Announcing the Manufactured Spending Tournament – who will be crowned the champion?
With so many players, and so many games, the realm of manufactured spending has expanded massively over recent years. From simple, well known tactics like Amazon Payments, to complex purchase and resale deals the ways to generate points and profit are plentiful.
It is time to see how these different approaches compete on a level field. The Manufactured Spend Tournament seeks to bring together the best and brightest among us to showcase their skills and claim the title of Champion. It’s going to be educational, occasionally brutal and a whole lot of fun!
Outlining the Challenge
Purpose: To explore different approaches to earning points, miles or cash back, and to see who can do so with the most innovation and aplomb.
The Game: To set a level playing field everyone will start with a bankroll of $5,000 and credit or debit cards of their choice with which to spend that on. Players must use the tips and tricks that they know to turn that in to as much as possible within the month of March.
The Rules of Engagement
The Bankroll is limited to $5,000 in an attempt to level the playing field and press creativity and innovation, players are allowed to do whatever they want with that amount in order to generate ‘profit’ in the form of miles or points, the value of which is outlined below. Once the bank roll is in play, it has to cycle back into the system before any new purchases are allowed; we have accelerated the process slightly in order to keep the pace of the Tournament interesting.
Cash Back building the Bankroll
Any Cash Back that is earned via portals or rebates during a purchase will be added onto the bankroll, this can offset the impact of fees. Credit Card Cash Back will not be added to the bank roll, it will instead be counted at the end of the month. Third party points, such as Plink will be added to the final tally at fair market value, but cannot be used to increase the bankroll during the tournament.
We will be utilizing a Trading day +1 approach to when the money comes back into the bankroll. For example, if on Monday a player acquires $5,000 Vanilla Reloads, it is assumed that by Tuesday 1K of that will be back in circulation. For reselling items, it will be the same T+1 with the trigger being the day that the items are shipped to a fulfillment center, or a buy bid if sold via individual auction. Both are slightly accelerated from the reality of clearing times of the credit card, and the shipping time of a product respectively.
The Bankroll must cycle back into play in a realistic manner. If a person was to take $5,000 Vanilla Reloads and use Billpay to cover their mortgage, it would be considered a one way transaction, and their bankroll would be depleted to zero. Likewise with anything that would not see a similar return to the pool, such as a loan to Kiva, its repayment schedule would make it one way due to the one month timeframe.
Scoring The Championship
There will be three key criteria that will be judged to determine the champion, the amount of money raised, its efficacy and its artistry. Players who create a strategy that is elegant, efficient, novel and replicable will score more highly than people who simply repeat a very basic method, even if that method creates a higher ROI, the Tournament is supposed to be fun and challenging, so creativity is of more interest than brute force and volume.
Penalties will be applied to players that generate points in an unethical manner.
At the end of each week we will run a tally, leading towards the final score at the end of the month. Players are allowed to generate points, miles or Cash, at the end everything will be translated into a cash total as per the below:
- In order to compare amounts generated points and miles will be valued as per the fair trading value of points from The Frequent Miler
- Cash Back will be valued at face value providing it is available for statement credits.
- Buying of points with cash from the bankroll is allowed, trading of points is allowed only within officially recognized channels.
The leader board will be updated on each Friday, with the final week 4 announcing the winner, updates can be shared between the blogs of all participants at any time they chose; the official board will be posted on Frequent Miler.
Frequent Miler is widely accepted to be one of the most knowledgeable and well respected people in the Manufactured Spending area; it is our honor to announce him as judge of the tournament. I will be working in a supporting role to help collate the data.
We are starting out with some of the most innovative bloggers in points and miles community, this is our starting lineup:
If you would like to join the Tournament we are seeking players for the game now; please apply via email email@example.com the more the merrier, and I hope to see some non bloggers, I am willing to collate and post the work of 2 people who don’t have blogs, and if demand is higher we will do our very best to accommodate you also.
Tournament Signup ends on Thursday Feb 27th, the Tournament Begins on Saturday March 1st, and will run throughout March, we hope that you join us as players, or come along for the ride and support your favorites bloggers on their quest to be crowned The Manufactured Spending Champion!
Frequent Miler says
Actually, just subscribing to get comment alerts 🙂
Congratulations! Looking forward to working with you on this one, should be a blast!
You have to rope in PatMikeL and Amolkold for this!
I think Pat’s on Vacay but Amol would keep these guys on their toes for sure!
Amol (@PointsToPointB) says
I’m also out of the country for about 1/3 of March 🙁
Where is your confidence? Back in the day when you were wearing F PJs to Manufacture you could do it in 1/2 a month
Amol (@PointsToPointB) says
“Back in the day” = last week at CVS.
My vote is for Marathon Man.
Say his name three times when looking into a mirror and he will arrive.. And earn 1million points in a day
I think hes resting MS is 1m. Kind of like a resting heart rate, his resting MS is like 1m. The dude is a machine.
He’s a legend. He will win even if the rest of us combined our points and miles earnings.
This sounds like it will be tons of fun! Great idea Matt / FM, and all. Its a shame though that PatMikeL won’t be around to participate.
It’s no surprise I waited for her to leave the Country before making the announcement…
The Other Carl says
Awesome plan! I look forward to following… and learning!
Glad to have you along Carl
Sounds cool, but unfortunately I will be in Bogota, Cali and San Andres during the contest and most of the business down there is cash only.
Looking forward to watching this. May the best blogger win!
Would have loved to have you join us Senor Kennedy
Can’t wait to be a spectator to this MS festival! Great idea – may the best MSer win!
Welcome aboard! I think this is going to be great fun, would like to rope in a few more players too.
The Other Carl says
OK, on behalf of all the spectators, I’ll bite and ask: What would it take for some of us armchair enthusiasts to be roped in as players? I get that the prize is the glory and I’m cool with that. But how does the illustrious panel of judges plan to set criteria for what makes a winner? Or, in other words, do any of the non-pros have a chance at entering the winners circle?
I truly think that a lot of the bloggers who are playing already are far from ‘pro’ level when it comes to earning, but they are trying to bring unique angles to the competition. That should be the goal for everyone who would want to play.
You should imagine that $5K transactions (as the set starting limit) will be commonplace, and everyone will be striving to do that as often as they can, but scoring will be awarded on the Artistry and Efficacy of the techniques, so if a player thinks they can bring something to the table, we are excited to see it. Scoring will look at things like: Scalability (how high could the technique go without our caps) regional limitations (not everyone has a Walmart in town) Ethics, Efficiency, Excitement (or boredom) of the process etc…
Are new credit card bonuses eligible? I hope the answer is ‘no.’ I have a ten day vacation that was basically paid for with points and miles so I don’t think March is a good time for me to play-but I am excited to follow along!
No, it’s all about Manufacturing, new credit card signups for bonus points aren’t allowed.
Should be fun!
sounds like I’ll learn a lot
oops – missed the second little box
Chester White says
Just what we need: more publicity for this stuff. Thanks a lot.
Are you limited to a 5k credit limit on any individual credit card or across all cards regardless of what your bank roll is at the time? For example it’s the end of the month and your bank roll is up to idk $12,000, can you now rack up 12k of charges on that card(s) for the day or are you limited to $5k on credit and the rest would have to be debit or cash?
I could be doing the same exact churn as someone else, with the same starting bankroll but still end up losing at the end because my credit limits on my most profitable cards aren’t as high.
The $5K is your starting Bankroll, you can use it on one or many cards, if you add to your bankroll it increases, but Credit Card Cash Back will not increase your Bankroll, only portals etc… As such I doubt (though would be pleasantly surprised) that anyone will add on that much to it, it is more for offsetting fees and maintaining a working balance.
Bubba Zanetti says
When someone told me about this, I assumed it was a joke – who could be so stupid as to purposefully flaunt these methods via a contest amongst bloggers? But obviously I was wrong. While it’s one thing to provide exposure thru blogs and forums and web sites, it’s entire another to go out of your way to throw it in the face of the companies involved.
Why not just send this page directly to Amex, Citi and Chase, along with Cartera, CVS, etc. And then while you’re at it, cc the travel editors at the WSJ and USA Today. Maybe you can get the self important Mr. Pickles to post photos of his delivery carts full of coins for old times sake.
You’ve become the worst of the worst with this sort of stuff. You’re now the Nancy Grace of the points and miles earning world.
“You’re now the Nancy Grace of the points and miles earning world.”
Andrew C says
Seriously, this competition is really a terrible terrible idea.
Hey this would be a great source for a Wall Street Journal article!! You should email Scott McCartney and fill him in on all the ins and outs of the challenge. Any publicity is good publicity right?
I am so excited about this. Glad to see that ethics will be explicitly considered and that techniques will be spoken of cryptically when necessary. Also love the look of the starting lineup! I feel a little sorry for those contestants with day jobs, though.
I am eagerly looking forward to some new ideas. Thanks for starting this contest.
This is such a dumb idea, you guys just can’t leave it alone. Idiots.
Stupid idea and tournament says
It is really stupid idea. You guys will kill MS.
I don’t get it. Don’t you see the consequences?
You guys are smart.
Otherwise you won’t be able to figure out the best ways to do MS.
At the same time you surely understand the fragility of MS. This kind of publicity will sure have a significant impact.
These loopholes are rarely closed without somebody telling the whole world about it.
Why would anyone want to kill the golden goose?
Pleeeez don’t do this!!! Or at least don’t publicize it via a blog. Do it as a closed group and let it be there. Would make for a nice session in one of the upcoming FTU’s or Seminars.
Don’t get me wrong – I am into manufacturing spend and would have loved to read up on this tournament. I regularly follow blogs of some of the folks who are participating. But for the better good, I think you shouldn’t put this on a blog. It will only lead to increased scrutiny by involved parties and possibly cause problems for even the non-participants. Please don’t do it.
They ain’t gonna listen. They’re going to do it, and act like big-shot-geniuses (when others who are silent are WAY more accomplished) and it will get picked up nationally, and certain avenues will get shut off.
These selfish blogger guys are NOT OUR FRIENDS.
I fear that this may lead to adverse action for some of the accounts of the participants, as well as serving to limit future opportunities for manufactured spend.
Matt, how low will you go? You always seem to impress us with selling out for some extra publicity.
Rick I says
Might I suggest doing this deal “under the radar”. Have your contest if you must, but don’t publicize it with weekly updates. Find a discreet closed source of providing updates to those interested.
For those not in favor, i’ll have a post up for you tomorrow, til then, please dial it back a little. Cheers.
Yes, when you think about it, is it really something you want EVERYONE to know about? We’re all in favor of learning new tricks, but we don’t want to kill the golden goose.
Elena G says
Those entering the competition don’t have to tell you how they earned them. I’m sure it is up to them. We don’t want to kill all the secrets 😉 of course there are many things that pretty much is everywhere like Bluebird…so that is no secret. Anyways…should be fun!
Kathy (willrunformiles) says
I’m going to buy the Play Along At Home edition
And heckle from the cheap seats too I hope
I’ll take the alerts, sounds fun! Wish I could get it on it…
Joe ORban says
You guys are pretty stupid for doing this. This is really putting up in the face of retailers and card issuers “look how we can screw you.” Eventually they will wise up and shut all our avenues down, but you people doing this out in the open is plain stupid.
I agree that there is some negative value in talking about it, I look at like the negative value that comes from things like carbon emissions from mileage running. There truly is nothing we do that doesn’t have a negative consequence.
However, I think that there is positive factors created too, the education process can help us all understand how to find new opportunities, as naturally the existing ones will simply go away, I hope to take these concepts far beyond just Credit Cards. Also, understanding the supply chain is important. There were no retailers harmed in the production of this post….
Glad you mentioned carbon emissions because that’s really been on my mind when I read about the contestants driving hither and yon from one OM to the next. In real life I do try to MS when it is on my route anyway. (She says as she prepares to take a small detour to an OM on the way home….)
Yeah. There’s a lot of harm we all do in the process of doing what we want.
The Miles Professor says
I walk between all my CVS and Duane Reades 🙂
Any plans for a 2015 tournament?
Nothing firm yet… but nothing gets planned that far in advance around here 🙂
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