Around the World for Free – Part 5: Manufactured Spending

Welcome to the 5th part of the “Around the World for Free” series!

In this part, we’ll be talking about manufactured spending and how it can help you obtain those credit card bonuses faster without using that much money to meet the minimum spend.

Finally, “Around the World for Free” is a multi-part series that is posted weekly, so make sure you tune in and check out the other posts whenever you can!

What is Manufactured Spending

Manufactured Spending is the process of creating spend with a miles or points credit card through the means of purchasing a cash equivalent. The goal is to earn miles or points from the purchases and then use liquidate the purchases to pay back the credit card.

Typically, the cash equivalent is something like a gift card, money order, etc.

The ways to manufacture spend change as companies patch up loopholes, but the most well known example was the purchasing of $1 coins from the US Mint and then depositing them into your back accounts to pay off your credit card.

How to Manufacture Spend

Currently, the most common method of Manufactured Spending is by purchasing gift cards from retailers like CVS or Simon Mall, then liquidating them by purchasing Money Orders from USPS or Walmart, depositing them into a money-order friendly bank, and using those funds to pay off your credit card.

To put it into a list, it would look like this:

  1. Purchase Gift Card with Credit Card
  2. Purchase Money Order with Gift Card
  3. Deposit Money Order into Bank Account
  4. Use Funds from Bank Account to Pay off Credit Card

The Method I use to Manufacture Spend

While there are many ways to manufacture spend, I’ll be going into how I use the method explained above to generate spend for easy points and miles.

The Manufactured Spending Process

To put it simply, here is the process I take to manufacture spend:

  1. Identify Card To Manufacture Spend On
  2. Purchase Gift Cards With Card at Simon Mall(only purchase an amount of gift cards you can float, in case something goes wrong).
  3. Liquidate Gift Cards into Money Orders at Walmart
  4. Deposit Walmart Money Orders into my Simple Bank Account
  5. Use my Simple Bank Account Funds to pay off my Card

Identify Card to Manufacture Spend On

The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card (picture from American Express).

The card that I manufacture spend on is usually the card I have to reach a minimum spend on. If I don’t have a card to meet a minimum sign-up bonus on, then I will either sign up for a new card for more bonuses or place my manufacture spend on the card that would generate the most points and has the most value, which is my American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card.

If you took a look at The Point Guy’s Point Valuation Chart, you will see that Starwood Points are valued at 2.7 cents per point. Starwood Points are actually the highest in the point valuation chart because of how hard it is to obtain them.

Purchase Gift Cards with Card at Simon Mall

How the Gift Card Looks Like (picture from Simon.com)

The easiest way for me to obtain gift cards, the cash equivalent, is to head to my nearest Simon Mall.

Luckily for me, there are plenty of Simon Mall’s around the area and I can easily drive to one within ten minutes.

One thing you’ll have to think about before purchasing the gift cards is how much money can you float without getting yourself into a financially bad scenario. By float, I mean how much can you handle if something were to go wrong.

For example, let’s say that I can handle at least $2,000 in damages if something goes wrong, then I should only float $2,000, so if something does go wrong, I can fix it easy with my stash. You could also think of this as an emergency fund.

Related: The Simple What to Do With Your Money Guide

Personally, I can float around $10,000 – $20,000 a month.

Anyways, once I’m at Simon Mall, I would request to purchase 5 gift cards at $500 each. The reason I choose 5 is because once you purchase over 5, you have to fill out an anti-fraud form for Simon Mall’s record keeping and since I don’t like filling out forms, I try to avoid it.

Finally, since I am purchasing 5 gift cards and each gift card purchase has a fee of $3.95, the total cost of the gift cards with fees is $2,519.75.

Liquidate Gift Cards into Money Orders at Walmart

Picture of the Walmart Money Order (picture from MightyTravels.com)

Once I have the gift cards, I drive to the nearest Walmart in order to liquidate my gift cards by purchasing money orders.

I may be wrong in this, but I believe you can only purchase 2 money orders a day at $1,000 each for a fee of $0.70 per money order.

I’ll ask for a $999.30 money order, which will bill to a total of $1,000.00 after you add the $0.70 money order fee, and then pay for it through a split payment on two of the gift cards I bought.

Deposit Walmart Money Orders into my Simple Bank Account

Simple Bank Account (picture from Simple.com).

Once I finished buying the money order, I just have to deposit into my bank account.

For this, I have a dedicated bank account for doing manufactured spending as some banks like Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc would close your accounts with them if you do deposit money orders frequently with them.

Simple also has an awesome online deposit system, so I would just deposit the money order via my phone in my own home.

Use my Simple Bank Account Funds to pay off my Card

And finally, the last step, once the funds clear into my bank account, I would pay off my credit card using the credit card institution’s online bill payment system.

Is Manufactured Spending Worth It?

Now, is Manufactured Spending worth it?

Well, let’s do the math.

Let’s say I spend $5,000 on gift cards, that means I would be purchasing 10 $500 gift cards with fee of $3.95 for each of them, totaling up my amount of fees to $39.50.

$5,000 in gift cards would mean I have to purchase a total of 10 money orders at $1,000 with fee of $0.70 for each of them, totaling up my amount of fees to $48.50 ($39.50 + $7.00).

For $48.50 in fees, I would generate a total of 5000 points from $5000.00 in purchases with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card as I would earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.

5000 Starwood Points would be worth $135.00, when valued at 2.7 cents per point according to The Points Guy’s Point Valuation.

Finally, if we subtract our profit from our fees, we would have a net gain of $86.50.

Repeat this a few times and you’ll have a lot of points to spend on free travel, so yes it’s definitely worth it!

Now imagine this scenario for credit card sign-up bonuses! You can easily fulfill a $5,000 minimum spend by only paying $48.50!

Recap

Manufactured Spending is a great way to earn and collect miles and points at a faster rate.

I have earned over 500,000 miles and points by manufactured spending, mainly because I don’t have much personal expenses. You can actually check out my monthly net worth reports to see what I spend my money on as well!

What do you think about manufactured spending? Would you do it to earn more points and miles to go on awesome vacations? Why or why not? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Connect with me on Social Media!

If you liked this post, feel free to share it with your friends or connect with me on social media and give me a shout out! It really helps me continue to produce more and better content for you guys!

Stay Tuned

Here is the table of contents for the “Around the World for Free” series:

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5 thoughts on “Around the World for Free – Part 5: Manufactured Spending

  • April 10, 2017 at 9:06 am
    Permalink

    Interesting. One of the things I have been looking in to is figuring out a way to pay my mortgage with credit cards. Do you have any tips for this?

    Reply
    • April 10, 2017 at 1:14 pm
      Permalink

      There is actually, currently, the best way to do it is by paying through a service called Plastiq.

      Plastiq allows you to pay your bills (useful for services that don’t accept credit cards, like mortgages and auto loans) with a credit card, so they’ll charge your account and send a check to the person you are paying.

      The downside is that they charge a convenience fee, which can range from 1.0% – 3.0% depending on the type of card you use and if there is an ongoing promotion at the time.

      If you’re interested in signing up for Plastiq, it would be appreciated if you sign up with my referral code: 523738.

      Cheers,
      Smart Provisions

      Reply
    • April 12, 2017 at 2:31 pm
      Permalink

      That’s alright, WSP. It’s not for everyone.

      Reply
  • April 12, 2017 at 9:14 pm
    Permalink

    > the most well known example was the purchasing of $1 coins from the US Mint

    My first foray into manufactured spend was buying 6 dollar coins and a quarter for $6.00 from some coin collecting club. Not much profit, but was fun.

    I like it when stores have coupons for credit-card-branded gift cards less than face value. Typically these are e-coupons from stores like Meijer and Kroger,

    Reply

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