By Ethan Maurice | November 15, 2015
There are dozens of credit cards that offer airline mileage bonuses to entice potential customers to sign up. For instance, I just picked up the Capital One Venture Card, which offers a 40,000 airline miles bonus if one spends $3,000 on the card in the first three months.
If you spend $3,000 in three months, you can simply make your purchases on the card, and receive 40,000 free airline miles. Just pay your credit card bills immediately after. The process won't cost you a cent. It's beautiful.
However, if you're like me and don't spend that much money a month, there's a genius (and legal) way around this.
It's called manufactured spending.
Manufactured spending is a roundabout way to use your credit card to pay for your credit card, though you will incur some small gift card purchase fees along the way. Basically, to reach your bonus, you buy $500 Visa Gift Cards with your credit card, add the gift cards to a BlueBird account at Walmart, and then use the BlueBird Account to pay your Credit Card Bills.
Here's a graphic representation:
1. Order a credit card with a huge airline mileage bonus.
2. Go to the BlueBird.com and register for an account. They will send you a Bluebird card in the mail, it's free.
3. Once you receive and activate both your Bluebird card and credit card, head to your local grocery store, department store, or gas station. Purchase a $500 visa or mastercard gift card with your new credit card. Only buy one first, to go through the process and make sure everything works correctly.
*It's vitally important that you DO NOT buy Vanilla Gift Cards, as they cannot be transferred to your Bluebird Account.
Do Not Buy
4. Go to Walmart and find a “Walmart MoneyCenter Express Machine.” Use your Bluebird card to sign in as you would at any other ATM. Then add the entire $500 gift card you just purchased by charging it as a debit card to your account (the gift card comes with a pin number).
Wamart MoneyCenter Express Machine
5. Log into Bluebird.com and use the Bill Pay feature to pay your credit card bill.
6. Once you've successfully completed the process and are confident it works, go out and buy however many gift card you need to reach your bonus. Load them onto Bluebird and pay your credit card bill.
There are two limiting factors to keep in mind:
- Your card's credit limit.
- How much Walmart's MoneyCenter Express will let you load.
- $1999.99 per 10 minutes, $2500 per day, and $5,000 per month.
- I added $1000 per day to not deal with such intricacies.
7. Once all the dust settles, enjoy spending your thousands of airline miles!
You will incur a fee for each gift card you buy. It's typically a $5 or $6 fee per $500 gift card. $3000 worth of manufactured spending cost me a total of $36, to acquire $460 worth of travel.
This post is manufactured spending specific. If you spend enough money to reach your bonus, forget all of this.
For a full take on credit card airline miles, check out this post.
*With these steps I successfully reached my bonus, but remember all this is subject to change. Be smart and play your cards right. I take no responsibility for your actions.