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How I Manage $100,000+ Worth of Manufactured Spending Per Month

When I got started in this hobby six years ago, I remember the idea of manufactured spending seemed risky and unrealistic. How feasible would it be to do this regularly without getting shut down or questioned by suspicious store employees? More importantly, how could I possibly spend this much and keep track of it all? Fast forward six years and I’ve earned millions on

Fast forward six years and I’ve earned millions on miles just from manufactured spending alone. In fact, it’s not at all uncommon or difficult for me to generate $100,000 worth of manufactured spending in a single month. How do I manage it all? It’s complex but requires abiding by a few very simple practices:

1 – Be Nice to People

The single most important factor in my ability to manufacture spend in such high quantities has been the relationships I’ve built with people. Not only have people tipped me off to MS-friendly stores, but befriending store employees has enabled me to purchase thousands of dollars worth of money orders without issues.

The employees know me, they trust me, and are no longer suspicious when I buy $10,000 worth of money orders because they know I’m doing it for the miles and not some nefarious reason. As long as I fill out the proper paperwork and complete a few surveys after every visit, they’re happy to work with me. And the Kripsy Kreme donuts I bring them during holidays don’t hurt either. ;)

“But how do I befriend store employees?” The way you’d befriend anybody: Be nice. Take an interest in what they’re doing. Ask them about their day. And if you’re going to fill out one of those customer service receipts, let them know about it – and then actually do it, because employees do get feedback from their supervisors when a positive review comes in. Being genuinely friendly to people goes a long way. Don’t rush it though – building trust with total strangers takes time. Now I’ve managed to sound like a total sociopath, let’s move on to the second most important tip…

2 – Stay Extremely Well Organized

Organization is key if you’re going to churn $100,000 in gift cards every month. I have a fairly simple system: I keep all order confirmation emails for online purchases in an email folder. When they arrive, I delete them but keep the package slip. When the cards have been fully liquidated and the money orders deposited, I throw everything away.

I liquidate gift cards purchased in-store on the same day I buy them, so I simply hold onto the packaging, receipts, and money orders until everything clears. To avoid a negative impact on my credit, I use a simple spreadsheet (and mint.com) to track my card balances, statement closing dates, and due dates. The spreadsheet is especially important in helping me track statement closing dates, so that I pay off balances in time to keep my credit utilization rate low.

 3 – Spread It Across Multiple Credit Cards

When people hear how much manufactured spending I do, they often respond with, “How do you not get your credit cards shut down?!” For starters, I don’t put it all on one credit card. In fact, I don’t even put it all on my credit cards. I’m an authorized user on my parents’ and brother’s credit cards. I end up spreading $100,000+ worth of manufactured spending across over a dozen cards. My family and I share miles freely, so it’s not a big deal if the miles don’t end up in my account since I can still use them.

Spreading spending across multiple credit cards definitely helps keep red flags to a minimum. I also generally don’t spend more than each cardholder’s income in a year. I don’t know if there’s a science behind it, but it’s just my personal rule and one that’s worked out well so far.

4 – Don’t Use Walmart Bill Pay

I left one important detail out of the previous points, only to emphasize its importance when it comes to my next point: I have gotten credit cards shut down before. Why? Because I used Walmart Bill Pay. For several years, I’ve been putting massive amounts of manufactured spending on Barclay credit cards belonging to me and my family. Four of us each had one Barclay Arrival Plus and Barclay Aviator Red MasterCard, which I churned hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gift cards on every year. No repercussions. Until last year, when I bought over $300,000 worth of gift cards in a month and needed to liquidate them faster. The solution? Using Walmart Bill Pay to double the number of cards I could unload in a single visit. I used this method to pay off Barclay card balances.

It was all fine and dandy until the day after I checked into the Conrad Dubai. The front desk called. My Barclay Arrival card got declined and they needed a new form of payment. I logged into my account and there it was in bold blue letters: This account has been closed. I logged into each family member’s account and got the same message. Barclay did allow me to redeem the remaining miles for transactions that had already posted, which was a relief.

The one thing all of these credit cards had in common? They had been paid off using Walmart Bill Pay. Banks don’t like payments from untraceable sources and that includes Walmart Bill Pay. So do yourself a favor and do not use Walmart Bill Pay! I knew better but risked it anyway because I got desperate. Do as I say, not as I do.

5 – Keep Receipts

All kinds of things can go wrong when you’re churning gift cards in large volumes. I’ve heard from readers who had their gift cards stolen by post office employees. That’s why it’s so important to keep receipts – regardless of whether you’re buying gift cards online or in-store. Aside from the possibility of theft, there’s also the possibility of losing cards or having a stack of defective ones. I have yet to find myself in any of these scenarios, but I still play it safe and keep all documentation until every credit card has been paid off.

6 – Do It All By the Book

Last year I had a run-in with an Asset Protection Associate who questioned me about my money order purchases. His main concern was how I had obtained my gift cards, as well as whether I was making multiple trips to the store in order to avoid documentation. That’s where befriending cashiers and keeping receipts helped me because I had proof of purchase and the cashier came to my defense. She confirmed that I only came in once a day and always filled out the required paperwork. A few weeks later, I learned the store manager had a separate conversation with that associate, backing up what the cashier had reported and ensuring the associate that I was trustworthy.

Yes, the fact that there people knew me helped. But more importantly, I always filled out the required paperwork and didn’t try to circumvent it in any way. Yes, it sucks that we have to provide sensitive personal information that may or may not be kept securely. But it’s what we have to do so stores can distinguish between us and people breaking the law. For what it’s worth, my local store employees go out of their way to keep the forms securely locked away. Once the information has been entered into a computer, all sensitive details are blacked out. I’ve seen this myself and feel a lot better about providing my social security and driver’s license number, knowing precautions are taken to keep it all secure.

That’s pretty much all there is to it. If you want to successfully manufacture $100,000 or more in spend, make sure you do it by the book, avoid putting it all on one card, stay well organized, and whatever you do – avoid using Walmart Bill Pay to pay off balances.

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11 Comments
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MileageGoblin November 30, 2017

@point, you've been caught being untruthful / exaggerating your MS experience. You said you started the hobby six years ago which would be mid-2011. VRs did not start until mid-2012 and were not rolled out in larger areas until the end of that year. Not believable you would have been doing this right when it came out. And then PINs on GCs didn't come out until 2013. US Mint ended in 2011 so you wouldn't have been MSing with that when you claimed to have started in 2011. I'm tired of hearing MSers brag about themselves and misrepresent the facts. Nobody needs to know the amounts and nobody cares how long someone has been doing this. I highly doubt the 2.5 hours to turn 100k is truthful either. That would take you a minimum of 2 hours to liquidate at WM via BP or MO assuming you had the line the entire time.

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drvannostren November 13, 2017

I'll be reading your newbie guide to MS shortly, but there's a couple things I already don't get. Maybe there's different customs wherever you're from? In Canada (where I live) the buying gift card concept still applies, but, when returning anything purchased from a gift card, the value always ALWAYS (I can't think of any major store that doesn't) goes back on the gift card. If I buy an Old Navy (clothing retailer) gift card, for $50 then buy $55 worth of pants, usually the $5 will go back on whatever credit card you used (or cash/debit) then the other $50 on to a new gift card. Is that not the case where you are? The whole money order thing has me totally perplexed too. So I'm hoping that's addressed in detail in the newbie guide. Good post though, I think you might have yourself a new subscriber to your site :)

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pointchaser November 7, 2017

@MileageGoblin Actually, Vanilla Reloads/Bluebirds were a thing in early 2012. US Mint coins ended in 2011 - how does that relate to this post?

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Ismilee November 3, 2017

Is it possible to buy a money order with a gift card? I thought you had to pay cash. Is this a Visa Gift Card?

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MileageGoblin November 1, 2017

"When I got started in this hobby six years ago." That's funny b/c MS didn't really start until 2013 when PINs got added per Dodd-Frank. And US mint coins ended over 6 years. Care to revise your statement mam?