Manufactured Spend: Amazon Payments Enhancements


If Amazon Payments is the only method you are willing to do, there are ways to pimp your ride slightly. Yesterday, I mentioned that you can throw anything at Amazon Payments: credit cards, debit cards, debit gift cards, your lunch leftovers — it will digest everything. The only thing Amazon Payments won’t take is Amazon gift cards, so don’t waste your time with those.

There are some reports that using American Express cards to transfer funds via Amazon Payments can trigger a dreaded financial review. I’ve done it multiple times without an issue, but some folks have been more unfortunate, so you have been warned.

In order to avoid this issue, but also to make the whole thing more profitable, take an extra step. Don’t send the money with your credit card; rather send it with gift cards. Here is why it makes a good sense.

Meeting Spend Requirements or/and Making a Few Bucks on the Side

Let’s say, you have an exceptionally high spend to meet, perhaps $10,000 for 100,000 points from AMEX Platinum  or Citi AAdvantage Executive card. Let’s further assume that you don’t have too many avenues to meet the spend and Amazon Payments is your only life-saver in this situation.

So you have decided to throw caution to the wind and opened three separate AP accounts. Now, considering the $1,000 monthly limits you can “process” $9,000 in three months. Puzzle solved, right?

Yes and no.

Because, as you hopefully read in my yesterday post, you shouldn’t use the same card with separate AP accounts. Your chances to get shut down by Amazon will rise exponentially. If you choose the easiest way, you will only be able to liquidate $3,000 in three months. Not something you have in mind.

Solution? Buy debit gift cards instead. You can set up your gift card payment information on Amazon the same way you would with regular debit and credit cards. And since you are buying several gift cards, preferably in no less than a $500 denomination, there is no problem to spread them to other AP accounts, as well.

Do not, however, buy gift cards online with Citibank cards or you will be charged cash advance fees, which is wrong on every level. Buy your gift cards in store or at the Gift Card Mall; this way, Citi doesn’t have a way of knowing what you’re buying.

If you are not dealing with a Citi card, then the easiest way would be buying American Express gift cards online. There are several portals that offer bonuses for buying AMEX cards through those outfits, but you need to be logged on to your AMEX account to be able to purchase a personal card up to $3,000. Otherwise it’s $500.

Now you have turned one credit card that you could only use on one Amazon Payment account into several gift cards that you can use on separate AP accounts. And you have earned a little profit along the way.

How much profit? There are several portals that offer cashback for AMEX gift cards. The best ones right now are Top Cash Back (3%) and Barclaycard Rewards Boost Mall (4 points per $1 spent). Actually, it’s 4.4 points considering the 10% rebate.

Note that you must be a Barclay Arrival World Master cardholder in order to get access to the Rewards Boost Mall, but you don’t have to use it! You can use any credit card you want.

Of course, there are fees, too. The max order you can place at a time is $5,000, so you’d better split it at $3,000 and $2,000. The fee for each card is $3.95 and the shipping fee is $8.95. Although, there are always some codes that eliminate the fee (but not the shipping). You can try SYNCGIFT, or just google it.

Be aware that using any kind of code can disqualify you from getting the cashback, but according to many reports and my own experience, it doesn’t. There is also a 3-month free trial from AMEX that offers you free shipping.

But let’s say, you have to pay the fee and the shipping (even though you don’t). t This is what you get for your trouble.

1. 100,000 points/miles for meeting the spend. 

2. 10,000 extra points (x1).

3. $266 cashback ($300 minus about $34 in fees), or 44,000 Barclays miles redeemable for up to $440 in travel, plus $34 in fees.

Of course, if you are not meeting spend requirements, then the bonus is out of consideration. Just do it for cash or points.

What do you think: worth a little computer screen time?

There have been different and often conflicting reports about which banks treat the purchase of debit gift cards as a cash advance. Citi is a definite no-no, but there are others, as well. Read this incredible Frequent Miler’s post that lists “dangerous” cards, among other datapoints. If you are concerned, just call the credit card and tell them to set your cash advance limit to zero. This way, if your purchase is coded as cash advance, it simply won’t get through, and you will be safe.

If you are dealing with a Citi card, there are two options: buy a gift card at your favorite store or do a little online shopping at a portal like Gift Card Mall. One thing you need to know, though, is that using Citi is nowhere as lucrative. You are “prohibited” from buying American Express gift cards online, and Visa/Master cards have a lousy cashback (when there is even cashback). Basically, you’re only doing it to meet the spend. Buy in large denominations, although they are hard to come by.

Now, if you are not meeting the spend and only want some extra cash, there is another way, too. Use a card with 5% drugstore cashback from the list recommended in this post. You will make roughly $120 a month with your three Amazon Payment accounts (for example, with One Vanilla, after the fees). You won’t be able to retire early on this income, but extra $1,440 a year have yet to hurt anyone.

Or, if you don’t like to go out, use Barclaycard Arrival to buy AMEX gift cards at the Barclaycard Reward Boost Mall for two points extra, bringing the total to 6.6 miles per $1. What it means, basically, is manufacturing 66,000 Barclaycard Arrival miles good for $660 in travel at the cost of $34 in about three calendar months. Amazon Payments limits reset at the beginning of the month, regardless when you transfer the money.

Alternatively, if you like real cashback better, you could still use Top Cash Back with AMEX Fidelity card that’s good for 2% cashback. This way you will have a straight combined cashback of 5%.

It goes without saying that the current cashback may and will change without notice.

The Amazon Payments method is as simple as it gets, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to everybody no matter how lazy you are. If you don’t use it yet, consider starting now. Who knows how long it’s going to stay with us.

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