Posted by Chuck on March 14, 2019
Credit Cards

Published on March 14th, 2019 | by Chuck

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Is it Safe to Manufacture-Spend to meet the Signup Bonus Spend Requirement?

Is it Safe to Manufacture-Spend the Minimum Spend Requirement for the Signup Bonus? People often ask us this question, especially those newer to credit cards. They want to know if it’s okay to buy gift cards or similar schemes in order to meet the signup bonus spend requirement on a given credit card.

I can think of two cases where it would be ill-advised to do so:

  • American Express cards. Over the past couple of years, Amex has gotten pesky and unstable, and can deny the signup bonus for any reason. It’s never entirely clear what their reason was, so I’d try avoiding buying any large gift cards at all to keep in the clear.
  • U.S. Bank Altitude. With the U.S. Bank Altitude card we saw extra observation since that card earns 3x on mobile wallet payment. Probably just an issue with Altitude, not with other U.S. Bank cards.

Since the signup bonuses usually just requires between $500 and $5,000, these small amounts are usually fine to buy gift cards or other such ideas as they fall under the radar. It might be better to split it up and not do the entire $5k in one shot.

As far as the larger question of manufacturing spend in an ongoing manner, just about any bank may raise a flag when they see such activity. I’d especially avoid it with the larger banks when you want to keep in their good graces. That said, everything depends on volume. A lot of people manufacture spend on their INK Plus/Cash card, for example, with a few thousand dollars of gift cards per month. The shutdowns are usually for those doing much larger volumes or those doing such volumes across many cards from the same bank.

In conclusion, nothing is ever entirely guaranteed as being safe as there are various factors at play. But generally a few thousand dollars worth of gift cards shouldn’t cause an issue, with the exception of Amex and the US Bank Altitude where I’d recommend avoiding it. (The Amex scrutiny seems to be about the signup bonus in particular, not about manufactured spending in general.)



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Alexandra Ocasio Cortez
Alexandra Ocasio Cortez

love the site, but this is a silly article. are you running out of good content? How about an UP TO DATE post on all the best credit card bonuses. The old post you made hasn’t helped and I need to sign up for 2 more cards

Beefer
Beefer

Get two macys credit cards and get those sweet 20% off coupons.

USam
USam

Beefer will they stack? 😉

Adam L
Adam L

Do your own fucking research

Oliver
Oliver

I disagree, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I think this is a helpful post for some readers. Keep up the awesome work, DoC.

Lc
Lc

Username checks out. No experience and pretends to know everything. Also wanting everything done for them for free.

Jags
Jags

Either this is next level sarcasm or bottom level commenting. I can’t figure it out.

Bobby Cobby
Bobby Cobby

I found this post extraordinarily useful. I’ve never quite found a definitive, straightforward, simplistic answer regarding this exact topic, so I was very happy to see this post.

MoreSun
MoreSun

troll warning…

Ferris
Ferris

AOC is a fraud actor financed by the Justice Democrats seeking to subvert the US through the Democratic party. Not a conspiracy theory, they have publicly stated this.

Money
Money

I disagree. This post was very useful for me because I debated whether to buy gift cards with Chase.

Hodor
Hodor

AOC calling out DOC. Love it.

Fred
Fred

Chuck, is there a way to vote comments down?

LC
LC

or just ban trolls

Abdulla Oblongota
Abdulla Oblongota

your hot, LC

Bugadesh
Bugadesh

LOL i got a kick out of this

FLY
FLY

I mean this person isn’t lying. The article is silly. Meeting MSR on Amex via MS isn’t a bad idea. Just have to know where to buy it from, SPECIFIC MERCHANTS are the ones they’re looking for.

USB AR doesn’t have many shutdown reports in over a year.

Said by a person who’s MS’d every single SUB for the past 18 months between spouse and myself (over 30 cards)

wtvr
wtvr

pray tell! what merchants to avoid?

USam
USam

Yeah.
William Charles Chuck, why don’t you go over the 1600+ pages of this site and update all the relevant posts? Some of us can use the info!

(I can’t fathom why it should take more than a couple of hours.)

William Charles

https://www.doctorofcredit.com/best-current-credit-card-sign-bonuses/, this page is up to date. What are you talking about?

William Charles

Also these types of articles are generally written because people keep asking the same question over and over and having a post we can point them towards saves us time freeing up more time to keep other articles up to date.

Joe
Joe

Ah, AOC returns with another BRILLIANT comment!

Rick
Rick

Fucking millennials man, want everything handed to them on a silver platter whilst putting in 0 of their own effort.

Alys Holden
Alys Holden

love you Rep. Cortez

scott
scott

I find this very helpful. I did MS for a number of years but mostly stopped about a year ago. A lot has changed with MS and posts like these are useful.

Sill-EResponder
Sill-EResponder

This is a silly little comment. Are running out of intelligent things to say? Please start your own site. Im REALLY interested in the content you can provide all of us silly little readers.

Golden
Golden

just stfu ok? just stfu

lawrence lane
lawrence lane

As long as you don’t make it overly obvious, I say keep going. Gone are the days when I was buying Visa Gcs at the supemarket, going to the post office, buying money orders and then depositing them at the bank.

A little off topic, but Chase just magically found they weren’t charging me a $25 monthly fee for ACH (I have a small business)…Any recommendation for banks that don’t charge for payroll?

MoreSun
MoreSun

I had just started to get into usps MO when it got shut down. Sad all over again.

Trevor
Trevor

If it’s just ACH, Wells Fargo charges $10/month + $0.50 each to non-WF bank accounts / $3 each to biz accounts.

Skippy
Skippy

I use Zelle to pay vendors through my Chase business acct.

CtownBin
CtownBin

Why are these days gone? I do this now all the time, whenever there is a worthwhile deal (5% freedom/discover at gas/grocery/drugstore, od/om discount with ink, etc). The only thing that’s changed is post office, so I just use WM or a local grocery chain for the MOs. Hopefully it never ends…

Beefer
Beefer

Chuck you failed to mention the potassium double dip. SMH. Not only can you get your signup bonus but you can also get paid to fill up on potassium.

CongestionCharge
CongestionCharge

K

Potassium potassium
Potassium potassium

K K since double dipping.

LC
LC

KKK since… just kidding. this comment section is a shit show thanks to AOC.

Lc
Lc

Btw I hit Ms on all my cards usually close to 100% and sock drawer. Never been banned… I also pay all the cards early / on time.

Davy
Davy

And usually within a week or two of getting the card!

Money
Money

Did you do this during the first 3 months of spending for sign up bonus too? Chase or Amex? Did you buy visa gc or retail like amazon?

LC
LC

yes… always for the sign up bonus so yes during first 3 months. Chase, Amex, PNC, Citi… every bank. I dont usually buy gift cards but bank account funding or paypal, venmo etc.

Money
Money

So you think sending $4000 to my gf via paypal using Chase would not trigger anything right? I need to spend 4K for Chase CSP and I just don’t that much organic spend

Jim W.
Jim W.

Don’t screw around with Paypal. Just don’t. They will shut you down in a hurry. Unless you don’t value that account, then proceed

Trevor
Trevor

I think what you should worry about there is a PayPal limitation. Your gf would likely need to provide her social, many documents, and then still wait months to get that account and the $4000 unlocked.

LC
LC

paypal can be more stringent, but you would almost for sure get the points for sign up bonus. venmo safer imo, but other ways to meet the $4k spend without having the 2.9-3% fees.

Bankho
Bankho

How are you using venmo to MS?

JB San Diego
JB San Diego

Almost 2 years on this hobby, but I have yet to do any manufacturing. Especially from what I have been reading from DoC and other blogs on Amx. As of right now, I have 11 Amx cards and have cancelled about a half a dozen Amx cards (in the last year), alone.

I still have a boat load of Amx cards I want to obtain, but at this point, it is like grinding teeth for each app, going forward (not sure at what point they will stop approving?)….knock on wood!!

BTW – My Morgan Stanley Platinum is still opened (knock on wood, again!!). Even though, my unfunded MS Access account was closed in June of last year.

nohohh
nohohh

11 AMEX cards ???

Uncivil_Engineer
Uncivil_Engineer

… why, is that bad?

Ryan
Ryan

I’m not far behind. I have 8 AMEX cards.

TW
TW

Yea unless you are doing 2P I don’t see how you have 11 AMEX cards. I’m at 7 under my name alone, but 3 of those are business cards, and I’m 99.9% sure I wouldn’t get approved for an 8th card.

I guess anything is possible, but it’s truly unheard of to have ELEVEN active AMEX cards under one persons name.

CongestionCharge
CongestionCharge

I’ve got 10 Amex cards

Lance Boyle
Lance Boyle

13

TW
TW

That’s insane, as far as I’m aware the general rule of thumb was 4-5 credit cards and no known limit of charge cards.

How many of your 13 are credit vs. charge ?

Alex
Alex

I’m at 7 and 3 are charge.

Including business cards and the Plat varietals, they have a total of 10 charge cards which as you’ve mentioned have no limit. That puts a theoretical max at 14-15 total “cards”.

It’s a lot for sure but not exactly unbelievable in the days of increased Amex scrutiny on closures.

G
G

Last month I had nine personal cards including charge cards, none is biz card

TW
TW

How many of those 9 are credit vs. charge?

Parts Unknown
Parts Unknown

I have 12, down from 13 when I cancelled the green last month.

JB San Diego
JB San Diego

I know it sounds crazy and just yesterday, I check the Amx card approval status link and it shows 11 cards approved since Jan 2017. Now, that is scary! Here is the load down:

Current cards:
Platinum (previously, Mercedes-Benz Plat)
Morgan Stanley Plat (still opened since last May even though my unfunded MS Access account was closed)
Bus Platinum
Bus Gold Rewards (got it just before it was cut last November or so)
Bus Gold (Amazingly, got a call from Amx with a signup offer and took it)
Gold personal (paid AF in December after 10KMRs retention)
Delta Reserve (both personal & business. From November when @ 70Kmiles)
Preferred (just got it 2 weeks ago)
Hilton Ascend (my first Hilton card and just got it on Monday)
SPG/Bonvoy Bus (my 12 month anniversary is due this month and will cancel when AF is posted)

Cancelled:
Delta Gold & Platinum
Delta Bus Gold & Platinum
Green personal
SPG personal (This was crazy. I got a call from Amx bc I already had 5 personal cards when I applied for the SPG Bus. So, they offered me the option to cancel any of the 5 I had. So I cancelled this SPG personal with no problems)

Who knows, there maybe other cards I cancelled.

Zac
Zac

Thanks, Dr. Just got a U.S. Bank Altitude and want to buy some gift cards to meet the $4500 spending requirement. One question: Does gift card mentioned specifically refer to Visa/Master Gift card, or also include store gift cards like Target Gift Card or Costco Cash Card?

joE
joE

use common sense man, $25 gift card, $50 gift card here and there is normal, but do $4k of $500 gift card and how F* common is that? so of course you can do gift cards, but don’t be that one idiot who does $4k and comes back and says “but but you guys said GC’s were ok!”

Zac
Zac

I didn’t mean buy $4500 gift cards. I meant buy some gift card (e.g. $500 Target Gift Card) along with organic spending ($4K) to meet the $4500 requirement. Now you know who is idiot?

LC
LC

not sure about this honestly. U.S. Bank seems to be crazy about this altitude card when it comes to gift cards MS. I guess do what you got to do and GL!

Millennial Outrage

Also be aware of who reports L3 detail and who doesn’t to US Bank, e.g. avoid Safeway but King Soopers is cool.

https://www.visa.com/supplierlocator-app/app/#/home/supplier-locator

Andrey
Andrey

Word is that they can shut you down for any gift card, Olive garden and Panera bread included.

Zac
Zac

Thanks. That does answer my question. If merchandise gift card is not OK, I would avoid buying any gift card on my Altitude to be safe.

Millennial Outrage

Unless the merchant is sending L3 detail, US Bank has no idea what you bought. They most likely flag accounts based on purchase amount, location, etc.

Money
Money

Thank you very much for this great article!!!

Ann
Ann

How about paying your taxes to the IRS in large amounts?

Trevor
Trevor

This works. Small loss when considering fees for doing this minus the points gained. I think Doc has an article on this topic.

LC
LC

ive done this… did 20k tax payment last year with the business plat card. was kinda messy but i eventually got a refund check from the IRS for the full amount.

David
David

Did you have any issue with amex due to the tax payment? Why do you think it’s messy?

LC
LC

no issues with amex. Got the full bonus plus 1.5X points for bus plat card so it was very profitable. it was messy because of the timing when I did it close to taxes. If i did it again for large amount id do it prior to Jan 31.

Abey

I think for sign up bonuses in general its important not to spend the minimum requirement too quickly in one week or even within the first statement. Rather do it slowly over a few weeks or couple months.

LC
LC

i sometimes do it the day i activate the card. never had any issues. my thought is if the bank wants to shut you down they can, most likely they wont – just dont give them a reason to.

Millennial Outrage

Agree. I think best general advice is to avoid having any reps put eyes on your account.

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon

I’ve hit min spend in one charge the day I got the card, multiple times. Haven’t had an issue yet.

JDub
JDub

Yeah, my wife was have an elective surgery so I put $7000 on a new Chase card to meet minimum spend. That put eyes on my account and goodbye all my and my wife’s Chase cards. Well I got to keep my business cards for some reason. Never late with a payment but a fair amount of churning (6-7 new cards per year each) and even more MS.

James B.

What reason did Chase give you for closing your personal accounts?

Christine B
Christine B

Met minimum spend in one day with down payment on a car for one card, another with costs from a home remodel, a third buying Disney tickets through Undercover Tourist, and fourth paying for my kids summer camps. I actually plan to open a new card every year in February, right before sign up for summer camps. Unfortunately, if one has kids, meeting minimum spend is all too easy. Just call the company before you make the charge to let them know, so the card doesn’t get declined..

Justin
Justin

My personal opinion on Amex, I haven’t seen any problems when you spread the spend out over 2-3 months, and mix in heavy orgainic purchases. Also splitting tender (to avoid 504.95 / 505.95) or adding a filler item isn’t a bad idea, if you want to be more conservative.

danny
danny

yep this is what i do. ive shyed away from amex since they’re tougher on MS (and thats how i met most of my MSRs) although ive never had issues. they denied me a biz card SUB last fall yet i was able to get a hilton SUB this month. ill MS most of it and im pretty confident ill be okay

Won
Won

Sometimes, if I need to hit spend and can’t do it organically, I just swipe my card at my business and repay myself. I know I’m losing money with every swipe, but I figure it’s better/more convenient than going out of my way to buy things I don’t need.

Ann
Ann

Er, sounds like you’d lose more than just the processing fee – you turned that spend into taxable business income.

Won
Won

Lol, you’re right, but there are ways to turn it into pass through money rather than taxable income.

Josh
Josh

I’m curious, does using credit cards to pay college tuition count as shady to AmEx? My wife’s about to start an MBA program, which we can afford to pay with cash, and it feels like an absurdly easy way to hit minimum spend requirements. There’s a convenience fee, of course, but it’s dwarfed by signup bonuses.

Gerald
Gerald

Paying bills isn’t MS. I’ve paid tuition and tax bills with no problem. I can’t remember if I’ve ever done this with Amex, though,

Traveler Tom
Traveler Tom

College tuition is 100% okay!

Tina
Tina

It’s definitely okay. I’ve used a college tuition payment to hit my MS for the amex SPG business card. The signup bonus posted with zero problems.

icemule1
icemule1

With the Amex scrutiny, is that for co-branded cards too?

George
George

Tangentially related – do MileagePlus X Gift Cards qualify as spending for the sign-up bonus on the United Explorer? If so, how much can I load up on them before raising red flags?

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