Last week I had over $20,000 worth of American Express gift cards to unload. Some were left over from March and the rest were recently purchased. Thanks to an abundance of Target Prepaid REDcard and Amex for Target cards, there were plenty of options for unloading these gift cards. The only challenge? Doing it without raising a red flag. On occasion, I’ve come across a nervous Target cashier who gets suspicious and either won’t let me load my prepaid card with an Amex gift card or gets a manager involved. I try to avoid this scenario by loading just 2-3 prepaid cards in $1,000 increments at a time. Once I’m done loading 2-3 cards at the customer service center, I’ll sometimes head to the check-out line for another round.
This week, I had a bit of help. My sister picked me up and we drove to her house, which is an hour away. The great thing about her town is that there are three Target store within a 15 mile radius – not only that, but there are at least three other Target stores on the way there. Our first stop was in a quaint little college town, where every register is manned by 19 year-olds who couldn’t care less about why I’m loading so many prepaid cards. I managed to unload $6,000 at two registers, then it was on to the next store.
The next location was a bit busy and since my nieces were in the car (and getting fussy), I loaded up three Redbirds for $3,000 total and got out of there. When we pulled up to the third Target parking lot, my 3 year-old niece looked outside and said in an exasperated tone, “More Target?” One day when she’s older I’ll tell her stories about how easy it was “back in the day” to earn miles at Target and she won’t think of it as such an annoyance anymore. With a total of $15,000 worth of American Express gift cards out of the way, this was quite a successful outing.
A few days later I was back at my local Target store to unload the remaining $5,000 in gift cards. This time, I ran into a cashier who looked uncomfortable when he noticed I was paying with an Amex gift card. I told him that I’d done it before, that the only types of gift cards you couldn’t use for prepaid card loading were Target gift cards – just as the register specifies. He wasn’t buying it and wanted confirmation from a manager.
Lucky for him, the manager was nearby and quickly came over to consult on the matter. He stared at the screen, unsure of what to do. I repeated that I’d been allowed to use Amex gift cards before, since they are supposed to be treated like cash. Besides, the register allows it, which should mean it doesn’t violate any rules. He still seemed unsure but told the cashier to go ahead and process the transaction and that he would research the matter for future reference. I didn’t want to push it so I just unloaded $1,000 worth of gift cards and left.
I’m pretty sure this is the last time I’ll be unloading an Amex gift card at this particular store. Thankfully, there is another store 5 miles away, so I’ve got another option. It was at this secondary location where I dumped my last set of gift cards and called it a day. There are lots of people who load the maximum $2,500 per card during just one trip, but I’d rather play it safe with multiple trips.
In addition to these gift cards, I had a few leftover from my Google Wallet days. These cards had small balances on them (all under $2) and the barista at my local Starbucks patiently loaded them all onto my Starbucks card. It was a huge relief getting rid of nearly a dozen gift cards with tiny balances this way.
In all, I managed to rid myself of over $20,000 worth of Amex gift cards. Between my five Redbirds and three Amex for Target cards, I can (fairly easily) purchase and unload up to $40,000 worth of American Express gift cards every month. Even though I’ve complained in the past about how I’m done with manufactured spending, I’m getting excited about this hobby again and looking for more ways to generate miles and points. I may even get into buying/selling merchandise or gift cards as a means of getting it done.
How much manufactured spending have you managed to pull off this past week?
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