We’d like to introduce a new way to unload debit cards – and some gift cards – using a BillPay feature at the 7-Eleven ATM. You can pay some credit card bills, such as Chase or Barclay.
Okay, okay. Some of you know about this already. But it’s fairly new to me, and I’m sure to many others.
Why We Rack Up Debit Card Spend
In the miles-and-points community we’re constantly finding innovative ways to rack-up debit card spend.
“I knew you guys were obsessed with racking up credit card spend, but why in-the-world would you want to rack up debit card spend?”
Why? Three reasons:
- To unload gift cards which we purchased with a credit card. Visa and MC gift cards have PINs and function like debit cards.
- To unload prepaid debit cards which we loaded with a credit card, such as Buxx.
- To rack up points on a point-earning debit card (endangered species).
The most potent tool for unloading debit/gift cards is Walmart; by loading Serve/Bluebird/GoBank, or by buying money-orders and doing BillPay at Walmart Customer Service. We’d like to share an additional method.
In select 7-Eleven stores they have an enhanced ATM which has a BillPay feature, called the VCOM ATM. Not all 7-Eleven’s have this enhanced ATM; in my area the 7-Eleven ATM’s are ordinary ATM’s. See here for the VCOM ATM locator. The locator will clearly tell you about the BillPay feature available at these locations.
The information mentioned below is based entirely off this FlyerTalk thread.
What Does VCOM Offer?
The VCOM ATM offers services besides cash withdrawal, such as check cashing, money transfer and bill payment. Some examples of bill which can be paid are cellphone, cable and car insurance. These are useless to us since they can be paid online/phone with a credit card, but they also allow payments to some credit cards. Now that could be useful!
And you can pay with a debit card. Up to $1,000 bill can be paid, usually for a $2 fee. Interesting finds include Chase and Barclay credit cards which can be paid for a $2 fee. Discover can also be paid for a $2 fee. US Bank can be paid for a $5 fee. More details below.
The most exciting part about this is the fact that numerous reports confirm that OneVanilla (OV) gift cards work for this, making this a new option for liquidating gift cards. An additional data-point confirms that regular Vanilla gift cards also work.
It appears that other gift cards don’t work, but this is far from comprehensive; I wouldn’t be surprised if some experimentation would yield another gift card that works.
Vanilla and OV gift cards are a particular sensitive subject in the community, since these particular gift cards have become difficult to unload at Walmart; the Walmart system thinks of it as a credit card, not a debit card. There have been many reports of people who are still managing to unload at Walmart, but it usually takes numerous swipes until successfully processing as a debit card. Many of us like to avoid this kind of attention.
Until now we had Evolve for Vanilla, but now Evolve is mostly dead. As such, this 7-Eleven ATM could be the golden goose for unloading Vanilla.
Caution: When using a gift card, be sure to leave over the cost of the BillPay. For example, if you’re paying Chase with a $500 Vanilla gc, make the payment for $498, not for $500.
[UPDATE 10/22/2014: Reportedly, Vanilla doesn’t work anymore.]
Frequently Asked Questions
Which debit cards can be used?
OneVanilla gift cards, regular Vanilla gc, Paypal Business (no cashback due to PIN), Chime, T-Mobile, MVD. Obviously regular debit cards work as well. There are conflicting reports about Buxx; could be it varies between the different Buxx products.
Which credit card bills can be paid?
Chase, Barclay’s, Discover, US Bank, (possibly FIA Visa).
Amex, Citi, Capital One, FIA Amex.
Any other useful bills which can be paid?
Probably, but there’s not a whole lot of information out there yet. Poke around and you may find something useful.
How much is the fee?
Chase, Barclay and Discover is $2. US Bank is $5. (FIA Visa? $2.95)
Highest amount you can pay in one shot?
$1,000. The system advertises a higher limit, but in practice $1,000 is the highest the system will allow.
Can I do a full $1,000, or only $998, to leave over $2 for the BillPay fee?
Full $1,000. When paying with a gift card, be sure to leave over enough on the gift card balance to cover the $2 (or whatever) fee.
How long does it take until payment posts?
It’s supposed to take 1 business, but it reportedly can take 2 business days occasionally.
Can I hit this hard?
Some people report getting the BillPay’s cancelled when they did many in one day. Better to spread out between a few different bills, and possibly use different phone numbers for each bill.
How long should I wait between BillPays to the same payee?
Some mention a one hour wait, meaning that if you pay a particular payee at 10 AM, you’ll need to wait until 11 AM until making a second payment to that same payee. From what I gather, it sounds like this is a hard-coded block – the system won’t process two payments to the same payee within an hour. This is different from the cancellations mentioned above, which are human cancellations.
Can I do a split-tender transaction and split the payment between two debit cards?
I checked it out, and I see an option for reloading a prepaid card at this VCOM ATM. So does that mean I can load my Bluebird/Serve card with a Vanilla gift card here?
No, sorry. They don’t pull up in the system. There is a Walmart and Target card that pulls up in the system, but the theory is that this refers to the Walmart and Target credit cards. (But feel free to give it a a try!)
Is BillPay available at all 7-Eleven ATM’s?
No, only in certain areas. And even within those areas, it’s only in select stores.
In my area they don’t have VCOM ATMs. Will it be coming soon?
I certainly hope so. It would seem logical that once they created the system, it would be worth their while to roll it out at all locations. (According to this website more VCOMs are being added daily.) On the other hand, it’s been around for a while (at least since 2009), and it still isn’t at all 7-Eleven locations.
How many VCOM ATMs are there?
Anything else I should know?
Yes, don’t hog the ATM for too long! Convenience store ATM’s are fairly popular.
How Does it Match Up?
Walmart is still superior for racking up debit card spend, because…
- you can do a split-tender transaction in Walmart; you can split one bill-payment between four debit cards.
- you can pay more than $1,000 in one shot.
- there are probably more bills which Walmart BP works for.
- many gift cards work at Walmart which won’t work at 7-Eleven.
- for some bills you can get away with just a $1 fee at Walmart if you choose non-expedited delivery.
On the other hand, 7-Eleven has the advantage of…
- not having to deal with a human; I consider this a serious advantage.
- 7-Eleven allows Vanilla gcs, which are problematic at Walmart.
- Walmart has 4,177 locations across the US, while 7-Eleven has more than double that.
Ultimately, for most of us, it’s not a question of one or the other. We’ll use Walmart when we can, and we’ll supplement it with some 7-Eleven.
Here’s an interesting application of using the 7-Eleven ATM which can actually bring your money full-circle, without even leaving the store. During the third-quarter of 2014 (ends soon) Chase Freedom and Discover are offering 5% at gas stations. We’ve previously noted that it’s possible to cash out this 5% category by buying Vanilla gift cards at 7-Eleven. Visa codes 7-Eleven as a gas station, and we confirmed that Discover does too.
By using the 7-Eleven ATM you can actually come full-circle even before you leave the store: buy the gift card, then proceed to the ATM and pay the Chase or Discover bill. How’s that for fun!
This definitely sounds like something useful to add to any mile-and-points plan. I’d love to make use of this myself to pay my Barclay Arrival bill, but in my area the 7-Eleven’s don’t have the enhanced ATM.
I haven’t been able to try this out at all; I relied entirely on the FlyerTalk thread for info. I like trying things out myself before blogging about them, so I pushed off this post for a while, hoping that the opportunity would arise when I’m out-of-state. Since it didn’t happen for a couple months, I decided to pass on the info as-is. I hope to use it myself sometime in the future.
We’d love to hear more data-points on this. What worked? What didn’t? Let us know in the comments!