Manufactured Spending

Manufactured Spending With a Full Time Job

I started a new full time job a month ago. I was a little concerned about how it would affect my manufactured spending activities, but I’m happy to report it’s been largely positive. My work schedule is manageable and the commute is easy. Luckily, I don’t have to sacrifice my weekends or spend an inordinate amount of time driving to my favorite Walmart store. My new job has actually saved me time. I don’t have to dedicate 1 – 2 hours to drive out of town and liquidate ~$20,000 worth of gift cards anymore. A 10 minute detour on my way home from work gets the job done. Update: Office Depot has begun limiting 2% cash back on gift card purchases to $200 worth of spend per quarter (i.e. you’ll only earn a maximum of $4 per quarter).

As for the actual Visa gift cards, I can order them online or buy them at Office Depot or my local mall (which I also pass on my way to work). With’s lowered cash back portal payouts, I’m sticking largely to the latter. It’s a small protest until they increase their rates back to previous levels. However, at the moment I’m not ms’ing in large enough numbers to get multiple gift card merchants involved. 

Desk with laptop: Manufactured Spending with a Full Time Job
Manufactured spending with a full time job has been easier than anticipated.

At the moment, I don’t really have any concrete travel plans. I am planning a surprise trip for my sister some time this year. She’s working very hard at a coding bootcamp and when she’s done, it will be my gift to her. However, it never hurts to earn certain points speculatively. I can’t imagine I won’t have a use for Alaska miles, Ultimate Rewards, or Starwood points on short notice. Yes, I’ve even ramped up spending on my Starwood credit cards, despite my previous reservations about using SPG cards for manufactured spending.

I’m not pulling the numbers I was last year. However, going forward I will try to generate at least $50,000 in manufactured spending every month. After my Arrival card got shut down and I hit the 1-year mark on my remaining Discover It Miles Cards, there hasn’t been much incentive to keep manufactured spending in large volumes. But again, once I figure out my travel plans, I’ll have something to work towards. In the meantime, there have been some great gift card reselling opportunities via Amex Offers, so I’ll likely start doing more business with The Plastic Merchant again. 

So far, my new job hasn’t had a negative impact on my manufactured spending routine, since I find it totally feasible to churn gift cards after work. A huge positive that has come about as a result of this new job? It has made blogging more of a hobby again (as opposed to work). I’m once again enjoying blogging and churning gift cards, while doing something more meaningful with the rest of my time. When I finally do take a vacation, I’ll also feel like I actually earned it. Plus, I still have the advantage of saving massively on premium travel thanks to this hobby. Right now (to quote an annoying Disney song), I’ve got the best of both worlds. 

Are you currently manufactured spending with a full time job on the side? How do you manage to do both?

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  1. Ace Malik

    I have been looking on various forums and it seems shutdowns are happening more frequently with MSing, and points being lost as a result, do you have any concerns about this?

  2. She’s a natural, Ace.
    and we all have to roll with the punches.

  3. Ariana, Any credit card companies to be careful with when buying large numbers of gift cards. I need alot of AVIOS, so I am wondering about Chase in particular.

    • Avoid are actually easy to accrue thanks to a large selection of transfer partners. You can earn them via the BA credit card, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, and SPG. Spread whatever spend you need to do across multiple credit cards and you should be fine. Just don’t use Walmart Bill Pay.

    • Avoid Amex and US Bank. They will shut you down for buying any mall gift cards. I also wouldn’t overdo it with Chase. Some here and there with Chase seems to be okay, but a large number will get you shut down. I’ve found Citi to be one of the better ones for buying large numbers of cards.

      • I disagree. I have ms’ed with US Bank and Amex and have not been shut down. As long as you stay at a reasonable number and avoid WM bill pay, you should be fine. Everything in moderation.

  4. Are you primarily MSing for bonuses, for category earnings or something else?

  5. I find it easier to MS because I’m working. My favorite Walmarts for money orders were a 45 minute drive from my house but they happen to be 5 minutes from my job. Staples has been having a lot of Visa gift card rebates for buying Visa gift cards in the past few weeks. There are no Staples anywhere near my home, but there is one close to my job.

    Have you ever considered Capital One Venture to replace your Barclay’s? It’s very similar and the annual fee is less than Barclay’s. Plus you can redeem your points for a minimum of $25 instead of $100.

    • I really don’t like the 3 credit pulls. For now, I’m just sticking to my Fidelity card and using the cash back as my personal travel savings account. Next month, I’m going to reapply for the Arrival card and keeping my fingers crossed I get approved!

  6. wow, $50k/month is an impressive amount!! i just started ms’ing this month, and i’m almost at $5k. at the moment, i’m doing it to meet msr. my concern is getting shut down for spending more than my stated annual income, which is quite low to begin with =\

    • Yeah I would try to avoid spending more than your stated annual income. And don’t use Walmart Bill Pay because I’m pretty sure that got me shut down.

      • Thanks for replying, Ariana! Do you think it would be ok to man. spend over my annual income over the course of an entire year? For example, if i put 40k as my annual income, would it be ok to spend over 40k in a year. 5k/month is under the stated income, but over a year, it adds up to 60k.

        • I would avoid that. I know people who do it and it works out fine, but that’s just a personal rule I try to follow.

          • Wow. Your stated income is greater than $600,000/year? Not sure why you even bother with MS.

          • Lol! No, I don’t put $600k all on one card. It’s spread across over a dozen credit cards belonging to me and family members. What I mean is if your stated income is $50k, you shouldn’t spend more than that on a single credit card.

          • I see below (and in previous posts) that you put it across multiple cards. In cases where you spread ms across your own cards, does the issuer ever overlap (ie: 2+ Citi cards, or 2+ Amex cards)?

            I’m looking to split 30k between two different Amex cards, both under my name. Not sure if they’d monitor all my cards together or separately.

            Apologies for bombarding you with questions. I thank you for your time, and greatly appreciate your advice!

          • No worries at all! Yes, there is overlap between issuers but I haven’t really ms’ed much with Amex until recently. So I can’t really say whether that’s ok to do.

  7. I purchase giftcards using the personal & business, racking a little over 15K a month I order some of the cards online using Yazing and I also get some from simon. I’ve been doing this for 2~3 years
    and so far no FR. I’d been an amex customer for 20 years. I reserched other blogs for references to amex shutdows and I found some but not as many as chase or barclays of course in this hobby YMMV. Good Luck!

    • The recent Amex clawbacks/shutdowns were really due to people applying for card offers they were not targeted for. I think a lot of what determines an Amex FR is your spend:income ratio.

  8. Nice to see merchant giftcard reselling mentioned again. (Thanks in part to your tips last year), I’ve been doing much more of this in recent months, especially with the growing alarms about doing too much (or even a little) ms with VGC’s…. In the past, you’ve commented that you thought merchant giftcard reselling was not as vulnerable to shutdowns as ms w/ vgc’s. (like by the US Bank “RAT” teams & such)…. Yet I’m wondering if they’d make that fine a distinction?. That is, if US Bank (or Barclays, AMEX, etc.) want to shut us down for buying “cash equivalents” — what’s the difference, again, between VGC’s and merchant GC’s? (especially if we’re buying a lot of the latter from outlets such as “paypal digital gifts?” Or is there a distinction, an understanding here that I’ve as yet not comprehended? ps: hope the pm folks come back from vacation. (been “too quiet” and inventory poor there of late)

    • The reason I think merchant gift cards are less risky is because those purchase aren’t obviously detectable as Visa gc’s. For example, if I spend $2k at Sam’s Club I very well may be buying a tv or some higher-value item. But if I’m buying $2k daily from, the banks will figure out what that entails. There are way more places where you can buy discounted merchant gift cards, so I think spreading your spend across different merchants helps you stay under the radar of banks looking to shut down ms’ers.

      • Trying to understand this. So my local walmart allows to buy MO only by cash or bank issues Cards. They are not accepting any Visa gc or any other GC. Can you please suggest some options. Thanks

  9. Thanks Ariana for sharing your thinking, the tip,, and for showing the way. I’m learning — spreading it around, not just ppdg or svm, and will keep looking for new outlets too. (grocery stores, amazon, newegg, so many indeed)

  10. I’ve been into travel hacking for credit card points for a long time and consider myself somewhat advance. I’ve done churning, travel hacking and some MS. As the game is becoming harder and harder my friends and I started a little website to list your points for sale and to search for people selling their points

    I hope to learn much from the group and I hope I can contribute to everyone here.

    • Is the site live yet? Selling points and miles actually violates the t&c of most rewards programs, so I would tread very carefully in that territory.

      • Site is live in a public beta. You can list vouchers and points for free as well as search for available listings. It is an open free market so yes you need to tread carefully when buying certain programs. There are verified users that verified their identity and verified brokers who verified their identity, past a test to prove they are knowledgeable about the business, and provided urwex verified references from an approved broker that they are trusted to do business with.

  11. Justin Turnbow

    Did about $30k this month (could end up higher depending on the next couple days) and that is by far my most ever. I really made an effort to go even if I was tired or didn’t feel like dealing with Walmart cashiers (which is often at my local Wally). Good month.

  12. Where do you buy gift cards with the discover IT miles card? I tried using it at my local simon mall but they only accept visa/amex. Do you know if thats the case for all simon malls or is it YMMV?

    • Are you sure? They take Discover at most Simon Malls I’ve been to. You can always use it at grocery stores, though those Visa gift cards will have a slightly higher fee.

      • That’s what they said at two malls I’ve been to, maybe its a California thing? Or have you been able to use discover at any malls in California? I doubt its a situation where the cashier is making up/enforcing a weird policy but either way every time I’ve been there its the same person…

        • That’s very odd. I’ve only ever been to two Simon Malls in California and I’ve always been able to pay with Discover. There’s a sign on the desk with all the credit card issuers they accept and Discover is one of them.

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