My Week in Manufactured Spending: Planning Around Life Events

I took a break from gift card churning over the past week, opting to stockpile orders from giftcards.com. Ever since the system changes were implemented a while back, I’m finding its taking a super long time (i.e. a week) for gift cards to arrive after placing an order. Not only are some of my orders taking a week to arrive, but they’re often separated and I have to sort through multiple envelopes to ensure that all of the cards have in fact arrived. I’ve tried to include GiftCardMall into my routine, but for some reason none of my credit cards are going through. I’ve largely cut Simon Mall out of the equation because I prefer to minimize my gift card fees. 


It’s not just the slower process that had me sitting out my regular rounds over the past two weeks. My nephew was born yesterday and in anticipation of the long drive out of town to the hospital, I decided I might as well hold off on gift card churning until then. After seeing the little one and spending some time with my sister (and as her room became inundated by visitors), I headed out on a quick ms run. There were three Walmart stores within a 5 mile radius of the hospital, and all of them are fairly ms-friendly.

At one store, I was in the midst of paying for my money orders when the cashier asked, “So where are you going?” I asked her for clarification and she responded with, “Are you one of the people who does this for rewards?” I admitted that yes, I was in fact one of those people and would probably use my earnings for another trip back to Europe. She admitted that some of the “regulars” tell her she should get in on it but that she doesn’t have good credit. I took the opportunity to see if she’d let me buy more money orders in separate transactions (to comply with the 4-card swipe maximum) and she said they were not allowed to do that. I was welcome to buy up to $10,000 and I’d have to fill out the usual paperwork, but that it had to be in a single transaction. That’s pretty much the policy at one of my regular Walmart stores, which used to be an ms goldmine.

I made it to all three Walmart stores in the area and ended up with just under $10,000 in gift cards. I went back to the hospital for a couple of hours, then headed home. On the way there, I stopped by  two Walmart stores, where I purchased a combined $12,000 worth of money orders and managed over $8,000 worth of bill pay. It was a successful outing, though I do wish one of those stores hadn’t implemented the one-transaction policy and allowed me to keep purchasing $10,000 worth of money orders in $2,000 increments.

In any case, it was good for me to go to stores where I’m not a familiar face for once. As I’ve explained before, a few of my regular stores have implemented no-gift card rules or restricted the use of multiple cards per transaction, making money order purchases more difficult. I’m hoping by the time I re-appear, the revolving door will work its magic and there will be a new group of clueless people working the money center.

How much manufactured spending have you done this week?

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Ariana Arghandewal


  1. Which banks do you feel comfortable doing Bill Pay with? I’ve heard some of them will flag you for too many unknown payments.

    • So far I’ve only done it with Discover – mainly because at the single WM that allows multiple card swipes for Bill Pay, all they’ve been able to pull up is Discover. I tried to pay my Fidelity Visa as well as Barclay Arrival cards, but they just can’t find them in the system. It may be for the best anyway, since I’ve heard a lot of people got their Arrival cards shut down because of WM bill pay.

  2. Still learning the ins & outs of WMT billpay (with checkfreepay). We’ve had some success lately paying visa bills (for chase ink esp.), and that’s so welcome, esp. when we get a wmt money center rep who is experienced with the process. (thanks for showing us the way)

    Narrow question: Seem to recall reading that you also got in on the Chase British Airways card last year. Were you also able to do bill pay via WalMart for this card too? (I ask as last month, I wasn’t able to do so. I had printed out copy of my Chase/BA bill with me too. Maybe I had one of those clueless moneycenter reps…. or maybe you can’t pay the British Airways Chase via WMT? Any experience with this one? Nothing on this via the FT thread)

    PS: Congrats on the new family member!

    • Thank you! I didn’t get the BA Visa, but I also wouldn’t use Bill Pay for Chase cards. I heard a few people got their Barclay Arrival card shut down over bill pay, so I’m leaving Chase out of it since they’re a bit more stringent than Barclays.

      • Thanks for your reply, Ariana, though you surprised a bit, esp. above where you appear to say you’ve only used WMT thus far for Discover bill pay. From my own experience, I can confirm that paying Chase Ink Visa is not problem at WMT (via cfp)– and have done it there several times in recent months, and with multiple swipes each time. (3 each time)

        Key “trick” is directing the money center rep. to go to billpay/cfp then look under visa (or mastercard) rather than for a specific credit card/bank issuer of a given visa/mc.

        For the chase ink visa business card, they go to visa…. then enter the card #…. don’t think the word chase is even used… (but I wan’t watching every step)

        Are you familiar with the 3 year+ running flyertalk thread on paying bills at Walmart? (forum # 1471728-billpay-walmart ) It’s rather low volume, considering how long it’s been up, and may be dated — and is surely incomplete (thus my question re. Chase/British Air….. I haven’t read all the ways back through it’s life, but the upfront, the ft summary WIKI does have a list of which cards posters have indicated the wmt billpay (via cfp) has worked, and where not. (Therein, you’ll see references to some Barclay products not working, but others have)

        Wildly confusing. (at least to me) Perhaps if you do an eventual post on this, you might help us sort it out (and do more research/testing in your own ms routines.)

        • Thanks for the tip, SJ. I’ll definitely put it to use on my next visit, so I can pay my Arrival and Fidelity cards. I’m still going to steer clear of using bill pay for Chase (not that I’m ms’ing much with them these days anyway).

  3. I like giftcardmall, but be careful they don’t pay as quickly as Giftcards.com so it takes longer for Yazing to send you your cash back payments.

  4. How much do you usually tell people about what you are doing if they ask? Last week the guy at the USPS helping me purchase a MO (I was just getting one MO with 2×500 VGCs) asked to see my card and when he saw it he asked ‘is there a promotion going on? I see lots of people coming in with those.’ I told him I needed MO to pay a tuition bill (which is true!) but didn’t further elaborate.

    • It depends on the situation (I actually wrote a post about it a while back). If they ask a question like that, I’ll just say “Yes” because it satisfies their curiosity and it’s true. But if they think I’m doing something illegal or shady, I might tell them. But it really depends on the situation.

  5. Ariana, maybe one day you can do a post on Bill Pay?
    Some of us had been lucky to have our Serves/BBs survive until now (or rather until a few days ago when the new wave of closures came up) and had no reason to use Bill Pay. So for many it’s still largely uncharted territory.
    I also wonder how you managed to buy $12,000 worth of money orders in just 2 Walmarts if they only allow 4 swipes per transaction? Do you complete one transaction and come to the next cashier? Or do you fill out that paperwork, after all?

    • “I took the opportunity to see if she’d let me buy more money orders in separate transactions (to comply with the 4-card swipe maximum) and she said they were not allowed to do that. I was welcome to buy up to $10,000 and I’d have to fill out the usual paperwork, but that it had to be in a single transaction.”

      Further to LT’s post, I’m also having trouble understanding you on this one!

      • Basically, they only allow me to buy my money orders in a single transaction. At some WM stores, I sometimes buy up to $10,000 worth of money orders in five separate transactions. That’s because they limit you to 4 card swipes per transaction and since the highest gift card denomination is $500, I’m limited to $2,000 worth of money orders per transaction. Now, a few WM stores are refusing to allow customers to purchase mo’s in more than one transaction, so I’m limited to $2,000 worth of money orders per store.

    • That might be worth a post, thanks for the suggestion. One of the two WM’s allows me to buy $10k in five transactions. The other one only allows mo’s to be purchased in one transaction (limiting me to 4 card swipes). So altogether I was able to come away with $12k in money orders. I do fill out the Fincen form when I buy over $3k in a single location.

  6. I usually MS $5K a week, nothing compared to what you’re doing but, it’s a pace that I feel comfortable with. I get my GCs through a combination of giftcardmall (using yazing) and simon mall, when my orders take too long to arrive.

    If you need some ideas for blog posts, may I suggest you write a comprehensive post on WM billpay? The entire process still a bit of mystery to me.

    Congrats on the new family addition!

    • Thanks G! That’s still over 200k miles and points per year, so you’re doing pretty good. I definitely will work on a bill pay post at some point, since so many people are asking about it.

  7. I live in the East Bay and getting 2000$ MO is difficult. I am surprised and happy that you are able to get so much in one round. I dont need location but care to share the city or any clues?

    • I feel for you – the East Bay is one of the worst places for MS. You might want to look into liquidating at Kwik Shop gas stations. The fees are higher, but it’s an option. Other than that, if you can make it out to the Sacramento Area every once in a while, the WM’s are fairly ms friendly.

  8. Hi Ariana,

    Love your MS posts!
    Your numbers are VERY impressive. I’m new to this and only have 2 cards to work with right now. How many cards are you using for the $10,000 and how much would you suggest I can do with only 2?


    • It varies. I can only buy $5k per day, so I usually split that up between two cards. But there are times when I charge an entire $9,500 Simon Mall purchase to my Arrival card. However, I’d start out by splitting it 2-3 ways since your credit card issuer might decline the transaction if you’re just starting out.

  9. For the store that you chatted with the girl who wanted to do MS, have you filed the paperwork there? Or have you filed any paperwork at WM in the past? What information does it collect and have you heard anybody got into issues or being contacted after filing that paperwork?

    • I didn’t, since she only allowed me to do one transaction, which came up to $2,000. I do fill out the form when I’m purchasing $3k or more. It asks for your personal info, SSN, and DL. They enter the form into a computer, then redact the SSN and DL number before putting the form back into a folder.

  10. How do you actually go through the process of letting the WM cashier willing to do $10000 MOs? The biggest amount I tried was just about $3000 and after that the cashier just don’t do it for me. Sigh…

    • It’s not always possible. At this point, two of my local WM’s are refusing multiple transactions. I have just one regular place that lets me do $10k without problems.

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