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New to Manufactured Spending? Start here (2019)

New to Manufactured Spending? Start here (2019)

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Old Feb 4, 19, 5:01 am   -   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.
 
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NEW TO MS? It's suggested that new arrivals should 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 2017 - 2018 version of this thread is here, 2016 version of this thread is here, the 2015 version of the thread is here

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 Jan 3, 19, 1:46 pm
  #1  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend and Moderator: Air Canada Aeroplan & Manufactured Spending
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Join Date: May 2002
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New to Manufactured Spending? Start here (2019)

The 2019 version of this thread is created for those newer to Manufactured Spending how have more basic questions. Please note this is a flame-free resource web so please ask your questions without worrying about being flamed.

tcook052
on behalf of the MS forum moderators
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Old Jan 4, 19, 4:18 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 6
Ive been lurking here for a few weeks but ive been a long time poster on r/churning. I want to start to MSing but I have a few questions

1. Is the best place to buy VGC to hit MSR at giftcards.com through ebates so that I get 1% back for each $500 card so effectively the fee is 1.95 (6.95 minus $5 back from ebates)
2. Is the best place to buy VGC to gain Chase UR at office depot? I can buy $200 VGC with my CIP to gain 5x points if they have them in stock but not the variable ones?

3. I am going to attempt to cash out these gift cards at WM by buying a MO but if that doesn't work I am going to use Serve and BB as a backup. I Know that the monthly limit is $5K each and I would love to MS 10K a month. But I read some comments that if you max it out then you will probably get shut down. Is there a "safe" amount that I can use serve and BB each month without the worry of being shutdown
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Old Jan 5, 19, 8:40 am
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Join Date: Jul 2016
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Welcome to FT! I would not recommend jumping right to 10K a month if you're just starting out. Just buy one 500 card, liquidate it into a MO and deposit it into your secondary bank (not your main bank). If all goes well, you can repeat or SLOWLY ramp up. MS is a marathon, not a sprint. If you're in NY you can buy a 500 at Simon or a supermarket. GC.com will hit you with a shipping fee that will make the cost the same as the two above, but you'll have to wait a week to receive it.
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Old Jan 5, 19, 10:25 am
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Hello-
Welcome to the world of manufacturing, there's multiple cashback portals one of them being Ebates but you can check and use Yazing, befrugal, simplebest coupons etc
you can check cashbackmonitor to see what cashback portals are paying on cashback.

One other site to purchase cards is giftcardmall but with them be careful start slow order 1 card every week for a while do not ramp up too fast or they will shut you down.

Walmart sell moneygram money orders but there's other store that sell western union money orders.

Good Luck
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Old Jan 5, 19, 11:11 am
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by NYchurner View Post
2. Is the best place to buy VGC to gain Chase UR at office depot? I can buy $200 VGC with my CIP to gain 5x points if they have them in stock but not the variable ones?

3. I am going to attempt to cash out these gift cards at WM by buying a MO but if that doesn't work I am going to use Serve and BB as a backup. I Know that the monthly limit is $5K each and I would love to MS 10K a month. But I read some comments that if you max it out then you will probably get shut down. Is there a "safe" amount that I can use serve and BB each month without the worry of being shutdown
#2 OD and Staples are good places to earn UR IF you have the right card. What do you mean by CIP? if it's ChaseInkPlus(this is no longer available for sign up), then you'll earn 5 pts/$ spent but if it's ChaseInkPreferred, you won't get 5% and I suggest you review the terms of the CC.

#3 NO one can give you guarantees on how to avoid a shutdown; IF, for whatever reasons your account trips the alarm, eyeballs will start scrutinizing and that'll possibly lead to shutdown. You can read that many max out the monthly loads with no adverse action and it's up to you to follow based on your risk tolerance. Check the web for shutdown reports so you'll have an idea of trigger factors.

Good Luck!
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Old Jan 5, 19, 1:26 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 1
I'm going to start MSing for the first time and have read a lot on it already, but have a couple questions.
  1. Is Serve/Blue Bird recommended over Money orders?
  2. What is better, Serve or BB?
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Old Jan 7, 19, 3:17 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 1
Hey all, does anyone have any experience with MS using Kiva? I've been reading up on it but am unsure of the optimal loan lengths to chose, geographical areas, etc, to minimize default rates.

I don't mind my money being tied up for ~6 mo-1 year especially if it's going to a good cause + points are racking up in the process.
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Old Jan 7, 19, 6:47 pm
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Join Date: Jan 2019
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Like many of the others above me, I'm looking to start MS. I want to start light with $500, especially since there are no WM, DT/FD, etc immediately nearby, so liquidating to Serve could be tricky.

I've seen VGCs at pharmacies that have a fixed amount and ones that have a variable amount ($20-$500). Do these differ in difficulty of liquidation? I've only seen the One Vanilla variety in my area.

Also, when buying gift cards, is it essentially $500 cards or bust?

Thanks.
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Old Jan 8, 19, 8:40 am
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Originally Posted by ablablavar View Post
Hey all, does anyone have any experience with MS using Kiva? I've been reading up on it but am unsure of the optimal loan lengths to chose, geographical areas, etc, to minimize default rates.

I don't mind my money being tied up for ~6 mo-1 year especially if it's going to a good cause + points are racking up in the process.
I haven't used it myself, but others do. There's even a thread about Kiva. Using Kiva to manufacture spend
Good luck!
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Old Jan 8, 19, 9:57 pm
  #10  
 
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Originally Posted by mad_eyes View Post
I've seen VGCs at pharmacies that have a fixed amount and ones that have a variable amount ($20-$500). Do these differ in difficulty of liquidation? I've only seen the One Vanilla variety in my area.

Also, when buying gift cards, is it essentially $500 cards or bust?.
For fixed amount cards vs. variables, there is no difference in difficulty of liquidation other than larger amounts are more efficient.
Sub-$500 cards are used when the overall profit margin is acceptable. Very much depends on the person doing the MS and their tolerance for the extra work and fees.

Last edited by noassumptions; Jan 8, 19 at 10:20 pm
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Old Jan 8, 19, 10:19 pm
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Originally Posted by Joel16 View Post
  1. Is Serve/Blue Bird recommended over Money orders?
  2. What is better, Serve or BB?
1. Totally just depends on which works better for your own situation. Some people do both.
2. BB only loads at WM, Serve at several chains. A few other minor differences. Again, some use both.
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Old Jan 9, 19, 9:41 pm
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Join Date: Dec 2017
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Originally Posted by mad_eyes View Post
Like many of the others above me, I'm looking to start MS. I want to start light with $500, especially since there are no WM, DT/FD, etc immediately nearby, so liquidating to Serve could be tricky.

I've seen VGCs at pharmacies that have a fixed amount and ones that have a variable amount ($20-$500). Do these differ in difficulty of liquidation? I've only seen the One Vanilla variety in my area.

Also, when buying gift cards, is it essentially $500 cards or bust?

Thanks.
Good decision to start off light and make sure it works for you.
Fixed or variable make no difference usually. However, there are times when I want to convert an Amex gc (non-debit card) to a Visa gc (debit card), so I'll buy a variable for $494.05 and with the $5.95 fee it comes out to exactly $500, the value of the Amex gc. This way I can avoid doing a split transaction which seems to cause problems for me when buying a visa with an amex.
$500 cards are better, but Staples and Office Depot often when specials which make their $200 worthwhile. It all depends on the details and what price you put on your time.
Good luck!
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Old Jan 10, 19, 4:08 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 8
Is it possible to set up a merchant services account with someone other than square for the sole purpose of draining gebits?

Based on my research payline or dharma charge $10/month and would probably cost ~1.1% (.2% + .08, plus interchange which should be .8% + .15, as best as I can tell?). I would gladly be willing to pay this premium to not have to deal with money orders, at least for the foreseeable future. But I also have not seen anyone discussing this as an option, so I wonder if there is some flaw in my reasoning or knowledge.

FWIW I've started MSing in the past few months to the tune of about 30k, and plan to go for ~75k this year, possibly as much as 150k. I'm not sure if my sole kroger can bear the weight of all these $200 MCGCs.

Last edited by camus; Jan 10, 19 at 4:16 pm
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Old Jan 13, 19, 10:19 pm
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Originally Posted by camus View Post
Is it possible to set up a merchant services account with someone other than square for the sole purpose of draining gebits?
When the herd is ignoring obvious greener pastures, there is likely some predator the newcomer hasn't noticed yet.

The experts are probably tired of explaining this since it comes up so often, so I'll just give you this non-expert's take-away:
1) The MSA providers will shut you down, probably sooner than later and 2) how badly do you want to explain all that business income to the IRS?
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Old Jan 15, 19, 5:41 pm
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Originally Posted by noassumptions View Post
When the herd is ignoring obvious greener pastures, there is likely some predator the newcomer hasn't noticed yet.

The experts are probably tired of explaining this since it comes up so often, so I'll just give you this non-expert's take-away:
1) The MSA providers will shut you down, probably sooner than later and 2) how badly do you want to explain all that business income to the IRS?
Well I figured as such, but after trying to find anything on the topic, I wouldn't say it comes up that often. I am curious what mechanism the MSA provider would have to flag you, given that you would be spreading the spending over a wide variety of card numbers. Also why they would even care, given that you are paying the fees...

And the latter point did occur to me, but since what we are doing is not criminal and I figured maybe at least in principal you keep good records and just invite the IRS in for tea.
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