Manufactured spending can be very lucrative if you do it right. Aside from the many ways to off-set manufactured spending fees, there are also ways to make a profit from gift card churning. At one point, I was earning 3.5% cash back in addition to points and miles. Before that particular deal died, I could have fairly easily earned a living from manufactured spending. A year ago, I knew people who were generating $10,000+ per month from the Wells Fargo cash back card. When I share stories like this with newbies, I always hear, “Then why don’t you manufacture spend as a full time job?” Well for three years it kind of was my full time job, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
Manufactured spending is a fun hobby. It’s a good way to keep earning miles long after a credit card sign-up bonus has posted. Being able to generate a profit doing it is icing on the cake. I’ve shared that it takes me around 10 hours to earn 80,000 miles. At 3.5% cash back, that works out to $280 per hour, which is more than I’ll probably ever earn at any day job. Yes, that deal is dead but if the opportunity presented itself again, I would take a pass. Don’t get me wrong – I’d still generate enough miles to cover any trips I wanted to take, but I would not quit my job or bother trying to make a living off of churning gift cards.
For starters, it’s risky. Yes, I’ve flown below the radar…for the most part. But that doesn’t mean my bank will continue to be ok with it down the line. Is it worth getting all of my valuable credit card accounts shut down? No. I’d rather keep my 9-5 and keep manufactured spending as a lucrative hobby. It’s more fun this way. You know the saying, “Make work play and you’ll be playing all your life?” Well that doesn’t apply to manufactured spending. It’s not fun when you’re doing it full time. In fact, it can easily turn into the worst job you’ve ever had.
Aside from the fact that manufactured spending as a full time job can be risky and tedious, it’s also completely devoid of any value (other than the miles and cash). The three years I spent blogging and ms’ing part time were probably the most dull of my entire life. I felt like the time I could have spent learning and growing career-wise was wasted on trivial activities. Earning tons of miles is a high unlike any other, but devoting 20 hours a week to doing it, blogging and discussing it endlessly? That became mundane and kind of depressing at one point.
I once dedicated too much of my time to work – and I hated it. Then I devoted too little time to it – and I hated it. To me, a job is no longer about earning a living. It’s about learning, applying your skillset towards something meaningful, and contributing something positive. I’m proud to work someplace where that is the case; where social media and blogging are used to influence positive change, and not just inspire people to buy more gift cards or fly first class.
When you make manufactured spending your full time job, it can certainly pay off financially. But does it bring you happiness? Does your “work” have a positive impact on someone other than yourself? Are you spending your time in a meaningful way, learning, contributing, and growing? No. Because if you get shut down tomorrow, it’s over. You’ve got nothing to show for all that time you spent standing in line at Walmart or flying from one airport to another to try the latest fancy first class seat. All of that is fun and rewarding as a hobby – not a full time job.
Have you considered ms’ing as a full time job? Why or why not?