Starting from scratch: alternative banking products

This week I've been writing about some strategies, credit cards, and loyalty programs I would use differently if I were building a travel hacking practice from scratch. If I were ignoring my elite status and current stable of credit cards, I'd focus even more on fixed-value points for use in booking airline tickets, and I'd ignore hotel loyalty completely in order to maximize my cash discount booking hotel nights through online travel agencies.

Today's post is about the alternative banking products I've used, abused, and lost throughout the last five or six years.

High-interest prepaid savings accounts

Back when CVS allowed virtually-unlimited numbers of Vanilla Reload Network reload cards to be purchased with credit cards, the American Express "old" Blue Cash offered unlimited 5% cash back, and the Hilton HHonors Surpass American Express gave 6 HHonors points per dollar spent at drug stores, there was a constant search for new prepaid products that could be loaded and unloaded as quickly as possible through the Vanilla Reload Network. I burned through 3 MyVanilla accounts, 2 Netspend accounts, and a Momentum account all in order to liquidate as many Vanilla Reload Network cards as possible.

In hindsight, with Vanilla Reload Network cards today mostly unavailable to credit card users, that was a mistake: Netspend and Momentum offer savings accounts with higher FDIC-insured interest rates than those available anywhere else in the market today, and I'd prefer to still have working relationships with those companies.

American Express prepaid banking products

Like most aggressive users of American Express's Bluebird and Serve prepaid products, on January 8, 2016, my accounts were all closed. I had been using both accounts to liquidate PIN-enabled prepaid debit cards for free, and in the case of Serve, earn cash back by loading funds from my Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express card.

If I were starting over today, I wouldn't use American Express prepaid banking products to manufacture spend at all: I'd use them to manufacture transactions for high-interest savings, checking, and credit card accounts that require a certain number of transactions per month to unlock their highest reward levels.


I don't have any regrets about the path that my travel hacking practice has taken, even though I focus more on airline and hotel loyalty currencies than I would if I were starting from scratch today.

I probably slightly overpay for my checked bags by earning Delta Medallion elite status with a Delta Platinum American Express each year, and I earn only part of that value back with high-value SkyMiles redemptions.

Likewise, I tend to overpay for my hotel stays by earning Hilton HHonors points and Diamond elite status with my Hilton Surpass American Express, instead of booking through a cashback portal and online travel agency, and I've certainly overpaid by directing stays towards Hyatt during this year of my Diamond status match.

But building relationships with banks and merchants is a process that necessarily develops over time, and as things stand I'm more or less happy with the decisions I've made and the relationships I've built, even if I would have proceeded different in hindsight.

I'd sure kill for another shot at a Serve account, though.

I just bricked my Bluebird account (for the next 28 days)

Today I'm going to share a very simple, very stupid mistake I made. In fact it's so simple, and so stupid, that it's unlikely to help any of my readers. But sharing is still caring, so here we go.


I manage 3 full-service prepaid American Express cards: one Bluebird account (in my name), one Serve account and one Target Prepaid REDcard account (I haven't moved that one to Serve yet).

For the first year or so of managing the Serve card, the bill pay function simply didn't work. I assume this was a version of the e-mail address bug that afflicted quite a few people, but I didn't worry about it, for two reasons. First, since the bill pay function on my Bluebird account has always worked, I could simply send $2,500 per month to that account and pay my credit card bills from there. Second, I also control the external checking account linked to the Serve account, so could simply withdraw the remaining $3,500 monthly and pay my bills from that account.

When a Prepaid REDcard came under my control, I followed the same pattern, except the card wasn't linked to an external checking account, so I only manufactured $4,500 in spend per month with the card: I sent $2,500 to my Bluebird account and withdrew $2,000 per month from free ATM's, the respective limits on each kind of transaction.

Bluebird has a $100,000 limit across all Spend Money transactions

There are six activities that American Express categorizes as "Spend Money" transactions:

  • Merchant Transactions
  • Pay Bills
  • ATM Withdrawals
  • Send Money Transactions
  • Transfers back to the linked Bank Account

It should be nearly impossible to reach that $100,000 spend limit: you can only add $5,000 per calendar month in cash and $1,000 from a linked debit card, which if maxed out would only come to $72,000 per calendar year.

But I was sending myself $4,500 per month from the Serve and REDcard accounts under my control!

Bluebird customer service is surprisingly helpful

When I attempted to make a bill payment this morning, the error message simply said the transaction couldn't be completed and to call customer service. Fearing the worst, I called in immediately. Unfortunately, the frontline representative couldn't pull up my account because their system was undergoing "routine maintenance," but she did offer to transfer me to the technical team.

The representative in the technical department took just a few minutes to look up my total amount spent so far this year, which was just over $96,000, and told me I had just under $4,000 left to spend this calendar year. While I had him on the line, I made a bill payment for the exact amount he specified, and the payment went through as usual, leaving me with a stranded $900 balance until January 1, 2016.


I only fell into this situation because I thought I was being clever: by pooling as much money as possible in my Bluebird account, I wouldn't have to add each of my credit cards to each of the American Express prepaid accounts I controlled. That turns out to have been too clever by half.

So learn from my stupid mistake: take the time to add your payees to each account you control, and you'll never come close to hitting the $100,000 calendar year limit on Spend Money transactions.

Quick hit: new Bluebird/Serve/Redbird scheduled adds

[Editor's note: I'm currently traveling so responses to comments and e-mails may be slightly slower than usual. —FQF]

When writing about simplifying and automating debit card transactions back in July, I wrote:

"Unfortunately, as with Evolve Money, I am no longer able to create new so-called 'scheduled add' transactions. What I am able to do is edit existing scheduled add transactions and change the funding source to a new credit or debit card."

Turns out there's an easy workaround that allows users to create new scheduled adds.

Once you're logged into your Serve, Bluebird, or Prepaid REDcard account, simply navigate to:

  • for Bluebird scheduled adds;
  • for Serve scheduled adds;
  • for Prepaid REDcard scheduled adds.

Using this technique, you can create as many scheduled adds as you like, either in order to meet monthly debit transaction requirements or, in the case of Serve, simply to schedule the manufacture of $1,000 per month in third-party (not American Express-issued) American Express credit card spend.

Simplifying and automating debit card transactions

Last month I wrote about using Amazon Allowance to generate credit and debit transactions, like those required by Wells Fargo to waive monthly maintenance fees, by Bank of America's Better Balance Rewards card to ensure you receive your quarterly bonuses, and by Consumers Credit Union to trigger the high interest rates on their Rewards Checking accounts.

I like Amazon Allowances and I use Amazon Allowances, but there are reasons you might prefer not to use Amazon Allowances: you might not do enough shopping on Amazon to justify buying Amazon gift credit, or on the contrary, you might value your relationship with Amazon too much to entangle it in your extracurricular activities.

With that in mind, here are two other options for, if not automating, at least simplifying your monthly transaction requirements.

Evolve Money

Interest in Evolve Money has dwindled since they added fees for transactions funded by prepaid debit cards, but the site still exists, and they still have a large database of billers that's well worth exploring. For example, I'm able to make contributions to my Utah Educational Savings Plan account, which is in my opinion one of the better 529 Educational Savings Plans available — and, even better, it's not administered by Upromise Investments!

Importantly for our purposes, Evolve Money charges a flat 3% fee on credit card and "small bank" debit card transactions, rather than the more typical 2.9% + $0.30 fee charged by many payments processors. That means a $1 charge incurs a fee of exactly 3 cents. Since you are allowed to make 4 debit card-funded payments per month, per biller, if you can find 3 eligible billers in their database you can generate 12 transactions per month at a total cost of $0.36.

Unfortunately I cannot seem to set up recurring payments using Evolve Money, but since payments can be scheduled in advance you can just set aside 5 minutes per month to schedule your 10-12 monthly debit transactions. Likewise, a monthly $5 Better Balance Rewards payment would cost all of $0.15 in processing fees.

Bluebird, Serve, and Target Prepaid REDCard loads

American Express's full-service prepaid cards actually feature a powerful recurring payment service: you're able to schedule recurring transactions to move funds from a debit card to your prepaid account, as well as from any credit card on the American Express network (some American Express-issued credit cards do not earn rewards on such transactions, however).

Unfortunately, as with Evolve Money, I am no longer able to create new so-called "scheduled add" transactions. What I am able to do is edit existing scheduled add transactions and change the funding source to a new credit or debit card.

So on the Bluebird account I manage, I had three recurring "scheduled add" plans already created, and was able to change them to set up daily $0.50 funding transactions for the first 12 days of the next 3 months. That's not exactly automatic (I'll have to move the dates forward every 3 months), but it also doesn't take up too much mental bandwidth.


Frequent Miler and Matt at Saverocity have both raised the question lately, in their own ways, of how much cognitive space they're willing to devote to "smaller" deals when they could instead be pursuing big fish, and I think it's an absolutely essential conversation to have.

In my own travel hacking practice, I tend to err on the side of doing more, rather than less. I continue to pursue a number of "small fry," like Visa Buxx cards, which offer a small amount of unbonused spend each month. But I'm also eager to automate or simplify as many elements of my manufactured spend as possible, so I can devote more cognitive bandwidth to exploring new deals — and sharing them with my readers!

Recurring, small debit card transactions are precisely the kind of nuisance that can take up a disproportionate amount of attention, and are the kind of thing that are essential to simplify or automate if at all possible.

What role should non-bonused spend play in your miles and points strategy?

Last week Shawn at Miles to Memories wrote about his experience buying PIN-enabled, Metabak-issued, personalized Visa gift cards from GiftCardMall, after clicking through a cash back portal like TopCashBack.

I responded to him on Twitter, remarking "I think you're begging the question; real issue seems to me what role unbonused spend plays in strategy."

Since I have this blog lying around, I figured I can explain myself more completely.

How is your manufactured spend throttled?

I've written before about the kinds of throttles that prevent us all from manufacturing an unlimited amount of spend. Even with huge credit limits, unlimited stock, and compliant cashiers, you'll still be constrained by the time you're willing to spend manufacturing spend, so in a concrete sense everyone's manufactured spend is throttled.

Of course, most of us don't live in that ideal manufactured spend landscape, and so regularly run into credit limits, dwindling supplies, suspicious cashiers, and a simple shortage of convenient or accessible stores.

Liquidation throttles matter most

There is no way to manufacture, on a monthly basis, more spend than you're able to liquidate, and in a fundamental sense manufactured spend is really manufactured liquidation: the search for more, easier, faster, and cheaper ways to get cash back out of the products we buy. After all, there's no special trick to buying cheap printers; the trick is getting virtually all your money back, so you can pay off your credit card while pocketing the rewards you earned on your purchase.

Different forms of manufactured spend are throttled differently

A few examples illustrate this point clearly:

  • You may be able to buy an unlimited number of OneVanilla prepaid Visa debit cards on credit, earning 2 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar using a Chase Ink Plus card at 7-Eleven store locations, but if you have only one Serve card, you can only liquidate $5,000 in Vanilla Visa cards per month at Family Dollar. At the same time, you might be able to liquidate an unlimited number of Metabank-backed Visa gift cards at Walmart.
  • If you have a Target Prepaid REDcard, you may be able to liquidate up to $5,000 in PIN-enabled debit cards per month at Target for free, but if your Target store locations require you to use cards that match your ID, you may not be able to liquidate any cards purchased at merchants where your credit cards offer bonused earning.

Match your liquidation bandwidth to bonused spend first

By allocating your liquidation bandwidth to your credit cards' bonus categories, you'll maximize your earning over however much spend you're able to manufacture and liquidate each month.

The logic here is simple: Shawn's personalized GiftCardMall Visa gift cards may cost him just $4.59 each, while a Visa gift card purchased at a grocery store might cost $6.95. But if Shawn uses a Hilton HHonors Surpass American Express card to purchase each, he'll be paying 0.3 cents per HHonors point at GiftCardMall and just 0.23 cents per HHonors point at the grocery store. If he cannibalizes his liquidation bandwidth with "cheaper" GiftCardMall gift cards, he'll end up paying more per point than he would by swallowing the higher per-card charge.

A special note on American Express gift cards

American Express gift cards, purchased after clicking through a portal like TopCashBack, are capable of adding a cash back bonus to any non-bonused spend, which can be well worth doing to diversify your strategy away from just miles and points. On the other hand, you'll only be able to liquidate them at merchants that accept American Express cards and don't specifically prohibit gift cards (like Simon Malls).

If there's room left for non-bonused spend, that's fantastic

There are forms of manufactured spend that are intrinsically unbonusable:

  • Visa Buxx cards can only be loaded with Visa and MasterCard credit cards in the Buxx cardholder's name. If you load them with a Barclaycard Arrival+ MasterCard, for example, you'll earn 2.22% cash back, and there's no way to juice that earning rate with an intermediary step (although you may have a different preference for the funding card).
  • Serve cards can be loaded with third-party American Express cards like the Fidelity Investment Rewards American Express, but not with American Express gift cards. You'll earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in online loads each month, and you'll be glad to get it.

Finally, there are forms of manufactured spend like the personalized GiftCardMall Visa gift cards described by Shawn, and Simon Malls Visa gift cards, which can usually only be purchased with credit cards in the purchaser's name. They have the advantage of being relatively cheap and available in relatively large volumes, but the disadvantage of not receiving any spending category bonuses.


By now I hope my point is obvious: while the large volumes possible with those products do represent a real, concrete advantage that I have no intention of minimizing, if you're capable of liquidating such large volumes you have to first ask whether you've really exhausted all your bonused spending opportunities!

If you have, then manufacturing additional, non-bonused spending that fits within your liquidation bandwidth is common sense. But if you haven't, then you're leaving miles, points, and cash back on the altar of volume.

Possible point-of-sale update rolling out to Family Dollar (nothing to worry about)

This seems like it's been a week of minor updates, but during a promotion as lucrative as the one we're currently living through I don't consider that a vice.

I ran into an extremely minor hiccup while liquidating some deeply-discounted Vanilla Visa gift cards at Family Dollar yesterday, and wanted to pass along a heads up in case any readers run into a similar problem.

Vanilla Visa gift cards should be automatically detected as debit cards by Family dollar registers

Until yesterday, every time I used a OneVanilla prepaid Visa debit card or Vanilla Visa gift card at Family Dollar (as long as the card was activated properly, and I waited a sufficient interval before using it) the card was automatically detected as a debit card, asking me only how much cash back I wanted (none) and for a PIN number (any 4 digits, selected the first time the card is used).

Yesterday, at one store, they weren't

I have two relatively convenient Family Dollar store locations, which is terrific since, due to still-poorly-understood velocity limits, any one store is of only limited use each day.

Yesterday at the first store I visited, swiping either of two $200 Vanilla Visa gift cards generated an on-screen error message of "Visa tender not allowed." Fortunately, it occurred to the cashier helping me to press the "F2" key on her register before I swiped, which directed the terminal to treat my Vanilla Visa gift card as a debit card. After that, I was prompted for my PIN and the transaction was successful.

At the second store I visited, an identical card (indeed, one that had generated an error at the first store), went through without the "F2" intervention.


I have absolutely no reason to believe Family Dollar won't continue to be an avenue for liquidating PIN-enabled Vanilla-branded Visa cards for the foreseeable future.

However, slightly different point-of-sale software may be rolling out in waves that will require additional input from cashiers before Vanilla Visa cards are recognized as debit cards.

Confirmed: multiple same-day Serve loads at Family Dollar

Back in July I mentioned my intention to load my Serve card at Family Dollar for the time being, using easily-acquired OneVanilla prepaid Visa debit cards, and just last month shared my local store manager's theory about the kinds of limits Family Dollar registers impose on Serve loads.

As I explained in that second post:

"However, using Family Dollar raises its own issues; in particular, you can generally only load a Serve card once per day, per store location. Since I only have one convenient Family Dollar location, that means loading $5,000 in OneVanilla cards over ten days, compared to the 2 days possible at Walmart registers ($2,500 per day)." (emphasis added)

While it's true that I have only one convenient Family Dollar location, it's not precisely true that I have only one local location.

Multiple same-day Serve loads are possible at different Family Dollar locations

A reader had privately e-mailed me to let me know he was able to load his Serve card multiple times on the same day at different Family Dollar locations, so this morning I set off to cruise around the suburbs and collect my own datapoints.

I ended up visiting 3 Family Dollar locations: my own local, convenient location, and two suburban locations:

  • My $500 load went through as usual at my local store;
  • the first suburban location's card readers and PIN pads were out of order;
  • and the second suburban location allowed me to complete a second, $500 load.

My working hypothesis for now is that you can load up to $2,500 per day (Serve's daily cash load limit, per the Serve website), by visiting 5 different Family Dollar store locations.

Family Dollar loads have their drawbacks

Those with access to more store locations will benefit most from this fact, and not just because you need access to 5 stores in order to complete 5, $500 loads.

In addition to the one-load-per-store-per-day limitation, Family Dollar registers also have an overreactive fraud detection algorithm, such that you might be unable to load your Serve card at any given store even once, depending on that store location's previous daily load activity, as I described here.

And of course, as my experience today showed, Family Dollar stores are not necessarily reliable partners; both technical difficulties and undertrained personnel can make life more frustrating that you'd like.


I know there are metropolitan areas with dozens of Family Dollar locations, and for residents of those areas the possibility of multiple, same-day Serve loads using OneVanilla cards is yet another advantage of Serve over Bluebird.

As Serve becomes ever more useful than Bluebird, it seems to me that it must be a matter of time until Bluebird cards are discontinued and Serve remains as American Express's flagship prepaid card product.

One Family Dollar manager's theory about Serve load limits

It's no secret that many travel hackers know more about the ins and outs of merchant software than the employees themselves. That makes sense: for us, the difference between success and failure is the difference between a payday and going home empty-handed, while for those helping us check out, we're mostly just another ripple in the daily river of anonymous customers.

For a Walmart customer service agent who sells dozens of money orders every shift, but processes just one or two CheckFreePay bill payments, of course it's up to us to insist they not key in the amount of a split tender until after we've entered a PIN.

Nonetheless, our tellers are people, and people are basically curious at heart; when we see unusual events, we tend to seek an explanation. And the other day, the manager at my local Family Dollar shared her explanation for why Serve loads are occasionally rejected.

Background: Serve loads at Family Dollar

Regular readers know that for the past few months I've been loading my Serve account at Family Dollar, where OneVanilla prepaid debit cards are still accepted without any fuss.

However, using Family Dollar raises its own issues; in particular, you can generally only load a Serve card once per day, per store location. Since I only have one convenient Family Dollar location, that means loading $5,000 in OneVanilla cards over ten days, compared to the 2 days possible at Walmart registers ($2,500 per day).

Additional velocity limits

In addition to the limitation of $500 per day, per store location, there are also other, unpublished limits on the number and speed of Serve loads. When loads are attempted in excess of those limits, the transaction is rejected and the cashier is given a "fraud warning." After that, the OneVanilla card has to be swiped again, and the PIN re-entered, in order to refund the amount of the load back to the prepaid debit card (don't leave before completing this procedure!).

There are various explanations floated, for example on FlyerTalk, for what triggers those fraud warnings. I hadn't thought much about it, since I only have the one Serve card, until yesterday, when I finally encountered a fraud warning and went through the rigamarole described above.

The employee helping me called for his manager, who had herself helped me multiple times already this month, and she gave me her own explanation for why Serve loads are sometimes rejected: she claimed that each store was allowed to load exactly 3 American Express cards per day; it's loads in excess of that number that prompt rejection.

Now, I don't think what's essentially a store manager's speculation necessarily deserves more weight than FlyerTalker speculation, for all the reasons I described above. On the other hand, she did claim that she's been loading a lot of American Express cards this month, so I also don't think it can be dismissed completely out of hand.

What's your favorite explanation for Serve load rejections at Family Dollar?

Why I'll be loading Serve at Family Dollar (for now)

If you've been following the relevant thread on FlyerTalk or received one of the seemingly targeted e-mails from American Express (I haven't received one yet), you know that American Express has entered into a partnership with the Family Dollar discount store chain to allow Serve accounts to be loaded with cash or debit cards at Family Dollar registers.

How it works

The stars finally aligned today and I made my way to a nearby Family Dollar (after popping into Walgreens to pick up a Vanilla prepaid debit card).

The cashier and manager hanging out by the front door were easily the two nicest minimum wage employees I've met (note to Walmart!), and while they naturally hadn't heard of any e-mail, memo, change, or even Serve itself, they were totally game to play around with it for me.

I grabbed one of the famously mysterious "fake" Vanilla Reload Network cards from the prepaid card rack (where, intriguingly, I also saw OneVanilla cards hanging) and walked it up to the counter. The cashier scanned the bar code on the reverse side, entered $500, and I was prompted to swipe my Serve card. The register then showed a total amount due of $500 (not, importantly, $503.95).

I swiped my freshly acquired Vanilla prepaid debit card, entered any PIN I liked, and the register reported success. A few moments later I received the standard e-mail from American Express indicating the load was successful, and it was immediately reflected in my online balance.

Why it matters

Reading this blog post you may well be saying to yourself that you can't imagine any reason you would ever load a Serve card at Family Dollar. And you might be right!

But part of being the most effective travel hacker you can be is knowing all the opportunities available out there, so you should at least be aware of this opportunity.

Personally, I will be loading up my Serve card at Family Dollar for as long as this opportunity lasts, for the simple reason that I'm a busy guy, and my visits to Walmart are particularly busy. I already have too many things to take card of on each visit there, so the ability to displace some of my Walmart loading activity to another (incidentally, closer and more convenient) store location is a big win in my book.

You may or may not find that to be the case in your own miles and points strategy and in your own geographic location. But if, for example, you've been lamenting the end of OneVanilla cards' debit functionality at Walmart, perhaps because you have a particularly lucrative card for drug store spend, you might want to hop onto your preferred mapping service and see if you have a Family Dollar store near you.

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.