One month… $5,000 bankrolls… How much cash and how many points will be earned?…
The first week of the #milemadness manufactured spend tournament has completed, and a new week is under way. The general idea of the tournament is that each player starts with $5000 (of their own) to spend in ways that will return their money and earn extra cash and points. Contestants will be judged by 3 factors: amount earned, efficacy, and artistry. In case you missed the details, please see these prior posts for details about the tournament:
- The Manufactured Spending Tournament
- The next mad challenge
- Manufactured Spend Tournament FAQ Post and Thread
- #milemadness Manufactured Spending Tournament meet the Players
The big story of the week was OfficeMax’s gift card deal: $15 off $250 in gift cards. Was this deal designed for this tournament, or what? On Sunday, the first day of the deal was rocky: OfficeMax’s in-store systems across the nation were unable to process the discount. Some contestants were able to convince store managers to give them cash back instead, but others were not as lucky. Fortunately, OfficeMax had its act together by Monday morning. As the week progressed, we learned that some contestants live in areas with incredibly well stocked OfficeMax stores with lenient gift card policies, whereas others had to fight for the gift card crumbs that were left on the shelves.
The OfficeMax deal was about as good as it gets for manufacturing spend. Contestants went in armed with their Ink Plus or Ink Bold cards (which earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores) and came out with gift cards worth more than they spent. The general trend was then to take those gift cards to the nearest superstore, grocery, or drug store to apply secret tricks to turn the gift cards back into real money. Due to the rules of the game, contestants then had to wait a day before the money was considered to be back in play.
Another common approach this week was simply to buy and liquidate reload cards. The specifics varied a bit here, but the key to come out ahead here was to hold a card that offers 5X at stores that sell reload cards. For example, a few contestants are lucky enough to still have active Citi ThankYou Preferred cards that offer 5X at gas stations, drug stores, and grocery stores for 12 months (this deal is no longer available to new applicants).
Double and Triple Dip
Several contestants found ways to earn fuel points or other 3rd party rewards when buying gift cards. One example, is a contestant who earned Plink rewards by buying gift cards at Staples (a benefit which is set to expire tonight). In most cases, though, I’ve been asked not to reveal these secret point earnings. So, suffice it to say that it makes sense to sign up for every loyalty program you can find because there just might be a way to earn extra rewards when buying gift cards beyond those given to you by your rewards-earning credit card.
A few contestants took advantage of cash back and points that can be earned by buying Amex gift cards online via portals. A few others bought products for resale. One contestant found several ways to buy gift cards and reload cards fee free.
Scores coming soon
My intent was to have week 1 tournament scores ready to go for this post, but I don’t yet have the scores completely ready. I’ll have the scores in place by this evening, or by tomorrow morning (Tuesday morning) at the latest.