Make Your Money Go in Circles

Make your money go in circles.

This is the idea for what you need to do to meet minimum spend requirements (so you don’t actually need to spend all of that money!) and to earn points on a regular basis.

American Express Serve is the centerpiece of my strategy. You once were able to load this card with a credit card directly online for $1000 a month. Sadly this is no longer the case; you can only load the card with American Express credit cards now. The limit is still $1000 a month. This is still useful for meeting minimum spend requirements for American Express cards. However, if the American Express card is issued by American Express, you will not earn points for the money you load onto the Serve card, but the amount you load is still treated as a purchase and will count towards your minimum spend requirements. Third party American Express cards such as the Fidelity Amex will both earn rewards and count towards minimum spending requirements.

I use the T-Mobile Prepaid Visa Card to complement my Serve card. This combination is a dream for me. It is almost too good to be true. I have recently written about the card here.

1. The Initial Purchase

The marriage between these two cards is only a good one if you have access to purchasing Reloadit cards with a credit card. These are reloadable cards that you can load up to $500 with. They have an activation fee of $3.95. To lower the amount of activation fees you pay, you should always load the card with $500 (bringing total purchase cost to $3.95).

If you live in the Midwest and have a Hy-Vee grocery store near you, you can buy these cards with a credit card. Some Hy-Vees may not allow them to be purchased with a credit card because this is what the manager has decided, but the registers are not hard coded to disallow it. Out of the 3 Hy-Vees in the Madison, WI area, only one has told me that Reloadit cards are now debit/cash only; the other two still allow me to purchase with a credit card.

I always make sure that I am buying some groceries when I purchase one of these cards. Every time you buy one of these with a credit card, the place you are buying them from is losing some money.  I make up for it by buying some groceries. I now buy less groceries when I go grocery shopping in order to go to Hy-Vee more frequently and purchase these cards. I personally buy $1000-$1500 worth of Reloadit cards every single week. It is tough to get in this routine, but once you do, the rewards are worth it.

2. The Intermediate Stage

The beautiful thing about these Reloadit cards is that they can be loaded onto both my Serve card and the T-Mobile Prepaid card. At one point, you were able to load these Reloadit packs directly to your prepaid cards, but now you need to first load them to a Reloadit Safe and then, from the Safe, load the money onto your prepaid cards.

If you load at least $300 from your Reloadit pack onto the T-Mobile card, you will be reimbursed for the $3.95 activation fee of the Reloadit pack the next day. I usually load $305-$320 of the Reloadit pack onto my T-Mobile card and then load the rest onto my Serve card. I do this for about 2 out of every 3 Reloadit packs that I buy. The other Reloadit pack I load 100% onto my Serve card. There have been reports of people getting their T-Mobile cards shutdown for abusing this reimbursement benefit, which is why I do not load all of my cards to the T-Mobile Card.

Example:

Reloadit #1: $503.95

  • Load $305 onto my T-Mobile Card
  • Load $195 onto my Serve Card

Reloadit #2: $503.95

  • Load $310 onto my T-Mobile Card
  • Load $190 onto my Serve Card

Reloadit #3: $503.95

  • Load $500 onto my Serve Card

Results:

Reloadit Initial Cost: $1511.85

Money on T-Mobile Card: 622.90 (Including $3.95 fee reimbursement x2)

Money on Serve Card: $885

Net Cost: $3.95

In the example above, it would cost me $3.95 to spend $1511.95. This is great if you are meeting minimum spend requirements. This is also good if you are using a card that gives you 2 or more points per dollar spend at the location which you are purchasing the Reloadit packs. In some cases, this may even be a good decision to do this with a card that earns 1 point per dollar spent. This is why I love this method for making money go in circles!

Different points are worth different amounts. If you are not doing this to meet minimum spend requirements then you must do the math to make sure you are coming out ahead.

Example:

I use the Premier Rewards Gold Card to occasionally buy Reloadit cards at Hy-Vee. Let’s say this is the card I used in my previous example. This card gives 2x Membership Rewards Points for grocery store purchases.

Reloadit Initial Cost: 1511.85

Total Membership Rewards Points Earned: 3024 (1511.85 x2 and then rounded up)

Cost Per Point: $3.95/3024 Points= $0.0013/Point

I value Membership Rewards points way more than $0.0013 per point. Membership Rewards Points can be redeemed at a minimum for $0.01 so if you are getting them for $0.0013 you are certainly getting a good deal.

3. The Bill Payment

Now that my money is on these prepaid cards, I need to get my money back. With my Serve card I can pay any of my credit card bills. Even the one that I used to purchase the Reloadit’s initially!

The T-Mobile card also offers bill pay functionality, but do not use this. There have been numerous reports of people getting their cards shut down for using the T-Mobile bill pay service. Instead, I take my Serve and T-Mobile cards to Wal-Mart and head to any cashier and ask them if I can load money to my Serve card. I then tell the cashier how much I want to load from my T-Mobile card to my Serve card and then swipe my T-Mobile card. Using the bill pay functionality on my Serve card, I then pay off credit card bills.

All of this money eventually hits my Serve card before it is used to pay off my credit card bills. I only use the T-Mobile card in order to get Reloadit fee reimbursements in order to cut down on the costs of making my money go in circles.

Let me know if you have any questions! What is your current go to strategy?

 

6 Comment

  1. Reed says: Reply

    Came in from FT. Thanks for posting, this gives me ideas.

    Couple questions:

    – what version of Serve are you using?
    – has Amex come at you for using one of their products to pay off another?
    – how do you know if you can use use a cc to load Reloadit? Is it strictly YMMV?

    1. Pete says: Reply

      Hey Steve,

      Thanks for posting! I have the old version on Serve that you could get when there was only one version. I have not done too much research yet on all of the new versions. I pay off thousands of dollars worth of bills every month including my Amex PRG that I use to buy Reloadits occasionally and have had no issues at all with Amex. There is a thread on flyertalk called tips for buying Reloadits with CC. It was somewhere in that thread that tipped me off that I could buy them at HyVee but really I think it is something that you just have to try to see if you can or not.

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

  2. Fantastic publish. I had been checking out frequently this site and i’m encouraged! Helpful facts particularly the last step 🙂 My partner and i deal with these information lots. I’m looking for this kind of information and facts for a quite very long period. Thanks a lot as well as regarding success.

    1. Pete says: Reply

      Thank you very much. Let me know if you have any questions!

  3. phaeton says: Reply

    the process is that try to buy reloadit pack
    by CC, then load it to serve online or at the register?Or, i can load reloaditpack to tmobile prepaid card then load to a serve. Have you done it recently? I’m starter to MS. Thanks.

    1. Pete says: Reply

      Hey phaeton,

      You must sign up for something called a realoadit safe at http://www.realoadit.com. In your safe you can add both of your T-Mobile and Serve prepaid cards. Then the process is to buy a reloadit with a CC and then load the reloadit card to your safe. Once the card is loaded in your safe you can transfer the funds to either the T-Mobile or Serve cards (or both!). If you wish to move funds from the T-Mobile card to the serve card you can go to Walmart and at the register ask if you can reload your Serve card. Then will ask how much you want to load and then you swipe your T-mobile card to load the funds onto your Serve card. Does this make sense?

      Let me know if you have any other questions!

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