How to Rack Up Manufactured Spend For Airline Miles
Today we’ll be talking about how to create manufactured spend in order to meet minimum spend requirements and earn bonus airline miles on new credit cards.
Many cards will want you to spend $2000-3000 over a few months in order to earn bonus miles – sometimes the minimum spend will be even higher. This can seem a daunting challenge, but even those on a tight budget can achieve these minimum spend requirements with a little forethought.
What you may not realize is that many of your regular, monthly costs can, with a little clever strategizing, be put onto your airline credit cards, helping you reach minimum spend requirements and earning amazing bonus miles.
5 Tips for Manufactured Spend on Credit Cards
Here are five simple and easy ways to create manufactured spending on credit cards.
Method #1: Gift Cards
Gift cards are a quick and easy solution for meeting minimum credit card spend requirements to earn bonus airline miles.
Gift Cards as Presents
If you give gift cards as gifts, go ahead and buy some for upcoming birthdays or holidays. If you don’t usually buy gift cards for gifts, no problem. What many people don’t realize is that you can buy gift cards for common everyday expenses.
Grocery Store and Gas Gift Cards
Nearly all grocery stores offer gift cards, so go ahead and buy a $200 or $300 gift card for your local grocery mart. You have to eat and buy groceries anyway, so there’s no way those gift cards are going to go un-used.
The same applies for gasoline – most, if not all gas stations offer gift cards available for purchase. Buy another $200-$300 gift card from a gas station and suddenly that $1,000 minimum spend isn’t looking so tough to hit!
Amazon Gift Cards
As a final option, consider Amazon gift cards. Amazon gift cards have no fees and never expire. Plus, if you’re nervous about losing gift cards or having them stolen, you can purchase an Amazon gift card and then immediately load the credit to your Amazon account.
Heck, you can even buy an Amazon gift card and have Amazon email the gift card code to you, zero hassle involved.
But wait, this can get sweeter! Sites like Raise and Gift Card Granny offer authentic gift cards at discounted prices so you can get even more bang for your buck.
Method #2: Pick Up The Tab
Instead of divvying up the bill when you go out to eat with friends, offer to put the entire bill on your credit card and have friends give you cash. Restaurant bills can get pretty huge, and funneling that spend onto your card is an easy fix. Plus, it saves you a trip to the ATM!
If you have friends and family you trust, you can extend this offer towards other purchases. Does your roommate want to buy a new Playstation 4? Offer to put the purchase on your card and have them write you a check.
Method #3: Pay Regular Occurring Bills and Utilities Ahead of Time
Most people don’t realize that you can often prepay utilities to rack up credit card spend. Nearly all utilities provide online payment services where you can add a lump sum of money to your account to use towards future bills.
Just last month I added $400 to my Comcast account, which will slowly be used to pay my internet and cable bill for the next several months.
Front-loading your monthly bills is a genius ways to create artificial spend, since you know those bills have to be paid anyway. Try this for:
- Cell-phone Bills: Many mobile phone services will allow you to add a large lump sum into your account.
- Utilities: If you live with roommates, consider the option of paying for the utilities with your credit card and having roommates reimburse you.
- Car Insurance: When you pay your entire car insurance premium in one lump sum, you may receive a discount, which is a huge added bonus (I know from experience this is true for Geico, not sure about other insurers)!
Method #4: Buy Big Ticket Items
This really should only be considered an option if you were already planning on making big purchases regardless of trying to meet a minimum spend requirement.
Remember, it doesn’t make sense to purposely burn big bucks to get your credit card bonus airlines miles – if you’re spending a ton on things you wouldn’t normally buy, then those “free” flights aren’t really free at all! However, if you’ve been planning a big purchase for a while, put those items on your credit card to beat that minimum spend!
a DSLR is a perfect example of a big ticket item
A few months ago I purchased a new MacBook Pro. I desperately needed a new computer and was planning on getting one anyway. Putting that big purchase on my miles credit card was an added extra as it helped me reach my minimum spend requirement and earn bonus airlines miles!
Method #5: Amex Serve
Amex Serve is a free service from American Express that lets you upload money from a credit card into an online account at no charge. This money can then be sent back to you in the form of a check.
Just setup you Serve account for free. You’ll get a unique Amex Serve card in the mail. The card is connected to your account, which can have funds added to it via your bank account, checks, and credit cards. You can then use the Serve card anywhere you would use an American Express card. Of course for our purposes, the Serve card is irrelevant. The key takeaway is that you can move money from your credit card à Amex Serve online account à back to you via check.
Note: The Amex Serve FAQ notes that cash advance fees may apply for credit card loads and that users should check with credit card issuers, but I didn’t get a cash advance fee when I used two different cards.
It may sound too good to be true, but I’ve used this service myself and can personally testify – if you add cash, you absolutely can send yourself a check for the full amount in your account.
There is a $1 monthly fee for the Amex Serve account unless you do any one of the following during each monthly statement period:
- Receive a direct deposit
- Add $500 or more into your account
- Have your account in Softcard
If you live in New York, Texas, or Vermont, you are in luck – there is no $1 monthly fee for you, even if you don’t meet the above criteria.
Bonus Spend Tips
The methods I listed above do not require any extra fee on your part. The methods listed below do allow you to manufacture spend on credit cards, however, these methods involve some kind of fee, so you’ll have to decide if these options are worth it. Sometimes, when you’re getting a huge amount of bonus miles, it’ll be worth it to chew the 3% credit card fee. Ultimately it’s your call. What matters is, you have options!
- Pay Your Taxes. You can use your credit card to pay your taxes, which can easily beat those minimum spend requirements. However, there is a credit card fee when you take this route.
- Visa Gift Cards. Loading up Visa gift cards isn’t a bad idea if you stay on top of them and are aware of various fees associated with this type of card.
Once you buy these credit card-esque items, you can use them at nearly any retailor. There are some major downfalls though – many of these Visa and MasterCard gift cards charge an activation fee anywhere from $4-$7. Other cards charge a monthly fee. Simply be sure that you read the card logistics carefully before buying these.
- Venmo. Venmo is an awesome little app that you can use to safely pay friends for IOUs. It’s safe, reliable, and easy to use. Venmo is free to connect to a bank account. You can use Venmo in conjunction with a credit card, but there is a 3% processing fee per payment for credit cards, so keep that in mind.