Quick update: Vanilla Visas and "Delayed Redemption"

In my post yesterday I forgot to mention an occasional problem that arises when manufacturing spend with Vanilla-branded prepaid Visa debit cards. This oversight is especially unfortunate since it actually occurred to me yesterday: the dreaded "Delayed Redemption."

The problem

Sometimes, but not always, attempts to liquidate Vanilla-branded prepaid Visa debit cards soon after purchase using a PIN (any four digits, selected the first time you use the card), whether they're marketed as "gift" cards or not, are declined.

When that happens, when you frantically call the number on the back of your card from the parking lot of whichever store you're visiting, you'll be relieved to know the funds are still there on the card. But when you go back inside, the card will still be declined.

When you get back home, or log onto vanillavisa.com from your smartphone, you'll see this message in your transaction history: "Denied : Delayed Redemption."

When does this happen?

I won't venture a guess as to why this happens, but I can share a few datapoints from my own experience about when it happens:

  • The first time this happened to me it was with a $500 OneVanilla Visa prepaid debit card purchased at Walgreens;
  • This has never happened to me with any OneVanilla Visa prepaid debit card purchased at a 7-Eleven or CVS store location (although I did have a OneVanilla Visa improperly activated at CVS);
  • The second time it happened was yesterday, with two $200 Vanilla Visa gift card purchased at Office Depot.

The solution: patience

If you're taking my advice from yesterday, you might be buying thousands of dollars of deeply-discounted Vanilla Visa gift cards in the next 12 days, and you might run into the problem of your PIN-based transaction being denied shortly after purchasing a card.

If that does happen to you, wait.

It's not glamorous or fun, you just need to wait. I recommend 24 hours, although you may be able to liquidate your cards sooner than that.


Vanilla Visa prepaid debit cards will sometimes reject PIN-based transactions shortly after cards are purchased, even if they've been properly activated. Wait 24 hours and they'll be fair game.