Regional: new AAA Visa gift card daily limits

I often joke that I'm the only person left buying Visa gift cards from AAA. And before anyone complains, I understand:

  • Yes, you have to be a AAA member;
  • Yes, they're only available in some regions;
  • Yes, purchases can be pretty time-consuming if the person helping you isn't familiar with the Metabank system they have to interface with;
  • Yes, frequent large purchases with immediate liquidation can result in being blacklisted from further purchases.

But the cards are PIN-enabled, they cost $3 most of the year and are free for 2-3 months per year (around the May/June graduation season and the winter holidays), and they're coded as purchases with every credit card I've used.

Changes to daily purchase limits

When I went in for my weekly purchase at the beginning of January, the clerk who always helps me told me that there was a new limit on daily purchases. Rather than the theoretically unlimited number of Visa gift cards customers were previously able to purchase, purchases were now limited to $1,000 per day.

I didn't ask whether this is a new national policy, is limited to my AAA region, or something in between.


It's hard to say whether this is, on balance, good news or bad news.

On the one hand, $1,000 is less than I had previously been purchasing per trip, so this means I'll be manufacturing slightly less spend with these cards going forward.

On the other hand, the "unlimited" purchases AAA was previously willing to process was a honey trap for an unbelievable number of travel hackers. I've heard the same story repeatedly: "The first day I purchased $5,000. The second day I purchased $20,000. The third day I'd been blacklisted."

If the new $1,000 daily purchase limit keeps members of the community from falling into that trap, and therefore able to continue earning cheap miles and points, I'll consider it a net positive. If the new limit is instead designed to slow people down so their accounts can be blacklisted before they can reach the total purchase numbers that were previously possible, it'll be a net negative.


It was about AAA Visa gift cards that I first remarked on "What you miss when you miss MS." Affiliate bloggers who pretend that it's possible to earn significant travel rewards through everyday spending are lying to their readers in order to generate credit card commissions.

For example, talking about bonused restaurant earning on every affiliate blogger's "favorite" card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred, is preposterous when rather than spending $500 at restaurants in order to earn 1,000 Ultimate Rewards points, I can spend $6 at my local AAA branch.

Instead, the card you put your actual restaurants purchases on should be a card you carry anyway, either because of its annual benefits or because it's worth manufacturing spend on that card.