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…In Which I Give My 2 Cents About the Bluebird/Vanilla Reload Card Thing

If you’ve read any of the other travel blogs in the past week you’ve noticed some discussion about a new Amex prepaid debit card called Bluebird. If you haven’t, people are talking about it for this reason:

If you buy a Vanilla Reload card at Office Depot and put money on that card using your Chase Ink Bold card, you will get 5X points essentially for paying yourself cash. You can then use that Vanilla card to add money to your Bluebird card and with that, you can pay your mortgage, etc. Yes, I know that sounds confusing and ridiculous, but the very short version is that you can essentially pay yourself cash and get 5X Ultimate Rewards points for doing it. (See Frequent Miler’s blog for the full download on this if you care).

I’m starting to get questions about whether people should take advantage of this offer. As with all things credit card, it depends on your risk tolerance. I am staying away.

The risk is that Chase will notice what you are doing and shut down your accounts. Is it illegal to buy yourself cash and get 5X points for it? No. But there are enough reports of Chase shutting people down that it’s clear this is not what they had in mind.

We are all living in a golden age of miles, where we are basically able to get as many as we want through credit card bonuses and selected churning. I’m not taking a moral stance on this, but I am taking a risk-based stance on this: the whole scheme feels very risky to me, and while I’m sure lots of people are taking advantage and printing themselves miles, to me it’s not worth taking that chance.

Everyone has a different opinion on this – there are plenty of people who don’t like to open credit cards because they fear it will hurt their credit. To each his own. We’ve all decided what our risk tolerance is when it comes to our credit. For me, this is over my threshold. (Though let me give Frequent Miler all the credit in the world for figuring this out…)

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  1. I’m with you on this until we hear more data points from people who have done this and what the limits are before you get shut down. I signed up for the chase British Airways card during the 100,000 deal. I essentially pay the $75 annual fee and get 50,000 miles for the year. The 2nd 50,000 comes next year when the annual fee is due. My wife and I have both signed up for cards and each gotten the 50,000 so far. I would hate to get all cards shut down by chase because of this and lose my 100,000 avios due to me next year.

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