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My Week in Manufactured Spending

Lately, I’ve been slacking off when it comes to manufactured spending. So much so, that other than a monthly $1,000 credit card load, I’ve been letting someone else use my Serve card. I did put forth some effort and picked up five Redbird cards on my trip to Michigan but after a conversation with Kendra from Points and Pixie Dust, I realized I need to step it up. The one trip I have planned so far is covered. At this point, I’m trying to stock up on Arrival miles in case of mistake fares, cheap summer business class tickets to Europe and hotel stays. I’m beginning to step things up a bit and thought I’d share a summary of my week in manufactured spending:

The coveted Target Prepaid REDcards

The coveted Target Prepaid REDcards

The Redbird nightmare. Activating my temporary Redbird cards has been nothing short of a nightmare. Canceling the old Serve accounts was easily done online. The whole thing took a minute, tops. However once the account was closed, I knew (based on my experience switching from Bluebird to Serve) that activating Redbird was not going to be easy. So I started by registering one of the cards in my younger sister’s name. Since she’s never had a Bluebird or Serve card before, I figured it would be hassle-free. Not so. After submitting all of the information, I was instructed to fax Amex a copy of her Social Security card and driver’s license to verify her identity. 

Putting that on the back burner, I went about registering the other Redbird cards. After two hours on the phone, I was told that even though my mom’s Serve account was closed, it appeared she had another one open with her SSN but someone else’s name. I asked if they could just close that account, but was told they can’t do that unless I fax them a copy of her SSN and driver’s license. Not wanting to deal with that drama at the moment, I decided to focus my attention on the other three accounts, expecting the same hassle. It ended up being surprisingly easy, with each registration going smoothly without any paperwork required. First thing Tuesday (or Wednesday, depending on how worn out I’ll be by this saga), I’m faxing over the information Amex requested and keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t result in some kind of identity theft scenario.

American Express Gift Cards. Maybe I’m being greedy, but in case Redbird takes a nosedive, I want to have a back-up ms tool. I’ve been buying Amex gift cards and unloading them via American Express for Target for a while and decided it was time to finally put that EIN to use. I ordered $8,000 worth of business gift cards, which were approved shortly after. While I was at it, I decided to place an order for my brother as well. Since I had just purchased $8,000 worth of business cards, it totally slipped my mind that I couldn’t order more than $5,000 worth of personal gift cards. It wasn’t until after the order had been placed that I had realized I’d gone over the $5,000 daily limit by $1,000. I expected the order to be cancelled, but about an hour later I got an email verifying that my order had been approved. 

American Express for Target loads. What I find really annoying is how I can purchase $8,000 worth of Amex gift cards without a problem but a $900 charge at Target sets off a fraud alert. So when I was out stocking up on non-essentials at Target, I thought I might as well load $1k or two on my Amex for Target cards. I should have known better than to whip out a Bank of America card because that waste of plastic always gets declined for anything over $500. My Club Carlson Visa, which is normally such a trooper, declined as well. Thankfully I was spared the embarrassment of a third decline when the Barclay Arrival Plus card went through.

Next, I had to reassure the banks that I wasn’t an identity thief nor had my card been compromised by one. US Bank was very easy – a simple text message response and my card was working again. Bank of America, always the troublemaker, wouldn’t let me off that easy. After responding with a text message, as instructed, they asked me to call them to verify that the purchases I’d made were legitimate – 45 minutes later I still had made no progress, other than finishing last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, so I gave up. They called me back, oddly, and proceeded to put me on hold for another 20 minutes. Seriously Bofa, get it together! 

All the complaining aside, I think I had a pretty productive week when it comes to manufactured spending. I did $14,900 worth of Amex/Amex for Target purchases and managed another $3,000 of online Serve loads before those cards were cancelled. I do hope the Redbirds arrive before the end of the month so I can get at least one load in before my limit resets to $5,000 next month. Either way, Redbird is going to make meeting future spending requirements much easier, so whatever hassles I’m enduring now will be worth it.

What have you done in terms of manufactured spending last week?

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Ariana Arghandewal

23 Comments

  1. Hi,
    So to be clear you still have Amex Gift cards worth $14,000.How are you liquidating them?

  2. How much you have to pay to ATM to take the $$ out of the amex target cards or what is your cost (cents/pt) of generating these ~15K pts?
    BTW, there are some evidence that lucrative CC loads on Target Redbird might be closing. It is not a sustainable for Target to allow that, it seems…

    • What do you do with the cash after you withdraw it from the ATM? I would imagine banks would get suspicious if you are constantly depositing large amounts of cash?

    • Amex charges $3 per withdrawal (the first one each month is free) and the operator will charge another fee – I use Costco’s ATM, which charges $1.25 per transaction. Factoring in cash back portals, I pretty much break even. I’ve heard some speculation about Redbird. Would not surprise me at all if AFT and Redbird loads got shut down.

  3. I have been slacking for months. I can’t get Redbirds in my area. (yet) I used to buy VISA gift cards at Walmart and load them to BB, but I haven’t done that in months and I’m almost afraid to try it again.
    I have been ordering Simon mall VISA gift cards by mail (I pay the extra $3 to not have to deal with Walmart cashiers) and then load them to BB IF the kiosk is working. (no Simon malls in my area)
    So yeah….after the demise of Vanilla Reloads and amazon payments, MS is barely worth the effort. My opinion on that might change though if my local Target ever gets Redbirds.

      • Yeah I looked at that. 40-some dollars?? Wow. My husband has a business trip to OKC in a couple week and they have Redbirds there. I will just have him get one there.

  4. I’m assuming your AE purchases benefit you in a couple ways. One the portal bonus and two the points or miles you earned on the credit card used to buy the gift cards. Mind sharing which CC you used for the purchase and why those points or miles are valuable to you. Thanks!

  5. I thought the amex for target limit per card is 2500 2 cards is 5k under one ssn per rolling 28 days ?
    how does it work with 2 card for 10k?

    • You can carry a $2,500 maximum per card with a max.load of 5k per month. Basically you can load $2,500, withdraw $2,500 and then load another $2,500 on the same card. Hope this makes sense!

      • Got it ! thanks, but then it wouldn’t be cost effective to load the 500 with 3 extra fees. So now I suppose with 2 cards you could do 3k + 2k of total 5k then withdraw all 5k and do it again ?

  6. I finally got my 3rd REDcard (aka Redbird) in use after gradually going from 1 to 2 and being all careful about it…then I read here that Ariana sets up a handful at once 😀 It’s encouraging though to hear that, I might go for 4th myself.

    A quick tip/reminder for people who are looking to cancel Serve/Bluebird in order for them to register online with REDcard, change the phone number and email address on the Serve/Bluebird acct if you plan to use the same info on the REDcard account, will make things easier.

    P.S. For anyone looking to get this; no need to pay $40 on eBay/Craigslist for a prepaid activated REDcard as someone indicated above. I can provide one in minutes for much less (have done so for hundreds of people so far) and so can other people. Just click on my handle if you’re interested.

  7. . Is it possible to keep the same email but a different phone number when registering for RedBird, when moving from Serve to RedBird. I remember that different phone# trick helped me when i had to make the switch from BlueBird to Serve as using the same phone number as in my cancelled BlueBird account was causing issues, while setting up a Serve account. Ariana did you use a different email and phone# ( as per NoonRadars tip) for those redbirds for you didn’t have any issues when registering.

    • I just provided a different email address and it worked but if you want to be thorough, you can certainly give that a shot and change the phone number later.

  8. Thanks Ariana.. Cancelled my Serve Softcard account 🙁 loading $1500 using credit card from the premises of my home was too good to be true since June 2014. Bought a RedBird on eBay yesterday for $30 and used the same email address but a different phone# and it registered.. Deleted any phantom phone numbers that showed up in the account (probably the ones used by the person who bought the temp RedCard) and now just waiting. Took no more than 10 minutes…Sister Ariana, we need to have a Bay Area Meet, pl do something .. 🙂

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