Is CVS’s Vanilla Reload Policy Changing To Prevent Credit Card Use

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A recent experience leads me to believe the CVS policy is changing. Based on separate experiences by both Alex and I, our hypothesis is the CVS policy will change to no longer allow the purchase of Vanilla reloads with a credit card. Here’s our reasoning and we’d love to hear your thoughts.

My Recent Experience

I go to my normal CVS which is normally full of Vanilla reloads to reload my Bluebird® by American Express account. The gift card display only has one last Vanilla reload, so I pick it up and go to the check out counter. This location does not have a self check-out counter. I present the item for checkout along with another item and here is the exchange:

Cashier: “How will you be paying for this today”

Weekly Flyer: “Credit Card”

Cashier: “I’m sorry, you can only pay for the Vanilla reload with cash”

So I left empty handed and could only think about Alex recent experience and if this was a trend.

Alex’s Vanilla Reload Change At His CVS

Alex share’s his story in a recent post.

I love paying my rent with the Bluebird mail-a-check option so whenever I am at shopping at CVS I toss a Vanilla Reload into my basket to accompany my other purchases.  I have never had an issue paying with a credit card until today when an “Alternate Tender Required” message popped up on the screen.  I have read that several stores do not allow the purchase of Vanilla Reloads via credit card which I understand but this was particularly interesting to me because it appeared to be purely a system change as opposed to a policy change that was communicated to its employees.

From the best I can tell, no variables had changed between today and 5 days ago when I made the exact same purchase using the exact same card from the exact same employee at the exact same register.

I didn’t have 500 dollars cash on me so I asked the employee to remove the Vanilla Reload from my purchase.  This action required a supervisor to come over.  The employee proceeded to ask the supervisor what the system message meant though neither was familiar.

Our Hypothesis For A Coming Change

We believe, and this is only based on a few experiences and not any inside knowledge, is that CVS has a new policy preventing the purchase of Vanilla reloads with credit cards and it has yet to be hard coded into their systems.

This would explain the reason why self check-out counters work well and some people can still purchase Vanilla reloads with credit cards.

What’s Your Experience?

So we’ve laid out our recent experiences attempting to purchase Vanilla reloads at our local CVS stores. What’s your experience?

Do you agree or disagree with our hypothesis?

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  1. 31 March 2013

    I’ve bought the Vanilla reloads with my Citi card at many different CVS stores over the last few months and have never had a problem on the CVS side. They limit you to $1,000 per day (but you can go to different stores).

    The “Alternate tender required” is actually your credit card company denying the transaction, probably because the computer thinks such a large drugstore purchase is fraud. It has nothing to do with CVS. You need to call the credit card company and tell them to let the transaction go through. Citi denies it almost every time, so now I call and get them on the phone before I go into CVS. So I have them on the line at point-of-sale and they can fix the problem right away.

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  8. Went to my CVS yesterday they only had 11 cards left. My buddy purchased 4 and I bought 7. Looks like I may need to start looking for other VR sources.

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