Vanilla Reloads and CVS – a dilemma

The other day I walked  into my local CVS to pick up a prescription.  While I was there, I thought I would also get two Vanilla Reloads.  I asked the pharmacy cashier to load them with $500 each.  At the end, she asked to see my identification – this was not a surprise to me.  What was a surprise is what she did next – she scanned the bar code of my license.  I quickly asked her why and she told me that the machine told her to.  I was shocked – what were they going to do with my information?  Now you might think that I am haphazard with my personal information since I purchase items online but I make that decision.  Also those decisions don’t have very personal tidbits of information like how tall I am or how much I weigh etc.  When I asked what they did with the information, the cashier couldn’t help me so I asked for the store manager.


A woman came out and she really didn’t have any more information other than to suggest that I call 1-800 CVS or something like that.  I suggest that SHE call since others may have the same questions that I do (and I was busy trying to correct a prescription).  She came back and told me it was a FEDERAL law that the stores collect information on our purchases as it relates to money laundering.  Hmm, not true I told her as I had just purchased a lot more a week earlier.  She also said that VISA is requiring her to do this.  Again, doesn’t sound likely since I had used the same card the week before.  Finally she said they do nothing with my information – they don’t even keep it.  Hmm, once it is in the system, it’s always in the system.  Since she knew nothing other than what she was being spoon-fed by whomever she spoke with, I let it drop and went home.

It was still a thorn in my side so I called the corporate offices of CVS today.  I had a really nice young man help me and he got it.  He had to go to other departments, including the store, to get the information.  I asked three questions – could I have been told prior to them scanning my bar code that they would be doing it so I would then have an option whether I wanted them to do it or not?  Secondly, what do they do with the information on my license and thirdly, why are they doing it.

To answer the questions he called the store.  They said that there is a sign posted for the employees to read that indicates that purchases of Vanilla Reloads of $1000 or more require a scan of the bar code however that is not in a place where customers can see it.

Secondly, what do they do with the information.  He was a little hazy on this but basically they don’t do anything with it.

Thirdly, why do they do it?  Apparently there is a lot of fraud around and money launders are finding this a great means to cleanse dirty money.  They want to have a record in case something fishy should occur down the road and they can show that they took means to get identifications.  To help, they ask for identification when you buy $1000 or more in reloads.

A way around this is to go in and buy 2 Vanilla Reloads – load one for $500 and load the other for $490.  With the $3.95 fee, you’ll be below the $1000 threshold that CVS has imposed on many of its customers.  I use VR’s to pay my mortgages, long term care policy (checks only, no cc’s), etc.  So from now on, I’ll just be getting $10 less each time I go into CVS.

Have you had any issues?


6 thoughts on “Vanilla Reloads and CVS – a dilemma

    1. I believe that they scan the bar code to make sure you do not go over their limits of how many you can buy per visit/per month. Since CVS no longer allows sales of VR with cc’s, this is now a moot point.

  1. I’ve actually started buying VRs one a time specifically to avoid this issue. I never make a special trip to CVS so I’m leaving points on the table but better safe than greedy IMO.

    1. I agree about being safe that is why red flags were raised when they scanned my information into their computer. I still think they should let us know and then we would have a right to say that we didn’t want the cards or to change the amount. IMHO

  2. You are lucky in that you can still buy VRs; there haven’t been any where I live (Atlanta) or in my home town (San Francisco) in a few months. I came late to the VR game to begin with, and my Bluebird checkbook with 98 checks in it is painful to look at. Agree that it is a good idea to stay below $1,000 if your license is being scanned. I just wish I could still buy them at all!

    1. I live in a remote area of another during the summer, very rural and low population other than the summer and there are no CVS’s there. Imagine my surprise when I was able to walk into a small grocery store and they had plenty of VRs. When I asked what their limit was, they said it was whatever your credit card limit was. WOW…thought I had died and gone to heaven. I called my cc to let them know I was “throwing a huge party and would be spending about $8000″ at the grocery store”. They noted it on my account, I went in, purchased my VR’s and split them between my hubby’s and my BB. I would have never expected to find them where I was. Always be on the lookout – you just never know where you will find them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s