I haven’t been this mad at myself since the first time office supply stores carried $500 Visa gift cards and I wasn’t an Ink cardholder yet. Yes, my Chase Ink Plus replacement card still hasn’t arrived. While others are cleaning out store racks and making backroom deals with store managers, I’m missing out. Despite the bureaucratic hiccup, I did get a decent amount of manufactured spending done last week. Outside of office supply stores.
By now I should have an address in San Jose based on how often I’m there. I drop my sister off at work, make the rounds, then pick her up. First we go to Philz Coffee in downtown. Tip: Don’t go at noon – the lines are out the door and don’t move. Since I didn’t want to stand in line, I decided to walk to the Safeway Market nearby. I took my niece with me (getting the new generation involved) because it was time to get her out of the car after such a long drive. Plus, having a kid with me made me look less like I was committing a crime. That didn’t help, however, when my $3,000 Visa gift card purchase set off a fraud alert.
I can’t remember the last time this happened with Barclays, but I was pretty sure I would receive a text message and be able to resolve it by responding with a simple “Y”. The text never came. After waiting 10 seconds, I called and verified the purchase through the automated system. Seconds later, I swiped my card and the transaction went through. Moments like this make me miss those days when I could charge a $10,000 Amex gift card order to my Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard with zero hassle involved.
After this, I drove to a nearby Office Depot in hopes of finding a stash of Visa gift cards. Even if I didn’t have my Ink Plus card yet, at least this was an opportunity to buy gift cards at the same prices Safeway was asking. This would allow me to mix things up and not look like I had some kind of strange grocery store shopping addiction. I came across a fully stacked rack with the highest Visa and Amex gift card denominations capped at $50. They did have OneVanilla gift cards, which I took to the register…which was hard coded to accept cash only. Why anyone would convert cash to plastic and pay $6 to do it I’ll never understand.
I left the store empty handed, picked up my sister, then went back to CVS and Safeway by Santana Row. I bought $1,000 worth of Paypal My Cash Reload cards at CVS with my Bank of America Alaska card, then went next door to buy $1,000 worth of Visa gift cards with my dad’s Barclay Arrival Plus card (to which I’ve added myself as an authorized user).
After stopping for a bite to eat, we made our way home at a snail’s pace. I figured instead of wasting time in traffic, we might as well go to a nearby Safeway and buy more gift cards. I managed to buy $1,000 worth of cards at one store. When I came back to the car, my sister was exchanging insurance information with a woman who hit her car while backing out of her parking spot. Again, why sit around and wait when there was manufactured spending to be done? I went back in and bought another $500 from the same cashier, who had no problem with it.
We made another stop at a San Ramon Safeway where I picked up another $1,000. We made it home before making one more stop at a shopping center with both a Safeway and CVS. Another $1,000 Paypal My Cash purchase, $1,000 Visa gift cards from Safeway and I was done. That’s $7,500 worth of gift card purchases in one day.
I go to Safeway quite frequently (mainly to feed my addiction to Beecher’s Mariachi Mac & Cheese), so I did pick up another $3,000 worth of gift cards this way from regular trips to Safeway. On Saturday I liquidated $2,900 worth of gift cards via money orders and I’m sure with just two more trips I’ll get the rest done before my credit card bills are due.
These are pretty low numbers compared to what I used to pull off. But it’s still respectable at around 40,000 miles per month. If I still had my Amex premium shipping plan, I would take advantage of the $0 fee offers to get large amounts of spend out of the way. In the mean time, I’m stuck earning 2,000 – 6,000 miles at a time.
How much manufactured spending have you managed to pull off this past week?
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