It's been quite a week, hasn't it? On Monday I outlined the basic principles of a so-far unblogged travel hacking technique: using a PIN-based debit or gift card to pay off credit cards directly at a Walmart Money Center or Customer Service center (depending on your location). On Tuesday I gave a cost per manufactured dollar analysis of various PIN-based cards which can be used to take advantage of this opportunity. On Wednesday I shared my thoughts on the vigorous reaction my posts had received so far. Then Friday morning I shared my own plans to double the part of my manufactured spend I generate at Walmart by shifting my Gobank and Bluebird loads from Vanilla Reload Network-compatible cards to gift cards I purchase at grocery stores using credit cards that bonus such transactions, and using my high-transaction-limit Visa Buxx and MyVanilla Debit cards for Walmart bill payments.
I want to conclude this series with a few data points from my own experience using this technique. Let me start by saying that among travel hackers, my earned income probably puts me in the bottom 20% – if not lower! There's no denying that although it's now more accessible than ever, this sport is still largely (though far from exclusively: Mommy Points runs with the best of them) played by business travelers, and that I am not. However, thanks to this game we play, I have virtually unlimited cash liquidity, so I don't mind having my money locked up for a month or so if one of my accounts is frozen or closed.
Fortunately, it hasn't happened yet. Even my PayPal account closure, which I assumed was permanent, was actually quickly reversed, and even while my accounts were frozen I was able to withdraw my remaining balance over the phone. Nonetheless, if a few thousand dollars actually went missing it would be a real hit to my net worth, and I'm sure many of my readers feel the same way, whatever your annual income.
The purpose of this post is to keep your blood pressure within a healthy range while you wait for your first Walmart bill payments to appear on your online banking statements.
So far, I've made Walmart bill payments to four of my credit cards, with one from each of the four major payment networks (I don't have a Diner's Club card, and they're now owned by Discover so I'm not sure which payment network they technically belong to – reader experiences in the comments are welcome!). The payments posted at different speeds, but they all posted eventually.
While Discover cards and American Express cards are issued by the same banks that process the payments (usually – there are a few exceptions, like the Barclaycard Travelocity American Express, issued by Barclaycard but using the American Express payment network), Visa and MasterCard products are issued by a range of banks, and how quickly your payment posts is going to depend on the issuing bank much more than on the payment network, so take my experience with a healthy dose of salt, unless your cards have the same combination of issuing bank and payment network as mine.
Finally, all my payments were made in-store before 7 pm, the cutoff time for next business day bill payments.
- Citi Visa: $1.88 next day payment. Paid on Thursday, shown online early Saturday morning, with Friday posting date.
- Barclaycard MasterCard: $1.88 next day payment. Paid on Sunday, shown online Wednesday afternoon, with Tuesday posting date.
- American Express: $1.00 3-day payment. Paid on Sunday, "payment received" e-mail Wednesday, shown online Thursday with Wednesday posting date.
- Discover: $1.00 3-day payment. Paid on Sunday, reflected in "available credit" Wednesday, shown onlineThursday with Wednesday posting date.
Obviously the biggest missing piece here is Chase, whom I haven't had an opportunity to pay yet. I'll update this post when I do make a Chase credit card payment. In the meantime, do any readers have reports on how long Chase bill payments take to post?
Neither this technique, nor any other, is for everyone. Without knowing the details of a specific situation (access to Vanilla Reload Network cards, access to gift cards, access to Walmart, access to competent cashiers) I can't recommend that anyone incorporate this technique into their own miles and points strategy. What I can do is promise that I won't hold back the details of a travel hacking technique in order to keep it for myself or "save" it for people in the know.
If you do enjoy this blog and especially if you find it useful for your own miles and points strategy, please consider buying my eBook, The Free-quent Flyer's Manifesto. It costs just a few bucks, and 100% of the proceeds are used to bring you original content here on the blog and throughout the website.
And who knows: you might learn something new!