Introduction

Historically speaking the time between the second week of November and Christmas has been the biggest volume for manufactured spend in the year, at least during my career. That’s because:

  • Buying lots of Visa and Mastercard gift cards is temporarily normalized
  • Most stores run first-party holiday gift card promotions
  • Big gift card sellers run third-party holiday gift card promotions
  • Consumer electronics and other hot items for buyer’s groups are well stocked and often on sale
  • Nit-picky cashiers and customer service representatives are too busy to worry much about what you’re doing

If you want to participate in the gift card or buyer’s groups holiday manufactured spend cluster-hug, this weekend is a great time to get signed up with the major players so you have a liquidation channel and deal alert notification flow.

Gift Card Buyers and Resellers

In no particular order, most volume in third party gift cards flows through one of these buyers, all of which are considered generally reputable in the community, and I’ve checked with all of them and they’re ready to on-board for the holidays:

Buyers Groups

The following buyer’s groups are considered generally reputable in the community, and if you sign-up this weekend you should be on-boarded in time for black Friday:

Let me also offer some unsolicited advice: While you’re figuring out how buying groups work, stick with deals from Amazon and skip the other stores which can often require some voodoo to get working properly.

Good luck!

A manufactured spend prepper’s closet.

  1. Hy-Vee Grocery has Meijer style promotion running through November 15 for $10 back on each $150 or more in Mastercard gift cards. It’s Meijer style because a single $500 gift card earns 3x$10 back for a total cost including activation fee of $475.95.

    If you have an easy liquidation path, this is one of those deals that’s good enough that a trip to Hy-Vee territory may even make sense (and let’s face it, who hasn’t wanted to see Ashwaubenon, WI?). If you do it in the next three days, you can also stop at nearby Meijer stores for $10 in Meijer rewards for $150 or more in Visa gift cards. (Thanks to Justin via MEAB slack for pointing me to GC Galore and testing that the total cost was indeed $475.95)
  2. Kroger online is running a promotion for a $10 Kroger gift card and 4x fuel points with the purchase of a $100 Delta Air Lines gift card. As long as you can use the fuel points and the gift card this is somewhere between a 15% and 24% discount depending on your gas tank size. Unfortunately it’s limit one per order so it’s tedious to scale, but you can do it in-between Hy-Vee purchases I guess.
  3. Do this now (if you’re an American Express Hilton cardholder): Register for 1,000 bonus points for each $500 spent (targeted), up to $5,000 in spend.
  4. Barclay’s has added transfer partners for points earned on the Arrival Plus card, but unless you’re locked out of every other bank or have a major JAL award sweet spot, it’s not worth your time because the transfer ratios are frankly awful. Citi, American Express, Chase, and Capital One are all better options.

Some call this spot in Ashwaubenon the (-1)th wonder of the world.

Note: If you’re an email subscriber, you may have missed yesterday’s post because the plugin I’m using and daylight savings time changes don’t go well together. I believe it’s working properly now though.

Today’s items include a strange gem or two:

  1. Two US carriers are running fare sales, and it’s worth checking existing travel to see if you can get a partial refund:

    Alaska to and from ski resort cities, book by Friday
    Southwest on Tuesday and Wednesday flights, book by tomorrow evening

    The Alaska sale gets you free skiing at a few ski resorts too by showing your boarding pass. Of course in a world of refundable fares, someone didn’t think too hard about how gamers gonna game.
  2. Qatar Avios has a transfer bonus from Citi ThankYou Points and several other programs. This one is oddly tiered:

    – 20% bonus for transfers of 29,999 ThankYou Points or less
    – 30% bonus for transfers of 30,000 ThankYou Points or more

    Qatar Avios are great for business class to and from Europe, but for other cases you can transfer them to Iberia, Aer Lingus, or British Airways Avios at avios.com for other sweet spots.
  3. There’s a $100 sign-up bonus for opening a Q.ai brokerage account and funding with $100. Reportedly bonuses will post within a day typically, but take screenshots of the offer during sign-up in case they don’t. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. Office Depot has $15 off of $300 or more in Mastercard gift card purchases through Saturday. Remember, these are Metabanks, and Visa and Mastercard aren’t the same. (Thanks to ChurningTatum)

Another strange gem.

BofA’s More Rewards Day Recap

Before we dive in, let’s quickly recap Bank of America’s bonus 2x miles or 2% cash back holiday on Saturday. In my circles there were a few basic types of gamers:

  • Some people went big, going well into six figure spend territory
  • Some tried to go big but were slowed significantly by fraud alerts
  • Some were happy to knock out a bit of holiday shopping and to pre-pay utilities for an extra boost
  • A few that have been shutdown by Bank of America in the past stood outside the window in the rain pretending not to gaze inside, but still watching everything out of out of the corner of their eyes

There were people from multiple categories that were left scrambling after one of their own manufactured spend techniques flaked out. Lessons:

  • Have a goal in place when there’s a significant opportunity, whether it’s six figures or $60, a goal will help focus your time (and it’s ok to have a $60 goal too)
  • Have a backup plan in case something malfunctions
  • Set travel notifications on your cards to reduce fraud alerts and locks
  • In the weeks leading up to a big opportunity, train the fraud alerts away from your cards with some spend

Quick Hits

  1. VanillaGift.com has fee-free Visa gift cards with promo code SHOPEARLY22. The promo is ostensibly ending on November 18, but let’s just say their track record hasn’t been great on that. Fortunately for everyone including reader Jim, these aren’t Metabanks. (Thanks to mikep via MEAB slack)
  2. Meijer has $10 in MPerks rewards when clip the digital coupon and buy $150 or more in Visa gift cards through Saturday. You’ll have to scale this one with multiple MPerks accounts. (Thanks to GC Galore)

Happy Monday!

BankAmeriGuy shows off the shoes paid for with BankAmeriDay spoils.

  1. Staples has fee free $200 Visa gift cards starting Sunday and running through the following Saturday, limit eight per transaction. As usual, try and run multiple transactions back-to-back and have a liquidation plan in place since these are Metabank gift cards. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  2. Southwest personal credit cards have a boosted sign-up bonus of 75,000 Rapid Rewards points and a reduced spend requirement of $3,000 in three months. The increased offers run through December 5. It’s a good time to get these if you want a companion pass because you can get two years worth by:

    – Applying for a personal card now (75,000 points after $3,000 in spend)
    – Applying for a business card now (80,000 points after $5,000 in spend)
    – Spending approximately $2,900 before December 31 on the personal card
    – Spending approximately $4,900 before December 31 on the business card
    – And finally, spend $100+ on each card on January 1

    The companion pass will last through the end of 2024. Also, don’t forget to use a friend’s referral link when you apply, they’ll appreciate it and earn 20,000 bonus points too. Seriously though, find someone’s referral link to use.
  3. eToro is a weird crypto brokerage with weird functionality that sometimes helps manufactured spenders, so it’s a good place to have an account in general (remember, the weird is what keeps us in business). Now there’s another good incentive: a $360 new account bonus. To get it:

    – Click through the Gocashback portal in a clean browser for a $120 bonus
    – Sign-up for eToro and deposit $2,000 for another $240 bonus

    You’ll have to deposit by December 31 and keep the money at eToro for 90 days after deposit. You’re not eligible if you already have an eToro account or closed one in the last 30 business days, so there’s barely still time to churn an account for existing customers too. (Thanks to DoC)
  4. Don’t forget that tomorrow is BankAmeriDay. Yes I made that up, and yes, it’s just as stupid as BankAmeriDeals). It’s a great time to manufacture spend because you’ll earn:

    – An extra 2x miles on co-branded cards
    – An extra 2% cash back on other cards

    Coincidentally, AA eShopping has 4,000 bonus miles for spending $1,500 or more and giftcards.com is currently 3x, so I’d run with that on a Bank of America card tomorrow as part of your game. With $1,500 in Visa or Mastercard gift cards you’ll earn 8,607 AA miles and 4,607 AA loyalty points. (Thanks to RabbMD)

BankAmeriGuy, the official mascot of BankAmeriDay.

  1. VanillaGift.com has 50% off of Visa gift card purchase fees using promo code 50HOLIDAY22. You may want to note this code in a log somewhere, because codes at that site sometimes live for nearly a year after their intended lifespan, and definitely don’t use an American Express card here. (MSN Flyer)
  2. Watch for Chase Ink Preferred physical mailers sent to your address that direct you to chase.com/GetInkPreferred with a referral code. The sign-up bonus using these mailers is 100,000 Ultimate Rewards after $15,000 in spend in three months. An anonymous contributor told me that they may bypass 5/24, and I applied after one came in the mail for me late last week; I was approved well past 5/24 🎉.
  3. Staples has $200 fee free Mastercard gift cards in store through Saturday, limit eight. Remember to try for multiple transactions back-to-back to maximize your time, and also remember that these are Metabank cards so have a plan in place.
  4. Chase is running a few transfer bonuses for Ultimate Rewards partners starting tomorrow and running through the end of November:

    – Aeroplan: 30%, or 40% under certain circumstances*
    – Virgin Atlantic: 30%
    – Marriott Bonvoy: 40%

    The first two of these are great and the last one is a terrible deal in most cases (book stays through the travel portal instead or cash out via Pay Yourself Back and buy Bonvoy points directly for better value).

    * Miles notes that the Chase Aeroplan card is supposed to give 10% back when you transfer 50,000 miles or more, up to 250,000 back per year.
  5. If holding United Airlines Silver status through the end of February 2023 is interesting to you, you can get it free for by downloading the Bilt mobile app, registering for an account if needed, and then:

    – Open the app
    – Navigate to the “Rent Day” tab
    – Click “Learn more” under “Unlock United Airlines Premier Status”

    Is this worth anything? Not much, but something: You may get an economy plus upgrade for you and companions at 24 hours prior to flight departure if there’s one available, and there’s a chance roughly equivalent to winning the lottery on the same day that you’re struck by lightning that you’ll get an upgrade to first class. The most likely benefit is really that you’ll get an extra four miles per dollar on paid tickets and a free checked bag.
  6. The Target Redcard $80 ($40 in-store and $40 online) sign-up bonus is back through December 10, which is long enough that you should be able to get it at least twice. See this article for why you should care.

Proof that a first class upgrade as a United Silver can happen.

We’ll be quick today:

  1. Meijer has a $10 store gift card with $75+ in Happy gift cards through Saturday. This one is limit one per coupon, but you can re-clip the coupon after each purchase. A favorite technique with these gift cards is to use a few of them to purchase something in the Meijer electronics department that you can ship to a buyer’s club.
  2. AA’s portal has 1,000 bonus miles for installing their browser toolbar and spending $25 through the AA portal and toolbar by Halloween, provided you’ve never gotten an AA shopping toolbar bonus in the past. You’re supposed to keep the extension installed for 30 days too, so either set a reminder in your phone, create a new browser profile that you use for the bonus and then never use again, or be offline when you uninstall the extension. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  3. Simon.com/volume has 50% off of purchase fees of Visa and Mastercard gift cards using promo code OCT22SAVE50. Note that most of these are Metabank gift cards.

Have a nice Monday!

Example high demand buyer’s club item at Meijer, maybe?

  1. Bank of America has a promotion on Saturday, November 5 for an extra 2% back or 2x bonus miles on all non-cash advance purchases, which really means any normal spend or normal manufactured spend. In preparation:

    – Open another round of Bank of America cards as soon as possible
    – Make sure your credit lines are paid off by November 3rd
    – Set aside time on November 5th to maximize your earnings
    – Bypass the Preferred Rewards 90 day waiting period by opening a business account in branch and asking to be part of the program

    And some related but general advice prosthelytized by Sam and Robert at Milenomics: You should always be ready with a basic game plan for when a big event like this lands so you can spring into action.
  2. Giftcards.com is back up to 8% cashback on the mobile Capital One Shopping portal. Just watch out for the $2,000 gotcha.
  3. Kroger online has $10 off of $150 or more in Visa or Mastercard gift cards through Tuesday
    with promo code OCT2022, and you’ll earn fuel points to boot. While Kroger offers better cards in-store, the online variety is Metabank. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  4. Shop n’ Save stores have $10 off of $100 in Visa or Mastercard gift cards through Wednesday, limit five per account. These are also Metabanks. (Thanks again to GC Galore)

I can’t argue that this isn’t a plan, but it’s not exactly what I had in mind.