We suspect that everyone who’s significantly engaged in credit card benefits and points-and-miles, at some point, has dabbled in or at least wondered about using manufactured spend (MS) techniques to earn points, miles and/or cash profits. That is to say, I think we’re not alone in our curiosity on this subject.
For most subjects we cover on Middle Age Miles, we’re either experts, or at least fully engaged participants. With MS strategies, however, we’re total rookies.
But I think that makes us part of a large crowd – people who don’t know all the expert techniques of MS but are at least intrigued by the subject. To try to become better informed, I’ve spent hours reading.
Even at that, though, solid information is hard to come by. Part of the challenge is that there’s a huge your-mileage-may-vary (YMMV) component to MS. What works at one location may not work at another just down the street. Offers and opportunities vary over time and change quickly. Another part is that people discussing the subject of MS in public forums tend to be oblique, for fear of revealing some deep secret that could cause a useful method to be shut down. Yet another issue is that techniques that work in small doses may not be scalable if you use them repeatedly.
The more I’ve read, the more I’ve craved any data source that was reliable and straightforward.
So, that’s what we’ll try to provide in our Manufactured Spend Data Points (MS DP) series on Middle Age Miles – data points that are reliable and straightforward, with transparency and hopefully enough depth to help our readers understand more about different MS strategies – and maybe even profit a bit along the way.
For gift cards, we’ll look at both sides of the MS equation – acquisition and liquidation. On the acquisition side, we’ll let you know exactly what offers and portals we’re using to try to earn the most points on each purchase. On the liquidation side, which is much more difficult, we’re sensitive to how much time and effort is involved. We do not want to stand in line to buy money orders at WalMart, so we’ll exhibit a preference for online avenues. Even when online avenues come with higher costs, they may well be preferable given the time-savings and stress-reduction of liquidating from the proverbial couch at home.
For many of the episodes in this series, we’ll simply track a single gift card purchase through its entire life cycle, telling you how we acquired it, what offers we utilized, what we did with the card(s) after acquisition, how we liquidated, and at what cost. Along the way, we’ll look at the different characteristics of different types of gift cards and how they impact liquidation. We’ll also tally up our profits (hopefully profits, at least!) from each transaction.
When you read these articles, remember that we’re absolute neophytes. We’ll try to experiment with different things, and we’ll make plenty of mistakes. As a result, this series may be entertaining to veteran MS’ers, as you watch us flail like Bambi on ice. Yet for many people, we think you’ll learn some things you didn’t know – maybe even a trick or two that you can profit from!
If we reveal anyone’s top-secret MS method inadvertently, we apologize in advance. Because we’re playing at a total rookie level, we doubt that we’ll reveal anything that’s valuable enough to be closely guarded.
We hope you enjoy our MS DP series!
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