Is Manufactured Spending a Hobby, SPG Amex Marketing Machine, Another eBay Gift Card Deal & More!

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Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Links in this post may provide us with a commission.

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Posts That Caught My Eye

Revealed: New Design for the Starwood American Express Cards (and When You’ll Get Yours)

So the new design is purple and closely matches the SPG logo. I actually like it a lot and felt the old design was really dated. Now for the real reason I posted this. I am getting the feeling that we will see a marketing promotion along with this new design and the new benefits going in place on August 11th. (I have absolutely 0% inside knowledge.)

For those who aren’t aware, the bonus on the SPG cards has increased every summer for the past 4 years to 30K. My guess is Amex was holding off on the increase to time it with the changes to the card. I don’t know, but Amex sending Gary Leff a personalized mockup of the new design seems like the beginning of a marketing campaign to me. (For the record, I am not implying he has anything to do with it.) I say bring it on, because I have been holding off on this card in anticipation of the increased bonus!

Let’s Not Forget that Manufactured Spending is a Hobby

One of the articles he mentions in this piece is my write up about calculating your return on time invested. Oren’s take is that manufactured spending is a hobby and thus that calculating returns doesn’t matter. He then goes on to say that he doesn’t pursue every deal and how he loves “efficiency and maximizing”.  To me, that seems like the same thing.

Hobby or not, we need to have some sort of system to help gauge which deals to pursue. With that said, even though I try to calculate my return on time, sometimes I come up short. On those days when gift cards are out of stock or Walmart kiosks are broken, instead of calculating how much I made (or didn’t make) in my hour or two spent, I just forget about it and remember that on some level this is fun too.

A Weekend in Mexico City… Part 1: Arrival and the Subway

Great information about catching the subway into Mexico City upon arrival at the airport. Other than what looks like a long line to get into the country, it seems like yet another person had an amazing time in Mexico’s capital. I know dozens of people who have been (I am taking my first trip in about a month) and no one has anything bad to say about the place. Of course tell anyone at home about your planned visit and they act like you are going to war.


Hilton #Giveaway – Win (up to) 2 free hotel nights

Points with a Crew has finally moved up from Prior2Boarding to join to ranks of BoardingArea. Dan has worked hard and deserves to be congratulated. In celebration of this move he is giving away 10K Hilton HHonors points. To enter head over to the link and you can earn bonus entries in a variety of ways.

Great Deals

$100 eBay gift card + $5 bonus eBay gift card for $95

Not as good as a straight 5% off, but still a discount I suppose. There is unfortunately a limit of 1. Most portals exclude eBay gift cards, but you may be able to get an additional ~1% if you know of one that pays out for their purchase.

Have a great evening!

Shawn Coomer
Since 2007 Shawn Coomer has been circling the globe with his family for pennies on the dollar. He uses that first-hand knowledge and experience to teach others how to achieve their travel dreams for the least amount of money possible.

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Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. Definitely not a “hobby,” as I have said before that is a stupid name for it. It is a game that could turn into a job if you spend enough time at it.

    I probably would prefer to simply do the low hanging “fruit” with the Serve card filled with non-Amex issued AMEX cards to earn some rewards, but for a newbie like me, how about an article concerning the trials and tribulations one might encounter — or just a how to guide — concerning what to expect and do when I go to a Kiosk or a register at WM or Target to fill Serve or one of the “birds.”

    At the very least, it will provide details for us to make the line move more rapidly for seasoned individuals, such as yourself.

    • Not as good as a straight 5% off, but still a discount I suppose. There is unfortunately a limit of 1. Most portals exclude eBay gift cards, but you may be able to get an additional ~1% if you know of one that pays out for their purchase.

      Do you know of any portals that pay 1%

      I have had no luck

      • No. Ebates used to work, but doesn’t seem to anymore. The main reason I put that language in is because people always yell at me if I forget to mention a portal. I at least want to put it out as an option, so people keep it in mind. Next time I’ll elaborate that I haven’t found a portal that works.

  2. On the topic of “Is Manufactured Spending a Hobby?”, I have my own thoughts.

    To me, the Points/Miles MS universe is 100% a JOB, not a hobby. You can also call it a game like the World Series of Poker where winning has real benefits (eg points/miles) and the benefits itself should be considered the real hobby (eg travel). Although one may argue the game itself can be a hobby and one may want to do it regardless of travel benefits.

    However, I personally do not think its appropriate to call the act of MS gaming a “hobby” because nobody would enjoy it outright if its not for the real substantial benefits from the outcome of “winning” the game and being paid the currency you value. At least in poker, you enjoy various aspects of the game and play with your friends. MS is mostly solo work and nobody would just do MS for fun unlike other hobbies.

    To me, MS is a JOB. Just like people who have jobs to make fiat currency, you MS to make points/miles currency. Its no different. The only question is which currency do you MS (eg USD or points/miles?).

    Of course, as mentioned, one may enjoy something so much they dont care if they get paid or not and its truly a hobby. Like paintball or bowling, where you can suck and you dont really have to win. You just enjoy the hobby. However, I dont think thats the case for most people who MS.

    WHY the hell would you do MS just for fun? Even worse if you suck at MS and barely make any points to redeem anything. You must be crazy. Total waste of your time with no real benefit.

    Hence, to me, its work. Work which must be practiced to become a professional. I just need to make sure I choose USD vs miles/points wisely.

    • If one sucks at MS it is dangerous for them in terms of their finances to continue because if you don’t know how to play this ‘game’ one is likely to lose a few hundreds to thousands. Worse case scenario, if they can’t pay the credit card bills which don’t just charge huge interest rates, but penalties as well. Therefore, anyone who doesn’t have the means to pay their credit card bills in full each month should better stay away from MS no matter how ‘easy’ it looks.

      • Exactly.

        That is why I will never call this a Hobby. This job has real world financial consequences like any other job and you cant suck at it and “just have fun”.

        Easy analogy:
        – Working at OfficeMax as a store manager making USD fiat currency so he can travel. Would anyone call working at OfficeMax a hobby? You need help.

        – Working on MS to make points/miles currency so you can travel. Is MS really a hobby? No. Its work.

        In both scenarios, enjoying your hobby is really the end result of your labor and you can enjoy any “Hobby” as the end result of how much currency you had produced.

        This distinction between job/hobby is critical for n00bs who may join misguided.


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