Manufactured Spend for Lazy Travelers: Amazon Payments Updated

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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!

As you might or might not remember, a month ago I wrote the post aptly called: Manufactured Spend: Over Easy! that listed a few easy ways to either earn credit card sign up bonus by meeting the spend requirements or make a small profit “buying money” with cashback credit cards.

And then, just a few days later, CVS killed our beloved Vanilla Reload. What a tragic loss for all of us!

Hitler was not the only one upset by the subsequent death of Vanilla Reload. It also wrecked my well-oiled routine, sawed havoc in my love life, and sent me on a downward spiral of  loneliness and despair that only ended after a dozen or so therapy visits. Fortunately, I was able to pay my therapist with a credit card, and I also racked up a small fortune of frequent couch reward points, so everything is back to normal now. Phew, that was close!

So here is where we are standing right now.

Easy Manufactured Spend for New Yorkers (or other unfortunate areas of the nation where Walmarts don’t blossom) 

Amazon Payments

Amazon Payments remains the only free and easy way to manufacture spend, regardless where you live, and the best part is you can use it in the comfort of your own home or office. It is valid for $1,000 a month per account. You can make Amazon Payments with anything: credit cards (including Citi), debit cards, Visa or Master gift cards, American Express gift cards, you name it! Also notice the “$1,000 a month per account”, and you can open more than one, of course.

While I’m sure many of you have read volumes on Amazon Payments, (and I’m also sure you are tracing this Flyertalk AP thread, as well), sometimes overload of information may lead to exceedingly large therapy bills. Here is my attempt to list and itemize the latest on this technique to make things easier. If you have anything to add (or subtract, or whatever) please comment.

1. How many accounts can I have?

You can safely have two. I have three Amazon account, and everything has been good so far! I know people who have four, but that might be pushing it. Remember that you do need a different email address and bank account for every Amazon Payment account (although some report it’s OK to open two AP accounts with the same bank account). Make sure you don’t mess this up, because if you do, a bad thing might happen. Like a shutdown! Shutdowns are not pretty.

2. Do I really need several Amazon Payments accounts per person?

Need, no. Want, yes! Even if you don’t need to do app-o-Ramas and meet spend requirements, you could simply make a few extra bucks. Three AP accounts coupled with a 2% cahback card, like AMEX Fidelity will yield you extra $700 a year. That’s about two Cokes a day! 🙂 If you get a little more creative and add an extra step with One Vanilla or AMEX Gift Card, that could yield 2-3 times as much. At least until you get shut down, or Amazon kills the program. Hey, you never know!

3. But they send you 1099 if you transfer $20,000 or more?

No, they will send you 1099 if you transfer $20,000 or more AND make 200 transactions or more. Even if you have four Amazon Payments accounts, that’s 48 transactions a year. Unless you get kicks out of making $20 or $50 transfers, you will not reach the IRS reportable level.

4. What do I need to do if I don’t trust anyone to return my money back after I pay them with AP?

That’s a good question. Work on your trust issues, perhaps?

5. How not to get my account shut down?

No one knows for sure. The most frequent recommendations people have are as follows:

  • Don’t send $1,000 sharp on a consistent basis (although some people do, and it works for them).
  • Don’t do A->B — B->A (although some people do, and it works for them). Use three people to complete the circle.
  • Don’t use the same credit cards among multiple accounts or between you and the people involved in the game. For example, if you are a cardholder and your spouse is an authorized user, do not use both your cards unless they have different numbers (usually the case with AMEX cards).
  • Use different IPs or use Incognito mode (in Chrome) or In-Private (IE) when you make transactions for different accounts. Close the window before making another one (there are reports, though, that claim Incognito and In Private are not sufficient).
  • There are reports that using AMEX cards for Amazon Payments can trigger a financial review. I have used them without an issue, but if in doubt, buy gift debit cards first and use them.
  • Reader LTW3 reminds us that “adding and deleting a lot of credit or debit cards as payment sources could get you shut down on Amazon.” Hasn’t happened to me yet, fingers crossed. Thanks!

6. Is there a way to make Amazon Payments even more interesting?

Yes, since you need new bank accounts anyway, find the ones with sign up bonuses. See this post. Some might have expired, but you can still buy a $200 Chase no-direct-deposit coupon off Ebay for a small fee.

7. So when is Amazon going to kill this silly program that loses them money?

Any day now. Been like that for the last five years.

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LWT3

I thought I read somewhere that adding and deleting a lot of credit or debit cards as payment sources could get you shut down on Amazon. If you’re advocating draining a large number of gift cards through AP, I take it you haven’t had this problem?

Mark Schilling

Maybe a stupid question on this: When you say you have 3 accounts, are they all in different peoples / SSN / Bdays names? I have enough bank accounts to do another account in my or my wifes name, but I am not sure that is advisable. Thoughts?

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