Category Archives: Manufactured Spend

Why I LOVE going to the grocery store – not what you think!

As most of you know by now, the majority of our travel is from earning and burning points and miles from our various credit cards. We don’t earn too many of them from travel but rather from strategically using our credit cards as well as credit card sign ups.

As I have mentioned in the past, one of my favorite combination of credit cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card with the Chase Freedom card. The Freedom card by itself is a money back card but if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card or one of the Chase Inks (business cards) then the Freedom card will earn the Ultimate Reward points that can be transferred to airlines and hotels and formerly AMTRAK.Freedom

What is unique about the Freedom card is that they have different category spending per quarter. The second quarter of this year is 5 times points at grocery stores and big box stores like Sam’s Club, BJ’s Warehouse, Costco, etc.

I need to have a few windows replaced and had Lowe’s come over and give me an estimate for the window replacements – over $2,000.00. Hmm, my local grocery stores sells Lowe’s gift cards and if I purchase them this quarter, I’ll get 7,500 ultimate reward points rather than just the 2,000 points from paying Lowe’s directly.  Note:  you are limited to spending $1500 per quarter to get the bonus points.  Do I hear a Cha Ching!

That got me thinking.  What else do I ordinarily spend money on that I could purchase a gift card for during this quarter? I always need gas so a few BP gas cards went in my basket as well as a few restaurants gift cards and movie theatre gift cards and of course, those lovely and ever so versatile VISA $500 gift cards. Luckily, Blogger Hubby also has a Freedom that that we can use for all these extra points.

This should be a banner month for me with it all ending on June 30th. I hope you have the Freedom and and have taken advantage of this quarter’s bonus categories. If you don’t have it and are interested in one, please leave me a message in the comment section.

UPDATE:  Mommy Points has just written that Chase Freedom will continue to pay 5 x points when used at wholesale club stores through the end of the year.  You can read her post here.

My Latest Manufacturing Spend Strategy

There have been so many ways in the past few years to manufacture spend in order to meet the minimum spend requirement for new credit cards or just as a way to get points to your point/loyalty program that you need more points in.  It can be overwhelming trying to keep track of it all.

We have done the Vanilla Reloads first from Office Depot/Staples then they stopped selling them.  Later CVS began selling them and that was very convenient for most of us.  That lasted for about 8 months. We had BlueBird that we could load our gift cards to that was sponsored by WalMart and American Express. Then we had the Target Prepaid Debit Card, affectionately known as Redbird, that we could load money directly on it from our credit cards – no fees and too easy.  There are other “ways” out there – Serve, GoBank and a few more.

I have not done Serve, Go Bank or some of the others.  Once Redbird flew away I began doing money orders.  I would purchase $500 VISA gift cards either at some of the grocery stores that I frequent, 7/11’s or at two of the Simon malls that are about 30 miles away.  In the stores, generally the fee is $5.95 however at the mall offices, it is $3.75 or $4.25.  I have found that in the recent few weeks that two of the grocery stores that I was able to purchase them no longer sell them when you are purchasing with a credit card.

What to do, what to do!  I had read in Frequent Miler’s blog about purchasing gift cards through iConsumer and then going through the store called giftcard.com   I decided to try it out.

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This is what it looks like when you log in
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When you search for a shop, write in giftcards.com (not giftcardmall.com)
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Your next screen will have a dropdown of stores that sell gift cards.  You want GiftCards.  Reading across the screen, it says 1.5% back

After I logged in and was redirected to Giftcard.com, I was notified that I would receive a total of 1.5% back by purchasing through them.  I planed on purchasing $2000 in VISA gift cards and my cash back would be about $30.  That would take care of the fee that comes with each card as well as the shipping.  By not having to pay for the fee, I feel like I am coming out ahead of the game by being even!  It took almost a week to get my cards.

Once you receive them, call the number on the front of the cards and they will give you the pin number, which I write on each card with a Sharpie.  What I like about these cards is that they are embossed with my name on it so it looks like a debit card from the bank.  I’ve heard stories, but have not experienced it myself, that when purchasing money orders at WalMart, that they cashier wants to look If you are interested in going through iConsumer, please consider using my link – I thank you.

I then take the cards, pin activated, and purchase money orders at WalMart (.79 for $1000 money order), Kroger grocery store (.79 per $750), Food Lion (.46 for $500).   I felt “funny” when I went into my bank to deposit these money orders.  To avoid suspicion cast on me (call that my active imagination) I spoke with a branch manager and told her what I was doing.  Her response was “can you come to my house for dinner and explain it to my husband – he would love it”.  She brought into the office another branch manager who inquired how much I was going to do each month.  I told them about 5k- 8k.  I was told that they would be recorded like checks and that there would be no problems.  I felt so much better talking to them.  I know with our hobby we are suppose to fly under the radar and not bring attention to ourselves, but for me, being honest so that no suspicion would arise, works.money order

Another site to consider is Yazing.  Remember to purchase from Giftcards.com and not Giftcardmall.com as not all the cards from Giftcardmall.com is PIN enabled.

Remember, to do this you do not want your credit utilization on this card to go above 50% of your credit limit AND you want to mix up your spending so that you have normal everyday purchases as well as manufactured spending.  Ramp it up slowly as well/.  Don’t go from having a $500 monthly spend to $5000 in one month.  Also, once you have liquidated the money orders, wait a couple of weeks before you make a payment to your credit card.  Be smart about this so you don’t get shut down by your credit card – I never have because I don’t go overboard.

Do you purchase VISA gift cards?  How do you liquidate your money orders?  Would you consider ordering them online like I did?

 

 

Target RedCard Primer for Newbies – how to Manufacture Spending for Points

UPDATE:  This is, unfortunately, no longer available.

It seems that lately a lot of people have asked me about how Blogger Hubby and I are able to travel as we do.  Between credit card sign-ups, shopping through credit card shopping portals  and knowing bonus categories for each of our cards we do pretty well.

I do like to make sure we have enough points by doing what is known as manufactured spending (MS).  The Target Prepaid  Redcard (pictured below), affectionately called Redbird certainly helps us and it can help you to travel the world for almost free by racking up frequent flyer points/hotel points.  It is so easy and I often wonder why more people don’t do it.  Really, it’s that easy.  In addition, when you use it at a Target for purchases, you get an automatic 5% off your total.  That’s a WIN – WIN proposition for me.

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Get the right card – Target has several cards (credit card, debit card) but the one you want may not be in YOUR Target as it is still be tested in several markets throughout the country.  It has to look just like the one pictured below.

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Locating – To find the nearest Target to you that sells the Prepaid Redcard, please refer to this map.  If there isn’t one near you, you might be able to purchase one on Ebay or find a friend who does live near a store that sells them and have them get a card for you.  You can load them at any Target store even stores that do not sell them.  I have heard that you cannot load them  in North Carolina if the store does not sell them but I have no personal experience.  If you look at the map you’ll see that there are several Targets in  North Carolina that do sell them.

Purchasing – When you go to Target you are purchasing a temporary card.  In purchasing it, you need to activate it at the store.  The register will ask for your social security number and you can put yours in or a fake number – at this point it doesn’t matter but it will later on.  You should load it with some money – either cash, debit card or credit card.  Even though it says you can only load it with cash, you CAN load it with a credit card, debit card, VISA or MasterCard gift card or cash.  When you load it with your credit card, you are earning points on that card.   You will not be able to reload till you have registered it online though can can reload once registered but before your permanent card arrives in about a week.

Loading your Redcard – I use either a SunTrust debit card which gives me Delta points; any of the Chase cards that I have which give me hotel or airline points; and any of my American Express cards where I can earn Membership Reward points.  I find that I’m using my American Express SPG (Starwood) card more frequently because  I can get Starwood status based on my spending and their points are very valuable.  I have also used VISA or MC  gift cards that I have purchased at grocery stores (where I get 5 x points with certain cards).  With some gift cards I have to set a pin first though with others I just make one up the first time I use it.  You can always call the number on the back of the card to change a pin if you want to.   HINT:  you might want to let your credit card know that you will be making a large purchase at Target otherwise it might trigger a fraud alert.  If, when you try to load money on your credit card, it gets declined, wait a minute and see if you get a text message from your card asking you if this is your purchase.  There is no fee to load money onto your card.

 

Registering your card on your computer – You cannot register a Prepaid Redcard if you have an active Bluebird or Serve account.  They must be closed first.  You are allowed one Prepaid Redcard account per social security number.  At this point you will need to go to a computer and register your card on the website.  Here is the link for it.  You must use your social security number – no fat fingers allowed.  You and your spouse can each have one and your children can have one in their names as well.

Lately a lot of information has come out as to how to use and load your Redcard.  Previously I was loading about $1000 per visit but then it was suggested that I do odd amounts so that it wouldn’t look suspicious as to what I was doing.  Now I am loading $912.56 or $869.44.  It was also suggested to not just pay your credit card bill that you used to load your card with online but use it for other purchases.  Now when I go out, I’ll use this card as a debit card and pay for my small purchases.

ATM – Lastly, it was also suggested to use the card at an ATM.  That I hadn’t done but was successful in doing it today.  Yesterday I tried using it at my bank and it kept failing.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted the withdrawal from my credit card or checking account.  I tried both and it still failed.  Last night I did a little research and found that I could only do it at Allpoint ATM’s.  There is no fee to use the Allpoint ATM machine.  I found where they were located and one was in the 7/11 near my home.  When I walked in the ATM said it was Citibank – didn’t see anything that indicated that it was Allpoint.  Nevertheless, I inserted the Redcard, typed in my PIN, indicated that it was coming from a checking account and put in the amount that I wanted to withdraw.  Again, no fee.

Fees and Limits – For a list of all the load and withdrawal amounts, please follow this link.  You find out how much you can load per day/per month as well as withdrawing.

Remember the family that loads their Redcards together,  flies together!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them.  I’ll do my best to try and answer them

How I scored 5 x Points for Paying my Lawn Care Man and City Water Bill

Disclosure:  I do not receive any compensation of any kind by expressing my own personal opinions about credit cards that I have.

Last week one of the big office supply stores had a sale on SEARS gift cards.  If you bought a $100 gift card, they would take 20% off and only charge you $80.  I had my Chase Ink Business card with me that would get me 5 x points on any purchase that I made at an office supply store so I proceeded to purchase two SEARS gift cards.

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I’m not a big SEARS though I do like their Lands End line and many of their appliances (as long as Consumer Reports rates them high).  But what was I going to do with two gift cards?

I drove myself over to our closest SEARS store and looked around the store.  I found their gift card rack, and many times there are more than one of them, and found VISA debit cards in a $200 denomination.  My SEARS gift cards were worth $200.  I purchased the VISA gift card and walked out of the store ahead by $40 less $5.95 for the VISA gift card.  SCORE….but the story goes not end there.

Today I went to my local grocery store that sells money orders.  I ordered one money order to pay my city water bill and then another to pay my lawn care man.  These are both bills that I would have paid by check and received no points.  Each money order cost me .76.   Total net gain was $32.53 and 800 points.

Yes, for some that is not worth it but got me thinking.  I could purchase VISA gift card at an office supply store or another type of store where you would get 5 x points on your credit card (even without the deal on SEARS cards), go to my local grocery store and purchase a money order and pay my dentist, doctor, even my church pledge – it is still valid, legal tender and one that gets me 5 x points.   Obviously this instance was worth more because I received money for this venture because of the sale on SEARS gift cards.

When you are shopping or reading store flyers, look for items like this – items that are “like” money that you could purchase, make a little money and receive points for your future travel.

What are your stories about gift cards?