Manufactured Spending Overview

Manufactured spending (MS) is the process of purchasing cash equivalents with a rewards earning credit card, where the rewards earned are greater than the fees incurred. It can be used for meeting minimum spend requirements or just racking up frequent flyer miles with your favorite airline or hotel partner.

Below we’ve listed some of the more common manufactured spending techniques, we’ve also ranked them as easy, medium or hard. Before dipping your toes into MS we suggest starting off small, reading a lot about each individual method, testing things for yourself and also only doing what you feel comfortable with.

Amazon Payments

Read our full post on this method

Difficult level: Easy

Amazon Payments is probably the easiest manufactured spending method to get started with. It’s similar to PayPal in that you can send money to friends and family. You can also fund your account with a credit card with no fees, the only limitation is you can only send $1,000 per month. 

All you need to do is this: find somebody you trust, fund your Amazon Payments account with $1,000, send the money to them, have them withdraw it from their Amazon Payments account and send it back to you. I personally like to use Amazon Payments for it’s intended purpose (mostly because I’m not a fan of PayPal at all) and use it to send money to friends when I owe them after a meal or send it to contractors doing work around my house.

Bluebird + Vanilla Reloads Or Visa Gift Cards

Read our post on Bluebird + Vanilla Reloads
Read our post on Bluebird + Visa Gift Cards

Difficultly level: Moderate

Bluebird is a reload-able online checking account offered by American Express. You can use a variety of different prepaid cards to reload your account, up to a maximum of $5,000 per month. The most used method used to be purchasing Vanilla Reloads from CVS for a fee of $3.95 per $500, but CVS no longer allows credit card purchases. Now the most common method is to purchase Visa Gift cards, these have slightly larger fees (usually $6.95 for as little as $200) but you can purchase them from stores which have high category bonuses (such as grocery or office stores), where some people can earn 5% cash or points back – making them a profitable option.

Staples also regularly runs promotions where you receive a free $20 Visa gift card when you purchase $300 or more in Visa gift cards – further increasing the profitability.

Funding Bank Accounts

Read our full post on this method

Difficultly level: Easy to Moderate

A lot of bank accounts allow you to fund the initial deposit with a credit card, this can be a maximum of anywhere from $100 to $1,000 depending on the bank. There are a few downsides to using this method:

  • You can only do this for the initial opening deposit
  • Most of these bank accounts have monthly fees, which can be waived but either require a direct deposit from your payroll to hit the account or a minimum balance

There is also one massive upside, some bank accounts also come with bonuses. Which means you can also earn up to $600 (a recent Chase checking bonus) by completing some simple requirements.

Reloadits + T-Mobile Prepaid Visa

Read our full post on this method

Difficultly level: Extreme

T-Mobile launched a prepaid visa card which has similar features to that of the Bluebird card, the only difference is that fees are refunded if you reload more than $300 at a time. This fee waiver makes it extremely attractive for people wanting to engage in manufactured spending, the downside is that most locations that stock reloadit cards don’t allow credit card purchases. Safeway was a large grocery store that was allowing credit card purchases, but this seems to be no longer the case.

You’ll need to check locations in your area to see if you’re able to purchase the cards before getting in too deep with this option.

Other Methods

If you’re going to do manufactured spending, it’s important to always look for opportunities to double or even triple dip. This is where you earn rewards points with more than one loyalty program at once. Here are some of the most popular programs that allow you to earn points in addition to what you already earn with your rewards credit card.

We regularly post about new methods & tricks for existing methods. Make sure you keep an eye out on our manufactured spending category for new posts about this topic. We also suggest subscribing to this blogs RSS feed or joining the newsletter to be notified instantly.

If you know of any methods we should cover, why not contact us to let us know!

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I am willing to pay an annual fee to keep totally updated.I am a newbie that needs a lot of points to bring my grandchildren from the east coast to L.A.

I’ve been seeing things saying that Amazon Payments is dead as of October 2014. Do you know if there’s any truth to that or are the credit cards charging cash advance fees for it?

Great website!
Q: Potentially how much money could be made via Manufactured Spending with say a $50k credit availability and 5% rewards cards?

The answer to this question is only limited by your creativity and willingness to put hours into the hobby.

currently, which stores will sell Mo’s using vanilla gc’s? local Walmart treats them as credit cards.
local kroegers doesn’t sell Money orders.
who sells Money orders??

Nationwide Bank Visa Buxx Card
funding for a relative … not yourself.
Great for funding college kid

[…] whichever card they are working. However, ambitious churners with multiple cards may need to employ other methods of meeting the minimum […]

Need help… i want to MS $2000. Can you tell me if i am doing this right.
1. But 2 $500 GCs from CVS
2. Go to USPS and ask for a $998.4 money order.

Please let me know.

I think you want $998.30, believe the fee is $0.70

if I’m not mistaken, fee is $1.20 so you subtract that from your $1000; bear in mind not all POs allow split tender and there are branches that ask to see your debit cards since they do not accept giftcards as payment for MO.

“Most other card issuers classify Amazon payments as “business services” and are not eligible for any additional cash back or points bonuses.”

this is really OLD. with MS you need to be up to date of what’s working or not. im an ms virgin myself but have been reading around. DoC doesn’t really talk about ms here or at least openly from what i could gather.

do you know – is there any MS way still alive and function well? I never tried, just found out about this MS too…..

TBH, whatever remains alive to this day are kept secret by those who are still enjoying them. If these info are leaked to public forums, they die in a day or two. For those who find loopholes in CC terms and they can milk it, you bet they’ll keep it to themselves for the main reason that the companies may not notice it if only a few are in it, but if there are hundreds/thousands ‘abusing’ it, there’s no chance for deal to survive.

I see, make sense! So far I think Visa Gift Cards -> Money Orders are still in the game…. or maybe not…

Amazon Payments – “send money to family/friends” is dead! Just created account, no option there, I called, they said no longer available this feature!

What is everyone’s thoughts on buying groups? It seems like a great way to get legitimate spend. I know of a few that are our there but what has everyone’s experience been? My understanding is that they are companies that need help buying products from stores or online to circumvent promotional restrictions. You basically but it, ship it to them and they pay you. How can you tell which companies are safe to work with?

[…] of the admins of Credit Card 101 had Chase shutdown all his accounts. He barely does any manufactured spending , applies for may be one or may be two cards in a year and has a stellar credit history with a […]

I has bought 14k in gift cards from I carried them on my trip to Florida recently. Used a few of my gift cards.. Used a few to transfer the funds via venmo. After transfer I destroyed the cards and threw them. Venmo has frozen my account and has transferred the money back to the card that I had used.. Is there a way to get that card details back I have lost $3000…. Please help… Don’t have more details.. Will giftcards. Com be of any help

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