No Fee Visa Gift Cards 1/22 – 1/28 at Safeway Stores

Check P. 3 of your ad. I verified this is live at Vons and Safeway stores in Northern and Southern California.
Check P. 3 of your ad. I verified this is live at Vons and Safeway stores in Northern and Southern California as well as Colorado and Texas (Tom Thumb and Randalls).

Just a quick post to mention this deal.  For the next week Safeway brand stores (Safeway, Vons, Randalls’, Tom Thumb and Pavillions) are offering PayPower Visa Prepaid cards for $0 in fees.  The package looks like this:

Paypower Package

Not as hot as other deals in the past, but still a great way to hit minimum spending, and for those of you with category bonuses of 2x-5% at grocery this could be a good Mile and Moneymaker.  Because there is no fee I would stay away from round numbers like $500–which credit card companies like to use to clip our wings.

You’ll notice the Package says “Cash only” in the top right corner.  I bought with a Credit card this morning–I was hesitant to post about this deal until I could verify it worked myself.  My purchase was with a regular cashier at my local Vons.

You can set a pin by calling the number on the card (all automated) or online at I successfully drained the card using the PIN.  I then bent the corner of the card as I mentioned in my purchase tracking post.

It is pretty rare to see no fee Visa gift cards at a grocery store, so I think this warrents consideration.  These cards are usually plentiful, hopefully that continues throughout the week.  Remember, don’t go overboard and buy too many, keep the float rule in mind.  Also if you’re confronted by a cashier who says cash only, remember the tips from this post.

Update: I spoke to the agents at Paypower and verified that the $5.95 monthly fee hits one month after your purchase date. Make sure to drain the card before then to avoid this fee.

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- Written by Sam Simon. All ideas are my own, but I encourage you to see my point of view and I promise I'll try to do the same. Connect with me on Twitter @Milenomics.


    1. No Mangager over-ride needed. Cashier Scanned the card and mentioned, “this isn’t charging the fee?” I showed her the ad and swiped my CC to be on my way.

    1. I successfully loaded to BB, to verify the PIN worked. They’re a Debit so use as you would any other Visa GC with PIN.

      1. I think I’m missing something with your answer: if BB loading works, why not do that alone? (IOW, why worry about “normal” spending?)

        Also, I saw that Paypower website has a referral link that might be useful to you to hand out? (If so, please post it soon. 🙂 )

        1. Blue: You spend on CC to buy this debit card–and can get grocery bonus for that spend. There’s no way to load a Bluebird with a CC Directly. so you need to do this “U-tep 2-Step” to get cash onto a Debit then onto BB.

          Also looked into the referral program but you need to sign up for and register the card online. Their goal is to have you use this as an everyday card and pay the $5.95 monthly fee. For this deal you’re buying a temporary card in store, and just adding a PIN, and then draining. No need to sign up for a paypower account to do that–and sadly no $20 bonus for me. 😉

          1. Ok, understood about the 2 step process—thought you were implying that you could not do BB loading with the GCs. Okay, off to experiment for myself!

  1. Did you load at WM at a self-serve money center or at WM customer service? My WM has only customer service.

    I’ve done fine with Visa and MC GCs in the past there. Any reason to think this card would be handled differently that “regular” Visa/MC GCs, like the ones we all bought at Safeway around Thanksgiving?

    I am always a bit uneasy when trying to load BB with a new kind of GC/debit card…. Thanks!

    1. Elaine,

      I’m with you there–new GC’s can be tricky when it comes to loading/unloading. I loaded at a regular cash register with a real cashier. The process is the similar to the other VISA’s, just swipe and put the PIN you registered earlier. The main difference is that you must set a pin with this card, whereas some VISA cards just use the last 4 digits.

      Best of luck, and update with your experiences for other readers.

      1. Thanks. Will do. I have a feeling the “cash only” may be a stumbling block at my Safeway but I will try when I am in the neighborhood. Gotta watch the T-rate, after all!

  2. I was unsuccessful in purchasing the cards. The clerk had to call a manager over to do an “override”, in order to load the card but the manager knew that the cards were Cash Only. And they stuck to that.

    Had to do the walk of shame.

    1. Blue: Thanks for sharing your experience. Stinks that you ended with the walk of shame. 🙁 I’d take Elaine’s advice in an earler post and try these when you’re already near the store to keep your travel and time (At your T-Rate) costs to a minimum.

    1. You don’t need to provide SSN to set a PIN, at least not over the phone. Once you set the PIN you are asked if you want a “permanent” card, which can be reloaded. Say no, and the call ends with the PIN set and no SSN.

      1. Milenomics: Do I need to provide SSN to activate the card? Or just get the PIN without the activation process and load it to BB at Walmart? If I do not provide SSN, the card can not be used at ATM or get cash back at grocery store, right? I am a newbie, so please help me. Thank you!

        1. Li, You do not need to add a SSN to set the PIN over the phone. You can set the PIN and drain at WM or load to BB. As far as ATM or cash back I’ve never attempted it, so I can’t advise if you can access the cash on the card that way. The quicker you can drain the card fully the better. With these there’s a race against the $5.95 clock as they now charge you the monthly fee 7 days after purchase!

          1. Thank you. Your tips are very helpful. So we do not need to activate the card to drain it at WM. May be a stupid question, but how can I drain the card at WM? I do not have BB.
            I normally buy a variable card, activate it with a SSN, drain the card at an in-network ATM with $2-3 fee, or get cash back at grocery store with $2 pin transaction fee. But the maximum cash back is $200 only, so I can not drain the card fully in 1 transaction. And the variable card normally costs $4-5 purchase fee, too. The total fee to drain a $500 card for me is about $11-$12 –> a lot of $ and efforts!
            Really appreciate your post!

            1. The Paypal prepaid card charged me $4.95 monthly fee 8 hours after I bought the card, even before I called for activation. $4.95 purchase fee + $4.95 monthly fee + $2 ATM each transaction –> I should never buy Paypal prepaid card again. Paypower may be the best card I should buy, since I do not have to pay any fee if I drain it soon (6 days after purchase)!

              1. Li: Paypal charges that $4.95 within an hour or so of the card being purchased! It really is awful. As far as your other questions, you could activate Paypower cards without a SSN over the phone, add a PIN and then buy $499.30 Money orders. Add the .70 Money order fee (or whatever it is at your store) and you’re at $500 even. If you’re going to be buying Money Orders at WM you should probably sign up for a BlueBird/Serve card so you can load $5k per month to that for free while you’re at WM anyway.

                Paying $11-$12 to buy and drain a card is very, very high. I’d try to get the purchase price down as far as possible, and the liquidation cost down as well.

                The issue with Paypower cards is that “cash only” label on them has made buying them exceedingly difficult. If you’re still able to buy them they can indeed be the best way to go.

              2. Thank you for your ideas of money order. WM is so far from my house. I may buy money order from post office, then deposit it to Chase bank.

              3. Safeway only accept cash for money orders. The post office accept debit, but I do not know why both my Paypal prepaid card and my Visa gift card (issued by Meta Bank) declined the transaction. Do you think that with those cards, I can only buy money order at WM? Thanks.

              4. Li, Post offices run their MO purchases as Cash transactions, which a lot of cards block. Try Drugstores, check cashing stores, and Wal-Mart. Keep in mind your travel and time costs to Wal-Mart. While they may have the cheapest MO fee @ $.70, if you spend $10 in gas and time driving there and back you’re better off at a check cashing place which charges you $2.50 even!

  3. A few quick updates that may address some of the questions above:

    My wife and I have been doing this all week without issues. Both of us buy ~$1000 at a time usually twice a day. We always need a manager override because of the amount but have never had a problem with the “cash only” policy. We’ve shopped at three different Safeway stores in our area.

    We have unloaded them successfully into our BB accounts after selecting a pin over the phone. It takes about a minute per card to set up via an automated phone system. Super easy. We load our BB accounts at the Money Center in WM and have never had a problem using these or any other debit card with a pin.

    This may not be a temporary sale either. The Safeway closest to our house ran out of cards fairly quickly and when they restocked them the new packaging said “no fee” right on the front. Perhaps they were cleaning out old inventory before launching the new no fee product.

    1. DCbroker: Excellent feedback, thank you for the detailed reply. I’ve started to be hit with needing Manager overrides as well. My guess is that my first test purchase was low enough to not need one. Managers at my store continue to allow sales, so I’m riding this out for the week and will see if they continue it next week.

      I haven’t seen the “no fee” product packaging–but if you could email me a photo of one I’d love to update the post with it:

  4. Hi,

    I just purchased my first PayPower card at Safeway. It was so darn easy! I wish I would have gotten on it way sooner. Anyway, I am just a little confused when it comes to setting the pin. Do I actually need to “activate” the card before I set the pin. I started the activation process online because it said that was how you set the pin. Then it wanted my social security number and all this info. I am sure I am doing something wrong because it seems like everyone just sets the pin, drains the card, and never looks back. Could you possibly give me directions on how to set the pin? Sorry I need my hand held through this probably extremely simple process, but I do appreciate the help!

    1. Toni: No problem at all, they certainly make the product confusing enough. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll want to drain within 7 days of purchase–they have started charging the monthly fee that early. To set the PIN without giving your social, just call 1 (888) 633-9432 which should be the number on the front of your card. From there you’ll set the PIN, and decline registering the card in your name/ssn.

      Let me know how it goes for you, and if you have any followup questions! Thanks for reading.

      1. Thanks soooo much for responding! I went back the next day to buy more and the cashier said cash only! I’m not giving up yet, though!

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