How to increase credit card spend

UPDATED 9/15/2016

Please see the following updated post: Increase credit card spend (and get most of it back). What still works?

Signing up for credit cards is, by far, the easiest and quickest way to get huge numbers of points and miles. There is, though, a significant obstacle to this approach: Most big signup offers have big spend requirements.  A typical offer, for example, requires $3,000 of spend within the first 3 months of card membership.  Some spend requirements are much higher.

Whether your goal is to meet minimum spend requirements, or to earn a credit card big spend bonus, there are many techniques that can be used to increase credit card spend.  Some of the following options result in getting all (or most) of your money back.  Many options are ways to use credit cards to cover expenses that can’t normally be paid by credit card.

Pay and get your money back, with no net cost

Pay and get your money back, less fees

With the following options, you can use a credit card to pay and get your money back (less fees and expenses):

  • Kiva loans: Estimated “fee” (loss due to defaults + cost to tie up money): 1.5%.  Kiva does not charge fees for making loans via credit card, but you do risk losing money due to loan defaults. By sticking with “safe” loans, you can minimize this risk, but you can’t avoid it altogether. There is also a cost to tying up your money long-term since loans typically take 6 to 12 months to repay.  For full details about manufacturing spend through Kiva loans, please see: Kiva: loans, points, and miles
  • Credit card processing (e.g. Square Reader): Estimated fee: 2.75%. Several companies make it easy for small businesses to handle credit card payments.  One very popular example is the Square Reader which charges 2.75% per swipe.  Theoretically, you can set yourself up as a business and then manufacture spend through the credit card reader. BUT: Most services will shut down your account if they suspect that you are paying yourself.  This approach is not recommended.
  • Gift cards / reload cards: Estimated fee: .8% to 1.3% for $500 gift cards; 3.5% for $200 gift cards.  It’s possible to buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards and use them as debit cards in ways that will result in getting your money back.  Fees vary quite a bit both with regards to fees for buying gift cards, and fees for liquidating gift cards.  See: Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards

Pay friends

A few services exist that let you pay friends with credit cards. In these situations it should be possible to manufacture spend by paying a friend and asking them to pay you back directly (with a check, for example).  You could also set up a circle of friend payments: Person A pays Person B who pays Person C who pays Person A.  Unfortunately, the fees for doing this are pretty steep:

  • Paypal: 2.9% + 30 cents
  • Venmo: 3%

Pay bills

A number of services let you use credit cards to pay bills that you might not otherwise be able to pay with a credit card (e.g. mortgage, rent, utilities, etc.).

Here are a few such services that offer a broad range of bill pay options:

  • Plastiq: 2.5% fee. Amex, Visa, MasterCard
  • TIO (formerly ChargeSmart): Fees vary.  Amex, Visa, MasterCard, Discover

Then there are services specifically for paying rent:

And there are services for paying federal taxes (the IRS maintains a list here):

  • PayUSAtax.com: 1.87%. Amex, MasterCard, Discover. 2.29% for Visa.
  • ValueTaxPayment.com: 1.87%. Amex, MasterCard, Discover. 2.29% for Visa.
  • OfficialPayments.com/fed: 2.35%. Amex, Visa, MasterCard, Discover
  • ChoicePay.com/fed: 1.88%. Amex, Visa, MasterCard
  • Pay1040.com: 1.87%. Amex, Visa, MasterCard, Discover
  • Businesstaxpayment.com: 1.87%. Amex, Visa, MasterCard, Discover

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57 Comments on "How to increase credit card spend"

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Janet Weiden
Guest

Perhaps you can prioritize these suggestions: easy to complicated and free to costly.

Dave
Guest

Or maybe if we could send your our login and credit card info, you could just do it all for us? …seriously how spoon-fed do you want this stuff? Half the point is to go out and discover on your own.

Jon
Guest

Well according to your logic, why have this blog at all? Why not just figure it all out on your own?

Dave
Guest

There’s a big difference between getting ideas and asking for step by step directions.

Drew
Guest

Where are the circles and arrows??

aarod99
Guest

It is.

Steve
Guest

I pay my verizon and cable bills directly with my INK card. it pays 5x for telecom. That’s about $500/month for me or 30K UR points for absolutely zero effort.

Not exactly what this page is about, but close enough to be worthwhile, I think.

Kirk
Guest

Verizon and cable $500 per month?

Steve
Guest

We pay our daughters school tuition.

Ro
Guest

For payments between friends, does the Paypal 2.9% fee still apply when you choose the “gift” option? I thought not.

Racerboy80 (Bill)
Guest

It still charges the fee to the person sending the money, if they use a credit card.

JustSaying
Guest

Hope vacation is the way to pontificate on the next big idea!

Mike
Guest

How about buying money orders?

Quinn
Guest

N/A

Traveller
Guest

I’ve been having success with MS buying PayPal MyCash cards at CVS with my Delta Reserve card, loading them up on PayPal, and then using the linked PayPal Debit Card to load up a Bluebird card at Walmart.

Unfortunately, they’ve just frozen the PayPal account, even though there’s nothing in this process that’s a violation of the TOS.

From what I’ve read on the net, fighting this will be a losing battle, so can you point me to an article that will provide some alternatives to replace the MyCash-to-PayPal Account-to PayPal Debit Card steps in this process?

Thanks!

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[…] Frequent Miler has added a new resource page that shows you different methods to increase your cred…. This is a great resource for people getting started in this hobby and also for those looking to improve their manufactured spending, a few links even lead to yours truly! […]

livelovelaugh
Guest

Thanks for the article.
Have a great vacation with miles and points 🙂

Jacob Grant
Guest

When you state “amex”, are you referring to AMEX credit cards, or AMEX gift cards, or both? I’d love a clarification on this.

NoonRadar
Guest

Jacob, usually “Amex” mentioned by itself in such contexts refers to the credit cards, whereas when mentioned as “Amex gift cards” or the abbreviation AGC it is the gift cards by Amex.

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

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[…] and somebody I’ve personally learned a lot from. If you’re just starting out, then he has an amazing resource page that I can highly recommend. If you’re only going to follow one blog, this is the one you […]

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

Man with a question
Guest

Does anyone know If the ink plus business card will incur cash advance fees for purchase and / or load of Serve?

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[…] también la práctica del Manufactured Spending, una forma de aprovecharse de los programas de recompensas de las tarjetas de crédito asociadas a […]

Jerry Mandel
Guest

I’m pretty much shut out now on funds recycling (manufactured spending) in Dallas, Texas. No one, including USPS, will let you buy money orders with loaded gift/debit cards with PINs. No Redbird here and I can’t use Bluebird. Citi will no longer accept those prepaid cards to pay your Citi credit card bills. I can only prepay so much on utility, cable, cell phone, etc. costs and pay off the credit card bills the next month. We can only use a limited amount from such cards for our usual expenses. So, like everyone, awaiting some genius to come up with a brilliant new method.

NoonRadar
Guest

Jerry, when you say “No Redbird here” do you mean the Target stores in your area won’t let you load Redbird, or that they don’t carry the temporary Redbird cards? If it is the later, you can email me at NoonRadar@gmail.com and I can email you back today the info of an activated temporary Redbird card, for a small fee. I’ve done it for hundreds of people, you can see some of their reviews here: https://bit.ly/1DMVZSS

Whether a store carries the temporary Redbird card or not has no bearing on whether they will let you load the permanent Redbird card. Most Target stores around the country don’t have the temporary card but they let you load the permanent one. There are some that don’t let you load it though, it is hard to know which ones unless there’s recent reports from people identifying those stores. The no-go stores are usually–but not exclusively–in densely populated areas cities like NYC.

Josh
Guest

Jerry,

I’m in Fort Worth and use my prepaid redbird each month. You can’t buy the card here but u can load it here.

Jerry Mandel
Guest

Target won’t let you get Redbird in Dallas, TX area.

NoonRadar
Guest

Jerry, I wrote a longer response about how I can provide you via email the info of a temp activated Redbird for a small fee, but doesn’t show up instantly since it needs to be approved by a moderator due to it containing links. In the meantime, you can just click on my handle and should be able to find out more info about it that way.

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

Llama Drama
Guest

Is it possible to load Serve with AGC?

Eric
Guest

I just signed up the Plastiq service (1.99% charge) and brought $6000 AGC with 1.5% cash back though portal before it put a cashback limit to $200 AGC only. I used Plastiq to pay the mortgage and medical bill. Now since it is not a good deal to buy AGC this way. What is my options now?

1. Buy VGC at office store ( $ 500 or $250) with Ink and earn X5, load to Redbird and pay bill.
2. Keep buying AGC (3x$ 2000) pay whatever the fee is without cash back, pay bill with Plastiq, earn 1X with my CC.

any advice is welcome.

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

raj
Guest

Hello,

What abt amazon payments. I think we can link a prepaid gift card into amazon payments and send money from person A to person B. Person B withdraws money into his Bank account and send u a check or online transfer.

Amazon has 1000 $ limit per month, Send and receive

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

Robert
Guest

You need to correct the credit card types that Plastiq accepts. They do not accept Discover.

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

Gregg G
Guest

I didnt see this on the list….

if you have a Marriott Time share you can pay your mortgage payment with a CC, but only if you call them. They do not offer it on the website. The website only allows for paying maintenance and taxes.

The city of Pembroke Pines, FL allows you to pay your water bill online for a small fee and FPL allows a CC payment via Western Union for a flat fee of $3.00.

Kris
Guest

Thanks for the FPL mention – I didn’t see the CC option and was working the money order angle when I saw your reply. I don’t mind the western union fee – cheaper than combined gift card/money order fees!

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[…] How to increase credit card spend […]

Josh
Guest

I just opened Serve on 3/24/16 and have an AMX SPG card I need to meet the $3k minimum spend for my 35,000 bonus points by end of June 2016.

If I use my AMEX SPG card to load my serve account the allowed $200 per day, $1,000 allowed per month. Will I incur a cash advance fee, and will it even count towards my minimum spend? Any help would be appreciated.

Barbara
Guest

I tried using Plastiq to pay my mortgage. They sent the payment and then emailed me about proving my identity with my webcam. I was to show my driver’s license and then my face. The images were not confirmed because they were blurry. I also sent a pic from my computer, but again, no dice. Plastiq then stopped payment on my mortgage check and returned the money to my credit card. Did anyone else go through this?

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[…] bonus can post and leave time if there are any issues. FrequentMiler has great resources including How to Increase Credit Card Spend and 9 Ways to Increase Credit Card Spend Without Leaving […]

wowwee
Guest

not a good way to waste money.

the fees do add up.

just spend normally and pay with your credit card.

trackback

[…] to earn miles & points, many people “manufacture spend”.  That is, people find ways to increase credit card spend (to get rewards) while getting their money back.  There are many techniques for doing this, and […]