The Manufactured Spend Roller Coaster Ride: Advice You Need to Hear!

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manufactured spend editorial

Manufactured Spend Editorial: The Roller Coaster Ride

I was at the Chicago Seminars this past weekend with hundreds of other miles/points fanatics and had one takeaway from the event. No one is running around talking about how the sky is falling. Those of us who have been around awhile know that it is a roller coaster ride. Change is the one constant.

This past week has been a huge set of ups and down with a number of developments BOTH positive & negative. Let’s look at some of the MS related news that we have seen over just the past week or so:


manufactured spend editorial


manufactured spend editorial

It Is All About Perspective

After reflecting back on the week’s big events, I found myself more excited over the positive developments than anything else. Sure, the bad things stung a bit, but there are new exciting deals that we can now explore and truthfully I have moved on. Perhaps it is because I have gone through this before or maybe I’m just an optimist, but things aren’t as bad as they seem to be.


The name of this game is diversification. I strongly believe everyone should only get as involved as they feel comfortable with, but sticking to one method of MS will generally only get you so far. In MS as in life, putting all of your eggs into one basket is generally never a good idea.

A few months ago I wrote about meeting the minimum spend on my Amex Business Platinum 150K deal. During that deal I bought and sold gift cards and merchandise to meet about 60% of the $20K minimum spend. Are those my preferred methods of MS? No, not really, but I now have skills that I didn’t have before and they have come in handy.

Two of our recent credit cards had $3K minimum spending requirements. Since I have been focusing on my ThankYou Preferred 3X everywhere, I decided that I would just throw one of those cards on my Paypal account and one on my wife’s. Over the next two months I met the minimum spend completely off of eBay purchases of gift cards and merchandise to re-sell. When I spotted a deal, I would purchase it and I ended up generating the combined $6K in spend at a negative cost.

What Am I Saying?

There are many methods of MS other than reselling, so I want to be clear that I am not saying you should or shouldn’t re-sell. I am suggesting that many of you might consider looking at other options besides Bluebird/Serve as you move on from REDbird’s untimely death.

I won’t be spelling out anything else in this post, but there is a wealth of information just beyond the surface in place’s like Reddit and Flyertalk. You can even join and participate in the Saverocity and Travel Codex forums to start to network and perhaps learn a thing or two, but don’t expect them to upgrade you to the level 2 MS forums until you have become a part of the community.


Life is a roller coaster ride in some sense and MS is just a representation of that. The key thing to keep in mind is that good news often comes with bad. If we dwelled on every lost deal or opportunity, then we would really really be sad people. Fortunately that doesn’t happen, because life is awesome and we are traveling around the world “for free(ish)” and riding the roller coaster of life!

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  1. today I saw a typical MSer with a sticky note on his forehead “I do this for living’. I just left the Centurion lounge at LGA 50 feet away and he was rushing to get there. I turned around and he of course went to the lounge as I thought.
    HE had this look in his eyes “I have to get there because it’s fee lunch and I paid dearly for it but only have 15min until boarding”. Dressed in what I would say is his daily MS clothes running from drugstore to drugstore. It was so obvious.
    At least try to be a bit more elegant about it…

  2. This is something bloggers like to remind us of whenever a deal dies. The fact is, deals are killed as a result of over exposure from public forums and blogs. Overly enthusiatic newbs post about how many miles and points they are earning through a deal and then bloggers use this as an excuse to post about it, telling themselves “Well it’s already public knowlege anyways.”. Take a look at how many blog posts end in HT: flyertalk, or HT: Slickdeals. These HT’s, by the way, are blogger bibliographies. As someone with a full time job that doesn’t have time to rush out and jump on every opportunity while it lasts, it is so frustrating watching this progression. Now we get to read seemingly daily posts detailing the step-by-step process of switching from red card to serve(drain red card, cancel red card, open serve- if you can’t figure that out on your own your an idiot). Serve will be dead soon enough.

  3. ian is correct – at some point the marginal benefits do NOT = the marginal costs. I found some of the $500 VGCs this weekend. First I had to drive 30mi round trip out of my way. Then I had to provide DNA and biometric analysis to a creepy office max store manager who thought I was a fraudster – while holding up the line and being publicly scrutinized. Then I had to drive around trying to unload them. Now I have to pay off the CC. 2-4hr of my life – gone. All to save like $50-$100 on a hotel room. NOT worth it after a while. No offense to anyone individually, but I sometimes wonder if the people in this game wouldn’t be better served learning to MAKE more $, versus proudly obsessing on how much blood they got from a stone …

  4. I wonder how long $300 Visa gift cards will last. I have been purchasing $200 Visa gift cards from for awhile and I would hate it if my only avenue of MS closes should anything go awry with the increase in attention to (I know, I should diversify).

    Same thing with GC reloads at Walmart via Serve. If that avenue gets closed, my MS career basically ends. This method was extremely stable and the maximum amount of effort I was willing to put in this hobby.

    Hoping for the best!


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