and miles on some of the biggest expenses most people pay!
Another way to go about this is to follow the method I use, which is to use a Bluebird by American Express account, or one of the other prepaid card services out there that offer bill pay services.
I love my Bluebird because I can write checks from the account as well as use their online bill pay service to have checks sent out to pay bills on my behalf. That way, I can write checks myself to my mortgage company and when paying income taxes and use their mobile app to send a check to my electric and water companies with just a few taps.
I prefer Bluebird over other prepaid services because I can write checks from the account myself and easily add money to the account at Walmart. Today, I was able to do so using a Walmart Moneycenter machine, but this is also possible by speaking to a staffer at the Moneycenter kiosk in the store or by speaking to any cashier. You can load up to $1,000 per day to your Bluebird account from a Walmart store, up to $5,000 per month.
I was excited about this deal because my Bluebird account has been running low on funds and this was a good way to stock up in advance of paying taxes early next year.
Great Gift for the Holidays
As I mentioned above, prepaid Visa cards may not feel like a great deal when giving them as gifts due to the $3.95-$5.95 service charge levied on most versions of the card. This drives more people to give $25 or $50 cards that are store specific, even if a Visa would be more versatile and offer the recipient more opportunities to use it as they wish, since store-specific cards don’t typically charge this type of service fee.
A chance to purchase prepaid Visa cards without a service fee is a great way to give a flexible gift to friends, coworkers or family members without getting stuck paying more than it should. Just because I went for the high-dollar cards for my purposes doesn’t mean a bunch of $10 or $25 cards aren’t right for your needs!
We don’t often discuss Manufactured Spending here at PointsAway since it’s a fairly gray area. Purchasing prepaid cards just to rack up miles and points and then quickly liquidate the cards to pay the credit card bill runs afoul of the terms and conditions for most cards, and we can’t in good conscience recommend you take steps that could result in your precious miles and points being revoked.
Still, we know that many of the most dedicated miles and points earners do manufacture spend at least from time to time in order to boost their account for an upcoming trip, meeting a spending challenge or cross one of the high-dollar thresholds that unlock elite status or yield a bonus such as the companion ticket offered on the British Airways Visa after $25,000 of spending in a year. We’d simply remind you to play fair!
This deal should be good at least at AAA offices throughout the US Southeast, but may be offered nationwide. We’d urge you to contact your local office and see if they’re running the promotion, as well.
Please, let us know your results in the comments!