Manufactured Spending while on a Cruise

As my friends would say, I’m always thinking about ways to earn more points especially if I do not have to spend any money in doing so.  For those new readers of mine who are not familiar with manufactured spending it is spending to meet your minimum spend on a new credit card and/or a way in which to accumulate  additional miles/cash back. There are many different methods to manufacture spending, but the end goal is all the same. You are  “spending” money by using your credit card and then later getting back the dollars spent in the most cost efficient way possible.  To see an example, go to this link to read about the Redbird.

Now most of you who cruise and are aware of manufactured spend may be scratching your head to see how I was able to manufacture points on my recent cruise.

Let me begin by telling everyone that when you cruise you either need to register a credit card for your onboard expenses or put down a set amount of money.  We always give them a credit card number to use for those expenses – no need to keep track of what we have spent and if we’l run out of money that we put down for the cash deposit.

For this cruise I used a credit card that I had only received the week previous and I knew that I needed to meet my minimum spend.  Since it was a Citi card doing the Redbird method at Target was not going to work as Citibank codes the loading of my Redbird as a cash advance but I was curious if my new way would work.

On most cruise ships there is a casino and in the casino you can either feed those hungry machines with cash OR you can charge a certain amount of cash to your Ship to Shore card which is your stateroom account.    Let me explain this in a little more detail so you’ll understand.  If I decide to play the slots, I would put some money in and after I win, change does not come out of the machine but rather it shows on the slot machine itself.  After I’ve played for a little bit, I might decide to quit or to move on to a different machine.  When I push the “Cash out” button there is not clanging of coins into the tray nor is there a paper ticket to insert in another machine.  What I have to do is to cash out to my card.  When I move to a different machine I can then punch in my “PIN and transfer some money from my card to the new slot machine.

Another method to begin to play is to push another button and to charge money to go on your Ship to Shore card.  You are not putting any physical cash in the slot  but rather charging your slot money to your card.  There is no fee to do this from the casino or from the cruise line.  For purposes of clarification, I was on Holland America but I believe it works on all cruise lines this way.  I would then charge $300 to my account.  At the end of the evening, I would take my Ship to Shore card that it was charged onto to the  cashier in the casino and cash out.  I collected all my money that was left after playing.  I did this for several nights and came home with cash.


Once I arrived home I deposited the cash into my checking account to use to pay my credit card where the charge for the cash would show up.  Looking at my statement from Citibank, the casino charge is bundled with other items that I charged on my Ship to Shore.  It was all coded under General Purchase.  This sounds much more complicated than it is but trust me, it is quite easy.  The only trick is to not use the cash that you need to deposit back into your checking account either in the casino or elsewhere.

Now I realize that we can’t go on a cruise every week, at much as we would like to, but if you are on one this is a way to manufacture points while you are sailing the high seas.  I believe that you can charge about $2000 per day  to your ship account.  An easy way to manufacture spend for points and/or a minimum spend for a new credit card.

Have you ever done this or thought about it?


4 thoughts on “Manufactured Spending while on a Cruise

  1. After nearly 100 cruises I found out about this ages ago. I did nearly 12K in spend over a Xmas cruise as there were 4 of us. That got me 2.2% back on the arrival. Crystal cruises has now stopped this. This was an easy one as they would charge $300.00 pp/pd to your shipboard account and they would simply hand you the cash at the casino cage. Now, it counts as a cash advance and does not get charged to your room. Look for the other lines to start looking at this practice if it gets widespread usage/misuse.

  2. Interesting. Never thought about this because, after 16 cruises, have yet to gamble in the casino. Not our thing. Only time we’ve ever been in a ship’s casino is when we have to walk through it to get somewhere else!

  3. As a data point, I’ve been loading Redbird with my Citibank Aadvantage card for the past few months and I don’t get charged a cash advance fee.

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