Manufactured Spending

My Week in Manufactured Spending: 21,801 Points and $69.47 Cash

I realize this post is way late, but as you may have been aware, the site was down most of the week. You can thank GoDaddy for that. Their motto? “When your website goes down, so does our call center.” I finally made the switch to Bluehost, so hopefully there will be less downtime going forward. Anyway, let’s dive right in and go over this week’s manufactured spending report:

Citi ThankYou Points

Back in November, I decided to hold off on investing in any more Kickfurther co-ops until all my payouts came through. It takes up to 6 months to get paid and I’ve received more than half of my investments back. I’ll have a post up when they’re all repaid around May.

Since things have gone well so far, I decided to invest in a few more co-ops last week. I charged $593.76 to my Citi Prestige (on which I’ll earn a $77 profit) and $559.37 on my mom’s Citi Preferred card ($41.94 profit). Kickfurther doesn’t charge credit card fees, but they do impose a 1.5% fee when you withdraw the funds. I’ll still come out ahead, since I’m earning 7-13% in profit on these co-ops. For the sake of accuracy, I’m going to include the fees ($19.08) and projected profit ($118.94) in the calculations below.

Aside from this, I also charged a $1500 GiftCardMall order on the Citi Prestige card, which carried $17.85 in fees. After Ebates cash back, this fee was reduced to $2.85.

Points earned: 2,670

Fees: $36.93

Cash back (Ebates + Kickfurther): $133.94

Total profit: $97.01

Membership Rewards

I placed two $1500 Visa gift card orders from GiftCardMall using the Amex Everyday Preferred Card. The fees totaled $35.70, but I earned $30 cash back. I paid $5.70 to earn 3035 points. If I manage to charge 28 more purchases to this card by the statement closing date, I’ll get 50% more points, increasing my payout to 4,552 points.

Points earned: 3035

Fees: $35.70

Ebates cash back: $30

Total cost: $5.70

American AAdvantage Miles

This month, I placed two GiftCardMall orders totaling 3,035 AAdvantage miles at a cost of $5.70. American Airlines is on my sh**list after multiple screw-ups, but I do plan on redeeming my miles for partner awards. I have over 500,000 AAdvantage miles right now but I want to have at least 800,000 for a family vacation.

I’ve been getting some 65,000 mile offers in the mail from the Citi Platinum AAdvantage Card, so I’ll take advantage of those to help me hit my target. But in the meantime, I want to make sure that the annual fees I’m paying on a couple of these cards are actually worth it. So I’ll keep putting at least $25,000 worth of spending on these cards to justify the $95 fee. 

Points earned: 3035

Fees: $35.70

Ebates cash back: $30

Total cost: $5.70

Chase Ultimate Rewards

It’s been a while since I’ve put much spending on my Chase Ink Plus Card. The $50,000 annual cap on 5x spending resets every October and somehow I always fall short. My intention has always been to purchase $3,600 – $5,400 worth of Visa gift card orders from office supply stores every month. When OfficeMax has a gift card sale, I really max this out. For whatever reason, I’ve been slacking off on this front. Most months I come up short, but now that I’m writing these weekly reports, I’m much more motivated to stay on top of it.

I placed a single $1,853.70 Visa gift card order from Staples, which will earn me 9,268 points at a cost of $53.70. I also charged $1517.85 worth of GiftCardMall orders to the Chase Freedom Unlimited and another $1517.85 to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Overall, I earned 13,061 Ultimate Rewards points at a cost of $59.40.

Points earned: 13,061 points

Fees: $89.40

Ebates cash back: $30

Total cost: $59.40

Cash Back Cards

I’ve had some trouble with lately. Twice, I’ve gone through the checkout process without getting a final confirmation message. When I enter my payment information and hit “submit”, the page takes forever to load. I’ve left the page up for upwards of 10 minutes and it never loads. The orders get processed eventually. Oddly, Ebates has tracked these purchases in the “Shopping Trips” tab but the payouts aren’t listed under “Cash Back Balance.”

Visa gift cards from GiftCardMall are cheaper so I shouldn’t be using anyway, but GCM is the only one of the two that accepts Discover. That’s the only reason I’ve continued using I’m not going to anymore, unless Ebates issues those bonuses. For the time being, I’ll exclude the portal cash back earned on that $42.20 order until this is resolved. 

Aside from this, I also placed a $1500 Visa gift card from GiftCardMall on my Discover It Miles Card and another on my Fidelity 2% cash back card. These orders cost me $17.85 each. All of those portal payouts have been recorded and I’m supposed to get paid for them in May. 

Cash back earned: $91.26

Fees: $77.90

Ebates cash back: $30

Total profit: $43.36

Final Manufactured Spending tally

In total, I earned 21,801 points. Factoring in fees and cash back earned from Ebates, cash back credit cards, and future Kickfurther profits, I came out ahead by $69.47. Maybe more, if Ebates decides to credit that ~$29.50 payout on my order.

I realize these numbers are still way below what I used to pull in. But that’s primarily because I haven’t been going to my local mall for those (almost daily) $9500 bulk purchases. The out of pocket cost for those is $75, which I don’t like to pay unless I have a specific (and urgent) use for miles. So unless Simon Mall runs a discounted fee promotion, I’ll probably stick to GiftCardMall as my primary gift card source and, as a result, keep my numbers relatively low for the time being.

I’d love to hear from you all: How many points and miles did you manage to earn last week and what was your out of pocket cost?

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  1. Satinder Singh

    How do you you cash these gift cards. Walmart does not work anymore.

  2. Hi Ariana, have you ever been banned from I thought you had and was wondering how you’re able to get orders through again. I was banned a couple years ago :/

  3. Traveller Tom

    I switched my from cash back over to Amex Points. I like cash, but I value the points more. Your thoughts on this strategy?

  4. Ariana, I am confused about your gitcardmall costs, when I order $3,000 of Visa cards, there is an additional $10.95 in shipping resulting in a total costs of $46.65 in fess. Am I missing something?

  5. Hello. I’m fairly new to your blog. Would purchasing so much gift cards cause any problems/concerns with credit card companies? Do you have a post regarding how to cash these gift cards? Thanks.

  6. Hi, can you tell me how you are getting such a high value from Ebates.

  7. Hi. I noticed you used your CSP for one of the purchases. Any reason as I thought you only get 1x for those purchases?
    Thank you,

    • Yeah but it’s worth it. If I’m earning 1500 points at a cost of $2.85 that still only works out to $190 per 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points. I can easily get over $1200 in value out of those points.

  8. Hi Ariana, I am always impress with your weekly MS activities. I used your ebates referral link. Thanks.

  9. seems like a lot of work compared to just signing up for new cards/bonus’

  10. Parts Unknown

    Had one of those ‘it all falls into place’ moments this week. Completely slacked on the Freedom Q1 categories when 2 days ago I’m asked if I can pick up 60 $25 Disney gc for an excursion by my kid’s choir group & I’ll be reimbursed. Literally exactly $1500 worth. Walgreens sells variable load Disney gc & they had plenty in stock. Q1 freedom done in one afternoon, just in time. Couldn’t have worked out better.

  11. $1,500 Gift card x 1% Cash back= $15 you said $30, Can you explain, please? Thank you.

  12. So it sounds like you unload all of those cards with serve? Does it matter what type of visa gc you purchase? Or any of the card designs at safeway (variable load and 5.95 fee) will work?

  13. I received a Code for free shipping from
    Does these cards works for BB at WM?

  14. Awesome share.!!!!!!!!
    Really amazing article.
    Thank you for sharing this and looking forward to learn more from this blog.
    Keep blogging.

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