Manufactured Spend – Is It Worth It?

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So many methods of manufactured spend. Is it all worth it?


If you follow miles & points blogs or other outlets such as Flyertalk, then there is no doubt that you are constantly bombarded with information about manufactured spend.  I have also written about manufactured spend quite often because it is something that is of great interest to me.

I probably spend more time than I should researching and learning about new methods.  All of this time invested makes me wonder from time to time whether it is all worth it.

The Death Of One Method

This past Tuesday I made a normal run to my local CVS and picked up some One Vanilla cards.  I then went to Walmart and loaded $2,000 of them, with the rest to be done the next day. Of course, as many of you know, the next morning either Walmart or InComm (the company who issues Vanilla cards) blocked pin transactions on Vanilla cards from working for either money orders or to load Bluebird.

Essentially at that moment I was stuck with $3,000 in gift cards.  The number one rule of manufactured spend is never have more money “floating” out there than you can afford.  I truly believe in this rule and follow it religiously.  While this isn’t a major setback since I am aware of a half dozen ways to liquidate these cards, I can’t imagine being sick because I needed the money sitting on them.

This whole situation got me thinking about how much hassle this must be for more casual “spenders”.  It is widely assumed that the death of Vanilla Reloads was brought on by it going mainstream.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the Vanilla gift card Walmart blockage was caused by the same thing.

Manufactured Spend Is Unprofitable

While we aren’t doing anything wrong, often times this practice can be unprofitable for companies.  For example, Walmart is paying swipe fees every time we liquidate cards onto Bluebird.  They expect to make the money back when you use Bluebird to pay for transactions, but if all you do is billpay, then they lose.

On the flip side, InComm is expecting to make money when you swipe the debit gift card to purchase items.  If you only swipe once to empty the card, then their profit is hurt.  In other words, too many people doing this starts to hurt the bottom line and then a big change comes.

Is The Hassle Worth It

So now it is time to answer the question posed in the title.  I am of the belief that a lot of people who manufacture spend do it casually.  They aren’t spending $40-$50k per month on credit cards, but instead use casual techniques such as OneVanilla & Bluebird to load a few thousand dollars per month in order to hit their minimum spending requirements on credit cards.

A few months ago I advocated a simple MS strategy that I believe works for most people.  It involves using a cash back credit card with 5x category spend, Amazon payments and whatever credit card you need to hit minimum spend on.  With this approach you could easily manufacture spend without any cost and with minimal effort. (I am aware the old posts refer to Vanilla Reloads, but the strategy remains the same with the use of gift cards instead.)

This simple type of MS is definitely worth it in my opinion and what I recommend for most people.  With that said, it can still be beneficial to take some time to research and learn different methods so you will be prepared the next time an easy strategy goes mainstream and gets killed by the masses.

For me, the world of manufactured spend is a fascinating and ever changing one.  I follow almost all of the latest methods and tricks and try to keep up with some of the amazing people out there on the front lines.  I don’t advocate that most people do that though.

What makes it worth it for most people is not having to take too much time.  Find a simple strategy that works for you and learn about a few backups for when it dies.

It Is All About The Memories

While I do write about manufactured spend along with so many other topics, this website reflects my personal belief that it is all about the experiences gained.  Miles To Memories is a fusion of topics relating to award travel and the stories of the memories created with our miles & points.

The real deciding factor as to whether or not it is worth it comes on the memories side.  For me, the answer is always yes, because I LOVE to travel.  I have personally been able to visit over 60 countries including 50 with my wife and son.  No change to debit gift card policy can take those memories away from me.


Please let me know below what you think about manufactured spend, whether or not it is worth it and how complicated of a strategy you employ.  Have a great Sunday!


Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. While I do some MS it’s mostly to meet minimum spend on new cards. What I do like is the tips and tricks to maximize my daily spend. Hoping if this is the end for Bluebird another new strategy is revealed. Thanks for all you do.

    • Many people do overlook maximizing their daily spend. Utilizing category bonuses and rotating categories on cards like Discover It & Chase Freedom is important as well.

      This community is resilient and I am certain if Bluebird does die that other strategies will come forward, although many are already out there. Thanks Denise!

  2. I personally think all MS is a huge waste of time. Just get the cards that you can really
    Make the minimum spend on without the tricks. It will all come to an end hopefully when
    Walmart @ all the gift card people wise up.

    • Yeah, I waste my time to the tune of $3k+ of cash profit every month with maybe 15-20hrs of time invested. Non taxable too. Good luck to you sir!

      • Not sure what that means, but I MS too. In fact I do more than most. My point is that there is not one answer for everyone. In fact, a basic level of MS is perfectly fine for most. Nothing wrong with that.

        • What I mean is the poster made a blanket statement that all MS is a waste of time. That’s clearly not the case because myself, and many others out there, make very good money with it.

          Maybe in some regions of the country it’s much tougher than others, but that’s not what they’re trying to say.

          • I agree completely. I have a full time job and can still manage to tuck in $1K+ cashback monthly just by exerting a few hours a week and adding it to my regular shopping runs. $12K may be small change to most but it serves as my mad money to anything I want to buy. I collect airline miles and points via AppORamas which I plan carefully to save enough that we can use for travel.

  3. I personally could not imagine running 40-50 thousand dollars a month through my accounts. But each to their own. I personally load about $2,000 a month to Bluebird to pay bills using my Suntrust Debit card and once in a while purchase a gift card. I know people would say but you are leaving so much on the table but this is what I am comfortable doing.

    Love the blog. Enjoyed the recent posts about Amtrak and your trip with your son.

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