One of the first things I put up under the Beginner’s Guide tab was a 10-step guide to help readers begin churning miles and points. Over the next few days I’ll be doing a 10-post series, elaborating on each of the steps below:
Our favorite way to easily hit minimum spend is Amazon Payments, which allows you to pay family or friends without any fees. Each Amazon Payments account has a monthly limit of sending $1,000 in payments and receiving $1,000 in payments. We have set up accounts for the two of us, my parents and my sister. Each month we are able to generate $5,000 of extra spend, therefore earning 5,000 extra miles, by making a $1,000 payment from each account to another one (mixing up the order each month), then withdrawing the money to our bank accounts and transferring it all back to our main account to pay off the card. Make sure that you only ask friends and family you trust to pay you back the money each month before asking them to accept your Amazon Payments!
Once you get your account up and going (you’ll need your driver’s license number, social security number, credit card number and bank account info), and you have verified your bank account either instantly or through verifying the amounts of small payments, which can take several days, it really is a fairly simple process after the initial account set up.
Here’s a great YouTube from Extra Pack of Peanuts which walks you through all the screenshots with step-by-step instructions on how to set up your account, make payments, and withdraw funds. How to Use Amazon Payments to Meet Minimum Spending Requirements (p.s. who can figure out how to help me embed things in posts using WordPress?!)
Points High tip: Always select “goods and services” to avoid a cash advance fee from your credit card issuer!
Additionally, this article by Million Mile Secrets details 40 ways to complete minimum spend.
Manufactured spend is the process of purchasing cash equivalents, such as gift cards or money orders, with your rewards earning credit card, then liquidating the funds to use them to pay back the credit card. The manufactured spending process is ever changing in the the points world. In general I have not gotten that deep into manufactured spend because we are usually able to easily meet our minimum spending requirements through everyday spend and Amazon Payments. Manufactured spend is rarely free or a moneymaker since there are often fees associated with purchases, although in some cases it can be. I will occasionally buy gift cards when there is a deal offering some sort of reward back that makes it worth my time and hassle, such as Amex Sync, Staples rebates, or shopping portal bonuses.
I did jump on an offer this week for $200 Visa gift cards at Staples.com. Learn more at Running with Miles post on the topic, but here’s the breakdown.
(5) $200 Visa gift cards + $6.95 fee for each= $1,034.75
Chase Ink 5x points on total purchase (category bonus at office supply store)=5,174
+ Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal 2x points payout=2,069
=7,243 Ultimate Rewards points
7,243 Ultimate Rewards points are worth a minimum of $86.91 to us, since we can book travel for 20% off through the UR portal, and typically transfer the points to United or Hyatt, providing even more value, more than making up for the $34.75 in fees. I will load the $1,000 in Visa gift cards onto my Bluebird card at the machine at Walmart, then use the money to pay rent, which we normally cannot pay with our credit card.