Another Prepaid Debit Card I’m Using to Earn Miles

Prepaid cards are marketed mostly at the unbanked, and at consumers who can’t get credit cards or at least can only get cards like this.

I find them useful, but if I’m going to use them my patterns are going to be different than the typical customer. I might load higher dollar amounts. I also may tend to make large transactions, like buying money orders (small money orders, too, I find myself having to buy money orders for obscure travel visas sometimes).

Activity out of pattern for the typical customer can raise alarms on the part of issuers, these cards aren’t just popular with the unbanked they’re also popular with drug dealers and others engaged in illicit activities and banks can be quick to pull the trigger on a customer who looks like a risk. There’s lots of regulatory risk for banks who facilitate illegal transactions.

So it’s useful to me to have several products in my stable, and I’m frequently on the lookout for more — especially ones where I can load the cards with funds purchased via credit cards, and where I can unload the funds conveniently as well.

The JH Preferred Prepaid Visa is a new card that works as a clone of MyVanilla debit, a card I’m still using regularly.

That means it’s shown promise as an additional card you can load Vanilla Reloads onto, if you’re lucky like me that your local drugstore (a) has plenty of cards, and (b) allows loads up to $5000 per day. And it’s shown promise for folks who are no longer welcome to use certain other products.

Limits are reportedly:

  • $1000 maximum Vanilla Reload load per day
  • $5000 maximum Vanilla Reload load per month
  • $510 maximum per ATM withdrawal, not useful for most because it costs $2.50 plus the fee charged by the ATM. There’s also a $2,550 daily ATM withdrawal limit.

And fees are:

  • $2.50 for ATM withdrawals
  • $5 for cash advances ($2500 limit)
  • $3 monthly fee any month that you do not load at least $1000

It has free billpay, supposedly — but all it does it take you to the website of companies that accept debit cards for payment online. Not helpful. I find it useful for buying money orders.

You can signup online for the card. Frequent Miler wrote about it briefly at the end of January.

Several folks report loading $5000, pulling out the $5000, and getting shut down. That was apparently Milesabound’s experience.

While the JH Preferred Vanilla Reload monthly limit has been reported as $5000, some people they they’ve been told $10,000. The Free-quent Flyer reports being able to load $6000 so far in March (with a 7th $1000 load rejected).

I’ve loaded only $4000 a month so far and haven’t done that for March yet.

I keep all of my receipts for Vanilla Reload purchases, and I keep the cards after loading — I note which card was loaded onto what, and note the date. That’s helpful if a card ever gets shut down by the issuer. Most likely a shutdown just means not being able to add money to the card anymore, but that you can still spend money off the card. There’s always the risk that they shut down the card entirely, and you have to deal with the issuer to get your money back. To hedge this risk I keep my paper trail.

Hopefully this is useful to some.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @craigs – in the worst case they will shut down after a certain amount of use, so it’s something to use for folks who can deal with the float for a short period.

  2. Hi Gary,

    When you deposit money orders into your bank account, whose name do you put in the “From” line on the money order? Your own?

    Or do you just leave that line blank?


  3. @Rich while not necessary I list myself in both. Nothing wrong with that. For instance I have a Bankdirect account, I can’t really deposit cash to it easily, so I could conceivably buy a money order and mail it in.

  4. @Rich – For From, I always put my own name and address, it’s never been an issue.

  5. If one can buy money orders using Vanilla reloads!, this card doesn’t seem to serve a purpose. Or am I missing something?

  6. Just a reminder to your readers that multiple, continued deposits of money orders into a single bank account (whether savings or checking) do trigger alerts to bank employees. Good reason to have multiple bank accounts, and rotate deposits. Just make sure your bank accounts are free, or the CPM becomes unreasonable.

  7. @Sam this is a mechanism by which you can buy money orders using vanilla reloads. Vanilla reloads are not themselves debit cards

  8. @kimmie a – that depends on the volume of money orders vs other activity in your account, depositing lots of money orders into a new account (eg first 90 days) would certainly be a flag

  9. Incomm did not seem to want me to have this card. It did not recognize my info on the application, directed me to call the customer service line and then the automated recording told me you can only get the Visa by applying online. Endless loop on the voice prompts, #fail.

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