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New to Manufactured Spending? Start here(2017-2018)

New to Manufactured Spending? Start here(2017-2018)

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Old Dec 19, 18, 11:51 pm   -   Wikipost
Please read: This is a community-maintained wiki post containing the most important information from this thread. You may edit the Wiki once you have been on FT for 90 days and have made 90 posts.
 
Last edit by: Marathon Man
Wiki Link
NEW TO MS: Do some serious reading for a month of all the posts and wiki to get an understanding of MS before asking common questions.

Note: the 2016 version of this thread is here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manuf...l#post27694986, the 2015 version of the thread is here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manuf...re-2015-a.html

Welcome to Manufactured Spending. Marathon Man did not write this message, but he has edited it and anyone can. If you are new here, please spend some time reading before posting. Most likely your questions have already been answered multiple times. Consider deals that you share. These threads are searchable by Google. A volatile deal may be worth holding close to the vest.

Hints

1) On FT, topics are heavily consolidated. Sometimes the title of the thread and first few posts may not properly reflect the broad range of discussion inside the thread. Be sure to visit any thread relating to the product or service you want to learn more about because you might be surprised by how in depth the discussion really is. High "View Count" and "Replies" are good indicators of active "master threads" on a specific topic.

2) Use Google to search FT. It works a lot better than the built-in search.

3) A glossary wiki for MS located in the thread Glossary, Manufactured Spending Forum

Important Rules

1) MSing is very YMMV. It varies by store, manager, and right down to the cashier working at the moment. Some might argue that MS is like card counting in a casino. It is not illegal but casinos don’t like it. Orhers have said it’s like having a fake ID in college to use just to get into bars where all the fun is. Just because it worked here yesterday doesn’t mean it will get you in today. MS is like being a wood worker constantly using a table saw. Always watch what you are doing—always! Or you will lose something. That being said, always be nice and courteous in the face of rejection. The biggest secret for success is to lay low so you can try again.

2) DO NOT spend more than you can afford. START WITH SMALL AMOUNTS TO TEST THE WATER! As an example.. don't start with a $5000 purchase of VGCs if you can't afford to float that much! Instead, buy one and try it, and scale up once you are comfortable with a new method. It's easy to lose track, or get robbed, when you are handling so much money. Getting a refund is NOT always possible.

3) DO NOT ask employees, cashiers, customer service representatives, etc... about how to MS, or about things you read on this forum. The information you read here are very specific, unknown, legal uses of products or services. Most employees, cashiers, and even managers do not know about them. At best you'll get bad information. At worst you'll create a lot of unnecessary misunderstanding.

4) It bears repeating that there are no guarantees. you could easily buy $10,000 in gift cards or some other instrument, only to discover that your method for liquidating them vanishes the very next day. MS is not "normal" financial activity ("normal" being defined by the banks), and thus is often perceived as "suspicious" even if it is legal.

5) never underestimate the risk of criminal activity. gift cards can easily be stolen, loaded onto a compromised account, loaded in a debit card skimmer, or even fraudulent (e.g., an already used card put back on the rack).

6) MSing can be used for a variety of purposes, ranging from smallish amounts to meet minimum spend requirements to get a credit card signup bonus, to accumulating huge numbers of points for travel/cashback/etc. Remember too that you will often have expenses such as purchase fees, liquidation fees, and gas.

If you have a question that does not seem to fit anywhere, or you have not found an appropriate place for it, post it here.

- A helpful note from seat17D about some of the inherent risks of MS

New MSers can also read all these threads:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manuf...-spending-719/
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Old May 21, 18, 8:38 pm
  #496  
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Originally Posted by Klemhuzzah View Post
Just noticed the fine print on the back of gift cards say "This gift card is not a credit card" - even though the front has "visa" or "mastercard" on it, and you can spend it (mostly) like a credit card. I'm guessing this means the purchases done with the card don't have the same protections that credit cards have.
It's like your bank Debt card. Works the same way you can use it as a debt or CC but it's NOT a CC,
mwstahly likes this.
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Old May 30, 18, 2:26 pm
  #497  
 
Join Date: May 2018
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Buying $50k in VGCs ... what is the best way to do this?

Hello - i have $50k unused on a new credit card. I have plenty of local stores around me that will allow me to purchase $10k+ in VGCs. They will all want my ID and SSN for those large-size transactions, even though i am purchasing with a CC, not cash (which i have no problem with, nothing illegal going on here).
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But, i have been reading about the issues with MS, and IRS reporting (CTR, SAR). Unlike many posts that i have seen, it sounds like i *want* to do each transaction *above* $10k, to avoid any appearance of "structuring" (and obviously this means a CTR will be filed). Which again, i have no problem with.
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OR, am i over-thinking this? i.e. do those IRS reporting issues only apply to buying VGCs with *cash*? By buying with a CC, do i have nothing to worry about? (it would obviously be better if a CTR wasnt filed). Thank you for any thoughts you may have.
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(ps - To keep things simple, let's assume that i will *not* be buying MOs with these VGCs. I may just keep them in a fire-proof safe and use them for my business, over the next 2 years or so. MO's, AFAIK, are the same as cash in the eyes of the IRS, and i also see my bank as viewing it suspiciously if i deposit 100 MOs of $500 each. Sounds like a SAR to me.)
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Old May 30, 18, 3:32 pm
  #498  
 
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Why would you want $50,000 of Visa gift cards in a fireproof safe for two years to use for your "business"? Is this to hide assets for a divorce? Are you planning a "bust-out" with your credit lines (i.e., fraud)?
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Old May 30, 18, 3:45 pm
  #499  
 
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Originally Posted by dealhunter32 View Post
Why would you want $50,000 of Visa gift cards in a fireproof safe for two years to use for your "business"? Is this to hide assets for a divorce? Are you planning a "bust-out" with your credit lines (i.e., fraud)?
LOL! Nope - no bust-out, no divorce. Is that what fraudsters do? ... it's amazing how these types of questions always attract people who assume the worst. Maybe there are lots of real fraudsters in these forums, so that would explain your suspicion.

In any event, my "business" is a real business, an LLC, a startup internet business. I want to get points, and also take advantage of a 0% rate that will be expiring on this card. This is my only chance to borrow money at 0%, with almost no fees, so i want to take advantage of it, even if the money sits there over the next year or so (no loss to me). I have no other way to borrow money at 0% (my other cards are 17 to 20% rates). The points are also a huge bonus (although the window of opportunity for those doesnt expire, AFAIK).
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Old May 30, 18, 3:53 pm
  #500  
 
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Originally Posted by Boston_Guy View Post
LOL! Nope - no bust-out, no divorce. Is that what fraudsters do? ... it's amazing how these types of questions always attract people who assume the worst. Maybe there are lots of real fraudsters in these forums, so that would explain your suspicion.

In any event, my "business" is a real business, an LLC, a startup internet business. I want to get points, and also take advantage of a 0% rate that will be expiring on this card. This is my only chance to borrow money at 0%, with almost no fees, so i want to take advantage of it, even if the money sits there over the next year or so (no loss to me). I have no other way to borrow money at 0% (my other cards are 17 to 20% rates). The points are also a huge bonus (although the window of opportunity for those doesnt expire, AFAIK).
$50k in gift cards patiently waiting for a hacker to drain them.. A dream come true in places like Beaumont!
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Old May 30, 18, 3:53 pm
  #501  
 
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Originally Posted by Boston_Guy View Post
LOL! Nope - no bust-out, no divorce. Is that what fraudsters do? ... it's amazing how these types of questions always attract people who assume the worst. Maybe there are lots of real fraudsters in these forums, so that would explain your suspicion.

In any event, my "business" is a real business, an LLC, a startup internet business. I want to get points, and also take advantage of a 0% rate that will be expiring on this card. This is my only chance to borrow money at 0%, with almost no fees, so i want to take advantage of it, even if the money sits there over the next year or so (no loss to me). I have no other way to borrow money at 0% (my other cards are 17 to 20% rates). The points are also a huge bonus (although the window of opportunity for those doesnt expire, AFAIK).
I would not let the money sit there in Visa gift cards which could be stolen or subject to fraud (even if you never lose the physical cards). You should probably buy money orders with the cards and then put the money in the bank to earn 1.5%+ APY with a savings or rewards checking account, and then use as needed for your business (but use credit where allowed with no fee to earn more rewards). As for buying the gift cards, if they are alright with you buying more than $10K in one day I would do that... although you will probably have to do 3 days of $17K each or something so as not to tie up the line too long (go when it isn't busy).

The Visa gift cards probably won't be very useful for buying Google Adwords or whatever you are doing for your startup .com business... that is why you should turn them back around. But, borrowing at 0% promotional APR is smart. It just hoses your credit (due to utilization being above 30%), but it will recover after your utilization drops. Make sure to make the minimum payment each month during the 0% APR promo period.
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Old May 30, 18, 4:10 pm
  #502  
 
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Originally Posted by dealhunter32 View Post
I would not let the money sit there in Visa gift cards which could be stolen or subject to fraud (even if you never lose the physical cards). You should probably buy money orders with the cards and then put the money in the bank to earn 1.5%+ APY with a savings or rewards checking account, and then use as needed for your business (but use credit where allowed with no fee to earn more rewards). As for buying the gift cards, if they are alright with you buying more than $10K in one day I would do that... although you will probably have to do 3 days of $17K each or something so as not to tie up the line too long (go when it isn't busy).

The Visa gift cards probably won't be very useful for buying Google Adwords or whatever you are doing for your startup .com business... that is why you should turn them back around. But, borrowing at 0% promotional APR is smart. It just hoses your credit (due to utilization being above 30%), but it will recover after your utilization drops. Make sure to make the minimum payment each month during the 0% APR promo period.
Thank you! Good points .... i was thinking i would be safe, because these cards require PINs.... sounds like i have to re-think that strategy. Why couldnt i use them to buy google ad-words? Bummer, that's part of what i was going to use the money for. Are you available to talk over the phone for 30 to 60 minutes? I can pay you what your hourly rate is.
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Old May 30, 18, 6:50 pm
  #503  
 
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Probably the best place to buy your GC's is a Simon Mall. There are quite a few in/near Boston, although you should check whether they sell gift cards. (Almost, but not 100%, of Simon Malls do.) They will sell $10K a day, the fees are reasonable ($3.95 per card, max $500), and they won't view your activity as "suspicious." You'll have to fill out a form and show your ID. You can only do $10K/day, it's against the rules to go to multiple sites on the same day to get more than $10K.

If you have a WM that will take them for MO's, I'd suggest doing that. Cash in the bank is way more secure than cards in a vault. However, if you do plan to keep the cards, make a log of the numbers and change the PIN's. However, I've processed well over $1 million in GC's and the only time I ever had a problem was when a friend I don't totally trust was in close proximity to the cards. (Cost me $500. I learned and am more careful.) Again, a bank will generally not consider depositing MO's as suspicious. Many banks will close your account if the MO activity is too high over too long a time, but the two accounts I've had closed were after way more than $50K. Of course, if you don't want to pay the MO fee (0.18%) you can keep the cards, but it'll be quite annoying to deal with 100 cards that have unknown amounts of money on them.
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Old May 30, 18, 7:37 pm
  #504  
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
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Originally Posted by redtop43 View Post
Probably the best place to buy your GC's is a Simon Mall. There are quite a few in/near Boston, although you should check whether they sell gift cards. (Almost, but not 100%, of Simon Malls do.) They will sell $10K a day, the fees are reasonable ($3.95 per card, max $500), and they won't view your activity as "suspicious." You'll have to fill out a form and show your ID. You can only do $10K/day, it's against the rules to go to multiple sites on the same day to get more than $10K.

If you have a WM that will take them for MO's, I'd suggest doing that. Cash in the bank is way more secure than cards in a vault. However, if you do plan to keep the cards, make a log of the numbers and change the PIN's. However, I've processed well over $1 million in GC's and the only time I ever had a problem was when a friend I don't totally trust was in close proximity to the cards. (Cost me $500. I learned and am more careful.) Again, a bank will generally not consider depositing MO's as suspicious. Many banks will close your account if the MO activity is too high over too long a time, but the two accounts I've had closed were after way more than $50K. Of course, if you don't want to pay the MO fee (0.18%) you can keep the cards, but it'll be quite annoying to deal with 100 cards that have unknown amounts of money on them.
One tidbit with the Simon Malls are that some only let you have one attempt at paying for the cards, so if your credit card is declined, they might not let you use that card again or possibly not even let you try a different card. This is why "seasoning" cards is important (don't try spending $9,575.05 out of the blue).

I had heard some cards (Citi?) coding Simon Malls as cash advances -- is this still true?
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Old May 31, 18, 1:44 pm
  #505  
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Originally Posted by Boston_Guy View Post
LOL! Nope - no bust-out, no divorce. Is that what fraudsters do? ... it's amazing how these types of questions always attract people who assume the worst. Maybe there are lots of real fraudsters in these forums, so that would explain your suspicion.

In any event, my "business" is a real business, an LLC, a startup internet business. I want to get points, and also take advantage of a 0% rate that will be expiring on this card. This is my only chance to borrow money at 0%, with almost no fees, so i want to take advantage of it, even if the money sits there over the next year or so (no loss to me). I have no other way to borrow money at 0% (my other cards are 17 to 20% rates). The points are also a huge bonus (although the window of opportunity for those doesnt expire, AFAIK).
I think you need to educate yourself on the in's and out of what you plan on doing. Theif is a real big problem with VGC so people on this forum know what they are talking about u have 3 posing on FT and laugh at people who know things you don't;
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Old May 31, 18, 7:00 pm
  #506  
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Originally Posted by dealhunter32 View Post
One tidbit with the Simon Malls are that some only let you have one attempt at paying for the cards, so if your credit card is declined, they might not let you use that card again or possibly not even let you try a different card. This is why "seasoning" cards is important (don't try spending $9,575.05 out of the blue).

I had heard some cards (Citi?) coding Simon Malls as cash advances -- is this still true?
There were some reports a few years ago of Barclays posting as cash advances. I've never experienced that with citi (although citi declines my transactions quite often).
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Old Jun 10, 18, 11:51 am
  #507  
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
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Noob here with a question. I've read through most of this thread and I still don't have a good answer.

I recently opened a Chase Ink Business Cash credit card and would like to use it to buy gift cards (Visa, and 3rd party ones) to actually use for purchases, not for buying MOs. I'm not that far down the rabbit hole yet. My plan is to basically shift all of my everyday spending that I would normally put on my Freedom Unlimited card to gift cards purchased with my Ink Cash card to maximize UR points. I would probably spend around 1-1.5K on gift cards a month, along with cable, phone, and internet bills. Is this risky in any way? Or would this type of activity fly below the Chase radar? My intuition is that it would be ok since some of the poster here are spending over 10K a month and buying MOs, but I would like to make sure just in case. I am just concerned with issues like closing my accounts. Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:37 pm
  #508  
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Originally Posted by cheme24 View Post
Noob here with a question. I've read through most of this thread and I still don't have a good answer.

I recently opened a Chase Ink Business Cash credit card and would like to use it to buy gift cards (Visa, and 3rd party ones) to actually use for purchases, not for buying MOs. I'm not that far down the rabbit hole yet. My plan is to basically shift all of my everyday spending that I would normally put on my Freedom Unlimited card to gift cards purchased with my Ink Cash card to maximize UR points. I would probably spend around 1-1.5K on gift cards a month, along with cable, phone, and internet bills. Is this risky in any way? Or would this type of activity fly below the Chase radar? My intuition is that it would be ok since some of the poster here are spending over 10K a month and buying MOs, but I would like to make sure just in case. I am just concerned with issues like closing my accounts. Thanks in advance for any suggestions or advice.
I don't think anyone can tell you there is definitely no risk, because it isn't always entirely clear why Chase shuts people down. But what you are proposing appears likely to stay under Chase's radar. I'd say you should be fine.
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Old Jun 10, 18, 12:51 pm
  #509  
 
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Originally Posted by cheme24 View Post
Noob here with a question. I've read through most of this thread and I still don't have a good answer.

I recently opened a Chase Ink Business Cash credit card and would like to use it to buy gift cards (Visa, and 3rd party ones) to actually use for purchases, not for buying MOs. I'm not that far down the rabbit hole yet. My plan is to basically shift all of my everyday spending that I would normally put on my Freedom Unlimited card to gift cards purchased with my Ink Cash card to maximize UR points. I would probably spend around 1-1.5K on gift cards a month, along with cable, phone, and internet bills. Is this risky in any way? Or would this type of activity fly below the Chase radar? My intuition is that it would be ok since some of the poster here are spending over 10K a month and buying MOs, but I would like to make sure just in case. I am just concerned with issues like closing my accounts.
sounds like a plan, I don't think you have to worry about Chase; one risk you have to keep in mind is high risk of funds getting stolen from VGCs ; there's probably lower risk with store specific GC but you have to manage them well so you don't lose them.
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Old Jun 28, 18, 8:09 am
  #510  
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
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Can anyone tell me if OVs work at Harris teeter? All the kroger's in my state are closing in a month or so and they've already gotten rid of money orders.
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