Manufactured Spending

Manufactured Spending Safety Concerns?

Over the past year I’ve been documenting my manufactured spending adventures on social media. If I purchased an especially large batch of gift cards or liquidated a massive number of money orders, I shared it with my followers on Snapchat. Sometimes if I came across a possible red flag, I would share it on TwitterI figured sharing my gift card runs on social media would be a fun way to document how I earned miles, while also inspiring people who wanted to do the same thing. At one point, somebody wondered whether it was safe to share my activities on social media, which made me realize I had at times been reckless.

Purse full of Visa gift cards
My purse after a gift card run last year

Safety is something we should all be considering when we’re buying and liquidating gift cards in large volumes. Whether it’s in the form of gift cards or money orders, there is a period of time during an MS run where you might have $10,000+ in funds with you. Obviously, sharing this information with the wrong people could get you into trouble. Someone might decide that following your MS adventures on social media is a great way to score a big payday. Maybe it’s hyper-paranoid to think this way, but there have been cases of burglaries that happened when homeowners shared their vacation plans on social media. The point is, safety is a legitimate concern when you’re buying and liquidating gift cards for miles.

While I do share snaps and tweets about my trips to Walmart, I do it well after the fact. If I’m sharing a photo of a pile of discarded gift cards, they’ve already been liquidated and thrown out. That stack of money orders in the Simon Mall bag? Already deposited before I hit “send”. While I’m sure most of my followers aren’t out to rob me, sharing my location and the amount of cash I’m carrying makes it way too easy for someone to target me. Not only do I not reveal my location, but I also don’t share my route or schedule. When I do post on social media, it’s way after I’ve liquidated gift cards and deposited the money orders. 

I suggest you all take the same precautions during your gift card runs. Aside from not sharing your location or schedule on social media, you should also be careful not to flash stacks of gift cards or money orders while you’re liquidating them. For a while, I was walking into Walmart with my Simon Mall bag. Then I realized I may as well wear a bulls eye on my forehead.

If you’re out to rob someone who do you go after? The person with a wallet or the one carrying a bag full of gift cards? Get a wallet with lots of compartments and use that to store your gift cards when you’re walking into Walmart to buy money orders. Put your money orders away as soon as you get them. Be aware of your surroundings when you’re heading back to the parking lot.

I’ve never heard of someone getting robbed of their gift cards (except by mail) and I’m not going to be super paranoid about it happening to me. But I do think it’s smart to exercise caution if you’re regularly churning large amounts of gift cards. That being said, I want to hear from you. What do you all do to stay safe while carrying around large amounts of gift cards and money orders? Please share in the comment section.

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  1. This is one more good reason to be friendly with the clerks at WM. My hope is that no one from WM phones someone in the parking lot telling them what I might have on me. Drugs and jealousy can make people do desperate and crazy things.

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