My First Experiences at Walmart Buying Visa Gift Cards

I’m clearly not doing this right.

I’ve been trying to manufacture my spending on a credit card of mine in order to meet its minimum spend of $4,000 in 3 months.  To do this, I had a plan where I would purchase a Visa Gift Card from Walmart and then walk over to the customer service area and purchase a money order with the gift card.  The money order would allow me to deposit it into my bank account so I could pay off the same credit card that bought them in the first place.

Total cost? $5 for the $500 gift card…which, if I did solely manufactured spending, would cost $40 to manufacture $4,000 in spending.  With the prize of 100,000 points, worth $1,500, I’m essentially getting paid $1,460 for jumping through the hoops of churning this credit card.  Minus gas, time and the cost of the money orders themselves, and it’s probably closer to $1,400-$1,450.

So, I set out to my local Walmart to purchase a test run to see how the process went.

Mistake #1

I bought a $200 gift card (an amount I felt comfortable “losing” if I wasn’t able to turn it back into cash in my bank account) at the register and immediately went over to customer service to try to buy a money order with it.  The lesson here is the age-old, “don’t shit where you eat.”  Never do this.  It may work, but we’re trying to be stealthy here.  Go to a different store.

Mistake #2

I was attempting to fill out all this paperwork for MoneyGram, because I thought that’s what you needed to do to send money to yourself.  All it did was confuse the shit out of the employees.  They had no idea what I was trying to do and as soon as I felt like things weren’t going to work out, I just said “Alright, nevermind.” and left.

What I should have done, was just fucking ask for a simple money order.  In a future visit, I overheard the employees saying that using a debit card for a money order is acceptable and I watched as a lady swiped her card for a money order and everything went smoothly for her.  So, just walk up to customer service and ask for a money order.

Mistake? #3

To unload this card into a money order at a different location, I went around to other shops.  Family Dollar and my grocery store.  Both said they only accepted cash and looked at me very strangely.  I thanked them and left.  This may or not be a mistake, but I felt a little silly and wasted some time.

Mistake? #4

After I unloaded the card to Venmo and eventually got my money back, I got a little more adventurous.  I wanted two $500 gift cards, which would set me just above my minimum spend.  I stopped off at the same Walmart where I got my first one.  When I got to the register, I asked to have $500 put on each of them.  Some errors happened on the register which confused the cashier and it kept spitting out receipts that the card was activated, but the second receipt said that the card could not be activated…as if it was already activated.

She tried again, and again (with me swiping my credit card each time)…until she eventually had me get another gift card off the rack.  Which, I swiped again and was on my way with a boatload of receipts and a possible 5 charges on my credit card, when I should have only had 2.

Turns out, yes, I was charged 5 times ($2,500 for those following along!), when I only wanted $1,000…and, more importantly, only had $1,000 on my gift cards.  I walked away confident that I could explain these charges to somebody should I ever have to try to get a refund.  Which, later on, I ended up having to do when all 5 transactions posted to my account.

I returned to Walmart and explained my situation and gave them all of my receipts, basically requesting $1,500 to be put back onto my card.  Managers were called.  They forwarded my request over to their Loss Prevention department, which ended up having to pull up videotape of our little confusing transaction.

So, what happened?

The cashier got a little mixed up and scanned the first card twice, which resulted in putting $500 on the card and then she had an error when she tried to activate it the second time (since it was already in use).

Then, she scanned the second one twice, with the same effect.  So now I had two cards with $500 on them, but we were a little confused about what was going on, since all these receipts kept printing out, that it was activated, then not.

Then, when she had me get the third card, it went through fine.

She kept the one that she/we thought was “bad,” but actually had $500 on it…that nobody knows what happened to.

Walmart did credit me back (automatically, in fact) for the two erroneous charges, and the manager believed me due to the videotape, and gave me back $505 in cash to cover me for the third card that nobody could find.

The only saving grace about this whole ordeal was that that third charge actually was manufactured for free, since I got the exact amount back in cash, which I thought was a little funny.  I deposited it right into my bank account and was able to pay that charge off no problem.

What could I have done better?  I don’t know.  Probably give them the first gift card then the second card after the first one was done and in my pocket?

I still haven’t found a way to manufacture spending that clicks great for me

The closest system I have is now:

  1. Buy gift cards of GiftCardMall.com.  It’s much easier than going to Walmart (even though I think they’re $1 more online).  I just am really “leave the house” adverse, so I’ll pay the buck and not have to get dressed, drive, stand in line and possibly get my order messed up to the tune of $1,500.  They come in the mail, through a slot that is behind a locked steel door.
  2. I register them online so that I can use them to make online purchases that require a zip code.
  3. I make a new Venmo account.  You need a unique e-mail address (easy enough) and a unique phone number ($1.50 through the Burner app).  I can then use this account to add three cards to.  You can only add 3 debit cards every 6 months.  Without verifying your identity, you can only send a max of $299/week.  I send $250/week or $1,000/mo per account.  Sending money via debit is free on Venmo.
  4. Send the money from the “burner” account to my real account.
  5. Deposit that money into my bank account.
  6. Pay off credit card.

I like this system because it’s expandable and fairly cheap.  I do realize that step #2-4 could be replaced very easily by just getting several money orders for $1,000 and be done with it, but, I dunno.  I don’t like to leave the house and deal with people.  Plus, I’m only churning one card at a time for now.  It works for me, for now.  When my addictive nature gets the best of me, I’ll probably ramp up with getting the MOs at Walmart.

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5 Responses

  1. mikey1900 says:

    Has this continued to work for you? Is there a risk that your real Venmo account would get closed because of receiving all of these funds from gift cards coming from unverified accounts?

    • effyoumoney says:

      There didn’t used to be a problem until I got greedy and made several unverified accounts over the span of 24 hours. Venmo politely emailed me, saying that I should not use Venmo for business. I haven’t done anything with Venmo past that. So, looks like that sun has set!

      For now, looks like Walmart money orders might be the way to go.

      • mikey1900 says:

        Thanks. I wonder if (theoretically, of course) you could just keep making new Venmo accounts and send money from one to the other, never involving your personal one.

        • effyoumoney says:

          I bet that you *could*, I don’t know why one would, though. They seem pretty on their game at Venmo, and it’s such a great service for personal use that I don’t think I’m willing to poke the bear.

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