A few weeks ago I reported on my experience using MyVanilla Debit cards. A lot of people are concerned about having their cards shutdown, since it's so valuable to have a way to easily liquidate Vanilla Reload Network reload cards after reaching your $5,000 monthly Bluebird load limit.
I explained how I had gradually increased my MyVanilla Debit usage, loading and unloading about $2,000 per week to each of my 3 cards.
Well, one of my cards was finally shut down yesterday soon after I loaded $1,000 and did a bank cash advance in the same amount.
What happens when you're shut down?
The most important thing to know is that a MVD shutdown only affects the closed account. While the folks at MyVanilla do have my Social Security number, so in principle they could link my three accounts (and in fact they do, since that's how they impose the 3-accounts-per-person limit), in fact they do not proactively close all your active accounts: only the one that triggers the shutdown.
When an account is shutdown, you will no longer be able to log into that account. That's why it's extremely helpful to have your MyVanilla Debit account loaded into Mint or a similar banking website so you still have access to your balance and transaction history (more on that in a second).
How do you get your money back?
If you call the phone number on the back of your closed card, most people seem to have success having their account temporarily reopened to allow the customer to get a bank cash advance or use an ATM to empty the account, which keeps MyVanilla from having to mail a check for the account balance.
Additionally, there are reports that while your account is in that temporary reopened status, it's still possible to load Vanilla Reload Network reload cards, giving you one last shot to push a large amount through the card before losing it.
Finally, some but far from all shutdown users report that after their account is "temporarily" reopened, it in fact remains open and can be used normally.
What triggers account closure?
This is a question I obviously don't have an exact answer for. I was loading and unloading much more money to my closed account than the vast majority of MyVanilla's users. On the other hand, there are definitely people who load and unload even more than me.
Fortunately, I did have my MVD login credentials loaded into Mint, so I still have access to my transaction history, which I'm more than happy to share with my readers. This is for my closed card account, for roughly the last month. CA means a cash advance from a bank teller, WM means a Walmart bill payment:
- October 5: Load $1,000
- October 7: CA $950
- October 14: Load $1,000
- October 14: WM $1,000
- October 17: Load $1,000
- October 18: CA $1,000
- October 22: Load $1,000
- October 24: CA $1,000
- October 27: Load $1,000
- October 28: CA $1,000
- October 31: Load $2,000
- October 31: WM $2,000
- November 5: Load $1,000
- November 6: CA $1,000
- November 8: Load $1,000
- November 8: CA $1,000 (shutdown)
In summary, my total amounts of the 3 transaction types are:
- Loads: $9,000
- Cash advances: $5,950
- Walmart bill payments: $3,000
- Balance at account closure: $35.04
These cards are incredibly lucrative, so of course I'm sad to see one go, but fortunately I still have 2 active card accounts. For now my plan is to stop doing bank cash advances and stick to Walmart bill payments, which I believe are somewhat safer since they're processed as ordinary purchases (i.e. MyVanilla makes money off them). That may be an overreaction, since there's certainly some safe level of monthly cash advances. With only two remaining cards, however, I'm not willing to play Guinea pig to find out just what that level is!