Confirmed: CVS accepts credit cards for PayPal My Cash reloads in NYC

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I couldn’t wait until February to kick off Manufactured Spend Month: I just got back from CVS, where I successfully purchased two $500 PayPal My Cash reloads with my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard.

New York can be kind of a barren wasteland for manufactured spending, but today it was a gold mine. It was like the Vanilla Reload days all over again.

I walked into a CVS in East Midtown in Manhattan. The gift cards were on an endcap, prominently displayed, near the registers. I immediately saw the bounty.

cvs paypal my cash credit cards

PayPal My Cash cards at CVS

I grabbed two of them and walked to the register – there was no line (the joy of shopping mid-day on a week day). I pulled out my license and credit card. The cashier looked at them and asked to see both. She didn’t say anything like, “Cash only,” or “We don’t accept credit cards,” which I was kinda bracing for. Whew.

She scanned the reload cards, then my license (because with activation fees, the transaction was over $1,000). I was a little worried that Barclays would flag the transaction like they did when I got my temporary REDbird card last month, but the little signature screen popped up, I signed, and all was good to go.

It was SO EASY and took all of a minute. I walked in, checked out, and was done. It was JUST LIKE Vanilla Reloads in every regard, including the loading up (which I will get to in a sec).

Then, in Brooklyn…

Afterward, I took the train home. On the way back to my place, there’s a Duane Reade. Now, in the Vanilla Reload age, I tried to use a CC to load them up and they basically told me to f*ck off (as in, they told me “no” really rudely and implied I was crazy for evening asking – of COURSE you can’t use a credit card to buy that, now scram!). So I wasn’t too keen to try again. I just wanted to see if they even had ’em. They did!

cvs paypal my cash credit cards

PayPal My Cash and GreenDot cards at Duane Reade

And right next to the GreenDot MoneyPak cards. Now, this place is on my way to and from the train, so I pass it at least twice a day. It would be so awesome and easy if they’d take credit cards for these. Maybe I’ll try again when I can take possibly getting shot down.

Even though I didn’t get a reload there, it’s nice to know the PayPal My Cash and GreenDot MoneyPaks are out there in the world.

The math

I’ve been using my Arrival card a lot lately. I’m still getting my travel strategy together for this year, but I wanted to start it out with some cash on hand for whatever I end up going with. To that end, I got 2,016 points today on my Arrival card. (($500 * 2 + $3.95 * 2) * 2 = 2,016)

2,016 Arrival points are worth $22 in travel credit – that’s with the 10% back included.

The cards cost me $7.90 ($3,95 each to activate). So I made $14 in one minute at CVS today. Not to mention, when I run that money through my PayPal Business Debit Card, I’ll get back 1% in cash – another $10.

  • I could’ve used the American Express EveryDay Preferred Card to get 1,512 Membership Rewards points
  • I could’ve used the Fidelity American Express to get $21 added to my brokerage account or IRA
  • I could’ve used the British Airways Visa Signature to get 1,260 Avios + $1000 closer to the companion certificate
  • I could’ve used any mileage card for one point per dollar and gotten 1,008 miles
  • I could’ve gotten a new card and met a good chunk of the minimum spend requirement

So, there are a lot of ways this can scale up, especially if you hit the full $4,000 each month.

Loading it up

Once home, I loaded up the cards with no issue.

I started here: paypal.com/cash

Screenshot 2015-01-20 13.17.37

Entered in the PIN…

PayPal My Cash reload confirmation

PayPal My Cash reload confirmation

…And if was done. Easy. My PayPal balance updated instantly.

New PayPal balance

New PayPal balance

PayPal confirmation email

Then I received a confirmation email

Can’t wait to load up the other $500 tomorrow!

Bottom line

I can now confirm that it is OK to buy PayPal My Cash cards at CVS with a credit card.

But, be careful with PayPal. Use the PayPal Business Debit card to liquidate the balance for bills and rent (with Evolve Money and RadPad) and also to get 1% cash back on top of everything else. I’d avoid withdrawing from ATMs (high ATM charges) or transferring the cash back into your bank account (that’ll get you flagged in no time).

If you legitimately use the balance to pay bills or to shop and you tread lightly under the watchful eye of PayPal, this could be a great complement to other MS activities. Maybe even start with $1,000 or $2,000 the first couple of months and ease into it if that’s better for you.

As always, will keep you guys posted about other locations and how I liquidate in the future.

Anyone else have any data points or words to the wise they want to share?

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Comments

  1. As a resident of one of the five boroughs, I appreciate the difficulty of MS’ing in the barren wasteland that is NY, but if you publish your location for MS’ing in NY I think it will dry up quicker. I’m new to the PayPal game, but it took me a while to find a location that would accept CC for PayPal. I have several friends getting into the miles/points arena, and tell them about Serve/RedBird (but never my PayPal spot) but IMO, something like PayPal shouldn’t be published too loudly, because then it may be gone before you know it. It’s okay to keep some things private.

  2. You can purchase 1 pp for $500 and 1 pp for $499.99 to avoid the register asking for a license.
    (The $2k CVS max per day is based on purchases that included the license scan).

  3. I’ve been buying MyCash cards at a couple Walgreen shops here in Los Angeles with a CC. I haven’t tried CVS lately, they shot me down over the summer. Maybe I’ll walk over and see what they have now.

    • Hey Patrick, I don’t think so. I looked for CC companies as merchants on the Evolve website and couldn’t find any. This part of MS is most useful for bills that you need to pay, like rent, utilities, student loans, phone bills, and other recurring payments.

      Although that would be really sweet if there’s a workaround to be had here.

    • Hey Seth! In Evolve, you use the PayPal Business debit card to pay bills to the merchants that are on their system. The balance comes out of your PayPal account via the debit card as payment.

    • You could request that they add the merchant, but that may take some time.

      You could also see if the merchant will accept debit cards directly, thus cutting the middleman (Evolve Money) out altogether.

        • Ah, yes. Even with REDbird and Serve, you can send a check to anyone using their Bill Pay function. But with PayPal, it’s more difficult. The merchant needs to accept, at the very least, debit cards.

          It’s not a perfect solution but in the right situation, could be maximized well.

  4. Harlan … Read your post and didn’t realize I could use Paypal biz debit through Evolve. Had used discover the last two months on evolve but no points are posting for those transactions. I have a Paypal biz card but never activated it and can’t find the card. Ordered a new one. Have school loans I pay for my Daughter and a couple utilities. Once I receive the Paypal card, I’ll go to CVS in Jersey and see if I can use a credit card for the Paypal MyCash load. I checked and CVS has the Mycash load cards. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Hi David! I hope your CVS allows credit cards for the My Cash cards. If they do, this would be a great way to pay those bills through Evolve Money and even get 1% cash back on top of it.

      Keep me posted and good luck!

      • My replacement Paypal debit arrived today. Visited CVS down here on the Jersey Shore and loaded $500 onto Mycash w/ Club Carlson … no problem. Once home, loaded my Paypal account without a hitch. Next step will be using Evolve to pay bills w/ the Paypal debit.

        • Hi David!

          That’s awesome news! I think Evolve Money is blocking the PayPal debit cards as of a couple of weeks ago… right when I wrote my first post. Keep us posted if it works for your card!

          • I don’t recall reading that Evolve blocks Paypal debit in this thread? If that is the case, buying Mycash is useless for me.

  5. Hey Harlan,
    I just signed up for email updates of your posts. I love the site. I am new to the points/milage game. On the way to work, I found a Duane Reeds with the Paypa MyCash cards! I did a test load of $100 with my Chase Freedom card. I have questions?
    1. Will Chase code this transaction as a CA?
    2. I have a PP account and a PPDMC(I used to sell on eBay) ..What are the best ways to liqudate account back into cash?

    PS I have used the PP debit card on my BoA atm and gotten cash(no fee from PP).

    • Hey Dominic!

      Thanks for reading!

      The My Cash cards will code as drugstore since they were purchased at Duane Reade but I wouldn’t withdraw it or convert it to cash by pulling it out of an ATM (I believe there are ATM fees involved). I’d use the debit card to purchase things (NOT money orders) or to pay rent. If PayPal thinks you’re loading up and pull out cash, they will shut you down sooner or later.

      I’d find a way to use the debit card to get the money out – PayPal seems to play nice with charges that are run through the debit card.

  6. Can anyone confirm that the Paypal Mycash cards will be phased out with effect from 1 April 2015? I am in NY and it seems that the usual places which sell them do not have them anymore. Thanks.

    • I believe the rumor to be true. In southern Ohio PPMC cards have dried up completely. I have found them in Michigan though.

  7. Evolve will not take PayPal – right?, I don’t have rent, what other “bills” can I use paypal for?
    Maybe my landscaper – but that’s not much at all.

  8. Harlan,

    Thanks for the credit bit of advice! I recently tried doing the same thing out here in Los Angeles at Walgreens and everything went as planned. I got nervous that I was doing something illegal, but this reassured me a bit.

    I have a question, could you explain the liquidation or post a link on how to do that properly? I don’t use Paypal aside from a few Etsy/Ebay purchases, but would like to know what to do to avoid my account being flagged in the future.

    Thanks much!
    Stve

      • Hey Harlan! Stumbled on your blog after being a devout doctorofcredit and frequentmiler reader for some time. Loving your nyc focus!

        Have you ever seen a radpad check? Just curious if they put radpad all over it or if it just looks like a normal check from you. Also are you able to monitor when it is cashed? Thanks!

        • Hey Tony! Thank you for reading!

          I have seen a RadPad check. They put their company name in big letters at the top left of the check, but the check is payable to your landlord and has your name on it, too. So while it DOES say RadPad, it also looks like any other check.

          And yep, they let you know every step of the way when it’s taken out of your account, sent, delivered, and cashed. Awesome service.

  9. I have a question. Will I be able to fund my Paypal account and use those funds to pay off my Paypal Credit account debt?

    • Hi John! Last I checked, PayPal cards were still alive and kicking at CVS stores. Some stores sell out of them faster (or don’t stock them as well). I hit up a store where I know I CAN get them and grab a few at a time to avoid a lag. The spice must flow!

      • Thanks, Harlan!
        I’ve also been getting a bunch of reports that Paypal is shutting down many accounts. I’m trying to buy paypal cards at CVS to use my PP Debit Card on Rad Pad. Any advice on whether this type of transaction is likely to get flagged by PP?

        • I’d say… only liquidate through swipes on the PPBDC. Don’t try to withdraw money to your bank account. If you do get a warning, ease up and go slow. But if you’re only loading up and using the debit card, that should be fine.

          And by the way, that is exactly how I use my PayPal account. No problems here.

          • Thanks, Harlan. So far so good. I’ve started using modest amounts from my PPBDC on facebook’s new P2P payment system. Do you think this kind of activity will raise red flags?

          • Clever! I love it!

            As long as it codes as a purchase, you should be fine. That’s a really smart idea – I might have to try it, too!

          • It does code as a purchase (w/signature) so the 1% cash back is valid. The daily atm limit is $400, so no transaction can surpass that. I’m assuming paypal doesn’t make much (if any) money on these transactions, so I’m not sure how much I should do this before getting an email from paypal.

            Also, do you think I need to find another way to fund my account than just adding paypal cash cards? Might that be a red flag?

          • Just take it nice and slow. I think you’ll be fine if it all goes through the debit card.

            To be clear, the limit on the debit card is $3,000 per day. The ATM limit doesn’t have anything to do with how much you can spend on the debit card.

            I don’t fund my PayPal account with anything other than My Cash cards and never had any issue. As with everything PayPal-related, go easy and play by the rules – you’ll be just fine.

            And if you do get a warning, it’ll be a warning. Not a shutdown. So you’ll get a heads up anyway.

  10. Hi, I just found this site and it is interesting to me. I have a Paypal business MasterCard that earns me 1% cash back on “credit” purchases. I don’t fund it, I just use it to pay almost all of my bills and have it linked to my bank account. I get my 1% cash back on everything, don’t have to worry about my Paypal balance (as long as my bank balance is good), it makes me feel like I’ve added a layer of protection to my bank account, and it buys me some float time from when I make a purchase until it clears my bank account. I don’t do “debit” transactions with it BC I don’t get 1% cash back and and money is immediately withdrawn from my bank account… Unless of course my Paypal account still has a balance left from my monthly cash back reward, then that is deducted before anything hits my bank account.

  11. Hi Harlan,

    So I got my paypal “warning.” I made a couple of money order purchases with a debit card, and I suppose that was the issue. Otherwise, I primarily use plastiq.com as the debit card charges are 0%.

    Plastiq.com is ok, right? It was definitely the money orders that triggered this “warning?”

    (I’m John from the July comments above. I load up my account with PPMC cards).

  12. Had trouble today for the first time loading my PayPal my cash card with a credit card at CVS.

    Once the lady scanned the Paypal my cash card the computer prompted her as CASH ONLY. She refused my credit card.

    Did they finally hardcode?

    Jack in Michigan

    • Hmmm… It’s been a month or so since I’ve loaded up, but I was planning to next next week in Southern Illinois. I’ll report my findings and will add an update to the top of the page if it seems the gravy train is finally slowing down.

      Really hope not though! Let me know if you try it again before next week!

      • I’m having trouble loading a $500 my cash card to my PayPal account. It says error 203. I got this card for my birthday and i cant load it or cl do anything with it. That’s wrong it’s like. PayPal is stealing my money!!!

        • How long ago were the cards purchased? It sometimes take ~1 hour before you can load them for some reason.

          I’ve never gotten an error, I’d try to call PayPal for help. Sorry that happened to you. 🙁

  13. helllppp. I’ve received a few ppmc cards over $100 an have not been able to load them to my biz. acct. code error 203 on anything over 100. does anyone have a solution. $ just sitting here. don’t know what to do

  14. Thanks for all your great info!

    Today in Brooklyn I tried to buy to PPMC’s for 500 each with my CC. The transactions wouldn’t work. We tried it twice. The cashier wasn’t sure why it didn’t work and asked another employee who said he thought they may be cash only.

    When I got home, I can see both $1,007 pending authorizations on my online CC account page. Obviously it wasn’t an issue in charging the card. Is there something the cashier could have done to let the transaction work? Maybe I should try a different NYC location? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Sounds like cashier error. Did they scan your ID? I believe there’s a separate screen where they have to do that. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t go through.

      Sometimes they occasionally need a manager override, but doesn’t sound like it in this instance.

      Try a different location anyway. Because you’re always at the mercy of the cashier. And it’s good to have a little route in case it doesn’t work one time.

  15. Hey Harlan,

    Is the PP Cash Card from CVS via Credit Card to Paypal Debit Card to RadPad method still alive? Especially for CVS’s in NYC?

    I’m looking to do this so I can meet some minimum spending requirements on my credit card and get rewarded for it.

    • Yep, it’s still kicking! Although YMMV depending on which cashier you get/location you visit. It’s a handy way to meet minimum spending!

  16. Anyone still having luck here? I’ve been told that CVS stopped selling Paypal cards very recently because they have “been having some issues.” Any specific locations confirmed to still work?

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