If you've been following the relevant thread on FlyerTalk or received one of the seemingly targeted e-mails from American Express (I haven't received one yet), you know that American Express has entered into a partnership with the Family Dollar discount store chain to allow Serve accounts to be loaded with cash or debit cards at Family Dollar registers.
How it works
The stars finally aligned today and I made my way to a nearby Family Dollar (after popping into Walgreens to pick up a Vanilla prepaid debit card).
The cashier and manager hanging out by the front door were easily the two nicest minimum wage employees I've met (note to Walmart!), and while they naturally hadn't heard of any e-mail, memo, change, or even Serve itself, they were totally game to play around with it for me.
I grabbed one of the famously mysterious "fake" Vanilla Reload Network cards from the prepaid card rack (where, intriguingly, I also saw OneVanilla cards hanging) and walked it up to the counter. The cashier scanned the bar code on the reverse side, entered $500, and I was prompted to swipe my Serve card. The register then showed a total amount due of $500 (not, importantly, $503.95).
I swiped my freshly acquired Vanilla prepaid debit card, entered any PIN I liked, and the register reported success. A few moments later I received the standard e-mail from American Express indicating the load was successful, and it was immediately reflected in my online balance.
Why it matters
Reading this blog post you may well be saying to yourself that you can't imagine any reason you would ever load a Serve card at Family Dollar. And you might be right!
But part of being the most effective travel hacker you can be is knowing all the opportunities available out there, so you should at least be aware of this opportunity.
Personally, I will be loading up my Serve card at Family Dollar for as long as this opportunity lasts, for the simple reason that I'm a busy guy, and my visits to Walmart are particularly busy. I already have too many things to take card of on each visit there, so the ability to displace some of my Walmart loading activity to another (incidentally, closer and more convenient) store location is a big win in my book.
You may or may not find that to be the case in your own miles and points strategy and in your own geographic location. But if, for example, you've been lamenting the end of OneVanilla cards' debit functionality at Walmart, perhaps because you have a particularly lucrative card for drug store spend, you might want to hop onto your preferred mapping service and see if you have a Family Dollar store near you.