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My $82,000 Spending Challenge: 1 Month Later

It’s been a little over a month since I started my quest to meet $82,000 in spending requirements within 3 months and I’m happy to report I’ve made quite a bit of progress, following the plan almost exactly as I outlined it. There have been a few hiccups and I’m not quite where I had planned, but a substantial chunk of that $82k has been taken care of.

Barclay Arrival Plus Card – $3,000 ($700 down, $2300 to go)

The Barclay Arrival Plus card my dad’s card and the only one I’m handing off for regular spending. So far, he’s knocked off about $700 in spending requirements, which means he’s $300 behind for the month. That’s perfectly fine, because we can always just get him a couple of Simon Mall gift cards to meet his final spending goal.

Citi Executive AAdvantage Cards – $20,000 ($10k down, $10k to go)

I’ve been a bit ambitious with my goal of meeting the total spending requirement by the end of this month. In all fairness, I’ve been busy with work until now, so I do plan to make a couple of extra trips to my local Simon Mall this month to stay on track. Here is what I’ve managed so far:

  • $1,000 via Amazon Payments x 2 cards = $2,000
  • $2,000 in Simon Mall gift cards (liquidated via Bluebird) x 2 cards = $4,000
  • $2,000 in direct loads via American Express for Target x 2 cards = $4,000

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card – $20,000 ($6k down, $14k to go) 

I’m a bit behind here because of a few cancelled American Express gift card orders and because I haven’t been able to take advantage of Simon Mall gift cards the way I had intended to. Instead, I’ve managed $1,000 in Giftcardmall Visa gift cards per card. The site is giving me quite a bit of trouble with cancelled orders the way American Express has, but I’ve managed to knock off a bit of spend anyway:

  • $1,000 in Giftcardmall (liquidated via Bluebird) x 2 cards = $2,000
  • $2,000 in direct loads via American Express for Target x 2 cards = $4,000

SPG American Express Business Card – $9,000 ($5k down, $4k to go)

As I stated previously, I’m tacking on an extra $3,000 to the $5,000 spending requirement on the SPG Amex business card in order to meet my travel goals. I had managed to knock off $1,000 in spend in the month before I started this challenge. The remaining amount worked out as follows:

  • $4,000 in American Express gift cards liquidated via Google Wallet
  • $1,000 in direct loads via American Express for Target = $1,000

I dropped Simon Mall gift cards from this routine due to timing issues, but I’ve still managed to unload half of the spending requirements via American Express gift cards and the Amex for Target prepaid card. I’ve also resorted to unloading the American Express gift cards via Google Wallet. This leaves me with $0 profit, but I’m avoiding extra trips to Target and saving time, so it’s a premium I’ve been happy to pay so long as the shopping portal bonus for Amex gift card purchases stays at 3%.

Barclay Arrival Plus Card – $30,000 ($3k down, $27k left)

As you can imagine, it hasn’t been smooth sailing with this card either. With my schedule opening up this month, I definitely plan on knocking out a larger chunk of my $30,000 goal than I’ve managed so far:

  • $3,000 in American Express gift cards (liquidated via Google Wallet)

Overall, I’ve completed $24,700 in the first month and have another $57,300 left to complete. Spread across the next two months, that’s just over $28,500 per month. However, the majority of it will be on the Arrival Plus card that I’m trying to generate points for. The key to getting this done while staying under the radar is to spread the spend across different channels. While it would certainly help to incorporate normal spend, I’ve found that it makes it more difficult to track personal expenses and I tend to go above what I’d normally spend. The only exceptions I’ll make here are utility bills, which I’ll start charging to the different cards to keep this massive spending venture viable.

Are you in the midst of a manufactured spending spree? I’d love to know what numbers you’re pulling in and how you’re getting it done.

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Ariana Arghandewal

30 Comments

  1. When you say “direct loads via American Express for Target”, do you mean outright purchases from a cashier at a store? That’s the only way I’ve done it myself, because the T&C of the AmEx card seems pretty explicit — Target can call them merchandise or business services or whatever it may choose, but bought online from AmEx itself, they are billed as cash advances. If that isn’t true, it would save lots of time for me.

    • Yes, the wording is a bit off. I tried to differentiate this method (i.e. credit card loads) from using the credit card to buy Amex gift cards and then loading that onto Amex for Target.

  2. The stress of trying to MS $82,000 in such a short time would exhaust me. If you can do this without coming unhinged, you are my hero!

    • I’m trying!Though there is still plenty of time to become unhinged, so we’ll see…

  3. can you please tell what type of visa gift cards from the giftcardmall work on BB? – thanks

    • Their Visa gift cards are the same, they just have different images. So just scroll to “Visa gift card” and any of those will work.

  4. You are so crazy =)

    I just finished the spend on my last Citi Exec card and now I’m working on the $4,500 spend for my Capital One Spark Business card. Yay! I’m going to lay low for a few months then sign us up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred again. Just realized it has been more than two years for both of us! =)

    • Laying low sounds good right about now. The CSP is going to be a piece of cake – enjoy!

    • I do it mostly at the Fairfield or Vacaville locations. Don’t go to the money center – they won’t let you do load BB with a gift card. Opt for the kiosk or the regular checkout register.

      • Adriana, your blog has been the fav! Quick question: I also live in the bayarea. Recently the Mountain View Walmart stopped accepting GC to load BB or MO, do you know any good alternatives around this area? I have got mostly Visa GC. Unloading from Amazon Payment is just too slow to me since I’ve got lot of GCs. Thanks a lot! Fairfield and Vacaville is a little too far from me…

        • Thanks John! Unfortunately I don’t. Last I heard, the kiosks in your area were removed. If they’re not letting you load Bluebird at the money center, try the regular check-out register. Or read this post on how to get gc’s with your name on them – this way you can pass them off as “debit” cards.

  5. Very impressive, Ariana! Keep up the good work, and thanks for making reading your blog so much fun to read!

  6. Good post. Couple of questions:

    1. Which portal do you use to buy the AMEX GC? How much is the cashback on that? Which credit card is better to use for amex gc purchases?
    2. The giftcardmall site charges $3.95 in addition to visa charge of $3.95. Is there any lower fee options or cashback that works better for this options?
    3.

    • I used Topcashback or BeFrugal, depending on which one had the highest payout. Right now, BeFrugal wins out at 2.7% cash back. You can offset the GCM fees by going through a portal like Topcashback. It’s cheaper if you just buy Visa gc’s from a local grocery store, but I did it online because I didn’t have much time to go from store to store.

      • I have not been successful at finding groceries that take cr cards in Sac for buying GCs. Any suggestions? Luv your blog!

        • There’s a Safeway in Rocklin that I’ve had some luck with. It’s pretty much hit or miss everywhere else.

  7. That is very impressive. A this pace, you’ll knock this off in no time.

    Would you please give me the lowdown on Google Wallet? I’m not sure how that works. Thanks!

  8. You are buying VISA gift cards directly from the giftcardmall site? With the $3.95 purchase fee plus $3.99 shipping?
    I bought from them for awhile when ebates was offering cash back, but they stopped doing that several months ago. Are you getting around the giftcardmall fees somehow?

    • Not much. Extrabux was giving 1% cash back a while ago, but for the most part you won’t find more than 0.5%. The reason I used GCM was to diversify some of my spend. There are definitely cheaper options, like Simon Mall gift cards.

  9. I noticed that topcashback and BeFrugal cash back offers for Giftcardmall now exclude Visa gift card purchase,,,, any alternatives to offset the buying costs for these cards? –

    Thanks

  10. Have you recently run into trouble loading amounts over $500 to your Google Wallet?

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