The biggest barrier to manufactured spending is not knowing where to start. Below are four under-the-radar manufactured spending methods that are scalable and still working in 2020. This post is protected to ensure these methods continue to work.
Thanks for providing your email. Manufactured spending methods are constantly changing, some last for years while others die in a few days. It is always advisable to start slow with any new method and build up your volume over time as you get more conferrable.
A Legal Disclaimer
Certainly, all of the methods listed below are fully legal. However, there is always a chance one of these methods can result in one of your accounts being shut down.
You should never use your primary checking or savings account to deposit money orders or bill payments. If a bank deems your behavior to suspicious, your funds could be frozen for days or weeks with little recourse.
Usually, banks, credit card companies, and merchants will impose a “soft shutdown” first by asking you stop. However, you should always operate under the assumption that any of your accounts could be shut down without notice.
Visa and MasterCard Gift Cards: The Currency of Manufactured Spending
Manufactured spending largely revolved the purchase and liquidation of prepaid cards. Certainly, there are various ways you could manufacture spend without involving prepaid cards. However, the cost of these methods usually make them impractical to use after qualifying for a card’s sign up bonus.
The concept of buying prepaid cards is quite simple: Buy Mastercard or Visa gift cards from a grocery store, office supply store, or another store where you can obtain a category bonus. This Frequent Miler post has a list of the best cards for each category.
Alternatively, GiftCardMall, Giftcards.com, and Simon Mlal sell these cards.
Cards / Denominations: VIsa and MsaterCard gift cards up to $500
Fees: $6.45 per card, $7.45 shipping (1.7% of maximum order)
Limit: Including fees, up to $2,500 per order and $5,000 per 48 hours. (Maximum order is (4x $500 cards and 1x $455 card +32.25 fees + 7.45 shipping = $2494.70
the max you can buy per day) come out to 1.7%. You can go through eBates and earn 1x Membership Reward points per dollar to bring down your acquisition cost. Ultimately though, you are probably still better off buying the cards from a grocery store or office supply store.
Buying the gift cards is (usually) the easier part – liquidation is where it becomes tricky. See below for some strategies to liquidate your prepaid cards.
This is the most popular method, and certainly no secret. See this FlyerTalk thread for more details.
Citi Credit Card Payments
Citi allows you to use select debit cards, including many prepaid and reloadable Visa and Mastercard gift cards, to pay down your Citi Credit Card.
Which cards work?
Several varieties of Mastercard gift cards (including those purchased at Giftcards.com, and TopCashBack Visa payout cards) are allowed. Check out the Wiki on this Flyertalk thread for an additional list of cards that have worked. American Express Gift Cards do not work.
How to make a payment using the automated system
You must call in to make a payment, but assuming the card you are using is allowed to be used for payments, you should be able to use the automated system and not need to speak with a human. Here’s how to make the payment:
- Call the main customer service # for your card (the number on the back of your card)
- When prompted enter the last four digits of your card number
- When asked for the reason for your call say “make a payment”
- You’ll be prompted for your checking account number, just say nothing or press 0
- Eventually, after one or two tries, the automated system will say “I’m having trouble collecting your checking account number. Would you like to pay with a debit card?”
You can make one debit card payment per credit card each calendar day.
As with many manufactured spending techniques, this method has proven sustainable in moderation but may subject you scrutiny if you are consistently pushing through a large volume of payments each month. The old adage “pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered” applies here.
There have been scattered reports over the years of Citi shutting down some accounts for excessive debit card payments. You should only pursue this method long term if you are willing to risk your relationship with Citi credit cards.
With that said, this method has been around for years, I have personally pushed through $20,000 in the span of two months across several of my cards, and know others who have pushed through closer to $100,000.
Bill Payment Services
Western Union has an online and in-store bill pay service that allows you to make bill payments with a credit card or prepaid debit card. The fees vary depending on your payment target, but usually range between $4.99 to $19.99 per payment.
General, payments made using an in-store kiosk are cheaper than those made online or using the Western Union app. Making payments in store also provides the opportunity to use multiple cards for the same payment.
Which payment methods work?
- Accepts credit and debit/gift cards – although notes that credit cards may result in a cash advance charge by the card issuer.
- Essentially all MasterCard gift cards, and some Visa gift cards (although some may only work in-store).
- One payment method is allowed online, but you can use multiple cards in-store. Some have had success using as many as 4-5 cards in a single transaction at Walgreens. Additionally cards will likely lead to additional scrutiny from store employees.
- If using multiple cards in-store, the VGC from GCM and VGC or MCGC from GC.com auto drain.
Maximum payment amounts
- $2,999 online and $5000 in store (although specific store limits may be enforced).
Maximum payments in one day
- No limit specified, although more than one payment a day seems to trigger a review by WU.
What payment targets work?
- WU does not allow you to pay anyone, there is a list of payees that you are allowed to select from. Several credit card issuers appear on the list, as well as banks.
- Many have success with payments to credit cards or even directly into checking accounts.
- Citi and Barclays work.
- Several data points indicate paying Chase may increase your risk of a shutdown, and that payments to CNB do not go through correctly.
- WU shutdowns
- WU tends to impose a soft-ban on high volume users. Some data points indicate WU will require you to call in for additional verification before payments are allowed to go through.
- Bank shutdowns
- Some banks are particularly sensitive to representative payments to accounts made through third-parties. In particular, Chase is known to shut down an account if they see this happening. Citi, on the other hand, appears to have a high tolerance for this kind of activity.
2.5% fee; credit cards only
While Plastiq can be used to pay a plethora of legitimate bills, many have had success in sending payments directly or indirectly to their checking account. The following method can be used with a MasterCard.
The “trick” involves paying a loan at a bank or credit union where you also have a checking account. This loan could be a home equity line of credit, or a secured or unsecured personal line of credit. Other types of loans, such as a mortgage or auto loan, would also work. However, the benefit of a line of credit is that you can generate a balance and pay it off the same or next day.
If your loan is fully paid off, and the bank receives an additional payment, they may automatically credit it to your savings or checking account. Alternatively, if you want to play it safe, you could consider drawing a balance on your loan you are notified that your Plastiq payment was mailed. You’ll get charged some interest, but this should be relatively minimal if you only have balance for a day or two.
Technically, Plastiq’s guide to their supported payment types indicates you should not be allowed to use a credit card to pay a personal loan. However, I have had ample success with sending payment directly to a personal line of credit at various credit unions. I have even had success, though to a much lesser extent, with sending Plastiq payments directly to a checking account.
After scheduling a payment for a new bank, Plastiq may reach out and ask you to provide them with a statement showing the account you are sending the payment to. If you do not respond to this request, they will simply cancel the payment. Alternatively, you could try to push your luck and reply with a statement showing your line of credit.
2.5% fee; Credit cards only
Mellio is similar to Plastiq, but exclusively for businesses. In order to register and have your account approved, you will be asked to provide a business email.
After scheduling your first payment, you may be asked to provide additional documentation about your business such as a. link to your business’ website or social media page. When I registered, I provided a link to my Amazon store and a simple website landing page that I created in about ten minutes. Several data points indicate providing a copy of a credit card statement with your business name on it will be enough to earn approval.
Beyond Manufactured Spending
There are many other ways to increase credit card spending beyond manufactured spending. Reselling, either products or gift cards, can earn you a ton of points but you need to be able to float the cost of the goods until they sell. On the other hand, buying groups offer a much simpler approach to reselling but with the risk your counterparty will not pay.