Manufactured spending is basically the act of putting extra spend on your points and mileage earning credit cards at little to no cost for the sole purpose of building up your miles/points totals. Sometimes, on rare occasions, you'll find an opportunity where you can actually do this and also make money. Buying AMEX Gift cards through topcashback.com is one of these opportunities. Recently, they've raised their cashback rate to 3%, so I wouldn't delay too quickly on getting on this deal. Here's the breakdown:
1. Sign up for a topcashback.com account. This is the shopping portal that is currently giving 3% cash back on all purchases of American Express gift cards. I'll get a small bonus if you sign up through my link here, but if you already have an account, you can skip this step.
2. In the topcashback.com search box, search for American Express gift cards. It will lead you to the link where it clearly states that you'll receive 3% cash back for these purchases. Click through the link and it'll open another window that takes you to the American Express Gift card site.
3. You'll note that the highest denomination on these cards is only $500 with a $3.95 fee. To get around this, what you need to do is scroll to the bottom of the same page and click the "Gift Cards" link at the bottom. This will re-route you to the main AMEX Gift card page and then you can purchase the same Gold AMEX Gift cards, but now with up to a $3,000 balance. I'd suggest you purchase this amount to maximize your time and cash back.
4. Fill out all of the information, enter your points/miles earning credit card and pay the $3.95 convenience fee and the $8.95 shipping fee. There are tons of promo codes out there that will take these off, but many accounts have shown that if you do this, you'll be negating the cash back portion of the transaction. It's extremely penny wise and dollar foolish to lose out on $90 to save $3.95.
5.Once you have the AMEX gift card, you can use the balances up like a regular credit card or you can employ Amazon payments to take $1,000 off of the balance every month. Frequent Miler has a good synopsis on the best ways to pay down these Amex gift cards here:
Here's the cost and benefits breakdown:
Costs: $3,000 for the card plus $3.95 for the convenience fee plus $8.95 for the cheapest shipping option.
Benefits: $3,000 for the card value + $90.38 cashback ($3012.90 x 3%) plus a minimum of 3013 points on your points/miles earning card. Lately, I've started to use the Barclays Arrival card which works out to a 2.22% cash back rate, so this would be an additional $66.28 in benefits earned.
Total: $90.38 cash back + 66.28 in effective cash back from the Arrival card points – $12.90 in fees = $143.76 in total cash and points earned. This is pretty much the definition of easy money to me so get on it while the deal's still around.