Manufactured Spending

My Month in Manufactured Spending: ~$29,000 Spent in November

When Walmart implemented a new money order policy, I pretty much threw in the towel. The process had become way too tedious and not worth the hassle. So I decided to give up on gift card churning and shift my spending over to Kickfurther and reselling. That got boring pretty fast. So I started making the occasional trip to my local mall and Walmart to liquidate Visa gift cards. I mostly used 2% cash back cards, since I have more miles than I can redeem right now. In November, I managed about $29,000 worth of manufactured spending. Not my best and certainly not my worst, but a decent amount considering the little effort I put into it.

My go-to Walmart is as MS-friendly as ever. With the drop in gift card churning, they’ve also had a drop in positive customer service surveys, which has hurt the store. When I show up, they know they can expect at least five positive survey submissions, so they’re willing to accommodate me even though the money order process has gotten more difficult. They did simplify things a little recently. I’m no longer being asked to provide me job title. It’s a small thing, but considering how hard it is for the cashiers to type on their registers (the computers are super slow), it does make a difference. 

I made three trips to Walmart last month, each time liquidating $9,000 – $10,000 worth of gift cards. I did incur about $255.15 worth of Visa gift card fees and $26.40 in money order fees. With my Fidelity Rewards Visa, I earned $574.68 cash back, bringing my total profit to $293.13. This gives me an excuse to keep my hand in the game without earning rewards that could devalue at any moment. Plus, I treat my Fidelity rewards like a personal savings account. It’s nice to see that balance grow without having to divert funds I actually had to work for.

Another reason I stuck to cash back this month? I had a huge influx of points and miles thanks to my parents’ recent kitchen renovation. My dad charged all the supplies to his American Express Business Platinum card, which worked out well (1.5x points on purchases over $5,000). He ended up paying for the appliances cash. Normally that would be unfathomable. However, he scored a huge discount that was way more substantial than the credit card points he gave up.

Additionally, my younger sister (who is in college) informed me that she can pay her housing expenses with a credit card. I’m annoyed that she’s just now telling me about it. But I can’t complain about the easy 1,800 Ultimate Rewards points I get from that transaction through the Freedom Unlimited card. Throw in my parents’ mortgage, which I pay through Plastiq, and I’m earing a decent stash of points without even having to leave the house.

So in all, it was a pretty good month thanks to a large chunk of irregular spending, the addition of my sister’s rent, and three trips to Walmart. I’ve decided to keep this going. After all, my local Walmart needs those receipts filled out. 😉

Until I have a specific redemption in mind, I’ll continue to earn cash back on manufactured spending, rather than miles.

How did you earn points and miles during the past month?

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  1. how could you do more than 8k each trip to WM, the new policy max out at 8k per day with ID

  2. I’ve been visiting the shopping portal and purchasing $10K worth of sporting event tickets to take clients and prospects out to games. I get 10x and have generated 100k AA miles in the last 2 1/2 months. Luckily I have lots of games coming up in 2019 and hope to generate around 200k AA miles by May.

  3. Hi poster. I enjoy reading your vlog. If you don’t mind can you email me at my own email address or leave me your email. I will be glad to share with you the way I MS and also get some tips from you regarding personal situation. I appreciate your time and efforts. 🙂 my name is Ahmed

  4. Brianne Ball

    Ariana, are you still purchasing VGC through sites like using and top cashback?

    • I’ve had some issues with cards at Walmart, so I’ve been sticking to Simon Visa gift cards. I’m also trying to make sure I hit my monthly ~$4k Staples target on the Ink Plus card.

      • Staples sells VGC in $300 denominations. My WM has a 4 card swipe limit per $2K transaction. So means only $1,200. Question: How do you convert $4K in cards from Staples into MO under these circumstances? Important to me because I stopped MS from Staples and maybe here is a work-around.

  5. I’ve manufactured spending an average of $45-$50K per month with three cards (discover it miles, chase cash ink and Amex gold). I have two Walmart Neighborhood Markets 8 mins from each other. Each allows me to convert 8 cards to money orders per day (liquidate 16 cards daily). I do all this before 8 am daily.

  6. Brianne Ball

    Dang! Nice work! Are you buying online or at office supply stores

    • Last month it was Simon only. This month I’ll buy some cards from office supply stores. Unfortunately I’ve had some trouble with Visa’s, so I’m holding off on those for now.

  7. Pardon my ingnorance. Once you get the money order, what do you do with it? Deposit it in a checkings account?

  8. Wow, amazing!! And I thought my $600K/month was impressive. I need to start hanging out at Walmarts more!

  9. I thought Kroger no longer allowed gift cards, they ask to see your name on the cards now in my area.

  10. How many visa cards allowed at Wal-Mart for one money order check ? If I have 3 $500 each. Can I load them up in one money order ? Thanks

    • You can only swipe four cards per transaction, so the most you can buy is $2k per transaction. However, some cashiers will let you do up to five transactions a day. You’ll have to provide you DL and social security number each time though.

  11. Ahmed Saleh

    Does Wal-Mart ask to see the card if its debit or gift card ? Do they have a polciy of “no gc for money order”? It might look suspicious if I swiped 4 cards for one MO. What’s the best answer if they ever ask why I am doing 4 cards swipe ? Just want to know how to tackle it well and safe…

  12. What issues have you had regarding Gift cards .com i am using gift card mall visa debits at Walmart without issues !

  13. With Plastiq’s 2.5% overhead how do you find it profitable to put that spend on a Freedom Unlimited card? Did you get in on the 3UR/$ promotion?

  14. What do you mean by referral credits ? And how do you get them ? Thanks for all your responses.

    • Arianna has posted many times about plastiq (she’s probably how I learned about it). She always has her referral link so she can get fee free dollars for people signing up. I’m guessing she’s had many people sign up using her link so she has FFDs for the rest of her life (not hating but maybe a little jealous).

      • Lol! No worries JJ – I get jealous thinking of the numbers TPG is probably pulling in. I do get a good amount of referral credits. I recommend you share your link with friends, family, as well as on social media. And hey, I’m always good with my readers sharing their own links in the comment section.

    • Credits for referring people. Everyone can do this, though obviously I manage it on a bigger scale thanks to readers who use my link.

  15. Ariana,

    You mentioned you have more points than you can use. I’ve read about some places that will buy your points (UR, MR, TY). I too have more points than I can use and was considering selling some but I’m not sure who is reputable and I can trust. If youve ever done this, do you have Any suggestions? I’d really like to get more than 1cpp for UR and TY but I will only sell my MR for more than 1.25cpp since I have a Schwab platinum that enables me to convert my MR into $$$ at 1.25cpp

    • Ariana,

      You mentioned you have more points than you can use. I’ve read about some places that will buy your points (UR, MR, TY). I too have more points than I can use and was considering selling some but I’m not sure who is reputable and I can trust. If youve ever done this, do you have Any suggestions? I’d really like to get more than 1cpp for UR and TY but I will only sell my MR for more than 1.25cpp since I have a Schwab platinum that enables me to convert my MR into $$$ at 1.25cpp

    • I haven’t done this and I personally wouldn’t recommend it. It violates the terms and conditions of rewards programs, so it would be within an airline’s right to terminate your account. If you’re looking for a good way to part with points, I would consider donating them. There are programs like Miles4Migrants as well as various NPO’s that partner with airlines.

  16. What cards allow buyin’s visa gf from Simon or gift without holding rewards bonuses or points ? Because it shows on Amex that gift card mall purchase and therefore doesn’t earn points. Is there specific way or certain cards do not care or don’t report L3 data ?

    • I use Barclay card Arrival for gift card mall no issues and get 2% towards travel related credit, great card everyone hates on it but i like it. I have also use my amex delta with no issues.

      I use Amex gold for buying Vgc at supermarket no level 3 data at least at my local Frys get 4 x points up to 24k.

      Simon Mall i have not tried as there isnt one nearby and i have it to easy with gift card mall and supermarkets. Liquidate to money orders and serve card, hope that helps i am no expert just giving you what works for me !

  17. John,

    Thanks for your data. You mentioned you used amex delta buying from and you still earned 1 point and you didn’t get shut down ?

    I heard amex is notorious against gc purchases to earn sign up bonuses. I assume buying gc to earn just regular points is no harm. Am I right ?

    What do you think of citi aa ?

    • john rimington

      Yes I have only ever used Amex or any card organic spend mixing in some supermarket vgc for minimum spend requirements. I don’t mess with losing a sign up bonus.

      I use Amex delta and chase cards and Barclay arrival on gift card mall for general points.

  18. Got it. That’s what I do too. Just curious to know why do you buy from gift instead of local grocery store ? They both have the same 5.95 purchase fees. And some cards may earn more points in grocery stores than online purchase. Just wondering..

    • Ahmed
      1. You can order the cards in your underwear online.
      2. You can use a portal and get cashback.

    • Ahmed
      As JJ said I can order in my underwear they come to my house in my name so almost resembles a debit card!
      Plus every 5.95 I spend I get 5 back from be frugal or whoever you choose.
      Grocery stores are great for the 4x gold points or 6 x Hilton points or even a quick purchase and liquidation.
      I would use Simon mall but it’s over 30 min drive I don’t go out of my way for this hobby I have 2 Walmart nearby a frys within 5 min.

  19. John and JJ, really great inputs. Thank you.

    What do you guys think of Amex gc? They are only 3.99 right now and loadable up to $3000. Very lucrative gc. Is it easy to liquidate them via MO or bluebird? Haven’t tried yet. What do you guys think about it ? And why not considering amex gc?

    • No idea not sure if they work never tried !
      I just stick with the visa gc I know that don’t give me any issues

    • Ahmed,

      AFAIK Amex GCs cant be liquidated. You can potentially MS these by paying property tax or something thru Plastiq (especially when they have a promotion) but it’ll only work out to a very small amount of $$$ for the effort.

    • Amex gift cards do not come with a PIN and so cannot be run as Debit.

  20. What about buying amex gc first, then with amex gc buy vgc from gift or giftmall ? With using shopping portal in each purchase ? Would you offset the card fees substantially?

    Also what is the difference between and giftcardmall ? is 1$ more conpared to giftcardmall for $500 increment. Why is there such a big difference ?

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