Manufactured Spending


UPDATE:  American Express shut down many Serve accounts on 1/8/16 due to “unusual activity.”  If you were shut down, there are other methods to manufacture spending.  See below for updated techniques.

To earn most of the credit card bonuses discussed on this site, you will need to spend $X,000 in X months.  Sometimes the minimum spend can be quite high.  To accomplish this, you can use Visa gift cards and money orders.  This is a relatively simple, 4-step process:

  1. Purchase $500 VISA gift cards issued by Metabank or Sunrise Bank using your credit card of choice.  They can be found at most grocery stores and usually have gray packaging.  They will have a $3-$6 purchase fee.  If you are using a Chase or Amex card, the 1pt/$ spending bonus should negate the fee.  You may encounter a fraud alert if you make a large gift card purchase.  Simply call the number on the back of your credit card to clear the alert, and then retry the transaction.
  2. Take gift cards to the Walmart Money Center or anywhere that money orders are sold.  Use your pin-enable Visa gift cards to purchase money orders.  There will be a fee per money order, which varies by location.  For simplicity, request a money order that equals the amount of your gift card, minus the fee.  For example:  MO fee = $0.68, ask for a $499.32 money order.  This will bring the total to exactly $500.
  3. Deposit the money orders into your checking account.  Some people opt to open a bank account specifically for this activity.  Banks may question this activity or deem it suspicious as part of their efforts to prevent money laundering.  You are not doing any thing illegal, so you should not need to worry.
  4. Use the funds in your bank account to pay off the credit card balance.

This process is useful for hitting minimum spending bonuses.  You will pay $15-$30 in gift card purchase fees and $6-$10 in money order fees per $5,000 spent, but the spending bonuses are often much more valuable.  For a list of the best bonuses currently offered, check out our Top Offers page.  Cheers!



32 thoughts on “Manufactured Spending

  1. Hey so if I want the Target Redcard do I need a Serve card too? Or it’s the same process as the Serve card but with the Redcard, i.e. buy gift cards, load them onto redcard at Target, pay credit card via redcard app/online on phone?


  2. Looks like this Serve card is no longer free. It’s $1/month unless:

    § The monthly fee is waived when you receive a Direct Deposit of $500 or more during each monthly statement period.


  3. I recently branched into buying staples gift cards online with my chase ink plus to meet the spending requirement. I used those gift cards to buy money orders at Walmart and actually just cashed the money orders at Walmart as well and then deposited the cash into my bank to not raise a flag. I would say cashing them directly at the Walmart register is the best option – I just told them I get gift cards from work and prefer to have cash.


  4. Where is the best place to buy Visa gift cards? I’m assuming anywhere you buy them will have the additional [activation] fee right? And are all Visa GCs created equal in the sense that *all* of them will have will have PINs?


    • I buy at local grocery stores. They do not all have pins. Look for ones issued by Sunrise or Metabank (read back of packaging) if you want to buy MO’s at Walmart.


  5. Thanks! I know places like Staples, Target, etc cap gift card purchases to $2000 (I’m assuming in a day). Do grocery stores typically enforce this limit too?


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