Tieland to Thailand

Quit Your Job – Sell Your Stuff – Travel Abroad

..."We spent last year selling everything and paying off thousands in consumer debt, planning our wedding, and ultimately figuring a way out of the daily nine to five. Twelve months later here we are living a truly free and location-independent lifestyle, currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand"...

Earning Miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload

Earning Miles With Bluebird and Vanilla Reload

It’s just silly to pay for flights! Earning Miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload Cards is possibly the smartest and best way to meet your minimum spending requirements on those new rewards credit cards you just applied for (or will apply for after reading this article) without really spending any money at all. After all, using this is the exact strategy we used when we locked down Thailand as being our future home. There are countless ways that you can earn miles, but earning miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload Cards is a no-brainer. Seriously, if you want to fly for free but have no idea where to start, then read this article now. Make earning a free flight your mission before your upcoming trip.

Basic Step-by-Step Process:

Planning your next trip or permanent move abroad and want to fly for free (not sure why anyone wouldn’t) but don’t know where to start? As you may know, a rewards credit card is a credit card that offers miles, points, or a reward when you use it to spend money. You will have to research these, apply, and be approved. Here is an example from Southwest.

  1. You can use your rewards credit cards to buy Vanilla Reload cards over the counter at stores like CVS.
  2. Load the funds from those purchased Vanilla Reload card into your Bluebird checking account via online code provided on the back of each Vanilla Reload card when you get to a computer. See specifics below.
  3. Electronically transfer those funds into your normal everyday checking account.
  4. Now, use those same funds to pay off the rewards credit card that you used to buy the Vanilla Reload cards in the first place. This means you are paying off the credit card with the same funds that you used to buy the Vanilla Reload cards in the beginning…meaning you have not really spent any money other than the $3.95 fee for each reload card.
  5. Repeat until you satisfy the minimum that you need to spend to get the miles bonus for each [rewards] credit card that you own.

This is widely unknown to most people, and the reason you wouldn’t just put pay your bills using your reward card is because unless your bills are thousand of dollars a month then it is sometimes hard for people to meet the minimum spend requirements.

Specifics on Earning Miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload Cards

Here are the answers to questions that we received from friends and family about earning miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards.

Bluebird Card:

Q: What is a Bluebird account/card?
A: A Bluebird account is a free bank account online from American Express that doesn’t charge maintenance fees. You can transfer money to and from your accounts with other banking institutions, quickly transfer money to friends, set it up for deposit, and more.

Q: Ok, but what makes Bluebird different from my current bank account?
A: Bluebird allows you to pay major bills like your car payment, mortgage, and any other large monthly payments you may have.

Q: Yea, but I can do that with my current bank account, right?
A: Yes, absolutely, but do you earn miles or points when you pay these bills using your current bank account? Of course not, and this is where the Vanilla Reload cards come into play.

Vanilla Reload Card:

Vanilla Reload Home Page

Once on the Vanilla Reload website enter your Bluebird card number in the top line, and the pin from the back of the Vanilla Reload card in the bottom Line

Q: What is a Vanilla Reload Card?
A: A Vanilla Reload Card is sort of like a gift card, but one that can be purchased with your rewards credit card and then loaded into your Bluebird account. Once these funds are transferred into your Bluebird account, you can spend them just like cash.

Q: What is the benefit?
A: You can now pay your high dollar monthly bills using your rewards credit card!

Q: What makes this so special?
A: The big kicker here is that you can buy Vanilla Reload cards with your rewards credit card, load them into your Bluebird account, transfer those funds into your current bank account, and then pay off the credit card you just used to buy the Vanilla Reload cards.

Q: Wait, how much is this going to cost me?
A: Like we said, not much at all. Each Vanilla Reload card can be purchased for $3.95 with a maximum allowable load of $500 per card (minimum of $20). This means you can easily meet any minimum spend amount required to earn that big miles bonus and spend next to nothing doing so.

Earning Miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload Cards Changes the Game

Think about it for a second…this method beats the heck out of having to wait months that you may not have trying to meet minimum spends on two or three rewards cards.

Imagine how long it took you before to earn those spending requirements on your rewards credit cards. Trying to use your credit card to pay for gas, lunch, and your small dollar bills just hoping you meet the spend requirements in time. If you aren’t someone who makes a ton of money, or just don’t have high enough regular spending habits to take advantage of earning miles, then this now opens up the world of flying for free to you.

So, pick a destination (maybe Thailand), research credit cards offering big miles bonuses, look at flight costs, and start working on earning miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards. If you plan to travel with a significant other, friend, or family member, then do them a huge favor and share this article with them.

Limits on Earning Miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload Cards

According to the Bluebird website, the maximum amount of funds you can add to your account via cash funding sources such as Vanilla Reload cards is $1,000 on a day and $5,000 a month. When we’d go out and purchase our Vanilla Reload cards, we’d buy the max amount. It really doesn’t make sense not to.

If you plan to pay bills using your Bluebird card, there is a limit of $10,000 a month to its registered payees and $5,000 to unregistered payees. Bluebird’s list of payees is quite extensive, so you shouldn’t have an issue if you have bill payments through mainstream banking institutions.

Limits on transactions other than direct deposits are also $10,000 a month, and the same goes for your total monthly account balance of funds not deposited via direct deposit. Simply transfer any Vanilla Reload funds out of your Bluebird account before the month ends to free up space and continue earning miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards!

Where Can I Buy Vanilla Reload Cards?

Earning miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards can be a bit of work if you don’t know where to buy the Vanilla Reloads, so based on our experience here’s a few establishments that should be happy to sell them to you…if they’re in stock!

CVS – Our go-to place for buying Vanilla Reload cards. They are all over the United States and the word is out that they recently upped their limit on the daily purchase of reload cards from $1,000 to $5,000 a day. Now, this doesn’t change the fact that you can’t load more than $1,000 a day into your Bluebird account from third-party sources. However, it does mean you no longer have to make five trips to CVS every month!

7-11 – As of late, people online have reported that they were able to now purchase Vanilla Reload cards with their rewards credit cards at 7-11 stores.

Office Depot – We had no luck with Office Depot, but Bluebird account holders online say otherwise. When we lived in Virginia, the Office Depot stores never seemed to restock their card inventory often enough for us to consider them a reliable place to purchase them.

If you don’t have any of these stores near you then check out this full list of stores you can use to begin earning miles without Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards.

Earning miles with bluebird and vanilla reload card

Make sure that you buy the card that is pictured above. It is not the shape of a credit card.

Also, be prepared to deal with human error. We ran into a few cashiers who didn’t think we could purchase Vanilla Reload cards with our credit cards. Whenever this happened, we asked for a manager and they usually set their employee straight. If the issue persists, just politely let them know that you have done this before and that you’ll be taking your business to another location.

Earning miles with bluebird and vanilla reload card

Instructions and the scratch off code is on the back of the card

Pros and Cons

As stated before, earning miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards is usually really simple. It helps you surpass those minimum spend requirements faster than traditional spending, and it creates an environment for everyone to have some skin in the miles earning game. Additional pros are:

  • Free ATM withdrawals at MoneyPass ATMs
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No inactivity fees
  • No overdraft fees
  • No card replacement fees

Unfortunately, there are some cons, but if you use your Bluebird account strictly for paying bills and buying Vanilla Reload cards all of them are avoidable:

  • $2 withdrawal/decline fee on non-MoneyPass ATMs
  • $500 daily maximum ATM withdrawals
  • $2,000 monthly maximum ATM withdrawals
  • Transfers to and from other banking institutions takes two to three days, but my first transaction took almost a full week to process.

Verdict on Earning Miles With Bluebird and Vanilla Reload Cards

Again, we never used our Bluebird accounts for anything other than earning miles and points to pad our rewards accounts. It was simply used as a workhorse to buy miles bonuses at an extremely cheap rate. If you stick to using it as we did then you should be able to reap all its amazing benefits.

What are you waiting for? Start researching credit cards offering big bonuses and start earning miles with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards. You never know…this method may not be around forever, so it’s best to take advantage while you can!

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About 

Chris and Angela sold everything, paid off their debt, and ultimately figured a way out of the nine to five grind in the United States. Today they are living full time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, guiding and inspiring future expats towards amazing lives abroad! For more updates like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. For more posts check out the archives.

  • synthnotes says:

    Darn it! It looks like these little perks are dead now. As of March 31, 2014, CVS no longer accepts credit cards for Vanilla purchases. It was good while it lasted – unless someone knows anything different.

    April 12, 2014 at 6:56 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Yes they are, but we hear that it is still possible to buy certain visa or mastercard gift cards at your local grocery store, physically take them to Walmart and load them onto your Bluebird card. A little more hassle but still worth it.

      April 12, 2014 at 10:22 AM
  • Mary says:

    Chris and Angela thank you so much for the article! Wonderful job explaining the steps. Do either of you know what type of rewards credit card would give mile rewards when using it to make purchases at CVS/groceries? Or what rewards credit card would you recommend to get miles with?

    January 4, 2014 at 7:59 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Great question! We personally signed up for Southwest Premier, Southwest Plus, Chase Sapphire, and Capital One Venture Visa Cards to earn our miles back in fall of 2012. It didn’t matter what or where we made a purchase. We kept a lookout for offers in the mail and looked at various companies online. When they offered a good deal (25,000+ points), that’s when we jumped on it!

      January 5, 2014 at 4:01 PM
  • Tim dunbar says:

    Hello I must be slow or something I have read both bluebird and vanellia web sites and I don’t see anything about free air miles

    So I’m having trouble understanding why you would use these services

    Can you explain how this works I don’t have a rewards card and if I apply and get one why not just use it to pay all my monthly bills and earn miles that way? And pay that card off each month out of my bank account

    I am interested because my wife and I are planning to move to Central America next spring and we have grown children and grandchildren which will have us flying back a few times a year

    It’s late here maybe that’s why I can’t get how your system works

    Any help will be appreciated

    October 25, 2013 at 11:42 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Tim,

      I have added the below steps to the post for people that may not fully understand the process.

      Your personal airline rewards credit card is not affiliated with bluebird or vanilla reload card so you will not find any information on either site (the reason why we have provided here). Vanilla and Bluebird are only a vessel for you to earn miles/reward without REALLY spending any money.

      As you may know, a rewards credit card is a credit card that offers miles, points, or some kind of reward when you use it to spend money. You will have to research these, apply, and be approved.

      Here is an example:
      https://creditcards.chase.com/a1/southwest/2fftmicrosite

      When you spend a certain amount of money on these credit cards sometimes certain companies offer a bonus. For example, the link I gave you shows that southwest gives a nice 50,000 miles bonus after spending $2,000 in 3 months.

      Here are the steps:

      1. You can use your rewards credit cards to buy Vanilla Reload cards over the counter at stores like CVS.
      2. Load the funds from those purchased Vanilla Reload card into your Bluebird checking account via online code provided on the back of each Vanilla Reload card when you get to a computer. See specifics below.
      3. Electronically transfer those funds into your normal everyday checking account.
      4. Now, use those same funds to pay off the rewards credit card that you used to buy the vanilla reload cards in the first place. This means you are paying off the credit card with the same money you used to buy the Vanilla Reload cards in the beginning…meaning you have not really spent any money other then the $3.95 fee for each reload card.
      Repeat until you satisfy the minimum that you need to spend in order to get your miles bonus for each [rewards] credit card possess
      .

      This is widely unknown to most people, and the reason why you wouldn’t just put pay your bills using your reward card is because unless your bills are thousand of dollars a month (mortgages, cars, etc cannot be paid using credit) then it is sometimes hard for people to meet the minimum spend requirements.

      Hope this makes sense! Thank you for your question. Let us know if you need further clarification. Take care!

      Best,
      Chris & Angela

      October 25, 2013 at 11:57 AM
  • Jess says:

    Nice info! I don’t have a ‘rewards’ credit card because I just use my debit card, and I always feel like I’m losing out.

    September 12, 2013 at 1:52 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Neither of us had any (worthwhile) rewards cards until roughly six months before moving and then we were able to rack up the airline miles within that time frame that eventually allowed us to fly to Thailand for free. If you get sign up for a rewards card soon use the Bluebird and Vanilla Reload cards to quickly earn miles, before you know it you’ll have a free flight. It is worth trying it out!

      September 13, 2013 at 7:16 AM
  • Keith says:

    Am I missing something here? At $3.95 a $1000/reload, it would cost me $12-16/month to pay all my bills. That’s $144-$192/year to get $36-48000 credits. How much does it take to get a free international flight nowadays? $150,000?
    Seems like paying for your ticket on a long term installment plan, but what if they cancel it on you in a few years before you’ve redeemed?

    September 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Keith, We definitely do not recommend using this to get miles on purely a 1 for 1 basis. However, what we recommended in the article is using the reload cards to meet minimum spend requirements in order to capitalize on big bonuses by only spending say $16-$40, rather than $2,000 to $5,000 if you aren’t typically a big spender. This is also convenient for people trying to meet a certain miles threshold in order to reach certain flyer status or additional airline perks. Hope this clarifies this for you a bit more. Good luck.

      September 2, 2013 at 1:58 AM
  • LA-Trader says:

    Chris and Angela: Another great and informative article. Thanks not only for the research, but especially for the thorough and concise articulation of the information. I will be dropping by my local CVS here in Los Angeles today to get started with Bluebird and Vanilla Reload. I will also forward this article to some family and friends. Not only is your site kinda cool, hip, and beautifully photographed . . . but, both it and you are also extremely helpful and intelligent, Have another great day in Thailand.

    August 31, 2013 at 10:30 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words! We hope they are able to take advantage of this little trick ;) Talk to you soon!

      September 2, 2013 at 2:01 AM
  • Kimmy @ AfterGlobe says:

    I like how you broke this down. I’ve read about it on some other sites, but always felt like a step or two was missing. Thanks for fully explaining it. Off to finally get points for paying our mortgage!

    August 31, 2013 at 4:43 AM
    • Chris says:

      Thanks for letting us know your thoughts! The opportunity for earning points with bluebird and the vanilla reload cards is just way too good to be true. The fact that it’s so easy really should be the only reason perspective world travelers should need to go and start earning as many as they can for themselves (before it goes away one day). There hasn’t been anything much more rewarding then to get on a plane halfway around the world know it is costing you next to nothing. Makes those long flying hours much more bearable :)

      August 31, 2013 at 9:36 AM

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