How NOT to Do Manufactured Spending
Some more serious MS dos and don’ts:
Like Shaun said, go to the store. Keep an eye out for ‘stuff you can turn into money’ wherever you go. Buy something small. Liquidate it, once. You don’t need to get rid of $5,000 in cards the first time you try. Increase scale as needed once you become comfortable with it.
All MS is local. Nearly all MS is store-specific and cashier-specific. The gas stations near my house with a big ‘V’ outside will sell Vanilla Reloads with credit, but 90% of their cashiers won’t. No blogger can tell you what will or won’t work at your store.
There is no right or wrong amount of MS, except more than you can track and handle.
Someone else is MSing where you live, and they would love to have some company! Look for a get-together thread on Saverocity Forums, Travel Codex Forums, or Flyertalk Community Buzz. You will learn more of what works in your area in an hour and a half with local fellow travel hackers than you will in a week of poring over Flyertalk threads. And it will be a lot more fun. Or start a get-together, if you don’t see one in your area.
Get comfortable and read a few threads and posts on Why you shouldn’t leave money in reloadable card accounts, Losing cash equivalents, and Depositing money orders at banks that give you rewards. Take your time, it’s worth it.
Get an Old AMEX Blue card already if you don’t have one. Don’t be the one person at Milemadness 5 who thought they would never need a 5% cashback card. It’s free!
Do not deposit large amounts of money orders at banks that give you rewards! Maybe I already said that. Do I need to say it again?
DO earn lots of cashback and points!
Do I need to learn to MS? I get by just fine on signup bonuses!
Remember that class you took in college that you thought would be a total waste but wound up teaching you skills or knowledge you use all the time? I don’t, I went to work full time at 16 and am only now in college. But learning to MS is similar to that class, whatever it was: it might take you out of your comfort zone but will give you the opportunity to take advantage of awesome deals that would have otherwise been out of your reach.
Disclosure: If you apply and get approved for the one credit card referred to in this post, I get nothing. But if you pay interest on it, ever, I will be very sad.