I constantly get asked about how I keep track of my manufactured spending activities. At the height of my gift card churning days, I was spending $300,000+ per month on gift cards, so it was crucial to have a very precise tracking system in place. I shared how I managed to keep track of gift cards through liquidation, which involved multiple spreadsheets. I also briefly mentioned Mint.com – how I’d tried the service years ago but didn’t really find a use for it. Well I gave it another go and was pleasantly surprised by the improvements to the platform and how useful it is for people juggling multiple credit cards for manufactured spending purposes.
The first time I used Mint.com was roughly seven years ago. I had started my first post-grad job and was trying to better manage my finances (or lack thereof). At the time, Mint turned out not to be so useful because I only had one credit card. Most of my income went towards paying bills and commuting costs. Whatever was left went towards student loan payments. So it wasn’t like I was going to benefit from a tool like Mint.com, since I wasn’t using credit cards and didn’t have much flexibility in terms of how I spent my income.
Keeping Track of Manufactured Spending With Mint.com
Fast forward to now and I’ve got over two dozen credit cards I’m managing for myself and family members. There are lots of balances to keep track of, regardless of whether I’m churning gift cards or not. After all, I try to keep a certain amount of normal spending on all credit cards and that can be tough to track. With Mint I was able to easily connect all of my credit card accounts (and those belonging to my family). Now I get automatically updated information about balances and due dates all in one place. That saves me time because I don’t have to login to each individual account to keep track of that information. The platform is also incredibly intuitive and user-friendly, with all of the relevant information easily displayed when I login.
Other Mint.com Financial Tools
What I especially like about Mint.com is how it displays all of your transactions across all credit cards in one place. You can view this information in list form under the Transactions tab or as a pie chart under Trends. Other awesome features include the ability to set saving goals, budgets, and keep track of investments. It’s also nice that Mint.com provide a FICO score estimator. I don’t know how accurate it is, but it’s a nice feature that gives you some idea of how responsible you’re being with your credit.
Another helpful feature is the “Ways to Save” tab. Under this section, you’ll find a list of cash back offers for credit cards and bank accounts. I know people who regularly sign up for bank accounts in order to take advantage of cash back offers. If you’re one of these people, you’ll appreciate having this information easily accessible in one place. This section doesn’t always display the highest offers out there, but it’s a good starting point. If you see a checking account offer you like, just do a quick Google search for the highest cash back bonus (I usually preface my search with “FlyerTalk” or “Reddit”). That way, you’re not missing out on the biggest bonuses possible.
The Down Side of Mint.com
Mint.com’s email notifications can get annoying sometimes, especially when they’re about payment due dates. Why? Because I get a payment reminder even if I’ve already made one through my bank. That’s not a huge inconvenience, just a minor annoyance for someone who is already inundated with emails on a daily basis. Another obnoxious notification is the ones I get when I’ve made a large credit card purchase. I already get these notifications from my credit card company, so it’s a bit overkill when Mint.com sends them too. On those occasions when I make large gift card purchases (which happens a lot), it’s annoying to get so many notifications about it.
I’m sure these types of notifications are something I can opt out of, so I probably will do that at some point. That being said, it is useful to get updates about budgets and how I’m doing in terms of sticking to them. Even if those budgets are a little bit skewed because of my gift card churning activities.
Final Thoughts on Mint.com
If you’re juggling tons of credit cards, you should check out Mint.com. It’s free to use and it makes tracking credit card balances incredibly easy. There is a lot of risk involved in manufactured spending, but missing payment due cates and incurring interest fees as a result is an easily avoidable one. Mint.com can virtually eliminate the likelihood of that happening by tracking your accounts and notifying you when payments are due. So I highly recommend it to anyone in this hobby – regardless of whether you’re involved in manufactured spending or not.
Have you used Mint.com to track your manufactured spending activities? If there are any similar services you’re aware of that are better, please share them in the comment section.
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