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4 Things You Need to Be Successful at Manufactured Spending

When I tell people how much manufactured spending I do in a month, I’m often met with disbelief or a sense of awe. “How can you do this much? I can only manager X amount.” When I got started in this hobby, the idea of spending close to a million dollars on gift cards in a year was completely insane. Not to mention totally out of reach. I had the hardest time finding places to buy Vanilla Reload cards and resorted to asking people who I knew were active in the area. A few of them helped me out, but sometimes it was just about trial-and-error: I had to go into a store and see how ms-friendly it was. If you’re just starting out in this hobby and want to increase your manufactured spending numbers, here are a few things you need in order to be successful:

Giftcards.com Visa Gift Cards

1. Find an MS-friendly Walmart store. Yes, there are tons of other places where you can buy money orders with a PIN-enabled Visa gift card, but Walmart is really the most convenient. Fees are low and money orders can be purchased in larger quantities. When I started out, I always bought money orders in small quantities and hopped to different stores. This was mainly because I (rightly) assumed it would sound suspicious if I asked to buy $2,000 worth of money orders with payment split across four cards. Asking to repeat this step four more times in order to hit the $10,000 daily maximum was sure to get me banned.

I started off small and moved my way up. After establishing a friendly rapport with the cashiers and even some managers, they got used to my frequent money-order purchases and didn’t seem to mind it at all. So I increased my numbers until finally, when I felt comfortable, I worked my way up to $10,000 per day. That was after I had established that it was ok to purchase $2,000 worth of money orders with four $500 cards. 

Recently, after my conversation with an Asset Protection Associate, things got a lot easier for me. For one, the Asset Protection team understood that I wasn’t doing anything illegal. This also seemed to reassure the cashiers that I was trustworthy. Additionally, the Asset Protection Associate informed me that all Walmart stores were able to do split payments for bill pay. It was merely a case of untrained cashiers at this location and after having a chat with the manager, I was able to begin paying my credit card bills at that location as well.

2. Credit Cards with High Credit Limits. This one is a bit easier said than done. A variety of factors affect your credit limit, but in my case, my tendency to keep many credit cards long-term helped me secure higher credit limits. American Express, Barclays, and Citi have all automatically increased my credit card limit after months of me paying my cards off in full – often well before the statement closing date. 

Having high credit limits can help you generate way more spending in a shorter amount of time. There’s no need to constantly pay off your credit cards to free up the credit line for more manufactured spending. This is a huge time saver.

3. Exceptional Organization Skills. Are you prone to losing gift cards? Do you often find yourself with Visa gift cards, unable to tell whether they have a balance? Do you frequently miss credit card payment dates? Then manufactured spending probably isn’t for you. Or at least you shouldn’t be doing it in large numbers. It takes exceptional  organization skills to do this. I personally keep track of all of my gift card receipts, confirmation emails, and the gift cards themselves until the last money order has been deposited. I also have a document where I keep track of credit card balances, due dates, statement closing dates, and any payments I’ve made on those accounts.

Missing a payment or losing a single gift card can cost hundreds of dollars. And what’s the point of earning all of these points and miles if you’re doing it at a major loss? Organization is key if you want to manufacture spend in large quantities.

4. Time. When you’ve figured out an efficient MS route and a friendly store, you’ll inevitable save a lot of time. Still, if you’re a super busy person and can’t devote the minimum 2.5 hours per week I spend liquidating $20,000 – $30,000 worth of gift cards, then you’re going to have a hard time manufactured spending in large quantities.

Take my younger sister: She’s a full time student, but her schedule allows her plenty of free days when she doesn’t have class or lots of studying to do. Still, the idea of spending her free time going to Walmart, the local mall, or keeping track of credit card payments doesn’t appeal to her. I’m lucky because my job doesn’t suck the will to live out of me anymore, so in my (plentiful) free time, manufactured spending doesn’t seem as tedious as it would if I’d worked 40 hours per week and spent another 20 hours of it commuting.

What about a gift card source, you say? Considering the many ways to buy Visa gift cards online, that shouldn’t be a factor. Most people, if they have the time and resources, can in fact do $150,000 worth of manufactured spending thanks to online gift card purchases alone. It comes down to being organized, finding an ms-friendly place to buy money orders, and devoting enough time to ensure you’re doing it all right.

How much manufactured spending are you able to do every month? Please share in the comment section.

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Ariana Arghandewal

85 Comments

  1. Buying GCs and then MOs is one thing. Depositing them to banks is another. How many bank accounts and banks do you use? How much do you deposit to any one bank in a month and how much do you deposit at any one time? Very interested.

  2. What about costs & fees of giftcards – how much does MS’ing $1,000,000 a year cost you personally??

    TIA, I’ve been out of MS’ing since Target shut down easy free MS’ing. It’s been a long time and time to get back at it!!

    • I cover this in my monthly posts. With cash back factored in, I come out ahead. You do need to jump back in – it’s not as easy as the redbird days, but still worth it!

  3. Hi Ariana, great post. Sounds like you’ve found a Walmart that in one visit will let you buy $10,000 worth of MO? So assuming the max on one MO is $1K and you have $500 VGCs, that means they are letting you walk out with 10 MOs and swipe 40 cards? The WMs I’ve been to said I could only do a max of $2K total in MOs per day per store across 4 cards max. Or, are you visiting multiple (I.e. At least 5 WMs) to get $10K worth of MOs?

    • Yes, and they let me do bill pay as well. There are also a couple of others nearby where I can liquidate additional cards. On a $10k purchase I’m swiping 20 cards total in five transactions. It’s really YMMV – some stores are ok with it and others are not.

  4. Do you black out the ‘gift’ that’s in the upper right corner of the giftcards you buy?

    • No I don’t have to. The store actually knows they’re gift cards and they’re ok with it! In the past I didn’t bother doing it either, since they let me swipe the cards and never looked at them.

  5. Have been doing about $30,000/month lately with wife. OD deals helped a lot. Have a friendly walmart up to $4,000 at one time, going to try $6,000. Have 2 other friendly walmarts near me and one unfriendly which one load is lucky.

    • I’m just going to begin my foray into MS in Jan. Can you find OD or Staples deals through cashback portals? Can you depend on OD and Staples deals to be offered about once a month in the physical stores? And when you pick up these vgc’s, if they are limited 1 to a household, is there anything preventing you from buying at numerous stores in the area?

  6. Hello Ariana, you mentioned on your 3rd paragraph, sec.1 ( 4 things to succeed in MS) about bill pay in the same store. Is that your credit card account that your can pay there? Quite sorry, I am new to this. Dave

    • Yes, it’s usually my Discover or Barclay cards that I pay. I’m told Bofa works too, but right now the majority of ms gets put on my Barclay cards, so that’s what I focus on.

  7. Hi Ariana, Just found your blog and so glad I did. You really tell it straight and being new, I’ve been leery of beginning because I’m not sure what info out there is current. I’m not able to field test anything yet since I’m out of the country. I’m just learning so I can start Jan 1. I’d love to know also about how you do bill pay at the same time at WM.

    • Thanks Deena! After buying mo’s, I just ask if they can process some bill pay for me and they do. It’s pretty much the same process as buying mo’s – $2k split across four cards.

  8. I’m sorry if this is a dumb question. I am quite new to MS..but are you “making” appt. $1,500 a month or spending it out of your own pocket?

  9. Sorry. I was reading another MS article you had written about a month ago..but still same question..are you “making” a significant amount of money for a few hours work..or do you end up in the hole once you pay for all the fees associated w/ MS’ing?

  10. Thx for your lightening quick reply. It would be such a joy to do a ms spree together with someone as knowledgeable and confident as you! Your blog is terrific! Another question; how do you make sure when you order a vgc from GC or GCM, and through a cashback portal, that it’s a Meta and not a Sunrise? I understand the latter can not be liquidated at WM.

    • Thanks Deena! I usually just order the same designs over and over, and they’ve proven to be Metabank cards. This includes the designs in the photo above. I’d say get the owl cards to ensure they’re Meabank issued.

      • I just read that you wrote “I haven’t been able to get ANY of my credit cards to go through GCM”. Another person said he uses his SPG Personal and Fidelity visa to buy at GCM in quantity. I will be using CSR and CBInk+. If there is a problem, do you have a contact to email at GCM re this problem? I’ve read on FT that others also have this problem.Thanks

  11. There’s a comprehensive discussion on FlyerTalk Forums Thread Wiki: Billpay at Walmart Oct 21. But I’m not so sure how to use the info in this wiki.

  12. Could you explain step by step how to buy $2000 worth of MOs across 4 $500 VGC? Thank you

    • Maury,
      You request to purchase 2 $1000 money orders. Scan the first card and then tell the cashier that you want to put $500 on that card. Enter you pin and you are good. Repeat this 3 more times. Then pay $1.40 in cash for the money orders. Some of the cards from Office Depot have to be scanned first and then you hit the cancel button and choose the debit option for some reason.
      Good luck!

  13. Currently doing about 20-30k a month on the Starwood card. My local Walmart limits me to 3k and 1 transaction. With $500 cards from gift cards.com, thru Yazing, that means that I can only liquidate 2k a day. I was told by a Walmart manager that I could go up to 10k a day, but that I would have to give them all my information on a form including my SSN. To say the least, I was a little wary of this. I was told this is a policy for all their stores. Ariana, how are you getting around this? If I can get around this, I was looking at getting the Discover card you have mentioned. How exactly are you getting 3% back with that card?

    • You’re very brave! I’d like to avoid a Financial Review, so I don’t put much ms on that card. I was weary about that at first too – I didn’t trust WM to keep my information confidential. However, my go-to WM has reassured me they black out the sensitive info after typing it into their system. I’ve actually seen my previously filled out forms in the folder, with my SSN and DL number blacked out, so I trust they’re doing as they say. So I would recommend just filling out the form if you want ms easier.

      • Thanks for the heads up on filling out the form. I will probably put some more GC purchases on my Ink card, so that I can build up my UR point balance.

  14. For the last few months i’ve been MS about 115K per month. 15K at GCM and 100K at GC.COM. I purchase MO at 6 MS friendly WM. I also use Stop and Shop and Hannafords on occasion. I use 3 credit unions and 2 banks for MO deposits.
    Life is good!!!!

    • @mike – How are you doing 100k/mo at gc.com? How many accts? I assume different mailing addresses as well? Are you stuck w the 2.5k/day/acct/address?

      • I can place 2 orders of $2492.20 daily through 1 account mailed to the same address 7 day’s a week if i wish. So if i REALLY wanted to push it, i could do about 150K per month.

        • Mike have you been successfully placing multiple orders on both GCM and GC.com per day? I am trying to figure out how much to increase to per month. I heard someone mention a 10k limit per month for GCM, hmmm…

      • I was having some issues at GCM when i first started a couple of years ago. I stopped trying for about 4 months and it’s been pretty smooth sailing since i resumed about 18 months ago. I’ve been using my spg personal, and fidelity visa cards regularly!

  15. @James who is doing 20-30K a month on a single SPG card and @Ariana – don’t your credit card companies get suspicious seeing the recurrent huge charges from Giftcard Mall and/or Simon Outlet Mall??

    I am doing about 10-15K a month (almost all from Simon Mall) and I always spread it between several cards – just for fear that my credit card companies might get suspicious.

    If it were not for this fear, I would just put all my MS on my business SPG card. It has 30K limit, so limit is not an issue. And for me it would work best to just accumulate SPG points. So I would rather not spread out the GC purchases between different cards.
    And a couple of times I even put $5000 on it in a single transaction at Simon Mall. But I am still a little uneasy – is it safe? If you guys could comment on this aspect of MS it would be much appreciated.

    • Not yet. I do get fraud alerts from time to time but I’ve been safe so far. I think the fact that I mix in a good amount of regular spending on most of these cards helps.

    • Personally I have never had any fraud alerts. Only time was when I flew up to Portland with my wife on our companion pass last December at the Apple Store. Oregon does not have sales tax so the savings combined with the Discover IT deal with 20% off for paying with Apple Pay made for a good amount of money back. The Discover alerted me when I was paying for 2 computers and a bunch of gear.
      I also make it a habit of calling my credit cards every 6 months to increase my credit limit.
      As Ariana stated, MS is much easier when your CC limits are higher, such as in the 30k+ range. Perhaps using a charge card such as the Amex Gold or Platinum would allow for more MS?

  16. If I am using $300 cards from Staples, I should be able to get one MO for $1,200, right? WM doesn’t think it’s weird to use more than one gc in a single MO?

    • I am pretty sure the.most you can get on one MO is $1,000. Maybe try asking for 2 MO one $1,000 and the second one $800 and use 6 cards. Either pay fee in cash or reduce one money order by fee amount. All in one transaction.

      • An earlier comment post by the author says she’s doing $10k worth in 5 transactions. That would have to be a MO of $2k. Hmm…

      • The WMs I use in my area will issue a money order for no more than $1000 per MO. So if you have Staples VGCs, you can get a MO for $900 and pay the fee of $0.70 cents. This allows for 3 swipes.

    • Yes, but you shouldn’t because you’re liquidation cost goes up. You pay $0.70 per $1k, so in that scenario your would be paying $0.70 to liquidate $200. I’d stick to either $900 (pay the fee in cash) or $1k across four cards.

      • One WM told me that I can only swipe 4 total cards per day with each money order being no larger than $1,000. Basically this limits me to 1 $1,000 MO when I use $300 cards from Staples.(3×300 and 100 from a 4th). They were also very stern and said if they saw me come back later in the day, they wouldn’t allow me to buy anymore that day. They knew nothing about me giving my Social and other info over to allow the daily amount to go up. Anyone I should talk to about allowing the daily amount to go up?

        I have also learned that Key Bank does not accept any kind of MO deposit via the ATM.

  17. Ariana,
    What is max vgc allowed on giftcard.com & do you liquidate via MO at Walmart? Which portal do you recommend for cashback. Thanks

    • You need to read this article by Ariana (google it)

      Is it Worth Buying Visa Gift Cards from Giftcards.com at 1.25% Cash Back?

    • The maximum is $2500 per order (including fees) and you can place two orders per day. I do liquidate them at Walmart and I recommend you use the Yazing cash back portal.

      • Ariana, where can you buy drug store vgc’s to get the 5% cashback on drug store category spend and can they be liquidated at wm?

      • Care to share which Walmart is friendly towards VGC swipes? I’m in Bay Area, in the Berkeley area.

  18. I tried to buy three mo tonight but the new holiday wm vgc were declined possible reasons why?

  19. Hi Ariana. Is Yazing still working well for you? Have you had any issues? Topcashback worked flawlessly for me for three months but they’ve failed to track several of my giftcards.com orders this month. I’ve lodged missing cashback claims but, according to them, it could take several months to get them resolved. I might switch to Yazing. What do you think? Thanks and happy Thanksgiving,

    • Thanks! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving too. Yazing has been the most reliable portal I’ve used for gc.com. They’ve consistently tracked everything and they pay out super fast (around 30 days). I suggest you give them a try. I’ve had no issued with TCB, except they take too long to pay out.

  20. You make this sound so easy, but I have had quite a few bad experiences. This week I tried to use two visa GCs to buy a MO from Walmart and it failed. I am going to try using one GC and see if it goes through. I wonder if the cashier did not do it right. She did not ask me how much to put on the first card like a different cashier did on a previous successful MO purchase. Also there is always a huge line of people and I feel guilty for taking time to do these. Maybe I need to fine a less busy time to go, but I have a day job. Thank you for writing this post and for all the great answers. I still consider myself a neewbie – only a little over 1 year of trying the GCs and earning points hobby. I cannot imagine spending the kind of money you speak of. I only make 30k a year at my day job. Thank you again! Clyn6

  21. Thanks Ariana for all of your extremely helpful information! Will definitely use your links to support your blog!

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