In With The New Out With The Old?
Manufactured spend (MS) that involves Walmart money orders has definitely gone out of fashion for most people looking to accrue points en masse with limited cost (and risk). A combination of a lower number of pin based gift card debits that actually work at Walmart for MS, bill pay crackdowns, increased costs in fees from cards and transactions, fierce competition from online options (couch MS), the rise of gift card and product reselling, and a lack of scale, have dealt Walmart severe body blows as an option for most MSers.
Manufactured spend has also evolved, with more options in apps and online, making couch MS much more viable and attractive for people looking to generate reward points. Add into that the lines at Walmart, machines that break down more often than they seemingly should, and incredible bonuses some banks are throwing into the mix during the past year+, and couch MS dwarfs has become much more of the norm for points enthusiasts.
With that said, Walmart is transitioning stores to offer Western Union money orders. Until this point, only Moneygram money orders were sold at Walmart stores. The addition of Western Union money order machines into Walmart stores isn’t surprising though, as WU became a financial partner of Walmart’s back in May 2021 (for sending and receiving money).
Peek and Boo!?
I haven’t actually seen a store with the Western Union money order option yet, but I know it’s in process. Past that I can’t say what that will mean. Will Walmart offer both Moneygram and Western Union money orders, just as they offer two ways of sending and receiving money? Or will they opt to just offer Western Union money orders? What will the cost of the new money orders be? What pin based gift card debits will work for money orders? How will a change affect any current cards that work for transactions? Surely it would be nice if Metabank (metas) gift cards suddenly came back to life with a Western Union money order option, but I’d guess that’s unlikely as Western Union terminals at many supermarkets and Walmart found ways to put a tech stop on them (above $100 roughly).
Winds of Change
It’s amazing how much things in the points and miles hobby change and how different things are now compared to say, five years ago. If you are manufactured spending in store, you’re probably devoting a lot of precious time in order to generate points. Unless you’ve gone through a series of large bank shutdowns, there are likely better time saving opportunities out there to generate points vs. boots on the ground buying and liquidating.
Update 1/5/22 – After visiting a local Walmart, it looks like the store won’t offer Moneygram money orders any longer, only Western Union – so it’s a complete transfer of service. Customers still can send and receive (as of this date) money via Moneygram or Western Union. Walmart’s price money order price the same as before, or $1 per $1000 money order. Metabank pin enabled debit gift cards don’t work with the new Western Union system, so no changes there (sad). The only difference in the process is the sound the money orders make when printed and the clarity of the money orders themselves. Moneygram ink was awful, and could hardly be read on occasion. There’s also a Walmart logo on the Western Union money orders in the upper left hand corner, which was new.
I assume the transition to Western Union from Moneygram was a strategic decision from Walmart corporate, and that something in the previous relationship was unsatisfactory. It’s an assumption and I have no proof, but I do know at the store level Moneygram created some obstacles for serving customers. With nothing substantial changing except the money order brand, I doubt this adds luster to liquidation at Walmart for most people.