I have said it many times, “I am a reluctant participant in the Manufactured Spending game”. I am. It’s true. Something about it feels…dirty. Unethical maybe? I do it, but I don’t feel comfortable doing large amounts of it.
And sometimes I feel sorry for the poor airlines who are giving away all these miles and free travel to people who have never paid them a dime for an actual flight. The poor airlines who are nickel-and-diming us To Death with fees for checked baggage, hand baggage, flight changes, drinks and meals.
And I feel sorry for the poor banks who are giving all those miles and points away to people using their cards to just circle money around a loop. The poor banks who are making millions off of people carrying balances on cards at 19% interest and fees paid by merchants to accept their cards.
A few days ago I received the $500 gift card I purchased from giftcardmall.com. My LAST gift card from giftcardmall.com. I have been curious about the Money Order game and wanted to give it a try, so the gift card I ordered had a desert landscape picture on it and my name embossed on the front. I made it look as much like an actual debit card as I possibly could.
I went to the Walmart money center and purchased a $450 money order. (for some reason I was afraid to do the whole $500) I paid the 70cent fee in cash and swiped my VISA gift card/debit card for the $450. I entered the PIN on the keypad and the transaction was completed. The cashier never asked to see my card. It was very easy.
After that I went over to the Bluebird machine and deposited the last $50 into my Bluebird account.
I also picked up a $500 VISA gift card while I was at Walmart. I have had issues in the past with buying VISA gift cards, even PIN enabled ones, that won’t work when you try to deposit them to Bluebird. The “Happy Birthday” VISA gift card at Walmart is my go-to gift card because I KNOW it works with Bluebird.
So my trip to Walmart netted me a $450 money order and $550 deposited to my Bluebird account.
What Do I Do With The Money Order?
What *I* did was go to my bank and deposit it to my checking account. I am not recommending that you do this!! Especially in large quantities because it can look like money laundering. But a few times, in small amounts, will probably not raise any red flags.
There are other options to cash out money orders. You can simply cash them out and then deposit cash into your account. You can also take them to a local branch of a bank you have a credit card with and pay on your bill. In my area I am limited to Chase and US Bank, but since I recently acquired the Chase Sapphire Preferred VISA, that is an option for me in the future.
Some people have two or even three separate bank accounts that they deposit a few thousand dollars of money orders into each month. If you spread out the spend between several credit cards and several banks, you should not arouse any suspicion. Not that what we are doing is illegal, it is OUR money after all. But you do not want to have SUSPICION raised by any legal entity or anybody looking into your finances. I may open a second bank account if I am going to dive deeper into this. Especially if someone sends me an offer of $100 for opening a new account. I get those periodically from Chase and Huntington.
Don’t Go Overboard
As with most things in life – everything in moderation is fine. I have read blogs of people doing upwards of $30,000 a month in Manufactured Spending. In my opinion, that is not moderate.
I have also seen posts of people buying thousands of dollars in gift cards at one time. Like this one. There are 38 cards in the picture. 34 of them are $200 cards. That’s $6,800. I just don’t see how people liquidate that before their bill arrives. That’s A LOT of money orders. I would not want the Walmart cashier whipping out “The Binder” and writing my personal information down because I was buying $5,000 worth of money orders at one time.
But….is it worth it?
I would love to hear some feedback on this. Leave a comment and tell me how much Manufactured Spend you do in an average month. Mine is inching closer to $4,000 a month. That is only giving me 48,000 miles a year. I could do more. But, should I?