Update: Emerald loads at Walmart

Back in April I reminded my readers that under the right circumstances, it might be worth loading HR Block Emerald cards at Walmart, claiming that paying $3.74 per $999 load could be justified if your earning rate were high enough.

Since then, I've run several experiments with my trusty new Suntrust check card, and found that things aren't quite as rosy as I had hoped.

The terms and conditions

As I wrote in the comments to that earlier post:

"[The $999 load limit] is my belief based on the Emerald T&C's:

'The maximum amount of cash value you may load to your Card each day is $999.99.'

And this Green Dot website (among others): https://www.moneypak.com/page/rapidreload

'The cashier will swipe your card and add cash directly to your card (up to $1,000 at Walmart as long as you do not exceed the card load limits). A service fee of $3.74 applies.'

Unfortunately, I appear to have been overly optimistic.

My experience

My first attempt was to load $996 at a regular Walmart register. The register beeped and alerted the cashier that the maximum load was $500. I loaded that amount, and the cashier told me that if I wanted to load more than $500, I needed to do it at the Customer Service desk, which also functions as the Money Center at that Walmart location.

On my trip to Walmart today, I started off at the Customer Service center and had the same experience: I couldn't load more than $500 at a time. This Walmart, however, had a separate Money Center, and I asked the cashier there if she could load more than at the Customer Service center. She told me the limits were the same at both counters.

Since I had already loaded $500 I couldn't try and load another $996 today anyway, because of HR Block's daily load limits.


While it's certainly possible to conjecture that higher loads might be possible at the Money Center at Walmart locations that have both a Customer Service desk and Money Center, I'm personally inclined to doubt it.

My preliminary conclusion is that in fact the Emerald can only be loaded with up to $500 at a time, at a cost of $3.74.

What does that mean for us? Paying 0.748 cents per Skymile is pressing against the upper bound of what you should consider worth paying. Yes, Skymiles can be redeemed for 1 cent each against the revenue cost of Delta tickets, and when booked in First Class, such Pay With Miles tickets even earn Skymiles and Medallion Qualification Miles. If you book a lot of paid First Class tickets, this is a decent way to get a 25% discount on those reservations.

In general, however, I wouldn't consider this an opportunity worth scaling as long as there are so many other, cheaper ways to generate the same number of miles.