The Vanilla Visa Card Scam
The Vanilla Visa gift card is a scam with many different components. It is sold as a gift card, though many of these Vanilla cards are reloadable debit cards as well. What are the problems with this prepaid gift card?
The Vanilla Visa Card’s Problems
When you buy these cards and activate them at the register, you can’t immediately use them online. You have to wait at least 24 hours before you can register them online, which must be done before you can use them for online purchases with any other site. Even if the website sees the purchased amount for the activated gift card on the website, you still cannot register it and use it online at that time.
For the first full day, any attempt to register it by entering in my zipcode and trying to proceed was denied. This wasn’t the only problem with the website. I received a warning that the Vanilla Visa website has a broken HTTPS, as well as problems with its SHA-1 Certificate. The TLS connection was secure according to my browser. This is another reason why I called customer service as soon as I was able to find a phone number for their customer service department—and the difficulty of getting a good phone number to reach Vanilla Visa support (only shown after multiple failed attempts to associate a zip code with it) is a strike against this Visa gift card.
I was never able to register my gift cards online through Vanilla’s website and had to call the Vanilla Visa phone number at 1-800-571-1376 to get a zipcode associated with it. And after I had my zip code associated with it per my conversation with customer service—it still didn’t work that day or the next.
Other Problems with Vanilla Visa
The card’s instructions say vendors may put a 24 hour hold on money, but there is no such warning in the instructions or the vendor website stating there is a card registration itself. In fact, the website’s “important things to know” says you can use the Vanilla Visa card immediately after purchase. Not true online, though I don’t know if this is true in an in person transaction, though given the poor customer service and general reputation, I doubt it.
If the Vanilla Visa gift card is used fraudulently, Vanilla Visa has a bad reputation for not helping people even after you provide a lot of information. There are also reports that they demand copies of driver’s license pictures and other information that puts the victim at risk for identity theft. And you don’t want to put this information into their site since it is insecure.
The card states in 2016 only to be used in the United States, but they previously sold them internationally without this warning. The cards could no longer be used internationally after mid-2012. This information is clearly stated on their customer service recordings and in small text on the gift card packaging.
After buying two separate Vanilla Visa gift cards at the same time from the same store and a dozen attempts, I was never able to get a zipcode associated with them to actually use them online as was my intent when they were purchased. I never tried to use these gift cards as debit cards with a vendor.
Comparison to American Express Gift Card
The American Express gift card I purchased after giving up on the Vanilla Visa had the same 5.95 fee to activate as the Vanilla Visa gift card for a $25 balance.
It takes 30 minutes to activate after purchase. As soon as it activates, you can use it for purchases including online purchases. I was able to use the American Express gift card I bought the same day I bought it, whereas after three days of trying to use Vanilla Visa cards, I gave up and bought the American Express.
You can use any zip code, including your home zipcode, for the purchase without calling a phone number or giving away personal information.
Research your Visa gift card options before you buy, because some of them are usable online or in person within hours of purchase - and don't buy a Vanilla Visa gift card.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
If my friend asks me to buy a vanilla prepaid card so he can send me five hundred when I have the card, and he asks me to take a picture of front and back of it, what should I do?
Do not do this. If you buy the card and take a picture of the front and back, they will get the card number and security code. They'll be able to drain money tied to the card. And they may not transfer money to the card.
If someone wants to send you money, they can do this through a wire transfer, Paypal, or check.
Prepaid cards come with fees and a risk the funds will expire. Just have them send you the money some other way that reaches your account. The fees are equal or less in these other methods, and you won't be ripped off.Helpful 40
My boyfriend moved to New York and said he wants to send me money but told me I have to buy a vanilla card and I have to add $40 to it for him to be able to send me money, is this true? $40 is a weird number.
He can send you money via money transfer services like Western Union, money orders through the post office, money sent via apps and banking websites. He could mail you a check. Yes, this is weird on many accounts.Helpful 36
My boyfriend asked me to purchase a vanilla prepaid card for him to send me 2000$. He says it has to be loaded with at least 25/30$ first - is that true?
Yes, you'd need to pay an activation fee for it to work. No, don't do this. If he needs $2000, do a wire transfer, a bank transfer, or so forth. Don't risk a money transfer method that charges so many fees and is so prone to scams.Helpful 26
I have received a Cashiers Check for $ 1,815, and a request for me to buy $ 1,500 on One Vanilla gift cards. The difference of $300 is a payment for surveying the shop where I buy the gift cards. I do not want to accept this offer so what should I do with the check?
This is a scam. This is fraud. Do NOT cash that check.
They want you to put real money on a gift card and send it to them. The check is either fake outright, so you lose your real money when you send it to them, or they are laundering drug money, and you're guilty by association for aiding them.
You can take the check to the police and report their request and their information. Or you can take it to your local bank, NOT cash it, report the fraud and let them track it down.Helpful 24
I was gifted a vanilla card $200. It doesn't work. They told me someone else had "a hold " on the card. The only way to give them proof is to send them all of my personal info and a receipt from the person who bought it (with cash a year ago). Is this a scam with the vanilla card company?
A hold on the card means it has probably already been used. It is reasonable for the issuing organization to ask for a receipt to verify you are the one who bought the card. The hard part is the personal information. Do you give them the info of the person who bought it or yours? If the person who bought the card used it, then your personal information isn't a match and they'll decline to give you - the person who looks like you don't really own the card - the money. If you provide your personal information to a group that isn't really the help desk, your identity could be stolen, too.Helpful 7
© 2016 Tamara Wilhite