Making Manufactured Spending Worthwhile (2017)

And and V and I can attest, opportunities wax and wane. For awhile my area was more flush than his with high bang-for-effort opportunities; now his is.

We have been adjusting accordingly.

theres people who have literally moved to different states and areas specifically for where the MS is better, it was so lucrative it more than paid for the move and monthly rental costs . Think of it as a high paying job offer in town B

Which areas have the best MS? If we had a list of them, then perhaps that would be information that helps a beginner decide to pursue MS. For example, I am somewhat interested in MS but it seems like a hassle. If I were to find out that my metropolitan area is in the top percentage of ability to MS (because of local POS systems, etc), then I’d be more willing to put in research and effort to try.

1 Like

The problem is that it comes and goes. As Dave pointed out earlier, one area can be hot until policy changes, or a card dies, or it’s overrun with greed, and then it’s not. At this point, it would stand to reason that most major metropolitan areas have MSers, but there are literally dozens of retailers in a given 50 mile radius that it’s luck of the draw on whether you would interact with another person on an ongoing basis. Some have multiple people in their territory and others are loners. Some stores in a given chain are receptive and some are not. Much of MS is about rapport and building relationships. The advice given earlier to start small, build trust and comfort, and work your way up is sound.

1 Like

[quote=“TripleB, post:43, topic:649”]
Which areas have the best MS? If we had a list of them, then perhaps that would be information that helps a beginner decide to pursue MS.[/quote]

A reasonable question, but there are at least two problems trying to answer it.

First, “best MS” is highly dependent on quite granular factors: what you’re eligible to MS, what your focus is, your schedule, your social engineering vs desktop engineering skills, your objectives in MSing, and more.

More fundamentally, a frank public answer to a question like that would do far more than just help newbies decide to MS–it would cause people to move and plunder away where the (perceived) well was deepest. For this reason many posters would be reluctant to reveal their MS hunting grounds.

Try MidWest first, especially Minnesota and Wisconsin. That’s MS heaven.
Next are states like Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Tennesse and Kentucky.
The worst are the coastal states.

1 Like

In general, much of the problem with MS is finding what works where and that’s where you have to get your hands dirty. If you can find a method where MS can be done strictly online and liquidated online it likely will die quickly or is higher in fees and thus less profitable. You have to scale it appropriately to get much return, thus opening yourself up to greater chance of shutdowns or showing up on radars.

The tried and true method is generally to hit the individual stores in your locale and grind it out, starting small and finding a method that works, then scaling it out to other nearby stores of that same chain. Some of them will be MS friendly and others won’t. It can also depend even down to particular cashiers where some will work with you and others straight up won’t, and will even go out of their way to try to stop you in your tracks.

The other aspect is issuer policies and brands change. POS systems in individual stores and even entire regions change and store policies adjust so what works one day may stop working another day in regional areas or even country-wide. In the last couple years I’ve been able to use several successful methods very well but most all of them have dried up. Therefore, you should have to be able to adjust and have at least a couple backup plans to liquidate so you don’t get stuck holding a few grand in GC. You can run into issues both on the supply side and on the liquidation side. However, if you do find a method that works you can stand to churn a bit, profiting between $30 to $100 per hour for a couple months before something changes.

Honestly, TIO is too expensive to be worth it. For the casual person it is 2.6%, and if you feed enough money into it, you get “preferred” status with the loyalty discount, getting it down to 1.75% (this is all public through a Flyertalk thread and so I am not revealing anything told to me in confidence).

It’s a fine line between something easy enough to do in spare time and to have to prospect for MS methods, which only pay off when you spend hours of time into them to make them another day job. I maxed out an Ink Plus office supply spending ($50,000) through $300 VGCs through Staples, Walmart kiosks, and Bluebird/Serve. It fulfilled my primary requirements of being easy, not taking too much time, and not having to speak to anyone. Basically the only issues were not overspending the Ink credit limit, and taking care to make sure I paid other bills with my Bluebird money instead of Chase. Many people neglected those precautions and still got their points, but I wanted to be careful. Similarly, the old Vanilla Reloads racket was extremely easy and I would do it even if I didn’t have any cards I needed to make minimum spend on, as well as the free Chase-issued VGCs that lasted a few months and the Visa Buxx accounts that used to be widely available.

Currently, I do Kiva, using Flyertalk and Inside Flyer team loans as guides for loans to make, and underwithold taxes at work to pay with VGC quarterly. This is risky since the operation could go poof at any moment, but there are bloggers that have cycled mid five figures to no ill effects. But it fulfills the requirement of not having to deal with people. I use Kiva to fulfill minimum spending requirements beyond regular, non-bonused spend during a period.

I have bought MO at the post office before, as well as Wal Mart, and it is a sinking feeling to waste 20 minutes of time in line to get shut down. I have heard rumors of Visa Buxx accounts in the wild still open to the public and reloadable with credit cards, but no one has shared a name and I have searched for the different vendors and can’t find any loadable online (a few credit unions will sell to their members, but none in my area).

While good areas seem to change annually, I can tell you areas that are not good for MS - the Bay Area and New York. The Walmarts there are strict and there are too many “sharps” out there canvassing for MS opportunities. Not all metro areas suck though - DC has a surprisingly good MS availability, as does inland SoCal with a proliferation of grocery chains selling MO. However, the prospecting part is time consuming and I don’t have time to spend to do the volume needed to make prospecting worthwhile.

TripleB, if you are serious, Frequent Miler is a great resource on low hanging publicly available MS. There’s also Saverocity Level 2 which has a pretty low bar to get in - not much discussion of new methods, but plenty of talk about existing ones.


Yeah the Bay Area is pretty bad . Not just for ms but even hot deals , as there’s a concentration of Internet deal forum denizens

When I used to need staples deals that were sold out in the bay area , my mom would be able to find plenty in stock near her job in Yuba city (north of Sacramento. ) So I tend to think areas with less deal hunters fare better

1 Like

That’s not true anymore. The only reason I’m comfortable saying so is because I’m sure the PayPal takeover will end things sooner or later.

I am curious to hear more about the pros and cons of this. I have an LLC for bank bonuses and could easily re-use it with square or another option.

Square will quickly shut down any accounts with high gift card usage.


For a newbie it probably makes a lot more sense to MS credit card spend bonuses until those are exhausted before going to the slow grind of low margins/high volume MSing. Go for the lowest hanging fruit first…


Definitely. Using the top three cards on the Doctor of Credit list (Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, Chase SW Personal) you can get $2,000 of value with $14,500 in spending.

1 Like

Since you brought up Q4 with Chase Freedom at Walmart, be aware, you CAN NOT buy Mastercards with credit. I learned that this week. I usually buy onevanillas at drug stores. Instead, when you buy your gift card, look for the visa ones, especially the one in black and gold packaging. That one went through for me with my Freedom. You CAN NOT liquidate AMEX gift card cards because they do not come with a PIN. I would stick to just buying Visa prepaid gift cards

As far as liquidating it. You could always spend it, look at it as an indirect way of getting 4% on something else. I’m using the Visa to pay my insurance bill due at the end of the month. My local groceries stores, 2 different chains, allow liquidation for MOs with ease. Someone mentioned the AMEX Bluebird/Serve. If you haven’t opened one. I also use that. Yes, be aware of which banks issue the cards. The visa I mentioned above is a GreenDot issued which I do not know if they liquidate well for MO at my grocery. I use Bancorp cards from CVS/Walgreens and USB issued cards for my Amex BB.

The only “MS” I do is use Plastiq to pay my rent.
Also, buy GCs from Staples deals and later use them to pay insurance etc.
Some banks (e.g. PNC) allow to fund account with a CC when opening accounts.
This is not strictly “MS” per se but these are the only way I can meet the required spend to get CC bonuses.
Many times you can get bonuses from opening bank accounts and funding it with CC will also get you the CC sign up bonus.
I did that when I opened Merrill+ card and funded PNC account $2000 with it. You can fund two PNC accounts -Checking & Savings - this way.

Have them delete the MO and make a new one for the amount paid for already.

Has anyone come across a processor that would charge a fee under 1% for debit card transactions? Seems that would be an easy way to unload GC’s at a small enough cost to still be worth it.

I went to Walmart and bought a Visa “Debit” card - it was a $5 fee for amounts up to $500 so I maxed out. Has the Walmart store logo in upper left corner and on the back, it lists as the website to register.

I registered my home address so I could use it for online purchases. I have only used it once, so far, for a $200 purchase at a local store and it worked fine. It’s not an additional 4% back but 2%.

I have a 2% everything card, so my lowest rewards are 2%. The $5 fee adds 1%. So the gained rewards are only 2%. However, since I value UR points, it’s worth it, even though I’m only making $30 on it ($1500 per quarter capped spending). When you factor in my time (because I made one trip and will have to make a second trip to buy two more cards), it’s a loss. Also, the visa debit card fell out of my pocket and behind my car seat and I spent 20 minutes looking for it until I found it. Thought I was out $500.

If it wasn’t for the UR points involved, I’d not have done this.


A bit confused: 2% (highest?) reward for all minus 1% fee, why is it still gained rewards of 2%? Thanks.