At the end of February I reported that there were rumors floating around the Internet that Walmart was going to block gift cards as a form of payment to load money to BlueBird. I didn’t think it was true, but then some of my readers commented on the article they were in fact having issues.
I decided to venture out today and buy some gift cards at my local Simon Mall and my local grocery store. I wasn’t sure if I should buy a minimal amount (in case the gift cards wouldn’t load to BlueBird) or just go all the way like I normally do. I decided to buy $6k in Simon Mall Visa gift cards and $3k in MetaBank Visa gift cards at my grocery store.
My gift card loading experience
I headed on over to my local Walmart, which always has a working Kate (a nickname for the Money Center kiosk machines) and I started depositing my newly purchased gift cards. Every single card went through on the first try. I decided to go in the afternoon between 3:30 – 4:30 so I wouldn’t draw attention to myself. I loaded $1,999.99, checked my phone for the time, waited 10 minutes and then went back and load another $1,999.99 until all my gift cards were liquidated.
Are things fixed?
It’s hard to say. It’s still possible that Walmart may be updating their system to eventually block gift cards and they’re rolling out the update slowly. Normally I would just blame it on an IT glitch in the system, but I read multiple reports where a customer heard directly from cashiers that a system update was coming to block gift cards.
Rolling out an update slowly would make sense from an IT point of view. If something goes wrong or Walmart ends up blocking real debit cards, they can fix the issue and it will only affect a small amount of customers. This could still be the case and explain what happened over the last week and Walmart ended up having to roll back the update. It’s still all speculation at this point.
All I can say at this point is that my gift cards loaded normally like they should. Walmart got me in the door today and I ended up buying a few household items while I waited for Kate to free up. I think is is a prime example why Walmart shouldn’t block gift cards, because as soon as they do, I am heading back to Target for all my purchases.
Don’t buy more gift cards than you can float. Basically if you buy $5k in gift cards and you’re not able to liquidate them immediately, you’re going to be stuck with a $5,000 credit card bill. You’ll either be stuck using the gift cards another way and you may have to start paying interest to your credit card company. This is a scary fact for some and this could have very well happened to me today if my Walmart was no longer accepting gift cards. I could have been stuck with $9k in gift cards! Luckily that didn’t happen.
I would stay on your toes for the next month or so and continue to read manufactured spending reports to see what happens (if anything at all).
If you’re still having issues liquidating gift cards at your Walmart, please let me know in the comments below. I would like to know if others are still having issues.