There are lots of ways to ‘manufacture’ spending on a credit card. I’ve written about several of them in the past. The holy grail of miles and points is buying money with a credit card (for the miles), depositing that money into your bank account (to pay of the credit card). Rinse, repeat. This is most leveraged for meeting credit card signup bonuses but also is helpful to simply earn miles month after month.
Bluebird, Vanilla Reload, and Billpay
What’s gotten the most attention is the American Express Bluebird card. You sign up for the card for free, then buy ‘Vanilla Reload’ cards (note: not Vanilla Visa or similar). Some CVS and some Walgreens will stock them and allow you to buy them with a credit card. Earn miles. Load the Vanilla Reloads onto your Bluebird card and then you can use Bluebird’s billpay function to send payments for your mortgage or your rent, to write a check to your spouse or other family, or even to withdraw funds from an ATM.
Sadly, not everyone lives near a CVS or Walgreens that stocks Vanilla Reloads. And not every CVS and Walgreens stocking these will take credit cards for payments.
And those that stock the cards, and take credit cards, tend to run out pretty quickly with all of the folks out there who are looking for these.
MyVanilla Debit Cash Advances
On New Year’s Day I wrote about MyVanilla Debit Cards and the ability to walk into a bank and take a ‘cash advance’ back off the card. The holy grail here is finding a bank that will let you cash advance off of an unregistered card (since you can only personally register 3). Lots of mixed results in the comments of that post, some folks found banks willing to let them do it and for them it’s a tremendous bonanza.
Kiva: Doing Good in the World While Meeting Minimum Spend
I’ve also made reference to funding Kiva accounts with a credit card. That’s the microloan site, you do some good in the world by making funds available to small entrepreneurs to improve their lives. There’s no fee to load your account via credit card. Make a loan. When the loan is paid back, withdraw the funds back to your Paypal account. Do this with prepaid cards purchased for a big bonus, or with credit cards you’re trying to meet the minimum spend on. It’s free, but you have to be able to float the funds while waiting for repayment, and there’s a small risk that some amount of funds won’t be repaid (though this is a small risk, and if one loan went bad the loan is likely a small one).
Amazon Payments — and Leveraging for More Than Just $1000 a Month
Amazon Payments is like Paypal, but they will allow you to send up to $1000 a month with your credit card with no fee. Send money to a friend or family member, you get charges on your card, they give you the money back.
Some people have more than one Amazon Payments account. Apparently using the same social security number for two accounts isn’t an automatic flag. They’ll usually spell their name a bit different (eg use of middle name vs. not), and use a different email address. And most importantly, they won’t link the same credit card to more than one account, that apparently is a pretty quick flag that will shut down your account. Lots of reports of more than three accounts for one person getting shut down, though.
Others leverage multiple Amazon Payments accounts under different folks’ names. This is where friends and relatives come in. If they aren’t using Amazon Payments, you borrow their $1000 a month potential. A spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents. Sign them up for Amazon Payments, make that personal an additional cardholder on your credit card account, and then link their additional card to their Amazon Payments account. That way you can do $1000 on your card each month via Amazon Payments. You can even send the money from your card, via their Amazon Payments account, to you.
You can use Amazon payments to:
- Help meet minimum spend on a credit card to earn the signup bonus
- Just earn the 1000 miles a month
- Liquidate prepaid American Express or Visa gift cards
The only caveat on this last, buying prepaid gift cards (such as at a store where you earn bonus points for doing so), is that frequent changing of cards in your Amazon account could be a flag that gets that account additional attention. Although there are certainly some people that do it, month in and month out.