Gristly Bits and Broken Pieces

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The manufactured spending game is cyclical.

For every triumphant moment there is a let down and vice versa.

I’ve been riding high of late from all of the wonderful manufactured spending opportunities that opened up all at once.

PayPal, green dot,ISIS Serve, loyal3. A couple months ago it was all a Walmart-less embarrassment of riches.

But the nature of arbitrage opportunities is that they get arbitraged away (and so it goes.)

I am no Pollyanna so it’s time to deliver all of the recent bad news.

MoneyPaks are going extinct.

Green Dot recently announced that they would be going to a swipe only format in order to prevent fraud. This would be fine if as a miles game player you could swipe reload your Serve card with a credit card.

But I’ve tried and I seemingly cannot load my Serve Card with either credit cards or my Paypal Business Debit Card. Sadness.

At this point I can still find Moneypaks here and there about town. But soon this window will close. Still researching further options.

There is an interesting looking AARP card which I need to do some more research on…

No PayPal debit card workaround for swipe reloads at Rite Aid

I was hoping that since you could not load the serve card using credit cards at Riteaid drugstores, you would be able to load your PayPal Business debit card using PayPal My Cash Cards, and then Green Dot swipe reload the Serve Card using the PayPal Business Debit Card.  (If that makes sense.)

You would’ve had to have paid two reload fees (for the My Cash Card and for the Green Dot Swipe Reload) but the second fee would’ve been covered by the 1% cashback on PayPal Business Debit Card purchases.

Sadly this approach does not appear to work at Rite Aid.

(Not so) Loyal3

The loyal3 experiment was fun (and profitable) while it lasted. But it is also over.

My wife and I received identical emails with the following statement:

Dear Miles,

LOYAL3 focuses on providing a fee-free platform that brings brands together with people who love them. 

As a broker-dealer, LOYAL3 is obligated to review client accounts on our platform to detect activity or transactions that are not consistent with our products and services, or may be an indication of fraud. 

Such activity may include, but is not limited to, the following:

•    Large or excessive cash deposits and/or withdrawals
•    Buy and sell orders submitted without regard of gain or loss
•    Activity that doesn’t appear consistent with a normal investment practice
•    ACH/credit card payment rejects
•    Changes in ACH/credit card data
•    Account owners sharing ACH/credit card accounts
•    Changes in contact information, such as email and phone number
•    Inappropriate use of the LOYAL3 platform 

Based on our review, we have determined recent activity in your account is not consistent with appropriate use of the LOYAL3 platform.  

This notice is to inform you that your LOYAL3 account is now closed.  Your account is now restricted to sell orders and withdrawals; no future deposits or purchases will be accepted.

Please contact us if you have any questions. We’re here to help.

Phone:    855-256-9253

I am neither surprised nor terribly disappointed. The credit card purchase idea was a loss leader for Loyal3 all the way.

In the end though, the website was clumsily designed, (presumably to frustrate would be manufactured spenders.)

And I’ve never fancied myself a stock picker.

But I made a few bucks and earned thousands and thousands of airline miles so I’m glad that I got in while the getting was good.

All in all a bunch of bad news on the manufactured spending front.

The flipside of this coin is that I get to experiment with new angles and that is most enjoyable part of the game anyway.

I’m still purchasing Moneypaks well I can. I’m still purchasing PayPal cards while I can. And I’m still loading $3000 a month automatically on the both my wife’s and my Isis Serve Cards.


Keep on loading those cards infidels!

(I feel bad about supporting those horrible Islamic extremists in Syria by loading my Isis serve card***, but in the manufactured spending world, a man’s got to do what a man has got to do.)


***Hilariously ISIS Serve has changed their name to “Soft Card” for just this reason!


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9 Responses to “Gristly Bits and Broken Pieces”

  1. Eric September 12, 2014 at 12:46 am #

    Surprised you didn’t also mention the recent news that Amazon Payments is disappearing as a manufactured spending option.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. September 12, 2014 at 8:22 am #


      That bit of good news deserves it’s own mini post since there is actionable intelligence that follows from it.

      Stay tuned


  2. Syed September 12, 2014 at 5:47 am #

    Things seem to be coming to an end quickly. As of Oct 13 Amazon P2P payments will end also. My grocery store chain which allows gas points for gift card purchases has now mysteriously stopped stocking $500 GCs. Why do they hate us? Hopefully a new method opens up soon. I enjoyed going to walmart only once a month.

    • Miles Dividend M.D. September 12, 2014 at 8:23 am #


      Like the stock market the miles game moves upward in fits and starts.

      More good news will surely follow


  3. Robert September 12, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    We discussed this back when you and I both jumped into Loyal3. You already knew at that time from the many posts on Flyertalk and others that you’d get a letter like this if you pursued the strategy you were planning to, since that is the same approach that got others in trouble. Of course, our goals were probably somewhat different–me not being hesitant to invest in single stocks while you were a committed index funder moving into individual equities reluctantly–but my approach was to try to play by their rules. I was disappointed when they whacked the cc purchase max to $50 per equity after my first $2500 purchase, but nevertheless, I picked 10 stocks that I am content to accumulate over time and have been on the auto-purchase plan now for 3 cycles. There have been no issues at all for me. I may even up that to 20 stocks provided I’m happy with them. My investments are up an overall average of 7%, and I have $4000 in spending. It has been enough to easily earn the sign-up bonuses on a couple cards.
    I think Loyal3 can still be a good deal for someone interested in long-term accumulation of a small portfolio of shares while earning sign-up bonuses. Don’t abuse the system, don’t switch credit cards often, and leave the money there for a long time (don’t immediately withdraw it).

    • Miles Dividend M.D. September 12, 2014 at 4:17 pm #


      I’m glad that loyal3 is working for you.

      As you mentioned our objectives in this exercise were quite different. For me it was pure manufactured spending. While for you it was a hybrid with your emphasis mostly on investment.

      Even if I were a stock picker though I don’t think I would use loyal3 since their purchasing timing is so unpredictable and you have no control over when they make their deal. It’s also very difficult to judge the bid ask spread since you have no idea when they make their purchases. Once you take away the manufacture of spending, the whole thing just seems a bit fishy to me.

      For the right person who wants to manufacture a little bit of spending and actually has interest in the limited palette of Stocks offered Commission free, I can see how loyal 3 would make sense.


      • Robert September 12, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

        All valid points, but the timing aspect is not particularly a concern since I’m focused on accumulation, not timing/active trading. Loyal3 would make no sense for the latter, obviously. I think of it as dollar cost averaging with small ($50) positions accumulated each month. Frankly, this is just play money from an investment standpoint, which is what is particularly irritating about Loyal3 (especially I’m sure once I get the 1099’s!). But as I said, it is enough to cover signup bonus requirements. Not enough to do some really serious manufactured spending, nor enough for a serious part of one’s portfolio (unless one is just starting out, in which case I would recommend an index fund or something anyway, not this approach of buying “name brand” stocks).

  4. Rich September 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Thanks for the gristly bits – as you say we’ll find new ways to make things happen. I am intrigued by your actionable intelligence comment, staying tuned.

    Tactical question – I have had luck for a few months with Serve, putting $1000 in/month via CC, then just transferring back to my bank account. With all the recent broken pieces I’m getting a bit paranoid and thinking maybe I should start paying a few bills with it too or doing more. What’s your process?

    Enjoying the posts as always

    • Miles Dividend M.D. September 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm #


      I use the same technique as you. I withdraw most of the money to my bank account. I do occasionally mix in a bill pay here or there.

      No problems yet.


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