Monday, April 15, 2013

Vanilla VISA Gift Card Considered Harmful

I did it to myself: I was in a rush and I bought a $100 "Vanilla VISA Gift Card". In December I'd been a victim of credit card fraud (nothing extremely painful, but enough of a hassle that I want to avoid having it happen again) so I had the genius idea of buying a "one-shot" credit card to use for an internet subscription service. I know what you're thinking, but no, it was not pr0n. My first experience with these things -- and my oh my it was a learning experience.

This is a Vanilla VISA Gift Card: the ideal gift for
someone you don't like.

Turns out that there are numerous restrictions on the use of these stupid gift cards: you can't use them for international purchases, you can't use them to fund a PayPal account, you can't use them for a subscription, etc. It was like everything that would motivate a sane person to buy one of these damn things was against the rules.

I was reminded of "Itchy & Scratchy Money" from The Simpsons: "It works
just like regular money, but it's, er...'fun'." D'oh!

How I Got Out Of Vanilla VISA Hell

I found I was able to use the card to buy things at the local Walgreens. Big whoop. Then I got smart: I bought an Amazon Gift card for exactly $78.24 (the balance that was left on the card) and then used it to pay for an Amazon order: you redeem your Amazon gift card, that money gets applied to the total - let's say it's $100 - and the excess balance of $21.76 gets charged to the (real) credit card of your choice.

Like I said: 'a "learning" experience.' Actually, I really did learn some useful stuff about BitCoin. But that's another post.

I like BitCoin. VISA and Mastercard and PayPal can go suck it.

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