I have been into travel hacking for about a year and half and I would consider myself an expert having accumulated and redeemed close to 2,000,000 points thank so to mainly manufactured spending.
When you’ve been immersed this hobby for a long time I find it difficult to explain it to others because I don’t even know where to start. To most people, what we do is completely foreign, others would
say it looks suspicious. So to begin a conversation with terms like “credit card” “money orders” “bank”, you start to see their eyes slip into glazed-over mode.
This stemmed from a conversation I had with family friends who expressed curiosity in what I do having heard of my past adventures. Recently they decided that they want to give my hobby a try since they will be traveling to Europe sometime this year. While going through explaining the inns and outs of credit card rewards, points, minimum spend…etc it dawned on me that I should create a visual explanation of Manufactured spending; a pillar of the travel hacking community.
To those that do hundreds of thousand dollars a month, this is self explanatory. To people starting out, this is what you would do to generate points/miles. The process begins with using a mile/points earning credit card. The card you choose depends on your travel plans (something I will cover in another post).
You begin by putting spend on the card by buying Visa gift cards. These gift cards are considered debit cards because they come with a pin. In order to pay your credit card bill, you must turn the gift cards into cash or cash equivalents. This is done by buying money orders from Walmart which are then deposited into a checking account. Once the money order clears (usually takes 1-2 business days) you can pay your credit card bill.
Wait for your credit statement to close and the points to post to your account, (this is case with most credit cards, others make the points available as soon as the transaction clears)
Pat yourself on the back!
But this sounds like a lot of work?
It is and it is NOT! It is up to you to decide how much you value points and cheap (sometimes free) travel. Personally I love doing this and I’m lucky that the places I frequent for my MSing needs are on my work commute and few minutes from my house.