Money Laundry

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As we discussed in the post, money for nothing, The goal of manufactured spending is to spend money on cash equivalents (ie “nothing”) so that your spending rate goes up on your credit cards, enabling you to earn more points/miles.

Stated differently, manufactured spending enables you to put every dollar of spending that you might otherwise spend, onto one of your credit cards, thus maximizing the rewards of spending (most importantly, meeting minimum spending requirements for credit card bonuses.)

In “low hanging fruit“, we discussed the single simplest way to manufacture spend, Amazon payments.

But this only allows you to spend $1-$2000 per month of manufactured spending.

It is free, but you will need more tools in your toolbox in order to reach all of your manufactured spending goals.

Which brings us to The Bluebird Card. The Bluebird Card is a free product that is cosponsored by American Express and Walmart.

It is marketed as a cheaper alternative to check-cashing places for the under banked.

For the miles junkie, it is pure gold.


The Bluebird Card

Bluebird enables you to convert credit card spending into personal. checks. This allows you to pay for all of your expenses with credit cards.

The simple routine is this:

1. If you live in an area with CVS drugstores, go there and buy thousands of dollars of “vanilla reload” cards on your credit cards.

2. Use your smart phone, or computer to load the vanilla reload’s cards value on to your bluebird card.

See this tutorial.

3. Use the Bill pay feature on bluebird to pay your bills with the money you’ve added into your account using a credit card.

4. Rinse and repeat.


If, like me, you live in an area with no CVS drugstores:

1. Go to a drugstore, supermarket, or gas station, that sells cash gift cards.

2. By thousands of dollars worth of Visa gift cards. Brands that I’ve used include Metabank Visa gift cards, Vanilla Visa cards, as well as OneVanilla cards.

3. Use a PIN number to add the cash value of your gift cards onto your bluebird card at Walmart. (Shudder. )

See the following excellent post with screenshots to document how to do this using the Walmart ATM.

You can also just go to any Walmart register and do this, but this requires human interaction. (Awkward.)

4. Pay your bills using the Bill pay feature of your bluebird card.

Of note there are some non-Bluebird, Vanilla Reload options for this process.

Ones that I have personally used include the Green Dot Moneypak reload cards loaded onto GoBank, Rush, or Accountnow cards.

Or cash gift cards loaded onto the GoBank card at Walmart.

It is worth noting that these pursuits do cost some money. Depending on the reload/cash card product purchased, the cost is anywhere from 0.6% to 1.2% per dollar loaded onto the bluebird card.

But by using ingenuity one can get around these fees with offsets

Options include using a cashback card for purchase of some of your reload/cash gift cards to offset the spend on your non-cashback cards.

As an example if you use a 5% cashback card to purchase $1000 worth of gift cards, then you will get a >$50 rebate on your purchase.

You may use this rebate to offset the $4-$6 fee per $500 spent on cash equivalents on your other cards.

I’ve also bought cashback cards at supermarkets with fuel points programs to enable me to get one dollar off per gallon for every thousand dollars of gift card spend. This usually saves me about $18 per fill up. So I’m six dollars net positive on even the most expensive gift card purchases.

The downsides, of course,  are the time expense to do this, the fact that employees will sometimes think you are a scam artist for doing this , (you are not,) as well is the fact that you may have to enter a Walmart store. (Something that I had never done before beginning to play the miles game.)

But that’s a topic for another day…

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