Manufactured Spending

My Month in Manufactured Spending: 37,500 Miles in June 2018

After a banner month of earning over 100,000 points and miles, things slowed down in June. I did, however, earn more miles this month from manufactured spending. Over the last month, I earned over  miles and points from gift card purchases at Simon Mall and giftcards.com. Not my best, but also not too shabby. 

  • ~19,000 miles from Visa gift cards purchased at the mall
  • ~17,500 miles from MasterCard gift cards

You may be surprised that I’m still ordering MasterCard gift cards, since those are not as easy to liquidate. However, since Yazing and TopCashBack are offering 1.5% cash back on MasterCard gift cards, it helps me keep my manufactured spending costs low. If you’re also trying to keep your expenses low, be sure to read up on ways to off-set manufactured spending fees.

Aside from this, I also earned a few thousand miles making loan and mortgage payments with a credit card through Plastiq, Kiva loans, and Kickfurther contributions. While Kiva has a 96.9% repayment rate, I consider whatever contributions I make charitable. I’m ok with not being repaid, which is how I think everyone should approach these loans.

I managed to liquidate most my gift cards with a single trip to Walmart this month. I took my sisters along on a Saturday and we all bought the maximum amount. This was great because it saved me two additional trips. There are still couple of thousand dollars worth of gift cards left to liquidate, but I’ll do that once my next batch of giftcards.com orders comes through.

I didn’t make good on my promise to milk the SPG card for all its worth, but I’m trying to do that now. My goal is to earn over 100,000 SPG points this month, so we’ll see how that plays out! It’s only the second day of the month and I’ve already pulled in 10,000 points. Yeah, I realize that I’m behind but I’ll make several trips to my local mall this month to pick up $9500 worth of gift cards. That will help me get to my target of 100,000 points.

What am I doing with those points? I’m transferring 80,000 to Marriott for a 5-night stay at the St. Regis Maldives. The rest I’ll use to top off my Alaska Airlines account. Ever since I got rid of my Alaska card, I feel like I never have enough Alaska miles.

Next month, I plan on doing even more spending in anticipation of my trip to Istanbul in the fall. I’m going to my cousin’s wedding and while the hotel is paid for, I do need extra rewards for when I extend my trip. I’m thinking of spending a few nights in Bodrum and maybe hopping over to Croatia for a few nights. All of the flexible rewards points I’m going to earn will help me take care of those extra travel expenses.

How big was your point haul this month?

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34 Comments

  1. WM MO is down to only one swipe now and name should be on debit card. Any tips on how to deal with it? None of the usual Walmarts useful anymore.

  2. Surprised you’re not going after the Marriott Nights Travel Package.

  3. Can the mastercards be deposited into a Go Bank account like Visa cards?

  4. While I’m happy for your continued good results, the truth is that WM MO purchases have gotten much harder for many of us, as noted by Sam, The demise of Plastic Merchant is also a huge loss for those of us who depended on this MS strategy. Thanks for the reminder about Kiva loans. I need to look into that again.

  5. Is it possible to multi swipe MCGC at WM? I’ve had success using MCGC on the 4th swipe (VGC on the 1st 3) but couldn’t get the first 3 swipes to work. Seeing conflicting DPs.

  6. What’s the maximum does WM allow for MO? Whenever I wanted to buy $2K they asked to look at my debit cards 🙁

  7. Bad month! Was shut down at my local store that I liquidate most of my GC’s at. “My manager says we’re not allowed to let you buy anymore MO’s, you buy too many”.

    • Did you fill out the paperwork each time? As long as you do that, they’re usually fine with it.

      • They don’t give the option to fill out paperwork at my location, just cap the MO’s at $1k and frown open you asking for more than 1. Suffice to say I was in there most days before getting shutdown.

  8. Please list your locations in the comments.

  9. Have you ever lost or got your gift cards stolen? I’ve got all my physical gift cards stolen (worth about $1000) from my home recently by construction workers yet there’s no way I can prove that they did. Since you are regularly doing worth of thousands to tens of thousands, i was curious how you handle the risks. Do you keep track of every single gift card numbers just in case? Now i should take pics of physical gift cards I keep at home just in case.

  10. ariana, what CC do you find most effective for simon GC? i think im most interested in UR points, so that leads me to stapes. is there a bonus elsewhere for going to the mall or just the cheaper cards?

    • Sometimes Simon Mall has discounted or $0 fee promotions. But I buy gift cards from lots of places. Simon lets me do $10k per day, so I really try to milk that. For a while, I also earned a significant amount of cash back using my Discover It Miles, Barclay Arrival, and Fidelity Rewards cash back card to MS at Simon Mall.

  11. Have you tried liquidating vanilla via gift cards at grocery stores?

  12. my friendly Walmart now is hard coded to not accept Visa debit cards- the end of an era ! she even let me try it, register spit out an “exceeds card load limit” slip

  13. I thought I would post this here because I’ve received a lot of info on MS from Points Chaser and you seem to post a lot about MS. I’m relatively new to MS and purchased some gift cards in the fall of 2017 to earn some credit card bonuses. I had luck converting 2 $500 gift cards to mo at Walmart. I went to do the third and it wouldn’t go through. I waited a week and went to another Walmart and it wouldn’t go through either. I may have tried a third time.

    For some reason, I decided to check the balance on the $500 card and all but $19.11 was spent. I then registered the card and saw the list of charges (that I did not make). I called the number on the back of the card and was told to fill out a Transaction Dispute Form. The rep told me she would send me a replacement card.

    I received a ZERO balance replacement card a week later and when I went to phone about it, the automated system said there were “technical difficulties” that they were working on and that it didn’t effect the card.

    I just called again (three weeks after I made the first call) and got the same “technical difficulties” message again, so I Googled Green Dot and got through on a support number. The rep looked up my case and said that my dispute was denied! I asked him why they would send me a Zero Balance replacement card and no explanation. He said they DID send an explanation letter and a check for $19.11, which I never received.

    They denied my dispute because I did not register the card before trying to use it.

    I think this is ridiculous. It seem VERY suspicious to me. It just so happens that they sent me a Zero balance replacement gift card and the explanation for the denial and the check for the remaining balance of $19.11 coincidentally never made it to me and coincidentally, the number on the back of the gift cards has not worked for almost a month?

    I’m going to dispute it again, but I’m assuming there is nothing I can do.

    • That is ridiculous – sorry to hear you had to put up with that. Where did you order these cards from? Hacking is always a possibility. If the company isn’t being cooperative, explain the situation to your credit card company. They might be willing to help.

  14. Catherine Smalfus

    I purchased the Visa GC at Walmart, but probably six month earlier than I attempted to use it. The only place that it could have been hacked was AT Walmart when I tried to convert to a MO. I’m going to start looking for information on how to fight to get my money back. They are saying that because I didn’t register the card, that they won’t make good on the theft. How to phrase it to them, that it was hacked by someone within the Money Center at Walmart without coming right out and saying while I was denied using it for a MO.

    • It's all fun and games til someone gets hurt

      Why do you think that the card was hacked by someone at WM? MC and Visa GC’s are hackable, and holding one for more than a few days is like leaving cash laying on the sidewalk. On two occasions, I’ve had an especially hackable flavor of MC GC hacked and drained the same night I bought it. Now, I only buy that brand of GC if I know that I’ll be able to unload it the same day that I buy it.

      It’s unfortunate that this happened to you, but you went into MS woefully under-prepared. I easily did 60-100 hours of forum reading before my first venture into MS. The fact that you were holding a GC for 6 months tells me you’ve done little or no research.

      Based on your comments, I would respectfully suggest that MS is not for you. There is tremendous potential risk, with a very slim up side (literally pennies on the dollar). Let’s say that SUB you were MS’ing for was 30,000 miles/points, and those miles/points are valued at a penny a piece. Include the $500 you lost through poor MS management, and you spent $518.55 to earn points/miles with a value of $300.

      • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I believe that the Visa GC was hacked when I went to convert it to a MO, because the remaining GC that I bought in the fall, was not hacked (but you make a valid point that I didn’t think of). I have done a fair amount of reading, but I never intended to do that much MS’ing. Only enough to push me to a cc bonus if needed, but I will certainly be out of the game now, as I have lost more than the benefits I have received.

        I’m just looking for advice now, as to how to fight this with Green Dot. Sending me a Zero Balance replacement card with no explanation and not cutting a check for the remaining balance on the original hacked cc and not being able to get through on the phone support line for lost and stolen cards because they are having technical difficulties for more than a month is ridiculous. It feels like a scam.

  15. Hi Ariana,
    I’m also new and I found a lot of DP on different blog saying that if you deposit too many MO your bank will be likely to shut down your account. Is it true? I bank with Wells Fargo and it allows me to deposit MO by taking picture of the check. Just wondering if it’ll be a problem on a long term.

    • Probably. That’s why I recommend keeping your MS activities separate from your regular bank account. I’m no longer banking with WF, so I use them for MO deposits and it’s been good so far.

      • John Hancock

        When depositing MO’s, how do you fill out the “Purchaser, Signer for the Drawer” line? “Ariana Aghandewal”, or with the names of dozens of imaginary friends? I have rental properties, and the tellers at my bank assume these are rent checks, so I’ve been signing with random names. But I wonder if I’m causing myself a needless nuisance

  16. Maisie Pastrano

    Any other walmart in las vegas where we can liquidate visa giftcards?

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