A decent amount of my points came from manufactured spend while I lived in Wisconsin. Manufactured spend is spending in a way such that eventually the money will end up back in your bank account. Long gone are the good old days of easily meeting spending requirements at Hy-vee. Figuring out ways to do some manufactured spending on the road has been very difficult. Luckily I don’t need to do it very often. There has been a method of “fake spending” that I have been debating for a while about whether I should try it or not. A couple weeks ago I finally had a reason to try it.
American Express Business Platinum Card
The bonus on this card is super great (big) at the moment, but it does require $15,000 in spend. Yikes! You get 50,000 membership rewards points after spending $5000 in 3 months, and an additional 50,000 after spending $10,000 more in that same time period.
This offer is available until 1/25/2017. If interested, please let me know and I can send you a referral link.
This card has gotten some amazing new benefits lately. The best benefit is being able to redeem points towards economy travel on an airline of your choice. When you do so, you get a 50% rebate back in points. For example, if the plane ticket costs $100, you would have to pay 10,000 points and then you would receive 5,000 of those points back, making the ticket cost only 5,000 points! You can also get the same 50% back when buying a business/first class ticket on any airline.
The other new benefit is that you receive a 50% bonus on points when you make a purchase of $5,000 or more. I know, that’s an insane amount, but it proves useful in using this manufactured spending technique.
Now I just needed to figure out how to “spend” that $15,000…
PayAble (Circle Plus Payments)
I first heard of this service about 6 months ago when reading the comments on some blog post (I forget which one). It is a way that you can manufacture spend on a credit card and get that money back into your bank account. I did a little research and determined that it was not worth the cost to use the service. However, the service is so damn easy to use. The American Express Business Platinum card gave me the reason I needed to go ahead and try the service. First you need to download the app called Payable. It is made from a company called Circle Plus Payments. You will have to create an account; then it will have you create a Stripe account (different company that actually processes the payment), and at some point you enter your bank account information.
What you are going to be doing is making a charge on your credit card, with that same money (minus the fees) being deposited into your bank account a few days later. So what are those fees? The fee to use the service is 2.9% of the transaction plus $0.30. If you look further down to the fine print, you also see that it costs $0.05 to use the app for transactions below $100 and .1% for transactions of $100 or more. That last part unpleasantly caught me by surprise. There doesn’t seem to be any way to use the service without the app so I’m not sure why they have this hidden in fine print at the bottom. Worse, after using the service I was charged .25% for my transaction above $100 instead of the 0.1%. They need to update their pricing page. Ultimately, the cost in fees ends up being 3.15% of the transaction plus $0.30.
How to Use
Once you have everything set up, fire up that Payable app. Enter the transaction amount that you will charge to your credit card, and a small description of what the purchase is (this can be anything you wish). You then click the card button and enter or scan the details of your card.
A few days later, the money (minus the fees) shows up in your bank account. It’s as easy as that.
Are the Fees Worth It?
For the Business Platinum card, my answer will be yes. The annual fee on that card is $450. The fees for making 3 separate $5,000 charges with PayAble will be $473.40. That equates to these points costing $923.40! That’s a lot of money.
One of the other benefits of the card is that it offers $200 towards airline fees every single calendar year. If you purchase them in the correct way, you can use this $200 credit towards the purchase of airline gift cards. I have already made my gift card purchases for 2016. I will also be able to make them in 2017 and 2018. Then I will be able to cancel the credit card so I do not need to pay the $450 annual fee again. I have no doubts about being able to use these gift cards and they are pretty much as good as cash to me. This brings the total cost for these points down to $323.40, a much more reasonable (amazing) price.
How Many Points?
The sign up bonus itself will give me 100,000 points. As I mentioned earlier, I will make 3 $5,000 transactions to meet the spending requirement. That will give me an additional 15,000 points. Then, because each of of those transactions was $5,000 or more, I will get a 50% bonus on those 15,000 points to give me an extra 7,500 points. This brings the total haul to 122,500 points. That’s a ton of points.
122,500 American Express Membership Rewards points is a great deal for $323.40. If I use then towards airfare I can get $2,450 in value! This is thanks to the points being worth 2 cents each towards airfare as I mentioned above. You also get other added benefits of having a Platinum card. That includes Delta SkyClub access when flying Delta, Hilton and SPG gold status, free Boingo hotspot passes, Amex Offers (post coming soon) and much, much more.
A Second Example
I received an offer on my SPG card that said if I spend $5,000 by the end of the year, I would get 5,000 bonus SPG points. SPG points are the most valuable currency. They transfer to almost any airline, and if you transfer 20,000 or more points at a time, they even give you a free 5,000 points. They also transfer 1:3 to Marriott right now, which can also provide some incredible value.
I will make this happen in two $2,500 transactions. This will cost me $158.10 and I will end up receiving 10,000 SPG points. This is equivalent to buying SPG points at 1.581 cents per point. SPG is having a promotion right now in which you may be targeted to buy SPG points with a 50% discount. That is the best offer they have ever had on purchasing points and if I were targeted with 50% off, I would probably buy some. With 50% off, it brings the price down to 1.75 cents per point.
The price I am “buying” SPG points for is better than the best sale SPG has ever had on points. Needless to say, I feel I am getting some great value by doing this.
This is not a service that I will be using very often, but having it in my back pocket is nice. The fees to use the service are pretty expensive. Only unique circumstances can make it worth it to use PayAble. An example could be if you are a little short on meeting the spending requirements for a big sign up bonus on a credit card and do not have insight into less costly manufacturing spend methods in your area. The biggest plus to the service is the absolute ease of it. You simply type in your credit card information and the funds appear in your bank account a few days later. It doesn’t get better than that.
Do you have any easy techniques for manufactured spending on the road? Would you use this service despite the fees?