Reports are already trickling out on Flyertalk about the latest redesign of Vanilla Reload Network reload cards. In the last 24 hours, I've purchased all three generations of reload cards. Here's a "VR Classic:"
American Express on this card was widely understood to refer to the hyper-lucrative Bluebird product, and MyVanilla refers to MyVanilla Debit cards, which my readers are familiar with. This version also includes a few additional account options, including the "momentum" prepaid visa, a product I've been meaning to investigate for a while, but that has extremely limited geographic distribution in the United States. Mio is a product that's already been thoroughly investigated, and unfortunately their risk management department is extremely intolerant of what they perceive as abusive behavior. The same is true of netSpend.
Then I found a slightly newer generation of Vanilla Reload network reload card:
Here you see the addition of American Express Serve, which is a terrific product, but unfortunately you're not allowed to have an active Serve account and an active Bluebird account at the same time. There's also the addition of the PayPal Prepaid MasterCard, which is NOT the same thing as the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard you can apply for if you have a "Business" or "Premier" PayPal account, and which offers 1% cash back on signature purchases. Instead, it's a fairly abusive prepaid debit product for the under-banked.
Finally, here's the latest generation of Vanilla reload card I picked up today:
It appears that MasterCard has developed an integrated reload network for all the prepaid debit products that are linked to the MasterCard payment network. This has – traditionally – only mattered if you were lucky enough to live in an area where retailers (Rite Aid is the classic example) allow the sale of Green Dot Moneypaks with credit cards. However, with the addition of Vanilla Reload Network functionality and the widespread ability to purchase reload cards with a credit card, the ability to manufacture spend has potentially just smashed through all previously understood limits.
To put it mildly, there are a lot of options for MasterCard prepaid debit cards.
Now, there are a lot of products on that list, and it's guaranteed that not all of them will pan out. High fees, low limits, and the absence of a bill pay feature are going to necessarily make some of those prepaid debit card products useless for manufacturing spend. However, my anticipation is that at least some of them are going to prove to be lucrative enough to double or triple my monthly manufactured spend.
As always, you'll find the latest updates on all these products right here on the blog. I intend to work my way through all the most promising options, and will report back as I encounter success and failure.