At the moment manufactured spending is the most popular subject on Flyertalk and this blogging industry in general. I’ve said many times that majority of my target readers probably won’t do much of it, if any at all.
I do try to link to manufactured spending news and even write posts about it on occasion. The biggest advantage to doing MS is the ability to meet minimum spending requirements for cards that would otherwise be out of reach for a regular family.
One of my readers made a request to put together a list of some easy MS techniques, the low-hanging fruit, so to speak. Good idea! I’ve said before that I don’t do any manufactured spending, so hopefully, my research is accurate. Keep in mind, one or more of these methods may be dead by the time this post is published. Such is a nature of MS, my friends. Without further ado:
Update: this option is no longer available.
It’s a service that lets you pay your bills, such as mortgage or car payments. It does not charge a fee for using Visa gift cards ( you can not use Amex gift cards). You can buy Visa gift cards while shopping for groceries, and then pay your bills from the comfort of your own home. You can also buy gift cards online, without ever stepping a foot in the store.
There have been some restrictions put in place recently to prevent abuse of Evolve service. But for the most part, it will serve the needs of a regular family just fine. Read this post for info on how to use it.
- American Express Serve card
An update: Some issuers like Citi and US Bank started processing loads as a cash advance. Try a low amount first with your bank and see how it goes.
Serve by American Express is similar to Bluebird. But there is one big difference: At this time you can load it with a credit card at no extra fee. The amount is up to $1,000 per month, $200 per day. To avoid $1 monthly fee, make sure to load $500 per month. You can read a post on this method here.
Serve does pay me commission if you apply through my site (no credit pull), or you can convert your Bluebird card by calling.
- Buying Visa gift cards and liquidating them via money orders.
Some stores will let you buy money orders with a Visa gift card. I’ve heard of people having success at Kroger grocery store, but you may have other stores near you. Reports are that in some Walmart locations employees want to see your name on a gift card.
Fortunately, there is a way around it. You can order Visa gift card from SimonMalls because they actually put the name of the recipient on it. Be careful using CITI, since it can be coded as a cash advance.
It’s a non-profit organization that lets you sponsor people in impoverished lands by loaning them money using your credit card. The loan is coded as a purchase. I would caution you on Kiva, though. First, you have to be able to float your money for at least a couple of months or so. Second, repayments are not guaranteed.
It’s true, most have had great success with this method. But it could all come crashing down all of a sudden, and take your money with it. Be very cautious when going this route and calculate the costs, especially if you have a limited amount in savings. The best way to minimize your risk is to make loans of $25 (required minimum). That way you are not putting all your eggs in one basket. Here is a post on Kiva and how to set up an account.
There is such a thing as low-hanging fruit of manufactured spending. Be aware, all of these methods still carry some risks. Never spend more that you can’t be without for a few months. I also recommend you do one MS method at a time, and wait till the money is in your account before attempting another one. Plan for the worst case scenario because it happens. Your money can be tied up for weeks or even months. Can you pay off your credit card bill in the meantime?
Readers, which methods would you add to this list?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.