Many people focus on getting frequent flyer/hotel points for their spending, and there’s definitely a ton of value there for travelers. With the introduction of manufactured spending, however, there are opportunities to not only create points for cheap, but also make money using credit cards. I’ll discuss some of the top options for that in this post.
Note that each of these methods relies on the Vanilla Reload/Bluebird method. If that’s not a possibility for you anymore, you can buy PIN-enabled $500 Visa/MC gift cards from a grocery store and load your Bluebird card at a Walmart (yes that’s an extra step, but wait until you see how much money you can make).
5% Cash Back Cards
If you can get 5% cash back from grocery stores or drug stores, you’re golden. Let’s say you can buy $5K worth of Vanilla Reloads from CVS. It will cost you $5,039.50 including fees to make that purchase. With a 5% cash back card, you’ll earn a whopping $252 back. When you subtract fees, you’re left with a PROFIT of $212. The Visa gift cards from grocery stores will also net you a profit of over $200, but require the extra step of going to Walmart.
If either of these options are available to you, it can be like making $200/hour if you have several Bluebird cards and easy access to VRs/Visa gift cards. If you’re doing better than that at your day job, you probably don’t need to be reading this blog!
Your 5% Cash Back Options:
- Wells Fargo Rewards Visa
- Citizens Bank CashBack Platinum MasterCard
- TD Easy Rewards Visa Card
- Blue Cash from American Express (Use private browsing window if link doesn’t work)
See this post for more information.
Barclays Arrival Card for 2.2% Cash Back on Travel
The Barclays Arrival Card is one of my favorites. The 2.2% cash back for travel purchases (it’s 2% plus a 10% rebate on travel, so effectively 2.2%) is still good value for manufacturing spend.
Let’s take the same $5K example above. You’ll spend $5,039.50 including fees, and at 2.2% cash back you’ll earn back $111. Subtracting the fees, you’ll earn a profit of $71 using the Vanilla Reload method, and slightly less using Visa gift cards. If you don’t plan to use the cash back on travel, you’ll still be earning $61 after fees.
Note that this cash back is in the form of a statement credit, meaning you can use the points to essentially zero-out purchases on your online statement. It’s a very easy process.
2% Cash Back Cards
As mentioned above, the Barclay’s Arrival Card also provides 2% cash back, which is why I recommend it. You get the flexibility of 2% cash back all the time plus the possibility of 2.2% if used for travel. There are, however, several other options that offer the same 2% cash back on all purchases. Again, using the $5,039.50 Vanilla Reload purchase example above, you’ll earn $61 in profit after all fees.
2% Cash Back Options:
- Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard (2% on gas, groceries, and utilities only)
- U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa
- Lots of other options (Google them!)
First of all, yes I’m well aware that Vanilla Reloads may/have become cash only from CVS for many people. There are other options, and while none are as easy or as lucrative as VRs, they can still be very useful. The grocery store category makes this possible.
If you click on the links above, you’ll notice one thing in common – a lack of sign up bonuses for most of these cards. That’s how cash back cards tend to work, and it’s also why the Arrival Card is an amazing card: it comes with a $440 travel bonus right off the bat. I guess we shouldn’t complain too much if our objective is to make money.