Charlotte preview: PayPal

Besides the Vanilla-reloadable and Visa Buxx cards I talked about earlier this week, the remaining bulk of my manufactured spend in March was through PayPal My Cash cards.

Like Vanilla Reload Network reload cards, PayPal My Cash cards cost $3.95 each and could be purchased at many CVS locations. Unlike the Vanilla Reload Network cards, My Cash cards can only be loaded directly to a verified PayPal account.

Load Limits

You can load up to $4,000 per month to a PayPal account using My Cash cards, as long as you abide by the following limits:

  • $500 per calendar day, which resets at 12:01 am EST;
  • $4,000 per rolling 30-day period, which resets at 3:01 am EST.

And yes, this does create the situation where your daily load limit may have already reset but your monthly load limit has not. While with Bluebird you could stay up until midnight (or 9 pm on the West Coast!) to load because the limits reset simultaneously, with PayPal you may as well go to bed and load your account in the morning.

Account Limits

There are three "types" of PayPal account: personal, premier, and business. PayPal's rules allow one personal account and one of either the premier or business account type to be verified using a single valid Social Security number.

If you attempt to verify a business account when you already have a premier account, or verify a second personal account, or any other prohibited combination, PayPal will helpfully inform you of this restriction.

Unloading PayPal

If you ask 4 bloggers, you'll receive 5 answers to the question "what's the best way to unload a PayPal account?"

Here's mine: every penny I load using PayPal My Cash cards, I unload using a linked PayPal Business or Personal Debit MasterCard.

That's one extreme position, and I don't ask anybody to agree with me that it's the right one. However, it does have a number of advantages within my own strategy:

  • $10 per month loading Bluebird: the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard gives 1% cash back on all non-PIN transactions, including online Bluebird debit loads;
  • Allows large and "round" transactions: instead of making $1998.12 bill payments or buying $999.30 money orders, I can use my fourth Walmart swipe to both unload my PayPal account and round off those transactions.
  • And since the funds come from my PayPal account, I don't have to worry about "orphan" amounts on my debit cards – it's my money and it'll still be there when I need it next.

Category Bonuses

One of the best things about PayPal My Cash cards is that it's still possible to purchase them at merchants that give category bonuses. For example, many 7-11 store locations are coded by Visa and MasterCard as gas stations, and some still allow My Cash purchases.

Earlier this year I discovered a local gas station chain that sells My Cash cards and is coded properly by American Express, as well. Unfortunately, they quickly sold out and it's unclear to me whether they'll restock before I move!

These localized opportunities do still exist, and you'll need to experiment in your own neighborhood to see if you have access to any of them.