REloadit report: opportunities and pitfalls

Since CVS stopped allowing Vanilla Reload Network reload cards to be purchased using credit cards, many people naturally turned to competing reload products. After Green Dot's MoneyPak reload product, one of the most prominent is REloadit, a product of Blackhawk Network (rather than Incomm, the producer of Vanilla-branded prepaid products) sold at many grocery stores nationwide.

I wrote about REloadit back in May, in the context of manufacturing spend at low or no cost using T-Mobile prepaid debit cards which, when loaded using REloadit cards, refund the $3.95 purchase fee to your card's balance.

Since writing that post, I've started experimenting with REloadit cards and have some very curious datapoints to report.

REloadit-compatible prepaid debit cards

You can find REloadit-compatible cards on this site. Besides the T-Mobile card mentioned above, the two most important ones to note are PayPower (since you might be accumulating a growing stack of unregistered temporary cards already) and Serve, the now-slightly-superior-to-Bluebird checking account alternative by American Express.

REloadit packs come in different designs

Last year I wrote about the the plethora of Vanilla Reload Network reload card designs and the opportunities each redesign promised.

REloadit packs come in at least four designs, and each design is sold by a different grocery store chain near me. I don't have pictures of the fourth design, but I do of the three designs I've personally experimented with.

Here's a REloadit "classic:"

Here's what I think of as a "second-generation" REloadit pack (I'll explain why in a moment):

And finally, here's REloadit 3.0 (now rebranded to "Reloadit"):

I bought all three of these cards within the span of a week. So why did I put them in this order?

The "third-generation" Reloadit card comes last because it's the current branding of their website. The distinction between REloadit classic and second-generation REloadit cards is more important, however.

First- and second-generation REloadit cards have different functionality

If you've experimented at all with Evolve Money, the free online bill payment service, you've no doubt wondered what exactly they mean when they say you can pay your bills with "cash" online.

It turns out they give two options: something called Evolve Pay Bucks which – to the best of my knowledge – no one has ever seen in the wild, and REloadit cards.

Unlike the many Vanilla Reload redesigns over the lifetime of that technique, and as strange as it sounds, first-generation REloadit cards do not work with Evolve Money.

What if you accidentally bought a handful of first-generation REloadit packs?

Needless to say, when I discovered this today, I was more than a little peeved. I had already successfully experimented with third-generation REloadit (or "Reloadit") packs using Evolve Money, so had purchased a few REloadit cards with precisely that purpose in mind.

After Evolve Money returned a not-particularly-helpful error advising me to call Blackhawk directly, I was eventually able to reach a customer service representative (try entering 16 0's when prompted for a card number) who both assured me the funds on the card were available for loading and that she had never heard of Evolve Money or any other REloadit-compatible bill payment service, other than PayPower.

Fortunately, I do have access to PayPower cards, so I registered one of my temporary cards and quickly loaded it up with over $1,000 in REloadit packs on my way out the door to Walmart, keeping in mind that PayPower charges its steep $5.95 monthly fee within a week of purchasing the card, and not wanting to pay that fee for access to my own money.

If it were July already, I would have attempted to load the funds to my Serve account, but I was already more than a little worried that my money had been claimed by marauding prepaid pirates, so I seized the opportunity to load the funds while I could.

Conclusion: and PayPower shut me down

When I got home, my access to my PayPower online account had already been revoked, so I assume my same-day loading and unloading activity resulted in my account being shut down.

Since I got my money out and won some hard-earned datapoints for my readers, I'm perfectly satisfied with the experience. And of course, once I'm able to experiment with loading my Serve and T-Mobile accounts with REloadit packs, I'll have more to report.