Reader Lindsey sent me a question that I get quite a lot from people who haven’t made the leap into manufactured spending. I thought it was worth addressing in a post, since it’s such a common question from newbies:
…I’ve been casually collecting points for 3 years but want to be smarter and more deliberate about my strategy now that I understand the value of a good cpp rate.
I reallyyyyy want the AmEx SPG Business card for the 35,000 bonus and no ding to my 5/24 status, but $7k is a lot of spend for me for 3 months (I’m a single female with a full-time job but still!)
(My goal is to use the Starpoints with the transfer bonus to surprise my dad with a Lufthansa first class booking!) Any advice on how to meet minimum spend?
First off, I love that Lindsey is doing this for her dad. I’m lucky enough to have had some amazing premium cabin travel experiences thanks to points and miles, but nothing beats being able to do this for family. My dad has flown business and first class products that I have yet to experience for myself. But it makes me so happy to fly him and my mom wherever they want to go in comfort. So hats off to Lindsey for saving up her hard-earned points, so her dad can fly Lufthansa first class. On to the business of meeting the $7,000 spending requirement…
Charge EVERYTHING to Your Credit Card
That sounds pretty elementary, right? Charge every household bill and daily expenses to this card. Be careful not to overspend just because the ultimate reward “outweighs the cost” of spending beyond your means. Most of us don’t spend $2,3300 per month on food and gas, but work your rent or mortgage and you’ll knock out a huge chunk of that $7,000 spending. How do you pay your mortgage with a credit card? Plastiq.
Plastiq is a bill pay service that allows you to make rent and mortgage payments with a credit card. The service does charge a fee on credit card payments, but if you’re a new member and sign up with my referral link, you’ll get 500 Fee-Free Dollars. What does that mean, exactly? It means you won’t have to pay fees on $500 worth of payments. Refer your friends and family and you’ll earn 1,000 FFD’s for every successful referral. While you’re at it, get your dad into it: Ask if you can make any payments for him using Plastiq and your SPG credit card. Chances are, you’ll be able to meet a large chunk of that $7,000 spending requirement via mortgage and rent payments alone.
UPDATE: You cannot make mortgage payments with American Express on Plastiq. When I made a mortgage payment last week, I thought it went through with an Amex card but it turns out the default was set to a MC card.
Fund a Bank Account With Your Credit Card
FTU Seattle got me thinking seriously about funding bank accounts with a credit card. It’s just so easy and a great way to diversify spending. Not only can you earn a cash bonus from the bank, but you’ll also knock out credit card spending requirements. Doctor of Credit has a list of bank accounts you can fund with your American Express card.
Churn Merchant Gift Cards
In the past, I’ve used The Plastic Merchant to successfully churn merchant gift cards in large quantities. I’ve never had a payment issue. However, I have heard complaints from readers about bounced checks that led to checking account shutdowns. TPM has addressed these issues, but you should all be aware of the general risks involved in gift card churning. TPM’s rates are some of the highest I’ve seen around – good enough to help you break even or make a small profit. That being said, I know people who’ve successfully sold gift cards on other platforms. Proceed with caution on this one, but it is an option that pretty much anyone can take advantage of.
Not everyone has ms-friendly Walmart stores or other sources for liquidating gift cards. For those people, meeting credit card spending requirements via regular spending doesn’t have to be the only option. There are lots of other ways to meet credit card spending requirements: I know people who fund loans on Kiva, invest on Kickfurther, resell merchandise, and lots of other stuff. While spending $7,000 in 3 months sounds like a lot, it’s much more feasible if you charge your daily expenses and find creative ways to put extra spending on your SPG Business Card.
If you all have other non-manufactured spending tips to share with Lindsey, please do so in the comment section.