November was a good month in terms of manufactured spending. While I’ve decided to continue keeping that manufactured spending tip I tweeted about a while back secret, it didn’t account for a huge chunk of my manufactured spending. A lot of great merchant gift card deals popped up that I took advantage of. In total, I managed to earn over $4,000 worth of points and miles at very little out-of-pocket cost. This was thanks to some really great gift card promotions and Amex statement credits, which translated to $28,777.59 worth of free manufactured spending. I was able to resell these gift cards to The Plastic Merchant. I still haven’t decided whether gift card reselling is worth the trouble. It can be time-consuming when you consider how long it takes for gift cards to arrive and payment to be processed. But that’s a topic for another post.
In November, I earned 306,595 points and miles from manufactured spending, $1,187.50 worth of credit card cash back, 70,000 points from credit card sign-up bonuses, and two free nights from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card. Gift card fees totaled $907.75 after portal cash back. Now my math might be slightly off because all of this spend was spread across several credit cards, but I’m sure it’s close enough. Here’s a complete breakdown of my manufactured spending cost for November:
- Amount spent on gift cards, excluding fees: $189,436.94
- Fees (gift card, shipping, bill pay/money orders): $2,095.25
- Cash back earned via cash back portals: $1,187.50
Most of the rewards I earned came from easy sources: The Barclay Arrival Plus card and a combination of Ink Plus and Chase Freedom Unlimited spend. This is the most Ultimate Rewards points I’ve generated in a month, only because I was trying to stock up for a trip I’m taking later this month. Going forward, I’ll continue to play it safe with Chase.
- Arrival Miles = 116,340 miles = $1,163.40 travel statement credits
- Ultimate Rewards points = 98,022 points
- Alaska miles = 31,595 + 30,000 sign-up bonus = 61,595 miles
- Amex Membership Rewards points = 4,052 + 40,000 sign-up bonus = 44,052 points
- Discover It Miles = $634 cash back
- Fidelity Rewards Visa = $306.71 cash back
- SPG points = 24,339 points
- Hilton points = 21,943 points
- American Airlines miles = 10,304 miles
The main reason I was able to generate so much manufactured spending on the Ink card was thanks to a 20% off promotion Staples ran on Gap gift cards. The Plastic Merchant bought these at 80%, allowing me to earn points at $0 out of pocket. There were also deals on iTunes gift cards at Staples, Sam’s Club, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Best Buy. When my Ink cards maxed out, I used other cards to continue buying gift cards. This included the SPG Amex, Hilton HHonors Reserve, Bank of America Alaska, Barclay Arrival Plus, etc.
Reselling these cards to TPM yielded a small profit of $0.50 – $1 per card. I also managed to take advantage of several Amex Offers, which resulted in another $500 in free manufactured spending. Sam’s Club also ran a promotion on Starbucks gift cards, which allowed me to meet $3,025 of the $5,000 spending requirement on the Amex Platinum card at $0 out of pocket. Time will tell if this will result in the sign-up bonus getting clawed back.
During this time, I also met the $3,000 spending requirement on the Amex Hilton Surpass card for my grandmother. This was by far the most difficult spending requirement I’ve ever met because the credit limit was just $1,000 and transactions as little as $200 would get declined! I ended up meeting this spending requirement via normal bill pay and some gift card churning, but man was it hard!
All in all, the gift card reselling was painless…except for a pretty bad cut I got on my index finger from prying a Starbucks card out of the hard plastic package. I wouldn’t do gift card reselling full time, but it is a nice way to supplement my Visa gift card churning routine.
How many points and miles did you earn this month?
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