How to Use Gift Cards and Money Orders to Manufacture Spend

Update: Note that Vanilla branded gift cards (like the ones pictured below) no longer work. Other Visas, like the ones sold at grocery stores and certain malls, do still work.

 

One of the most popular ways to manufacture spend (i.e. rack up a ton of miles/points cheaply) right now is by buying PIN-enabled gift cards and liquidating them by purchasing money orders. As I did previously with Vanilla Reloads and Bluebird, I’ll provide a step-by-step explanation of how to use gift cards and money orders in this post.

 

1. Buy a PIN-Enabled Prepaid Card

My favorite is One Vanilla, which can be found at CVS and other stores around the country. These cards can be loaded up to $500 for a fee of $4.95, or a dollar more than Vanilla Reloads cost. PINs do not need to be set beforehand with these cards.

This one is a favorite among MSers.

This one is a favorite among MSers.

Less useful but still useable are Vanilla Visa gift cards, which are sold at many grocery stores and at CVS. These can also be loaded up to $500 for the same $4.95 fee. You may have trouble with them at some places, so go for One Vanilla first if you can. PINs don’t need to be set beforehand with these either.

Same price, but not as great as the One Vanilla cards.

Same price, but not as great as the One Vanilla cards.

The two I mentioned above are best if you have some type of drugstore/grocery store category bonus. If you’re only earning 1x, there are other cards that will be better to buy. I’ll cover those in a later post.

 

 2. Find a Store That Sells Money Orders and Allows Payment with a Debit Card

Everyone’s favorite is Walmart’s Money Center because they charge the lowest fees – just $.70 per money order. There are plenty of grocery chains and other places that sell money orders as well, but not allow allow debit cards as a form of payment. A friend of mine told me of a local grocery chain that sells them for $.75 each, but has a limit of just $500 each. I’m sure there are plenty of others that you can find as well.

The key here is to make sure that the total payment, including the fee, comes to a multiple of $500 so we can use our gift cards. For example, if you wanted to liquidate only one card at Walmart, you might ask for a money order totaling $499.30. With the $.70 fee on top of that, your total would come to an even $500.

You’ll be asked to swipe your debit card and enter your PIN, so swipe your prepaid card and enter any 4 digits as the PIN (I like 1234). The transaction should be approved and your money order will print out. You can discard your used prepaid card after this.

Once you get used to the process, you can do larger amounts using more cards. For example, you can ask for a money order for $999.30 and say you’d like to split it on two debit cards. At my local grocery chain I do $2K worth at once, splitting them on to 4 cards. My friend has done up to $3K and 6 cards. If you start going heavy on this, you’ll realize the luxury of being able to liquidate more cards in one shot, but be responsible about it.

 

3. Fill Out Your Money Order and Deposit it to Your Bank Account

Money Orders are guaranteed funds, similar to a cashier’s check. Write your name in the “Pay To…” line, sign the “Purchaser” line, and sign your name on the back as you would with any personal check. I’ve always written my own name in the “to” line and used my own signature in the purchaser lines.

Take your filled out money orders to your bank account and deposit them in your ATM or in person with the teller. Some ATMs can’t recognize the amounts and will ask you to manually enter the check total, which is simple enough to do. Your funds should be available to you the next day in nearly all cases.

 

4. Pay Off Your Credit Card As You Normally Would

At this point, the money is already back in your checking/savings account. You can pay off your credit card as you normally would, directly from your checking or savings account.

You’ve successfully manufactured spend!

 

Tips/Other

  • If you have Bluebird cards in hand, you can also load them using these cards to save yourself the money order fee. Take your Bluebird card to any Walmart register (doesn’t have to be Money Center) and ask to load $500 on your card. They’ll ask you to swipe your debit card and enter your PIN, and you’re done. I don’t believe you can split $1K on two cards like this, but most cashiers are happy to do two $500 transactions back-to-back. Bluebird limits loads to $1K a day and $5K a month.
  • How many money orders is safe to deposit to your bank account? I don’t know the exact answer to that, but I spread them around as much as possible. I have four checking accounts and try to keep it roughly even. I wouldn’t deposit more than $5K or so in any one account at a time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s an arbitrary rule I set for myself and it’s what I feel comfortable with.
  • Walmart Money Center machines can also print money orders and load Bluebird cards, but it’s rare to find them in working condition in my experience. If you do, you’ll quickly realize how awesome it is to not have to talk to anyone at Walmart!
  • When you start using multiple cards and buying higher amounts, you may get funny looks. Some employees may ask if you’re using debit cards or prepaid cards. I find it useful to “ninja” it and show your real debit card to the cashier. Once they see the first one is real, they’re usually cool with the rest. I always hold my real debit card in case they ask to see the card.
  • Build relationships. If you do this regularly, being friendly is your best bet to be able to do this continuously without being hassled.
  • You’ll run into issues if you do this enough times. Sometimes your card wont activate properly, sometimes the cashier is pressing the wrong button, etc. In these situations, don’t push back, don’t get loud or upset. Just say “oh well, thanks for trying” to the cashier and figure out what happened later. Complaining about this will effectively burn a bridge with that cashier or store. You don’t want to do that.

 

Questions?

Comments

  1. StevenTravel says:

    How many money orders is safe to deposit to your bank account? I don’t know the exact answer to that, but I spread them around as much as possible. I have four checking accounts and try to keep it roughly even. I wouldn’t deposit more than $5K or so in any one account at a time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. It’s an arbitrary rule I set for myself and it’s what I feel comfortable with.

    This statement above almost blatantly says that your Structuring, and recommending others do so as well.

    I would be careful recommending that.

  2. Jerry Mandel says:

    I disagree with including the fee in the debit payment for money orders. I tried it twice and it confused the clerks. I always tell the clerks up front that I will pay the MO fees separately. Either cash or a bank or credit union debit card.

    • Travel Summary says:

      That’s an interesting way of dealing with it. Never heard that one before!

    • @Jerry – you’re one of those “problem” guys I can tell. Pay the damn fee with the gc – it goes faster – why slow everything down for a lousy 70c or $1.40? Tell cashiers you want to buy two $999.30 MOs. The fees add another 70 each, so total is $2K even. 4 swipes and you’re done. Quick. Simple.

      And don’t tell us you’re “that guy” who shows up with a fistful of $200s and backs up the line for 10 minutes while the cashiers give you the stink eye (and get nasty comments/looks from all those waiting in line) – but you’re probably oblivious to it all.

      @ Travel Summary – why, oh why, do we need ANOTHER circles and arrows post on MS? Just post link to one of MMS’ site for goodness sakes if you want to be so irresponsible.

  3. Helpm out here….so I’m buying a Vanilla card for a fee and then I have to pay another fee to get the money order. Then I deposit the money order into my checking account and all I’m out are the 2 fees? (sorry if i sound lame). Sounds like the fees would be in total about $5.00, correct?

    • Travel Summary says:

      Correct, $4.95 + cost of the money order so around $5.65.

    • Jerry Mandel says:

      Here in Dallas, Texas. $4.95 per each CVS $500 One Vanilla. At Walmart money center counter, 68c per each $1,000 money order. Pay MO fees separately with cash or bank/credit union debit card. 3 MOs per transaction maximum. So maximum would be swiping 6 OV debit cards. Enter any 4 digits for PIN.

    • Just popped into the near by CVS looking for the card and asked the clerk about it. I was told that they are only accepting cash or debit cards. If they try to use a credit card the register kicks it back.

      AND I found a near by retailer that charges only .75 cents for a money order.

      no real progress

  4. Sweet!

  5. Which grocery store are you going to? I don’t think I want to drive to downtown LA for the Wal Mart.

    • Travel Summary says:

      The friend who shared it with me asked me not to share it here so I can’t say. I recommend calling around or googling it.

      • why not tell him? Why not tell us all? I mean… there ya go! There’s something YOU (your friend) do NOT want to tell everybody because why? For fear it might get ruined if too many people use it!!!

        Wait, we are just a little blog and our presence wont ruin anything will it? Nahhh…

        ****

        Look, admit it. This blog post was a bad idea. But now the cat is out of the bag. Cant go backwards, but maybe you could learn from this going forwards.

        But for now, hey, I say you should tell us all which store that was. Either that, or never have brought up the entire thing to begin with! Cuz now, by not telling us, you look worse than if you had never put yourself into this situation to begin with!

        Many MSers are smart enough to have branched out to places beyond Wmt. But many do not want to even talk about those types of places or share them online anywhere for the exact fear your friend has! But now you have brought up the forum in which it can be further exposed. See what I mean?

        Too many people will go there now and they will shut down the gig perhaps. I hope I am wrong, but surely you can see why that is very possible indeed!

        I gave an example of one such problem at the CLT DO.

        Back in college we had fake IDs to go out to bars and grab a beer or three. this was the 1980s… One guy I knew in the dorms was making tons of IDs. He did so many in one weekend that when we all went out one Sat night, we could not get into our favorite bar. It was too full! The bouncer said the place could fit no more people that night. We looked inside the windows and it was all the people whose IDs he had done that day.

        This is the same thing. Only so many can be in any given space at any time. Not that people shouldn’t know about MS or be able to go out and try it, but when you have blogs about the easy basics and do not let people go find out on their own–or you invite issues that could expose the secrets of your own friends, then you have a problem.

        All anyone has to do now is google all the stores in the LA area and BOOM! your own best friend may walk in tomorrow and find out they cannot help him anymore because of all the abuse. It should never have even been brought up.

        We shoot ourselves in the foot every time we start yappin about this stuff in blogs like this one. You are now beginning to see how there is really no gain from it? Maybe 100 of your facebook contacts get the goods but so do 100s of their friends, and so on, and so on. This gets out of control.

        • Travel Summary says:

          This post was not a bad idea. The execution of it…maybe we can talk about that part.

          I’m not sharing that location because my friend asked me not to. If I had found it myself then I’d have no issue listing it here, because it will have no tangible impact.

          Believe me, I get what you’re saying. I understand. I just don’t agree 100%. I know it impacts you heavily and even me since I started to rely on MS for my income, but others can still benefit from it without the system collapsing.

          • Well as your co-writer of MS and therefore “colleague” in the income of MS (and it will get negatively affected if people aint careful), I am now hereby ASKING you not to post another darn thing about this stuff like this post at all. Just like your friend asked you not to post the store name. Make sense?

          • Travel Summary says:

            How am I supposed to know what “this stuff” means exactly? Maybe I can honor the request as far as step-by-step guides go, but in terms of writing about MS in general I feel I should be allowed to write about any deal I please.

            I plan to write about AP because I haven’t before. There are other prepaid cards I haven’t written about. There’s grocery/gas rewards that I haven’t written about. All these seem like fair game to me.

          • Common sense?
            I mean…. Why would you wanna give away so many fake ids that even you cant get into the bar?

          • Travel Summary says:

            There’s a lot of bars out here.

          • So thats your answer? Its ok to potentially do damage to an eco system because there are a lot of new ones to exploit?

            OMFG!

          • Travel Summary says:

            You know better than most that deals die, but new ones become available. Regardless, I don’t think I did anything today to hasten the death of a deal.

          • Yes TS, most deals do eventually die… A sad fact but a true one indeed. But they dont have to die at our hands. Why do we have to be the reason for making that death happen quickly? Why cant we all work together in trying to make them last as long as possible instead?

            Ask yourself this please: If there were a way to make deals last as long as possible, would you want to be a part of it? Would you want to work WITH others in helping to ensure these things can last as long as possible?

            I think you would. I know I would. So it is not about me or you or our small group of friends… it is about US. About ways for people like you, who have a voice and a well designed blog about MS to use the tool in our favor and not in our demise. The time is now to make that shift if a shift indeed needs to be made. You can and should write your thoughts and feelings about MS but let us make things be written that are helping to prolong the craft.

            As well, I think it’s a bit cavalier for anyone to assume that something new or better may come along later on. There have been times–and I have definitely seen it in my many years doing this–that there were no multiples, no 2% cards, no coins, no 5x, no ST, no Amex GC or GCs to MOs. If these things went away tomorrow, why would we be so bold as to assume something else will just come along as if there’s no problem at all? I can tell you that if one day next month or next week some store chain were to tell you no more MO for debit, you would start scrambling around trying to deal with it. Sure, you might have a day job or school or something to keep your life going anyway, but as far as this MS thing goes, your world would be over even if the stores in the rest of the country were still working fine. And I believe that what can very realistically happen is that stores in certain regions will stop serving us, and while the PIN feature may continue to exist, stores like even WMT may just stop accepting what we bring in! What better will come along to replace it? What would someone’s WF, Amex Blue or TYp be good for then?

            We have a chance here to make things work for everybody by example, not just by spoon feeding. Let’s stop that and let people step up for themselves and keep this alive by getting into the craft properly. Let us write about MS as a topic but not give away all the trade secrets and specifics that does no good to out.

            I firmly believe store execs who want to know why everyone is in there at the CS desk are using Google to try and get a handle on it. Maybe some only see some things, or some things do not bother them, but there’s no reason to tempt fate here. (and it didn’t take me long to figure out what store did it?)

            Instead it’s time for us to work together on helping people get this right as a concept. Are you with us or against us?

            The choice, my friend, is YOURS!

            :)MM

          • Travel Summary says:

            I have seen the light! Hallelujah!

            We can teach responsibility and the process at the same time. If you don’t, like certain other bloggers, that’s where the irresponsibility comes in in my opinion. I put appropriate warnings and made reference to your post because it did a good job of explaining how not to ruin it. More people doing this will not ruin it; people doing it foolishly will. If we teach both, there’s no reason to worry.

            In fact, giving away clues here and there instead of explaining properly may be detrimental to this craft. That’s when we get people going out and trying and saying things they shouldn’t, only to be “made” and turned away. That raises far more eyebrows than someone who’s in and out in a matter of minutes without any hiccups.

            Teach, share, and explain…and we can all prosper together!

          • TS you may have hope for being save-d after all! You got it. We just have to help them help themselves… We dont gotta give up stuff that people can muck up. Yes, more will come to this craft. But we just gotta give em guide lines for how to kinda be or not be. That is the MS question.

            What we need are the ten comm-ms-ments.

          • Oh and btw ts… SB. SB.

  6. Why are the Gold Bow ones less usefull ? They seem the same to me , is it the word Gift printed on the card ? Does that sometimes make the clerk hassle you ?
    Thanks

    • Travel Summary says:

      Yes, the word “gift” is printed on the card. When using it at some places, swiping the card makes the register see it as a credit card. Only when the cashier manually selects debit first will it go through. These also take longer to activate in my experience. The combination of these make it less desirable than a One Vanilla card.

  7. Hi,

    My name is Dick Herz and I am the general manager of a major food service chain in the south and western USA.

    When I first read this I began to think of my staff having to do extra work at the customer service desks selling a multitude of money orders to people who, in the opinions of myself and many others in upper management, are ‘getting one over’ on the system. My colleagues and I do not approve of this sort of activity as the purposes for doing it are, in our opinions, borderline fraudulent at best. We reserve the right to stop certain activity at any time.

    In addition, we feel this sort of practice, if repeated in our stores en mas, becomes quite taxing to both the staff (who, while busy helping your readers churn cash, are now not servicing other customers of our stores with their needs) and on our internal accounting controls. It forces us to have to fill out more paperwork and complete certain reporting at our own cost and on our own time than a store chain such as ours would normally do. It is a profit loss for us. Finally, we have to work more heavily with state and government agencies that periodically monitor sales activities of money products and this puts a strain on our every day operations because this type of monetary activity is taking place at our locations at such high levels.

    Because of this, our stores will now begin to monitor this sort of activity and if we start to see these types of cards being used by customers looking for money orders at the service desks, we will likely turn those persons away going forward.

    We have already begun instructing clerks and managers to ask to see the debit cards being used and to refuse money order transactions being done with these types of prepaid, gift and related debit vehicles over $300. Some stores are already going to only accept cash for money order sales as well.

    I shall add a side note:

    It appears to me that while this sort of thing has been likely going on in the background for some time now, and at much smaller scales until now, the activity could be absorbed at each cost center. But now that it is hitting what appears to be a main stream outlet such as this website and others, we have to disallow the process going forward.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    D. Hertz.

    • Travel Summary says:

      Nice try to scare people away. All that wasted effort for nothing!

      • Like… reply.. on the other hand, I do around 20K of of gc purchase per Month, I normally don’t deposit the MO to my checking account, I just make it payable to the credit card and do a teller payment.

      • Also WM money center does bill pay $1.00 per bill pay, pay your bill using GC debit transaction upto $1500, so I pay the card back $1499, want to avoid IRS with too many deposits

      • Can you imagine if something like the food service letter above actually happens? I can see that your posting of your reply to it proves you do not care if this happens. Why don’t you care? That’s what I wanna know!

        Why walk people through every hand-held process and step as if you think they are idiots or something? And for what gain? We need not show the details so clearly as to alert any real store personnel that might get wind of this and think about taking action. What we do is perfectly fine and all, but to shove the activity in their face is going to hurt you and everyone else! As well, your readers should already know what to do and where to go. Why spell it out in a way that could actually harm the craft?

        You obviously did not pay attention to anything I have ever said or written about being a good steward of MS who cares about helping people learn HOW to do the craft, not just show them the exact steps! If you have in fact read anything I ever wrote you would get the gift of it. If not, that either means I am doing a bad job or you are laughing in my face and purposely trying to mess things up here. For one things (and I don’t make the rules but I do have common sense) generally speaking, the names of stores are irrelevant since chains could be different for each person. Sure everybody has a CVS etc but why mention chains, etc. Let people look at their cards and try to figure out where to use them. That’s what guys like me had to do!

        If you and people you know had come to CLT DO you would have figured out more about how to better service your own readers than to just give up this sort of thing and not care what happens next.

        If you are at the Chi DO, I hope that by then you have a more clear understanding of what I am talking about. I will be speaking there but I fear that I may be in the company of people who could care less about MS as a hobby or an income.

        I feel like I am arguing with a stone and I wish I were wrong about that.

        • Travel Summary says:

          I read your posts and respect everything that you write. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with the way you feel is the “correct” way of carrying out MS, or about what is appropriate to post and not post.

          I didn’t write this post for monetary gain. I didn’t mention a single credit card in this post. And nothing I said is new or earth-shattering…it’s all been written about before. I wrote about it because I like the way I write better, and I’d rather be able to direct friends and other people I meet to my post than someone else’s that I feel was poorly written.

          What I’ve written about here is no more overt than anything that other MS bloggers write about. You want me to teach “how to do the craft” rather than the exact steps, but I can do both. At the very least, at the top of my post I had a link to your “stewardship” post but was asked to remove it, so I did. You can’t just continue to believe that all people are idiots and will ruin everything and can’t be trusted.

          I don’t feel I wrote anything so blatant that it will ruin this opportunity. I’m a small blog with very few views anyway, so a few hundred people reading this post will not put an end to this process.

          I respect your opinion but disagree that I wrote anything detrimental to the craft.

          • What a surprise. Another pathetic blogger looking for innocent noobs to fleece, posts another circles and arrows rehash of a dozen other similar posts by other similar lowlifes who only care for clicks thru their affiliate links. Pathetic.

          • Travel Summary says:

            @P You mean those affiliate links that I didn’t put in this post?

          • Look mate, there is no one correct way to MS and I do not, as I hope you and others know, think I am the end all be all of what is right or wrong in MS either.

            But I have been around the MS block for quite a number of years and have pretty much seen these same arguments over and over again. Always the same… “I am just trying to share this with a few friends and I am small so it’s not going to hurt anyway…” Man if I had just a penny for every time I have seen that one, I wouldn’t even NEED to MS!

            I know you do not write these posts for monetary gain through links, etc. But that’s even more baffling. Why DO you write it then? I mean, what’s the point of outing a step by step process that gives WAY too much by the way of exacting details, store types, amounts and even pictures of the products and services we all use? For what purpose? Are you like bored?

            Like I said, it is very possible that someone could pick up on this stuff and we just do not want that!

            I mean, do you not see any validity in the fact that some store manager or overzealous corporate guy or even a nosy clerk is going to see all this and say, “Hey! We got a live one! We gotta watch out for this stuff and shut it down!” Have you or anyone you know NOT ever been to a store that needs to SEE the debit cards and may even deny them based on the fact they say “GIFT” on them or do not have a name on them? I have! People have. It didn’t used to happen. It happens more now. There are MANY reports all over the place of people getting turned away from places because stores know exactly the steps you have re-outlined here! What, are we trying to get ALL the stores to see it?

            “Hey you!! Over here! Here it is, over here, don’t miss it! Loser! Look look! I wrote about it too! nah nah nah nah nahhhhh! Betcha cant get me!!!”

            That’s what it looks like dude.

            You say these things were already out there so it’s ok to blog about them. I say that too is an overused and silly argument and it holds no water at all! That’s like saying… “Well, he was already bleeding to death so I hit him over the head with a frying pan and shot him, but no it wasn’t at all me who took a part in his being dead!” Geesh! How can you NOT see it man? (The very sad part is that even if you somehow suddenly do see it, the next do-do brain wont listen either!)

            You may be a “smaller blog” but all it takes is one person of the wrong ilk to find and click on it and BOOM, You become THE reason they stop allowing PIN debit GCs at the next store chain!

            Would that be like COOL or what? Is THAT the goal perhaps? I am really trying to figure this mindset out (and will be writing about it soon myself to try to help stifle it, knowing all to well that I am fighting an uphill battle!)

            You may have started this blog to have a need to more clearly compile your ideas and other known systems in a way that helps your friends and family in a way you want to show them. To write clearly or in a way that is constructed for your writing style, etc. Ok that’s fine… We all have a right to rehash things for our groups of people. But why not just ‘email blast’ or secretly send to the favored 100-200 persons in your life? That’s just one click and done. Reserve posts like this for those special friends… Why take the chance, or risk that what you say in here will be what may trigger the end of something?

            I seriously think it could!
            This is a breach!

            You were asked to take down the link from the site I write on because we wanted no part in THIS write up. This write up is everything we are against. I mean yeah sure you write nicely and all–but the content of your post is (A) not really your own so it’s not original at all, and (B) 99.9% of the MS world knows that it is going to risk outing something we all need and want to last. Don’t you want things to last? Why take the chance! You were asked to remove the link because the story you linked to had a few blurbs in it about NOT blogging deals and ideas just like this one, and you did exactly that anyway. It’s like you totally ignored (and thus sooo did NOT respect what I wrote) the story you had originally linked to!

            Sure, you make nothing on it… but you still could risk hurting all who MS by furthering that which should be quelled, not continued. We cant just go round re posting stuff just because it’s already out there. WTH is that? Why do all these newbie wannabe reporter like blogger dudes always say that?

            I don’t get it. None of it. Like I said, I do doubt I can really get through. You may have to go and find out on your own man.

        • mnscout2002 says:

          MM, seriously dude! I really like you and enjoy your somewhat crazy tirades every now and then, but If this BEGINNERS stuff is something that’s REALLY worrying the “MS World”, then I’m sorry to say the MS World is in trouble!

          The “food manager” letter is fun stuff, though. I had a good laugh!

          • butch steamen says:

            You are a good laugh and I am a angry big woman who agrees with everything Marathon Man said basically and so does my significant other and she is a happy little Gal who agrees with MM too well partly because I told her he is right and then she read it.

            It is pointless to keep talking about MS deals that are still working well. Why fill the airways with more Google results for the CC companies and banks to have their staffs print out and show them or give them for reading then maybe they act and shut more and more down.

    • Your an idiot. You make the same on a money order no matter how we pay. And for loss of profit how about extreme couponing that’s wasting. Time

  8. Well that sucks

  9. Teach a man to fish…

  10. Thanks!

  11. unhbuzzard says:

    I’d have to say that 2.5k+ followers on Twitter not to mention other social channels is material enough for me to say you have an impact on what you write.

    • yah. And if just ONE of those people is one of those types who says NO to you in a store when you want to get MOs… or is one of those mean clerks or managers who likes to stop people like us from getting these things done… well, there ya go then.

      Go ahead people… google parts of the main title of this very blog post. See how many OTHER threads and blogs come up with the subject. Maybe this one does maybe not, but still, why do we want death by a thousand pin pricks?

      • Travel Summary says:

        You’re kidding yourself if you think they’re more likely to find it from my blog than from the MS forum on FT. There’s more detail in the Wiki of most of those threads than I put here.

        • so based on this logic, you should just post as much as you want about this subject with more and more pics and more and more detailed information because, hey, your stuff wont get noticed. Right?

          Yah… cuz it’s been written already, it is fine to just keep pushing it on out there… why not. We WANT to get screwed when it all happens.

          • Travel Summary says:

            I’m going by the logic that if it’s posted in places that any walmart employee or whoever is more likely to read than my blog, then yes it’s completely fair game. You’re not going to find this blog or post unless you’re really looking for it. Even if you are, you’ll find MMS, FT, and other posts far before you find mine. You’re trying to blame me for something that not only hasn’t happened yet, but will likely barely ever contribute to.

            I’m a drop in a very big bucket.

          • ok then TS… since you are just a drop in the bucket, tell us all that grocery store. No one will see it. Just us. We wont have an impact nor tell anyone else what it is!

            Some readers are too lazy to go out and test on their own anyway so why not give them a helping hand?

          • Travel Summary says:

            Because my friend specifically asked me not to share it. Since I didn’t find it on my own, I have to honor that request. That’s why.

      • Jerry Mandel says:

        I have had a doubting clerk but a manager took care of it.

  12. Can i use Amex gift cards to buy money orders at walmart

  13. Fascinating discussion! Comments got as lively as my blog hehe.

    MM: I see your point, especially after CLT. But I got a question for you: Why are you going to Chicago and be on the same “presenter line up” with some bloggers who are featured prominently in my “Blogs I Ignore” list?

    Now my dilemma whether to link to this article and the discussion here for my readers…

    Oh gosh…so so hard….all these lines ahead….to cross or not to cross…what would the chicken do?

    After getting stuck behind a person wanting to exchange bananas last week and a person today insisting to use an “expired” coupon…I have no idea how people can manage going to WM so often!

    • Well the first thing to do is to go to wmt when there’s nobody there. If you cannot do that, go in expecting to be there for a long, long time. Especially if the printer jams. That is a 45 min wait on average.

      I am going to Chicago to try to bring the good word to the poor souls stuck under the horrible asp and try to deliver them to the prom-ms land. Either that or to lay some people out lol.

      Seriously though, I am just gonna try to say that we should all do a better job in how we handle this craft and not just treat it like it is invincible. I am only one MM and can only say my piece and hope it turns a few people. And so on, and so on…

  14. MM,

    You know I respect you and it was great meeting you finally at CLT. But, hear me out here mate, I think you going to Chicago is wrong. A big (biggest) portion of the attendees are green newbies going to see the MMS and TPG and FTGs of the blogosphere. Frankly, they would not have a clue what you are talking about (hint: break it down to the newbiest level you can!).Yeah, there will be some true games there who missed you at CLT so that’s good. BUT the problem is to me, at least, why mess with your credibility and stellar reputation as THE gamer in this hobby? Credit score is fine and all but I think credibility is the most important asset we have. What do you gain (what does our hobby gain?) when you get to present next to the bloggers I mentioned above who are likely drooling for all the newbies in the audience who do not have an Ink Bold yet! THAT is what is about for them…and you are honoring them with your presence dude!

    So, that’s what I am commenting on in my next Buzz post. I am just the angry negative dude dong all this for a few dollars a day when I could be out MSiing lol. Not much time left to get to WM early in the am or late at night…I know. It’s okay.

    My 2 cents. I speak my mind.

    Phucking WalMart :-)

  15. I am a totally new reader of your blog and this is my frank observation. I started liking your blog for some of the contents and bookmarked it. However this post put me off. What value addition does this post bring to travel community and even most of your readers? Have you written anything new? This is just another addition to already existing 100s of posts on this topic. The first impression I got was “oh my.. another one?”. Do you want to be part of the same old group or bring something new to the table? The decision is absolutely yours as this is your blog but I kind of agree with MM’s comments. Nothing new on travel or even MS. You bloggers are just grinding the same machine again and again with nothing new to add. Just fed up and closing my comments as well. No use talking to you guys on this. Will come back if I find something interesting.

  16. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this post. The same info has been around on BoardingArea and FlyerTalk. It is just basic information, no secrets that would ruin anything.

  17. TS,
    Based on your comment you are quite full of yourself and you seem to be one of these people that cannot admit when they are wrong. MM you are wasting your breath on someone like him. I for my part will be avoiding this blog from now on. It’s different if it is on FT, because people actually have to look and search for themselves.
    Maybe you want to be compared to MMS who everybody who is not a newbie hates?

    • lol well it’s maybe like AAA or something. One blogger at a time.

    • Travel Summary says:

      @MarcK I’m not wrong. Neither is MM. It’s a difference of opinion, and nothing more.

      • MS is a delicate environment built upon a convenient market imperfection and asymmetry of information. Blog posts like this only speed the death of gigs and deals. This is a fundamentally a collective action problem, but TS: you’re the person who throws their trash on the sidewalks and says it’s okay because “other people do it to.” Marathon man is the environmentalist telling us we *all* need to stop to preserve the world we operate in.

  18. JohnnieD says:

    I have hesitated to reply to this blog because I have felt that mm has pretty much said what needs to be said. Just wanted to add that this type of posting does nothing more than put you out there, for many to see. As my web strategist wife tells me, it’s all about numbers – web traffic, clicks positioning, end strategy. To say that it’s ok since it has been ‘out there’ for months is, well, bs. You appear to be positioning your blog so that it has a higher ranking-isn’t this blog your full time pursuit now?

    In any event, if affiliate links start to appear, I guess I will be right. If not, then I am wrong, but publishing information like this doesn’t serve any good purpose—info such as the name of the store with debit as payment for m orders…..my 2 cents……

    • Travel Summary says:

      @JohnnieD I HAVE affiliate links. You don’t see them? Oh, maybe that’s because I don’t push them, and because I actually want to share some information for the benefit of some people that don’t know it.

      I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want my blog to be more popular. I do want to build it bigger. It’s why I quit my job. This post was NOT intended to be like that. If anything MM’s comments attracted more and more people here, far more than would have otherwise come. I guess I should be thankful for that in some ways, but I’d rather have people come here for content and not comments.

      • One of these day–who knows if or when, one of the stores that sells the very GCs pictured in this blog, which, by its hits makes you a living, is going to pull the plug on those GCs and then what? You may be looking for work, and so might I. Wouldn’t a better solution be to NOT involve ways to allow that to happen?

        • Oh oh…

          Say hi to Emily in Chicago,she was holding 10 credit cards today :-)

          I still would not write this blog post myself but I still find it a bit unfair to criticize TS as much as it has been done. Do a google search “One Vanilla”….it’s not like killing deals by himself guys!

          If CVS goes…and then WM…the end is near…..er. Ouch!

          • Its not any one single blog like just TS or anything. He is just the latest.

            But imagine if one of the major supplier stores sees this chatter and says NO MORE?

            Would we then all eagerly post about the next place to buy just because we somehow think that will have no affect?

            Well I have said enough here and besides, I do not get paid to boost traffic on this site. I am off to fight other battles.

            Enjoy the demise

  19. elenor5 says:

    I finally got over here (from TBB, where else?) and my reaction is (with no offense intended): I’m finding Marathon Man acting like the PETA folks who will happily throw a jar of red paint on some 70-yr-old woman wearing her fur coat — but who then slink quietly by the Hell’s Angel in his leathers… MM is trying to “fix” the miles-and-points world by haranguing (sorry, that’s how it seems) one blogger who isn’t even a problem: TS — but MM is NOT out tilting at the windmills that are the actual CC pumpers. He’s trying to convince TS to not state his own position and advice here on his own blog (which I think he has done gracefully and clearly); but MM is not (at least, “also”) over at the other blogs haranguing them for less-graceful ‘outing’ of information.

    In my advice list for dating, mating, and marrying, we often caution against trying to be the GMU — the General Manager of the Universe — trying to make the world (or our mates) go the way we want them to (or think they should go), rather than going our own ‘correct’ (by our lights) way and (we hope) enticing our mate to come/go along. I see and understand MM’s frustration with ‘the universe’ — but it’s not within his — or TS’s — purview to fix. And ‘fixing’ TS will not fix the universe!

    • My only response to that, elenor5 is this:

      There is only one me and while you may be glad, the point is I can only work it alone one at a time.

      I am on Ft trying to quell the outage over there. I have talked to or tried to talk to MMS and others on how to still be welcomed to go out and make money but please dont do it by outing deals. I have been actively yapping away at proposed ways to respect the craft of ms more so we cannall make it last and not aid in its demise.

      If you think I need to work harder at this or you think I only “attacked” this blog and need to do more, then why not come around and help me!

      Re read what i have been saying and ask yourself; do you want this ms thing to last or not?

      I welcome a pm in ft

    • Elenor5 – well said, well said.

  20. William? says:

    Where is William Charles? I am surprised that Mr. Charles has not put his two cents in? That guy is EVERYWHERE!

    Anyways, I agree with elenor5, she has said some good things. MM is trying to ‘save’ his job, as I’m sure he’s comfortable with the current MS opportunities out there currently and I don’t blame him! But come on, can’t TS post whatever he wants on his own blog?

    • William… Please post for us all here your ms tips and tricks. Its ok, because you know about it you assume everyone must know about it so it’s okay to post right?

      Now please post your most coveted MS ideas.

      Wait you won’t post your most coveted ideas? why not? are we afraid someone is going to take them and run them because of overexposure?

      While you’re at it why not give the Coca-Cola’s secret recipe?

      I think many readers are beginning to see my point

  21. unhbuzzard says:

    The key word here is sustainability. As a community we must work together to keep some type of sustainability in the environment. The recent postings across all blogs, not just this one, and including Wiki’s etc reminds me of forestry class in college. If you cut down all of the trees now you can have a lot of revenue this year, however you’ll have no revenue for the next x years while you wait for those trees to grow back.

    In the interim, you also have no tourism because the landscape is ugly, no animals because they have no longer have homes, landslides occur because the roots aren’t there to hold the soil in place, and greater unemployment in your area because there are no more forestry/tourism related jobs. The combination of all of these postings are effectively saying cut down all of your trees now, don’t leave any for the future.

    All we can do is work together with a goal of a sustainable future. Sure, some bloggers out there will do anything to monetize their blogs even if it means circles & arrows, even at the cost of some of their reader’s credit scores… because more will follow. But if we can start looking at the future, we can all earn miles today… and tomorrow.

    • Travel Summary says:

      Well said. We’ve created a new thing – instead of tree-huggers, we have points-huggers!

  22. elenor5 says:

    “The combination of all of these postings are effectively saying cut down all of your trees now, don’t leave any for the future. ”

    The tragedy of the commons. And dear-old MM is out there swinging his sword (valiantly but hopelessly) at this windmill, when there are “more-threatening” (or more careless) windmills that he could (or, he says, IS) be tilting at. You cannot address the tragedy of the commons by trying to shame or correct any member (or several members) OF the commons. (I don’t remember, and don’t have time (or interest) to go looking up some of the alleged ‘fixes’ for the tragedy of the commons (if there is one, short of forming a govt with enforcement power — EEK!)

    I happen to agree with all-y’all who are worried — or just annoyed — with the folks ‘outing’ all the deals and tricks and ways to get ahead in this ‘biz.’ (And fer shure annoyed about the card pimping.) I’ve only been reading and learning since March last year — when I was in a rush-situation and needed to get miles and get across the continent without any money… And yes, I made some mistakes because I was new. (Delta AMEX card again? Really? oops. {eye roll} But also Ink Bold, which let me fly!)

    I’m still not in a stable enough financial position to take advantage of the tips and tricks and special deals. My husband died in 2011; I’m still in survival mode and look wistfully at all the deals and options and things in a variety of blogs (and that Chase 60k offer is just burning a hole in my heart!) — and then I close the page(s) and console myself that they (whoever) will do it (whatever it is) again later, when I am stable and I will take advantage of it then. I’m missing out now, but I’m in no position now to take advantage.

    Should all newbies protect themselves the same way? Sure! But they won’t. Should all … oldbies (?) work to protect the newbies — and the commons? I’m not so sure.

    • Elenor a lot of new people can’t even appreciate what it is were talking about when we discuss issues like deals being killed because a lot of people didn’t live back in the times when such deals didn’t even exist.

      Many things exist now that did not exist when I first started.

      Now this doesn’t make me any better of a person or anything, I just have a greater understanding of the flow of the stuff and you’ve said that you’re new to it all.

      I hope you can get yourself on track so you can live the way you want to travel, and I’m sure you will in time. I have actually been there myself.

      I will also let you know that my sword has been made from the metal melted down from the shavings of the backs of thousands of VR cards and my Gmail suit was made from the sheets of 1000 GCs

      We all need to do our part to ensure this stuff last as long as it possibly can we all need to do our part to help others understand it before they out the deals and see it fall apart because yes, they will.

      That way, people in your exact situation can still travel cheaply without having to be so financially secure but none of this matters anyways. ie we wont be able to MS using these methods when they become gone.

      The argument to stop fighting a cause is never strengthened by having someone say that it’s not worth doing it because they think its not having an affect. The cause needs your help and your friends’ help to make it so that MSing as we know it can continue and people like yourself can travel the way you want to.

      Will you help?

      You say you havent the time? Does that mean you want someone else to do all the work for you? Well then if thats the case, let all the blogs stand. For they are doing all that work… They just ultimately want the affiliate money from your clicking on their links.

      • butch steamen says:

        You probably helped kill some deals to over the years melting your lame ass sword. You go to those seminars why don’t you spill some fish sauce on Bowties speech and let it splash. You all have to much to say and I wouldn’t have even posted but my partner insisted I speak my mind because I am so angry I am sweating my panties

  23. elenor5 says:

    p.s., And no, even with two whole years of experience, I will NOT be volunteering for an interview on MMS’s blog! {wink}

    • butch steamen says:

      Two whole years Wow. Why would anyone volunteer to be on the most EVIL bloggers site. Bowtie is such a geek with his fake smile and it is a mystery why his nosy self isn’t damaged like his friends. Why perpetuate the risks here when you could use the same amount of time trying to sabotage the bloggers. Maybe make some complaints about those guys outing deals that are not already openly public.

      It really is foolish of anyone clicking on any of the bloggers links that simply copy a deal from one another. There is a reason some of us went underground deep into the secret tunnels in the earth long ago and post much less on FT.

      Why should I tell about the two other banks I know with 5% cash back credit cards. I can think of many reasons not to one of which is smaller banks can’t take the hit or the heat of hundreds or even thousands of people earning 10k to 20k per month of each of them.

      When you post info that has not been opening posted you only drive people away from ever wanting to deal with you. Keep quiet and maybe a group of you quiet people will get together and find your own tunnel to hide in. Ours are full so don’t ask to join

    • butch steamen says:

      You are a good laugh and I am a angry big woman who agrees with everything Marathon Man said basically and so does my significant other and she is a happy little Gal who agrees with MM too well partly because I told her he is right and then she read it.

      It is pointless to keep talking about MS deals that are still working well. Why fill the airways with more Google results for the CC companies and banks to have their staffs print out and show them or give them for reading then maybe they act and shut more and more down.

  24. Ben Senise says:

    “PIN number” and “ATM machine.” wow. just wow.

    • Travel Summary says:

      Yes it’s redundant, but it’s also commonly used in today’s speech. Not an excuse for bad grammar…will correct and try not to make the same mistakes in the future.

  25. When we first started learning how to collect points and miles we had to go to blogs like this to learn the methods. Even applying for a lot of c cards is not something the average person is comfortable with, and does not do. What use is reading anything if you don’t learn something from it? Thank you bloggers for all your help! And no, I don’t go telling everybody the tricks, because they can easily find the same info by searching for it, if they are so inclined.
    Why blog if you’re not giving useful information? Keep it to yourself then and don’t criticize the ones who help others learn.

  26. I agree this level of detail doesn’t need to be blogged. That said, being a good steward of MS begins with a look in the mirror. MS contests, seminars presentations, etc. are just as destructive to the longevity of the game.

  27. venkman says:

    I do not get the beef by MM, this info has been written up by DansDeals and FrequentMiler and soon to be cut and pasted by DoctorofCreditWilliamCharles

  28. CC companies and WalMart and all the other actors in this play are fully aware of all the opportunities they left for MS. As long as it is profitable for everybody, there is no incentive to close the loopholes.

    It’s not like points and miles bloggers are so smart and the employees of these companies are so stupid that they are being outplayed.

    So, there is no secret to protect here. Probably those people are laughing they pants off when reading these heated comments on this post.

    • John Brew – I’m hoping you are being sarcastic here. I’ve been doing this a long time 15+ yrs. This commentary is unbelievably naive if you are serious. Im not sure where I would start in breaking down your factually incorrect statements. So I think I’m best to say I disagree with your entire post.

      • If my comment can be seen as sarcastic, please interpret it as sarcastic towards people like you.

        I fully stand by my statement that the moment a MS opportunity stops being a win-win, then it is withdrawn.

        You must be missing the fact that for every successful MS player like you, there are hundreds who just f…-up and are being taken advantage of the CC companies.

        • There are plenty of deals that never even start as profitable for said companies. If you think that “they” are always correct in their gauging of the profitability of deal then you are seriously overestimating their skill level. But unfortunately they all do eventually figure out their losing ideas. Sometimes on their own, sometimes they are alerted to them. I certainly don’t feel unique as there lots of smart people involved in this craft. Do some people lose? Sure, it’s a required part of the game.

  29. Jerry Mandel says:

    General Comment. Yes, I use loaded debit cards to buy money orders in Walmart to complete minimum spending but we also buy groceries and merchandise in Walmart. Both my printers came from Walmart and my wife’s medicines come from Walmart’s pharmacy. The guy in the food chain who wants to cut out money orders with loaded debit cards is driving customers to his competitors.

  30. Money order $1000 with OV didn’t work for me today. I used last digits as pin & told pay $.70 with cash. Cashier told me to hit cancel after sliding OV & select debit & pin. Didn’t work. What am I doing wrong? Appreciate your help..

Trackbacks

  1. […] and it’s not often obvious where the lines are. Case in point: Travel Summary’s guide to manufactured spending, which drew some opposition from Marathon Man. I don’t know who’s right or wrong in […]

  2. […] You have to put on your critical thinking cap and work so that you learn to fish. This brings up this post that I saw while I was away that PF Digest posted about the comments in his “Ethics, […]

  3. […] complete the minimum spend, I will be using Vanilla Prepaid Cards from CVS (the one near me still sells them on credit) and then going to Walmart and loading them onto […]

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