I LOVE this topic. Specifically, I love reading other peoples’ discussions about it on Twitter, FlyerTalk, or Reddit, because people quite simply make stuff up. For those of you that have manufactured spend for a few years, you’ll know that cashiers at CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, and the like regularly like to make up rules as to why they can’t sell you gift cards or money orders or whatever. Many times I just had to laugh and walk away (especially when a Walgreens Manager suggested I’d be considered a terrorist if he let me buy more than $1K in gift cards).
Similarly, people online like to make up all kinds of things when discussing “how much is too much” when it comes to manufacturing spend. It really runs the spectrum. For some people, signing up for multiple credit cards is ludicrous. Some people simply can’t believe that someone would buy $5K in gift cards at one time from a grocery store. Others think it’s ridiculous to ask a Walmart Money Center employee for $10K in money orders, or spend 4 times your credit limit per month on just gift cards.
I’m here to tell all of those people to, essentially, chill. There is no such thing as “too much” manufactured spend. Sure, there is discussion of being a good “steward of the game” so as not to ruin things for yourself others, but that’s a separate conversation that has to do mostly with how much you push store/bank employees (like if I insisted to the Walgreens Manager that I be allowed to purchase those gift cards). In and of itself, manufactured spend really has no limits. All that matters is what you can or cannot do.
If you follow Tahsir on Twitter and Snapchat and whatever else the kids are using these days, you’ll see that his days are filled with large amounts of manufactured spending. It’s not uncommon for him to buy AND liquidate $20K-$40K in a single day. When I read something about someone saying that him doing $20K was too much, I laughed.
What if I told you that that’s not really even the highest amount some people are doing? There most definitely are people that do $1M-$2M or more per month in manufactured spend. I’ve met them. At least two of them were at the last TravelCon in Vegas, and they showed me their Wells Fargo cash back monthly statements making me question whether I should quit my job to MS full time.
But oh no! They’ll ruin our game!!! Except no, they haven’t. They’ve been doing this for years, have been profiting tremendously in both cash back and miles, and have ruined absolutely nothing for no one. They quietly go along doing their $75K a day, 3 days a week, and make more money in a month than you or I make in 4 months or more working 40+ hours a week in a good job.
So next time you read about or see someone buying $10K, $30K, or even $100K in gift cards or some other item, don’t just claim that “that’s too much!” without having anything to support it. Don’t be worried about the people that scare you by mentioning “this one guy I know,” the police, the IRS, or those “scary forms from Walmart.” Remember when people were worried about letting CVS employees swipe their driver’s license? They thought the government was “onto them,” as if there was something they were doing wrong. Go ahead and fill out every form, talk to every officer you need to, and continue going about your business. If you’re doing it right, you’re not breaking any laws.
As a reminder, there’s no law against buying gift cards, even if you want $100K of them. There’s no law against depositing more than $10K at a time into a bank, no matter what you think you know or thought you read before. Just don’t break the law, and you have nothing to worry about.
Now, whether it’s wise for you personally to spend certain amounts of money is a completely different matter. If you sign up for your first Amex account and get a limit of $5K, then proceed to spend $40K on it the first month with a stated income of $75K, you’ll get shut down by Amex. If you open up your first checking account with Chase and deposit $100K in money orders over the first three months that were purchased by you and then deposited into your own bank account, you’ll get shut down by Chase. If your Walmart Manager says you can only do $10K in money orders and you make a fuss about how you need to do $30K, they won’t exactly be looking to help you out the next time you (or anyone else) comes in.
But if you follow all the laws, know how, where, and when to spend on your credit cards and deposit to your bank accounts, and maintain a good relationship with all the cashiers you come across, you’re golden, and there’s literally no limit to how much you can manufacture spend.
Or, maybe you should just try the legit way to manufacture spend, which may very well be the way of the future.