Lately, I’ve been slacking off when it comes to manufactured spending. So much so, that other than a monthly $1,000 credit card load, I’ve been letting someone else use my Serve card. I did put forth some effort and picked up five Redbird cards on my trip to Michigan but after a conversation with Kendra from Points and Pixie Dust, I realized I need to step it up. The one trip I have planned so far is covered. At this point, I’m trying to stock up on Arrival miles in case of mistake fares, cheap summer business class tickets to Europe and hotel stays. I’m beginning to step things up a bit and thought I’d share a summary of my week in manufactured spending:
The Redbird nightmare. Activating my temporary Redbird cards has been nothing short of a nightmare. Canceling the old Serve accounts was easily done online. The whole thing took a minute, tops. However once the account was closed, I knew (based on my experience switching from Bluebird to Serve) that activating Redbird was not going to be easy. So I started by registering one of the cards in my younger sister’s name. Since she’s never had a Bluebird or Serve card before, I figured it would be hassle-free. Not so. After submitting all of the information, I was instructed to fax Amex a copy of her Social Security card and driver’s license to verify her identity.
Putting that on the back burner, I went about registering the other Redbird cards. After two hours on the phone, I was told that even though my mom’s Serve account was closed, it appeared she had another one open with her SSN but someone else’s name. I asked if they could just close that account, but was told they can’t do that unless I fax them a copy of her SSN and driver’s license. Not wanting to deal with that drama at the moment, I decided to focus my attention on the other three accounts, expecting the same hassle. It ended up being surprisingly easy, with each registration going smoothly without any paperwork required. First thing Tuesday (or Wednesday, depending on how worn out I’ll be by this saga), I’m faxing over the information Amex requested and keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn’t result in some kind of identity theft scenario.
American Express Gift Cards. Maybe I’m being greedy, but in case Redbird takes a nosedive, I want to have a back-up ms tool. I’ve been buying Amex gift cards and unloading them via American Express for Target for a while and decided it was time to finally put that EIN to use. I ordered $8,000 worth of business gift cards, which were approved shortly after. While I was at it, I decided to place an order for my brother as well. Since I had just purchased $8,000 worth of business cards, it totally slipped my mind that I couldn’t order more than $5,000 worth of personal gift cards. It wasn’t until after the order had been placed that I had realized I’d gone over the $5,000 daily limit by $1,000. I expected the order to be cancelled, but about an hour later I got an email verifying that my order had been approved.
American Express for Target loads. What I find really annoying is how I can purchase $8,000 worth of Amex gift cards without a problem but a $900 charge at Target sets off a fraud alert. So when I was out stocking up on non-essentials at Target, I thought I might as well load $1k or two on my Amex for Target cards. I should have known better than to whip out a Bank of America card because that waste of plastic always gets declined for anything over $500. My Club Carlson Visa, which is normally such a trooper, declined as well. Thankfully I was spared the embarrassment of a third decline when the Barclay Arrival Plus card went through.
Next, I had to reassure the banks that I wasn’t an identity thief nor had my card been compromised by one. US Bank was very easy – a simple text message response and my card was working again. Bank of America, always the troublemaker, wouldn’t let me off that easy. After responding with a text message, as instructed, they asked me to call them to verify that the purchases I’d made were legitimate – 45 minutes later I still had made no progress, other than finishing last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, so I gave up. They called me back, oddly, and proceeded to put me on hold for another 20 minutes. Seriously Bofa, get it together!
All the complaining aside, I think I had a pretty productive week when it comes to manufactured spending. I did $14,900 worth of Amex/Amex for Target purchases and managed another $3,000 of online Serve loads before those cards were cancelled. I do hope the Redbirds arrive before the end of the month so I can get at least one load in before my limit resets to $5,000 next month. Either way, Redbird is going to make meeting future spending requirements much easier, so whatever hassles I’m enduring now will be worth it.
What have you done in terms of manufactured spending last week?
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