Warning: Manufactured Spend is an advanced technique used either to obtain miles and points or for monetary gains. To all my readers who don’t know what I’m talking about here, please do not dive in. You need to read a lot on the topic to avoid dire consequences. Yes, really!
Note: VANILLA RELOAD IS DEAD IN MOST PARTS OF THE COUNTRY AS OF 04.04.14
Manufactured Spend: Over Easy, Part One
So, as we have established (empirically, since there is no science behind it) you can have more than one Amazon Payments account, but you will need different emails and bank accounts for them. Since I already have three accounts, I am currently in the process of setting up four new Amazon Payments accounts, two for my wife and two for my cousin Timmy. If you are considering the same, you might want to make sure that one of the two conditions (or both) are met:
1. Your new account should have no maintenance fees, or at least it should provide for no maintenance fees as long as you keep a low monthly balance that you are comfortable with.
2. If there are maintenance fees, your sign-up bonus should take care of them at least for the next couple of years.
Your idea of a good deal may differ, but I don’t take any other considerations like interest rates into account in order to preserve my sanity. Still, since we’re in it for the money, I see my mission in optimizing the value. Banking bonuses fit into this model quite nicely, I think.
Where to get the best banking sign up bonuses? The answer might surprise you. Best banking bonuses do not require Direct Deposit, and they come from Chase, but they are not readily available. There are ways to find them for free if you beg on forums or have more Chase credit cards than you might possibly need. I receive these flyers all the time, but if I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother. Just hit Ebay.
The offer requiring Direct Deposits is no good for us here because we can do better. I personally wouldn’t opt for the full $400 bonus because that would require you to open an additional savings account, fund it with $15,000 and keep the funds for at least 3 months at ridiculous 0.01 APY. That’s not worth it to me. Grab the checking account bonus instead. Fund it with $100 and keep the minimum daily balance at $1,500 to avoid the fees. Sounds like a winner to me.
But you can’t have several Chase accounts, so here are some other, not too restrictive bank offers I have been able to find.
$200 bonus from Northwest Bank with two Direct Deposits of $200. The second $100 will post after the first-year account anniversary, but you need that account anyway, and besides, there are no fees. Just keep it.
$200 bonus from PNC Bank with at least $2,000 in Direct Deposit. Read the small print! Not valid in all states. Available until March 31
$100 Visa Card from Salem Five for “completing 2 direct deposits over $250 each, 6 online bill pays over $25 each or 20 debit transactions over $5 each within 60 days”. Free ATM Worldwide.
$100 Bonus from M&T Bank for “a minimum of one direct deposit in the amount of at least $100 within 90 days of account opening”. M&T Bank also offers an Equifax FICO score subscription for $2.99 a month.
$100 Offer from Wells Fargo for either using “our debit card to make 10 purchases or payments or set up a qualifying direct deposit”. Having that account may also be useful if you plan on applying for Wells Fargo 5% cashback credit card.
Speaking of which…
Best Credit Cards for Your Manufactured Spend Activities
Wells Fargo credit card offers 5% cashback for the following categories for the first six months: groceries, gas stations, and drugstores!
Did you notice the drugstores?
I envy you if you can find your Vanilla Reload with a credit card at a gas station or grocery store, but where I live it’s not an option. Although, let me add AFAIK.
This procedure is really easy.
1. Walk into a CVS and grab a 10-pack of VRs.
2. Load them $500 each, for $39.50.
3. For the next 5 days load your Bluebird account, with two VRs daily.
4. Wait for your 5% cashback hit your credit card account.
5. Request your $250 check.
5. Your profit is $210.50
Note, if you have Isis Serve rather than a Bliuebird you will make an additional $75 a month, upping your loot to almost $300.
Now, the beans availability makes all the difference between a walk in the park and a medieval torture. So, you will have to decide for yourself what your time is really worth. I will make a separate post on time management, because with all the excitement, the time you actually spend doing it often gets overlooked.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the best cards to use for a CVS-based spend manufacturer.
The links below are solely for your convenience. I do not earn affiliate commissions if you apply for these cards.
1. Wells Fargo: Six months of 5% on groceries, gas stations, and drugstores!
2. American Express Blue Cash (the old one) 5% on groceries, gas stations, and drugstores after you spend $6500! Important: apply in cookie-free environment.
3. Charter One Cashback Platinum: 5% on groceries, gas stations, and drugstores for the first 90 days.
4. Citizens Bank Cashback Platinum; same as above, since Citizens owns Charter One, and according to this Flyertalk thread, you can have both.
5. American Express Fidelity: 2% on everything. Great for a slow day or month.
If you’re not tied up to a CVS and can get your fix(es) at a grocery store or drug station, just follow the above thread to find the best 5% cashback cards that suit your interests.
Please share your thoughts here.
You can also fund a lot of the bank accounts with a credit card, for example Chase can be funded up to $500.