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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.
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!
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.
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
Entered in the PIN…
…And if was done. Easy. My PayPal balance updated instantly.
Can’t wait to load up the other $500 tomorrow!
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?
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