Home Improvement Gift Card = Vanilla Reload?

Here is the anticipated trick I promise to share. A few of you emailed me in the last few days and I thought why not sharing with the world so that we and our families can travel more for less

Here is the background about the Home Improvement Gift Card from Frequent Miler who discovered and introduced that to us

The big deal about this card is that you can double dip or triple dip at Sears and Lowe’s. In his post, he didn’t specify how to convert Home Improvement Gift Card into “Cash”.

The key is the ability to convert Sears Gift Card into Visa Gift Card at Sears/Sears Grand Stores

Here is the math that we are talking about

1. Go to Office Depot to buy $500 Home Improvement gift card with your Chase Ink credit card (earn 2,500 Ultimate Reward Points)

2. Go through online shopping portals to buy Sears physical gift card paying with Home Improvement card. At the moment Ultimate Reward is giving 4 points/$ and US Airways portal is giving 6 points/$ (this will become AA points soon so rack it up people)

    • Sears put $1 hold on your Home Improvement card therefore you can order a maximum amount of $499 from your $500 card
    • Remember to buy Sears physical gift card to earn points – electronic card might not earn points
    • This trick will give you either 1,996 Ultimate Reward points or 2,994 US Airways points

3. Go to Sears store to buy Visa/Amex/Master gift cards with Sears physical gift cards. Instruction is in this post. This will depend on your hard work and your luck since some Sears stores don’t sell Visa gift cards or don’t let you buy them with Sears gift card. I believe with hard work, you will be able to find your gold mine

    • Sears sell $100 Visa gift card with $5.95 fees
    • I don’t think you earn Shop Your Way Award (Sears loyalty program) points with Visa gift card purchase. But feel free to prove me wrong

4. Buying $500 Visa gift cards at Sears will cost $30 but will give you 2,500 Ultimate Rewards + 3,000 US Airways points. Assuming these two points are the same, cost per point = .54 cent/point

How to get your money out:

5. According to this thread on Flyertalk,  it seems like from 04-01-2013, you can create a PIN with your Visa/Master gift card and use it to load Blue Bird at Walmart for $1000 free per day or $5000 free per month. Or you can use Visa/Master gift cards to buy money order with PIN at many grocery stores or USPS stores

    •  This is huge since there is no cost involving cashing out Visa/Master gift card for $5,000 per month

6. Use Amazon payment to liquidate $1,000 of Visa gift cards per month for free. Alternatively, use American Express at Target to load a $1,000 at a time for $3 fees.

    • $3 per reload in-store
    • $3 per ATM withdrawal after the first free withdrawal each month.  Note that ATM owner fees apply as well.
    • Number of cards: Each person is allowed up to two cards.  Only one may be purchased in a day.
    • Maximum balance: $2500 per card
    • ATM withdrawals: Limited to $400 per day
    • You can load up to $5,000 per month (potentially $10,000 per month)

You can also buy Vanilla Reload at Valero, Dollar General and Family Dollar with Visa Gift Cards

Some parting words, I love this trick because you can earn a lot of miles with less manufactured spending. Right now, you earn 11 points/$ however when Sear award 10 points/$, it will become 15 points/$. I try not to manufacture spend more than $10k per month so that the banks won’t ever question my income and ability to cover bills.

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Is Vanilla Reload coming back at Office Depot as a new form?


  • I talked to Vanilla Reload Customer Service and was informed that you could load your MyVanilla, Mio, Momentum cards at Family Dollar and Dollar General. I believe Blue Bird won’t work since those stores require a Visa or Master card
  • I also went to Office Depot to ask about reloading at a retail location and the answer is no
  • However I discovered a way to cash out Home Improvement Gift Card and will write about it soon 


This is a totally speculation from my part however I accidentally found out that

On VanillaReload.com FAQ section under “How to Reload your card”, there is an added method – Swipe your card at Retail

Does it mean the Vanilla Reload game is coming back? Since Office Depot is listed as a Retail location, can we now reload Blue Bird at Office Depot skipping Vanilla Reload step? Or may there be another Prepaid card we can use to load money into at Office Depot? I will test it out tomorrow and report back.

For any of you who is confused with this post, Vanilla Reload is a tool for point/mile community to earn millions of points at a very cheap price. The basic concept was to use Chase Ink (5 points/$ at Office Supply stores) to buy Vanilla Reload card (cost $3.95 per card)at Office Depot. Load Vanilla card into a Prepaid product, BlueBird. Blue Bird Prepaid lets you send money to yourself and other people. Therefore people were able to buy 2,500 points at $3.95 or 100,000 points (business class ticket to Europe) at $160. Vanilla Reload was pulled from Office Depot a few months ago as Office Depot and Chase were trying to stop people buy points at a cheap price.


reload location

Make money from Staples, can you?

Staples will be my new favorite store for many reasons.

The story is that I bought a Nexus 7 from Staples.com for $250 + tax. I went through Evreward.com to see which shopping portal would award me with the most miles or cash back. The two best programs are Shop Discover 5% cash back if you have a Discover Credit Card or Ultimate Rewards. By now, I believe that you all know Ultimate Rewards can be assessed with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, a Chase Ink Bold or a Chase Ink Plus Business card

I ended up using the Chase Ultimate Rewards to get 4 points/$ via the portal bonus. By using my Chase Ink Bold, I got another 5 points/$ for office supply store purchase (anything at Staples would qualify). In total, I got 9 points/$ = 2,250 points = $45 in value.

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Credit Card all need spending requirement

What is going on Chase?

As Chase thinks the economy is improving, they haven’t offered a lot of lucrative credit card sign-up bonus this year. And they even increase the minimum spending for most of their major airline credit cards.

  • Southwest Airline credit cards increase from 50k points after first purchase to $1k in within three month
  • The British Airline Credit Card 100k miles came back this year with a huge minimum spending
  • Chase Ink Bold increases from $5k spending to 25K points on first use and second 25K after spending $10K in the first three months
  • The United Mileage Plus Explorer Card which offered 50k points after the first purchase, now requires $1,000 spend in the first three months.

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United Explorer Card vs. Southwest Credit Card

My friend asked which credit card he should apply for between United Mileage Plus Explorer and Southwest Plus Credit Card. My quick answer is depending on your home airport, where you want to fly to and your spending habit. I think both of the cards are great and I personally have both in my wallet. I use United Mileage Card for international flights and Southwest Card for domestic flights since I have their companion pass. While United Card has only one version, Southwest Credit Card has 4 versions (Personal Plus + Personal Premier + Business Plus + Business Premier) and you potentially can get one personal and one business card. Since all of these cards are offered by Chase, the rule is to wait at least 30 days between applications.

Read on for the 1-1 comparisons between the two cards.
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Earn 4.28 Ultimate Reward points/$ on travel expenses

A week ago, David, a reader of Ucanflyfree2.com gave me a great tip for booking airfare. You can go through Ultimate Rewards online shopping mall to earn 2 points/$ by booking on Travelocity.com

David P

Unless you are using a UA cert, or need a specific routing, don’t leave Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on the table by booking flights using united.com. Everyone should go through the UR Mall to get an extra 2 pts/$ by booking UA flights on travelocity.com. Of course, I would verify price first, but I’ve never had it cheaper on united.com, and the UA PNR is issued instantly, ticketed just as quickly, and the 24 hours cancellation policy still applies for UA metal.

This is becoming a bigger scope since with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card, I automatically earn 2 points/$ on travel (hotel + airfare + car rental) and 2 extra points on Travelocity via Ultimate Mall. Travelocity lets you book flights, hotels, cruises, vacations and cars. In total, I will get 4.28 Ultimate points (7% bonus) on all of my travel expenses. If you value Ultimate Reward points at 2 cent each, then it is a 8.56 cent cash back/$.  I will certainly check to make sure Travelocity offers the cheapest price on hotels, cars and flights.

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Giveaway: 3,000 Ultimate Chase Points

Million Mile Secrets is posting an interview of my blog today, check out at this link. I feel very grateful and decide to give away 3,000 Ultimate Reward Chase Points in total for three readers (1,000 per reader) which can be transferred to the following programs

Time to participate is from now until Monday (July 16, 2012) 11:59 PM CST. And three readers will be selected randomly.

In order to be qualified, you need to satisfy both of the following two conditions:

  1. Leave a comment in this post to show your interest. Be sure to include your first name and last initial for easy identification
  2. Also, you must be a subscriber or follower of the UCanFlyFree2.com blog via

Note: Folks, please don’t forget about condition 2 to be qualified for the giveaway