Manufactured Spending

My Month in Manufactured Spending: Earning over 100,000 Miles Without MS or Credit Cards

It’s been a loooong time, I know. I’ve been MIA because now that I have a job that doesn’t involve standing in line at Walmart and writing endless freelance posts about credit cards, I can’t always keep up with blogging. But I’m back and I’ve actually earned some points this last month, so I thought I’d share my progress. Don’t get excited – this is yet another hall of shame edition. But I think it clears up the misconception that I’m always spending $300,000 per month on gift cards every month. Usually it’s more like 60,000. 😉

New Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card
The New Hilton Honors American Express Credit Card

For the most part, the only points I earned this month came from regular spending. I’m much more conscious of category bonuses now that I’m not churning gift cards as much. My local Office Depot did have a break-even sale on Amazon gift cards, but as much as I tried to milk that, I just didn’t get around to it. I did, however, earn a few thousand AAdvantage miles from making mortgage payments with a credit card via Plastiq. Thanks to everyone who’s been using my Plastiq Referral link, I didn’t have to pay any fees earning those points.

I also got to charge some work expenses to my credit card, which was nice. We’re talking $2,400, but it required literally zero effort.

Another great point bonanza? Other people’s spending. My parents recently decided to switch to solar, which was a $25,000 bill I was all too eager to pay. My dad initially talked about financing it at 3% – my response? “Why spend $750 per year if you can earn $750 worth of rewards with a 3% cash back card?” Of course, I ended up not using a cash back card, opting instead for a combination of the Chase Freedom Unlimited and a Korean Skypass Card. With all the travel I have coming up, I know I can put those points to good use.

A few weeks ago, my sister signed a new car lease and I was able to put her down payment on a credit card. Translation: The easiest 2,500 SPG points I’ve ever earned. The highlight of the month, however, was getting targeted for some AMAZING Amex Offers. Seriously Amex, you’ve outdone yourself. Through my Amex cards and those belonging to my dad and brother (who could not care less about what I do with their credit cards), I earned over 62,000 points!

In total, I earned over 104,900 points and miles in May. That’s without any major manufactured spending or credit card sign-up bonuses.

  • 32,500 points for going solar (10,000 Korean SkyPass + 22,500 Ultimate Rewards)
  • 30,000 Hilton points from Amex Offers
  • 27,000 Hilton points from meeting the $9,000 Amex Offers spending requirement
  • 5,000 points from
  • 3,000 from Plastiq payments
  • 2,500 points from Amex Offers’ Amazon deal
  • 2,500 SPG points from the car lease
  • 2,400 work expenses

I also got targeted for a few Citi checking account deals, which are stackable. When I find the time to actually open those accounts and meet the requirements, I’ll earn a very easy 85,000 AAdvantage miles.

It was a good month overall and I’m actually surprised at how much of a point haul I ended up with. Especially since I barely had any time to devote to my usual gift card churning routine. Since I couldn’t go to Walmart every day, I decided to look around for other point-earning opportunities and that definitely paid off. It was a combination of other people’s expenses and generous Amex Offers that really helped. Hopefully that trend continues!

What was your point haul this month? 

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  1. Your #$ are skewed.

  2. Good job. I must be living under a rock, I am not getting anything decent on any of my AMEX cards for bonuses. I am doing a cruise in Aug. and getting a bunch of UA points as a bonus. I do all the car and mortgage stuff on Plastiq. Refinanced the mortgage to get UA points. Cleaned out 3 Staples recently, but what a hassle $200 cars were to flush. Point game is getting alot harder and more expensive.

    • I got some decent cruise offers from Amex not too long ago. I think the more you use an Amex Card, the more you might get targeted for these offers. But sounds like you’re doing pretty good yourself!

  3. Jerry Mandel

    So far, no one has met my challenge to identify any place in the Dallas, TX area which will sell money orders with PIN-enabled gift cards. USPS computers decline the cards.

  4. Your post title is misleading. You said “100,000 miles” but upon reading the post, almost 60k are in Hilton points, which are a fraction of what most miles are worth.

    Also if your dad wanted to finance the solar panels at 3%, are we under the assumption that he didn’t have the money to pay for it outright? If he didn’t, then putting them on credit cards that may earn you 32.5k miles but have a way higher interest rate than 3% is not sound advice.

    • He didn’t want to pay the $25k outright and thought ~$60 in monthly interest charges was a decent trade-off. Ultimately this works out better because he’s not making monthly payments, he’s not paying interest, and he gets 30k+ miles. I definitely would not have made the cc recommendation if it involved paying cc interest.

  5. What’s the breakdown on the required balances for the citi AA bank targeted offer?

  6. Plastiq charges 2.5% on 1,000.00 rent. So I’m paying 1025.00 for rent? At penny a point, i made 10.00 [rounding off] And if I used a double cash card, I make 20.00. Spending 25 to make 20? Would I spend 25.00 for a 20.00 cup of coffee?

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