When I tell people how much manufactured spending I do in a month, I’m often met with disbelief or a sense of awe. “How can you do this much? I can only manager X amount.” When I got started in this hobby, the idea of spending close to a million dollars on gift cards in a year was completely insane. Not to mention totally out of reach. I had the hardest time finding places to buy Vanilla Reload cards and resorted to asking people who I knew were active in the area. A few of them helped me out, but sometimes it was just about trial-and-error: I had to go into a store and see how ms-friendly it was. If you’re just starting out in this hobby and want to increase your manufactured spending numbers, here are a few things you need in order to be successful:
1. Find an MS-friendly Walmart store. Yes, there are tons of other places where you can buy money orders with a PIN-enabled Visa gift card, but Walmart is really the most convenient. Fees are low and money orders can be purchased in larger quantities. When I started out, I always bought money orders in small quantities and hopped to different stores. This was mainly because I (rightly) assumed it would sound suspicious if I asked to buy $2,000 worth of money orders with payment split across four cards. Asking to repeat this step four more times in order to hit the $10,000 daily maximum was sure to get me banned.
I started off small and moved my way up. After establishing a friendly rapport with the cashiers and even some managers, they got used to my frequent money-order purchases and didn’t seem to mind it at all. So I increased my numbers until finally, when I felt comfortable, I worked my way up to $10,000 per day. That was after I had established that it was ok to purchase $2,000 worth of money orders with four $500 cards.
Recently, after my conversation with an Asset Protection Associate, things got a lot easier for me. For one, the Asset Protection team understood that I wasn’t doing anything illegal. This also seemed to reassure the cashiers that I was trustworthy. Additionally, the Asset Protection Associate informed me that all Walmart stores were able to do split payments for bill pay. It was merely a case of untrained cashiers at this location and after having a chat with the manager, I was able to begin paying my credit card bills at that location as well.
2. Credit Cards with High Credit Limits. This one is a bit easier said than done. A variety of factors affect your credit limit, but in my case, my tendency to keep many credit cards long-term helped me secure higher credit limits. American Express, Barclays, and Citi have all automatically increased my credit card limit after months of me paying my cards off in full – often well before the statement closing date.
Having high credit limits can help you generate way more spending in a shorter amount of time. There’s no need to constantly pay off your credit cards to free up the credit line for more manufactured spending. This is a huge time saver.
3. Exceptional Organization Skills. Are you prone to losing gift cards? Do you often find yourself with Visa gift cards, unable to tell whether they have a balance? Do you frequently miss credit card payment dates? Then manufactured spending probably isn’t for you. Or at least you shouldn’t be doing it in large numbers. It takes exceptional organization skills to do this. I personally keep track of all of my gift card receipts, confirmation emails, and the gift cards themselves until the last money order has been deposited. I also have a document where I keep track of credit card balances, due dates, statement closing dates, and any payments I’ve made on those accounts.
Missing a payment or losing a single gift card can cost hundreds of dollars. And what’s the point of earning all of these points and miles if you’re doing it at a major loss? Organization is key if you want to manufacture spend in large quantities.
4. Time. When you’ve figured out an efficient MS route and a friendly store, you’ll inevitable save a lot of time. Still, if you’re a super busy person and can’t devote the minimum 2.5 hours per week I spend liquidating $20,000 – $30,000 worth of gift cards, then you’re going to have a hard time manufactured spending in large quantities.
Take my younger sister: She’s a full time student, but her schedule allows her plenty of free days when she doesn’t have class or lots of studying to do. Still, the idea of spending her free time going to Walmart, the local mall, or keeping track of credit card payments doesn’t appeal to her. I’m lucky because my job doesn’t suck the will to live out of me anymore, so in my (plentiful) free time, manufactured spending doesn’t seem as tedious as it would if I’d worked 40 hours per week and spent another 20 hours of it commuting.
What about a gift card source, you say? Considering the many ways to buy Visa gift cards online, that shouldn’t be a factor. Most people, if they have the time and resources, can in fact do $150,000 worth of manufactured spending thanks to online gift card purchases alone. It comes down to being organized, finding an ms-friendly place to buy money orders, and devoting enough time to ensure you’re doing it all right.
How much manufactured spending are you able to do every month? Please share in the comment section.
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