BREAKING: HR Block Emerald card Vanilla Reloadable

I reported back in October that the redesigned Vanilla Reload Network reload cards had "MasterCard rePower" listed on the front. I linked to a list of MasterCard prepaid cards and speculated that it might be possible to load some of them using Vanilla Reload Network reload cards.

I went out and hunted down a few of the most promising cards on the list, including the Mango checking account alternative and the HR Block Emerald card, both of which had no monthly fees or fees that were easily waived (in Mango's case, through a single $500 deposit each month).

Unfortunately, as I reported at the end of October, neither the Emerald nor the Mango card ended up being loadable using Vanilla Reload Network reload cards.

I stuck both cards in my drawer and forgot about them until I saw this post from a few days ago on FlyerTalk. There, user SoCalStew reported success loading his Emerald card, writing:

For a brief shining moment, a couple of weeks ago, I was able to stuff a few VRs into my Emerald Card. This is how it looked on the Emerald site.


Then they pulled the plug on reloads. Comes up as a "Code 21" on the VR site.

Fortunately I had a few Vanilla Reload Network reload cards lying around, so I dug out my Emerald card and tried it for myself.


I can now report that for at least some users, HR Block Emerald cards are Vanilla Reloadable. This is terrific news because back in October when I first got my Emerald card, I confirmed that it's also possible to pay bills using ACH pulls – for free – from the Emerald card account. That makes it possible to liquidate Vanilla Reload Network reload cards at no additional cost once they've been successfully loaded to the Emerald.


A few minutes ago I was able to load just two $500 reload cards to my Emerald account before receiving an error that I'd reached the limit on the number of loads allowed. I'll continue attempting to load money to the account over the next few days, weeks, and months and report back any other load limits I'm able to discover.

Reader experiences are of course more than welcome.

More thoughts on Square Cash

This is a followup to yesterday's post on Square Cash, the new e-mail based online peer-to-peer payment service by the people who brought you those little white smartphone dongles. I've been experimenting with it some more, and I want to give a rundown of some of the most lucrative options that have occurred to me so far.

Rewards-earning debit cards

This one's a no-brainer: use your rewards-earning debit card to transfer up to $10,000 a month. My first transfer, from my Bank of America Alaska Airlines debit card, has already posted to my account, and appears as a normal debit card purchase (the merchant category is 7299, "Miscellaneous Personal Services (Not Elsewhere Classified)."

This makes me VERY confident that I'll earn rewards for that transaction. 

Turn your PayPal accounts into Bluebird accounts

While it doesn't apply to everyone, if you live in a region with CVS store locations that sell Vanilla Reload Network reload cards, you're probably already loading your Bluebird account with them and paying off your credit cards, or transferring the money out to your bank account.

Those same store locations will also typically sell PayPal My Cash cards, which likewise have a $3.95 activation fee for cards with up to $500 in value. If you have a PayPal Debit MasterCard linked to your personal PayPal account (it's completely free), then you can use that card to send money from your PayPal account using Square Cash.

Better yet, if you have a Business or Premier PayPal account, your Debit MasterCard also earns 1% cash back. As in the case of the Bank of America card, I'm fairly confident you'll earn rewards on these free Square Cash transactions. Consequently, you can manufacture $4,032 in spend each month at a negative cost: you'll make $40 in cash back, which more than covers the $31.60 you'll spend for PayPal Cash cards!

This option appears to be rapidly vanishing, but if you have access to PayPal My Cash cards at 7-11 store locations coded as "gas stations," you can also earn tons of points taking advantage of that common bonus category.

Experiments with other prepaid cards

Unfortunately, Square Cash doesn't accept cards that it identifies as "prepaid" cards. However, their method of identifying prepaid cards is not entirely accurate. Most gift cards have been reported as not working, while a small minority appear to work.

My Nationwide Visa Buxx card was correctly identified as prepaid cards and wasn't accepted.  My US Bank Buxx card isn't in my name, so I didn't want to risk adding it to my account.

In the course of my research on the MasterCard rePower network, I applied for the H&R Block emerald card, which is loadable using Green Dot Moneypaks and hopefully soon with Vanilla Reloads. I was able to add my emerald card to Square Cash successfully.


I truly believe this is a game changing development, at least for as long as it lasts, and I encourage you to start experimenting, since no one knows how long that's going to be!