My Week in Manufactured Spending: A Slow Start to The New Year

I hope all of you had a great New Year’s Eve. I spent mine at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, which has the absolute best views in the city of the fireworks display. I’m not a fan of standing out in the freezing cold surrounded by a crowd of potentially homicidal drunks, so I appreciated being in a warm space with tons of great food and a direct view of the Bay Bridge. I highly recommend this to anyone considering ringing in 2017 in San Francisco. 

View from the Hyatt Regency San Francisco club lounge

View from the Hyatt Regency San Francisco club lounge

I was in San Francisco for two nights (one of them at the Grand Hyatt) and intended to get a lot of manufactured spending done. Unfortunately, this turned into a less than fruitful outing. San Francisco was pretty much a ghost town and things were off to a bad start. I pulled up the Yelp app to find nearby CVS, Walgreens and RiteAid locations. This was one incident in which having an Android phone would have come in handy

I found a Walgreens store nearby, so I walked out there, thinking I’d at least pick up a couple of PayPal My Cash Reload cards. I picked up two, but the cashier claimed I could only buy one card per day. She didn’t swipe my drivers license or anything, but still enforced the one per day rule. Then I walked out to Market Street, which has more drug stores than end-of-world preachers lining the sidewalk. I tried my go-to CVS store, which had nothing except Vanilla Visa gift cards. I walked to a 7-11 a couple of stores down, which used to be a great spot for picking up PayPal My Cash cards, but it was completely out of anything useful I could buy. 

Next, I walked to the Office Depot store on Kearny, which had a ton of gift cards but they were all small denomination Vanilla Visas. Now these types of cards can be loaded onto the Amex Serve prepaid card at certain stores, but I don’t even have mine yet. I’m finally approaching 30 days since I closed all of my Target Prepaid REDcard accounts, but in the mean time I’ve tried to get a Serve card three times, each time receiving notice that I already have an account and can’t open up a new one. I’m aware all it will take is a phone call to get this resolved, but lately I have zero patience for spending more than 5 minutes talking to a customer service rep about anything, so I’ll just wait until the 30 days are up and hope the problem goes away.

I struck out at a couple more drug stores before I headed back to the Grand Hyatt. I’ve had this awful cough that’s been killing me for the past month and spending too much time out in the cold becomes intolerable. If anyone has a remedy for a persistent cough (other than drinking Mucinex, which works but tastes like laundry detergent), I’m all ears.

This is probably the most pathetic manufactured spending run I’ve ever been on. It’s also tough to muster up the will to keep going after taking such a long break. This week, I plan on ordering some Visa gift cards and even going back to my local Simon Mall to stock up on cheap gift cards. At some point I need to sit down and figure out how many miles I need for various trips I’d like to take this year.

I’ll probably use some of my AAdvantage miles for a trip to Europe during the off-peak season. I’ve been in touch with a couple of NPO’s that help out in the refugee camps of Calais and various parts of Greece, so I’d like to get involved on the ground if I can find the time. And if I can find a flight this Thursday (one that doesn’t conflict with a job interview I have that afternoon but still gets me there in time), I’d like to attend the New York Times Travel Show this weekend, which will easily help me burn some soon-to-be-devalued miles.

I always hear complaints about how tough it is to manufacture spend in New York, so if you’re from the area and have any tips to share with me, I’d appreciate it. Hopefully that outing will be more productive than this most recent one.

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Ariana Arghandewal


  1. I used to get deep coughs that would linger for weeks. Advair, a prescription medication, works wonders for me. I use it for about two weeks on those rare occasions. Feel better!

  2. I’ve read that pineapple juice is 5x more effective than cough syrup. Never had to try it yet, though.

  3. Why do you *STILL* insist that you have to wait 30 days from closing redbird. I told you last time and I’ll tell you again: You don’t have to wait..

  4. For the cough try apple cider vinegar and honey in a little bit of honey. Works magic 🙂

  5. You wrote, “I’ll probably use some of my AAdvantage miles for a trip to Europe during the off-peak season.” You’ll find that MileSaver awards are only available on BA to LHR. It would be stupid to pay the ripoff YQ/YR surcharges.

      • Neither aa.com or the AA reps will let me have anything but BA via LHR. Not AA, AB, IB, Finnair flights. So, how do you get MileSaver AAwards on AB? On AA via MANchester is a joke. You still have to go from MAN on BA via LHR.

          • Try DFW-DUS on AB. All you will get is on BA via LHR.In fact, from DFW to Europe, you will only get BA and LHR. So, how do you get AA/AB,IB,Finnair flights?

  6. Happy New Year Ariana! For my long cough, it seems to go away when the doctor gives me the z-pack (antibotics) for 5 days. Regarding to the CVS, are those Vanilla Visa from US bank loadable with the bluebird at WM? Thanks.

  7. how much my paypal cash cards do you do a month per account? i’ve heard stories of shutdowns/frozen accounts.

    • It’s a definite risk, but I’ve done around $500 – $4k per month for the past six months. I think the reason I haven’t been shut down yet is because I do mix some regular spending, so it’s not all from WM.

  8. Since there is no more cash back on Amex cards, are you just eating the fees for buying Visa GCs?
    The only MS I am doing now is maybe one or two Visa GC a month to meet the spending requirement for the AAviator promo.
    $20 for 2000 miles….??? Plus the hassle of dealing with Walmart.

    • Pretty much. It’s fine with Arrival Miles, since I’m essentially getting back 2.1% cash back. I need to work out a long-term solution for larger amounts of ms on my airline credit cards.

  9. FrequentMiler reported the same thing – and my wife got the cancellation notice this morning

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