I can report that it is definitely not confined to Florida and definitely not a rumor. My wife hasn’t reached the spending requirement for her Citi Executive AA card that earns 100,000 miles yet, so when I heard the rumor I decided we needed to get our butts to a local CVS just in case.
The CVS I just left a few minutes ago is not the normal one I frequent. They had a ton of Vanilla Reloads on the shelf. As soon as I brought the cards to the counter the clerk turned to look at a memo that was taped to the side of her register and asked me if I had cash while she was verifying the SKUs on the cards.
I noted that I was pretty sure the new rules didn’t go into place until tomorrow, March 31st 2014. She said, “Well, yes. But I’m still not sure if it will work. I’ll give it a try.”
Her terminal limited her to $3,000 in the first transaction but freely let her ring up more on the second transaction.
ETA: As a funny aside, Citi was fine letting me buy $5,000 in Vanilla Reloads but when I tried to buy 2 packs of Chiclets and a pack of M&Ms, they flagged me for fraud. Likely the number of consecutive transactions, but still funny.
So, it’s certainly bigger than just Florida CVS stores, as the original memo I saw was for. I live in Virginia and the memo is very clearly being displayed, discussed and enforced here as well.
ETA: Updates on where folks are seeing Vanilla Reloads:
One reader said they know a CVS manager in Atlanta that hasn’t seen the memo yet.
Reader Nicole is reporting no cards available at all in Fairfield Cty, CT.
Gary of View From The Wing reported his local CVS, presumably somewhere in the DC area, had not received the memo.
A CVS is Florida has seen the memo.
My sister in New Jersey (Toms River area) managed to find a few cards at a store today that let her buy them with credit cards and did not mention the memo. She’s reporting most CVS stores there keep them behind the counter due to some theft issues from local patrons.
JP2 reports availability in Southern metro Atlanta. The CVS said they had not heard of the memo.
Joey says he had no problem buying in NYC and they had not heard of the memo.
Jon reports seeing cards in Groton and Bridgeport, CT.
ncsam is reporting business as usual in central CT and South Florida.
Where do you buy your Vanilla Reloads? What’s the status at your local CVS? I’ll keep posting updates as they come in.
Why is this such a big deal? Many folks who don’t have enough regular spend to qualify for the minimum spending amounts to earn large credit card bonuses use Vanilla Reloads to satisfy these requirements. The 100,000 mile Citi Executive offer required $10,000 in spending. SInce you could buy $5,000 in Vanilla Reload cards each month, it would only cost you $39.50 to generate $5,000 in spending. Double that, and for roughly $80 (plus $250 in annual fee) you could have 100,000 miles, good enough for a business class ticket to Europe or 4 coach tickets anywhere in the continental US.
This announcement is a major bummer. But, it’s just the end of a chapter, not the end of the game. Over the decade plus that I’ve been collecting miles and points plenty of opportunities to leverage these opportunities have disappeared. A new one always comes along, and I doubt this will be the last we see.
Stay tuned for what’s next….