Things just keep getting better with the Citi Executive AAdvantage card. This past weekend I wrote that it was possible to get two of these cards, with some folks already reporting that the second sign-up bonus posted. Citi was handing these cards out like candy, without giving anyone grief for already having the same card. Now there are reports of a third sign-up bonus.
If you’re among those chasing the third bonus, you’ve got quite a chunk of manufactured spending to do. For veteran churners, this is child’s play. Newbies may be perplexed as to how exactly $10,000-$30,000 in spending requirements can be met without going into debt. Below are five ways that, combined, can help you meet at least $40,000 in manufactured spending per month. Suddenly $30,000 doesn’t sound to bad, does it?
1. Vanilla Reload Cards ($25,000+ per month). [UPDATE: As of 4/4, Vanilla Reloads can no longer be purchased at drugstores with a credit card]. The most wonderful piece of plastic ever invented, 20 Vanilla Reload cards purchased during 3-10 trips to CVS can help you take care of the $10,000 spending requirement without breaking the bank. How fast you get this done depends on your local store’s purchase limit. Before you start buying Vanilla Reloads, make a few smaller purchases on the card and perhaps even notify Citi of upcoming large purchases to avoid fraud alerts and declined transactions.
You can unload up to $5,000 in Vanilla Reloads per month via Bluebird. You can also pick up two MyVanilla debit cards, which can each be loaded up to $9,999 per month. MyVanilla debit cards that get maxed out and cashed out quickly tend to get shut down just as fast. If you can’t afford to float +/-$20,000 for a few weeks in case of account closure, load each card with $5,000 or less to stay under the radar. MyVanilla debit cards can then be cashed out via money orders.
To unload up to an additional $30,000 per month, check out this newbie post on Vanilla Reload cards.
2. ReloadIT Cards ($2,500 per day). I’ve been hearing of more and more people who have found places that accept credit cards for ReloadIT card purchases. These are ideal because they come in increments of up to $950 with a $3.95 purchase fee – this method cuts the cost of manufactured spending almost in half, compared to Vanilla Reloads.
One way to unload ReloadIT cards is via Paypower debit cards, which can be loaded up to $2,500 per day. Again, if you load/unload them quickly, you may end up getting your account shut down. For more ways to unload REloadIT cards, and the fees associated with each method, read this post.
3. Visa and Gift Cards (unlimited). [UPDATE: Extrabux is no longer offering cash back on Visa gift cards. You can, however, go through TopCashBack for 0.5% cash back]. When there is a high shopping portal cash back offer, this can be a cheap ways to meet your spend. You can buy Visa gift cards at your local grocery or drugstore at $3.95 fee per $500 card. Instead, visit GiftCardMall.com through a shopping portal and earn enough cash back to cancel out most of your fees.
Right now Extrabux is offering 1% cash back at GiftCardMall.com. If you were to purchase $2,000 worth of gift cards, you’d incur a total of $28.86 in fees ($3.95 fee per card x 4 = $15.80 + $13.06 shipping). The 1% cash back does not apply to fees, so you’d earn $20 on this purchase. This brings the fees down from $28.86 to $8.86, which is almost half the cost of buying Vanilla Reloads. Add to this the $5 account sign-up bonus earned from Extrabux and you’re looking at $3.86 in fees. [Update 4/9: Extrabux is no longer offering cash back on Visa gift cards.]
You can unload your gift cards via Bluebird or Amazon Payments, but my preferred method is via Walmart money orders. The cheapest Walmart store I’ve found charges $0.55 per money order. I have heard of locations that charge as little as $0.25.
To keep costs reasonable ask the cashier to split payment for a single money order across several gift cards. So instead of two separate $500 money orders with $0.50-$1.10 in fees, ask for a $1,000 money order and split the payment across two cards. You will get charged a fee for every $1,000 denomination. You can buy up to $3,000 in money orders before the cashier will ask you to provide your driver’s license and personal information, which is why I always limit my purchases to $2,900.
4. Amazon Payments ($1,000 per month). You can knock out $1,000 per month in spending requirements by sending cash to a person you trust (friend, relative spouse, etc.) and having them pay you back in cash. In three months, this knocks off a third of your spend (or 1/10th, if you’re going for three cards and $30,000 in spending requirements).
5. American Express for Target ($5,000 – $10,000 per month). The fees are high on this card, but it’s a convenient option when you’ve tapped out all other resources. Plus, these can be reloaded at Target, and who doesn’t love going to Target? You take the card to the register, load $1,000 at a time and pay a $3 fee per load. Your first ATM withdrawal each month is fee-free and each subsequent withdrawal incurs a $3 fee. You can unload $5,000 per month on these cards. Pick up a second card to double your spending power. Before I found a reliable Vanilla Reload source, I regularly maxed out my American Express for Target card without getting shut down.
There are many other ways to meet the $10,000-$30,000 spending requirement on the Citi Executive AAdvantage card. Be sure to refer to the Newbie Guide to Manufactured spending series for more ideas on how to meet the spend.