How to Manufacture Spend: A Simple Guide

I never thought I would be spending money to make money, but here we are. To meet the spend requirement of any GOOD credit card bonus, you’re going to have to spend some money. I don’t like wasting money, so I’m going to fake spend money through credit card manufactured spending. In this post, I’ll show you how to manufacture spend too!

Credit card manufactured spend is the process of making purchases on a credit card that you can later convert back to cash. You’ll then use the cash you made from the purchase to pay back your credit card while pocketing the credit card cashback, miles or hotel points.

Once you learn how to manufacture spend you’ll be able to meet a credit card’s minimum spend requirement without having to waste your money by forcing yourself to spend.  See: 8 Easy Ways to Manufacture Spend Online

Getting Started with Manufactured Spending

Manufactured spending is the process of spending money without wasting money. People only manufactured spend to meet a credit card sign up bonus or to get cashback, points, and miles. That means, when you sign up for a credit card that comes with a bonus, you’ll be required to spend money to get that bonus.

In other cases, some credit cards have lucrative cashback bonuses so manufactured spenders will try their best to take advantage of it. I know, because that’s me. That’s because I used manufactured spend to get out of debt and to get way too many credit cards.

Manufactured Spend Examples

Manufactured spending isn’t limited to just meeting your credit card sign up bonus. You can also use it when you see that a bonus cashback category suits your spending habits. See: How to get free stuff on Amazon

  1. Sign up bonus: 50,000 airlines miles after $3000 in spend in 90 days
    • Send $3000 to a relative using PayPal (Good/Services payment) with a 2.9% fee. This is done as 3 payments of $1000 over the course of 2 months
    • Pay $267 in PayPal fees for the transaction
    • Your relative then sends that money back to you through a bank transfer. I like Chase’s QuickPay with Zelle
    • You then pay your credit card bill of $3267
    • Your 50,000 airlines miles will appear several days after your credit card statement
  2. Sign up bonus: $100 statement credit after $1000 in spend in 90 days
    • Spend $1000 buying Amazon gift cards at $25 each
    • Then sell the 40 gift cards on eBay for $29 each.
    • Wait for your items to sell
    • eBay takes a 10% commission and PayPal takes a 3% commission meaning your out 13% of your money.
  3. Bonus category: Discover has 5% back on up to $1500 quarterly on Amazon shopping. Also giving you double cashback your first year for 10% total cashback on Amazon.
    • Spend $1500 on Amazon using Rebate Key using your Discover credit card
    • Wait 35 days after your purchase on Rebate key to get you $1500 back
    • Use that $1500 to pay off your Discover card
    • Collect 10% of $1500 = $150 bonus
  4. Bonus Category: 10x Cashback on groceries
    • Whenever there’s a big cashback bonus on groceries, you should consider buying gift cards for Amazon and gift cards for things you might need like: gas, home improvements (Lowes/Home Depot), Uber, flights and hotels. Pretty much all the gift cards are included in the bonus category if you can buy it at a supermarket. You can sell the Amazon gift cards for more than their face value on eBay and about the same face value for most of the other cards for the low denominations.

How long do I have to meet the credit card minimum spend?

A majority of credit card sign up bonus will give you 90 days (or worded as “3 months”) to complete your sign up bonus. What they don’t tell you is that you have 90 days from when you are first approved for the credit card. The timer for your spend doesn’t start once you have your credit card!

I really think it’s unfair to start counting your credit card spend on the day you are approved for the credit card. You’ll likely not have the credit card for the one to three weeks. Some banks like American Express will provide you your new credit card number once you are approved, but many others won’t.

Although if you don’t take a picture or write down your credit card number in 30 seconds of them showing your credit card number, you won’t be able to get the credit card numbers until the card arrives in the mail. I ONLY know this because it has happened to me. A big purchase was in the works and I decided to get a new credit card. I didn’t know that the number would disappear after 30 seconds and I wasn’t writing it down. I was going to type it in after my online purchase and then the browser window closed. Lesson Learned: Take a screenshot immediately.

How do you meet minimum spend on credit cards?

You can meet the minimum spend for credit card bonuses by manufactured spending. Manufactured spending is the process of spending money on your credit card on a product, item, event or payment to later convert back into money so you can pay your credit card.

Many people use manufactured spending to meet credit card minimum spend requirements because it’s a way of spending money WITHOUT actually having to spend your money. It sounds crazy, but the lucrative bank bonuses can be in the range of $500 USD on premium credit cards and bank accounts. That’s free money that could be in your pocket if you use the right strategy.

Running the Manufactured Spend Numbers: Is it worth it?

Whenever you do manufactured spending, you’ll have to calculate the costs of spending money in relation to the bonus. Spending 3% of $3,000 will cost you $90 in order to achieve a $500 sign up bonus. With an annual fee of $100, this gives you a total net gain of $310 with minimal effort.

Simply put, is the spend worth the bonus? For me, a 3% fee is pretty reasonable in most situations as long as the bonus gained is high enough. It’s different for everyone, so run the numbers and see if the effort, fees and time are worth it for the bonus.

How do I start manufacture spending?

To start your manufacture spending for miles journey, you’ll first need to assess:

  • how much you need to spend
  • how much are you willing to pay
  • how long are you willing to wait

Each of these 8 different ways you can manufacture spend online explains the fees and timelines required for each method. My personal favorite is manufacture spending with PayPal. I send money to my brother as a payment for Good/Services through PayPal (not friends and family) and then pay with a credit card which incurs a 2.9% fee.

Before you start manufacture spending for points, you’ll need to do the math and see if the fees for each method are worth it for you. Some methods have high fees but immediately spend to get your money back while others have low fees but your money could be tied up in assets for weeks.

The only difference when manufactured spending for beginners is that you should start slowly with small amounts to understand the process of each method. That way you have a good feel for the fees, wait times and possible issues you might incur during the process.

Is manufactured spending illegal?

Manufactured spending may seem like money laundering, but it is not illegal. If you are caught manufactured spending, you won’t go to jail, but the worst thing that can happen is that the bank takes back their points that you earned through manufactured spending.

Obviously, don’t do anything illegal and then claim it’s credit card manufactured spending. You can still get arrested for your usual illegal activity. Many years ago there was the federal coin mint trick. You could legally buy $1 coins from the US Government with a credit card at no charge. Then you could deposit the coins into any bank and pay off your credit card. As you can imagine, people racked up a lot of points and this was completely legal. The mint coin trick was eventually closed once a story was published about it in the newspaper. (Article from the WSJ)

When Manufactured Spending goes wrong

Before doing any manufactured spending, make sure to take all the precautions before diving in. You don’t want to lose your money or get charged crazy fees, right? When attempting to meet my credit card minimum spend, the first step is to change your cash advance fee limit.

Cash Advance Fees for Manufactured Spending

In the past, I’ve made the credit card mistake of making a purchase and being charged a cash advance fee. I was actually drowning in fees for buying bitcoin with a credit card. Not all banks process transactions the same, but US Bank charged me a cash advance fee and a foreign transaction fee since the bitcoin website did the transaction outside the United States. Luckily, you can get these fees refunded by asking the bank.

Get your cash advance fees waived: Luckily, I just called nicely and asked them to waive the fees since “I didn’t know there would be fees for my purchase.” At least that’s what I said and US Bank was nice enough to the fees. If you read my credit card tips you should know, I explain more about how you can get fees refunded just by asking.

Change your cash advance limit to $0: By changing your cash advance limit to $0, you can’t accidentally make any purchases where you’ll get a cash advance fee. In the event that you try to make a transaction that qualifies as a cash advance, the transaction will be declined.

Do cash advances count as purchases? Cash advances, balance transfers and checks do not count as purchases. This means none of this activity will contribute to your credit card minimum spend requirements.

Hacked Gift Cards

One of the most popular ways to manufacture spend is through buying and liquidating gift cards. It takes a lot of effort to buy and liquidate these gift cards…and it carries a lot of risk. Since you’ll be carrying thousands of dollars with you and have the risk of it being stolen or the risk of not being able to turn it back to cash.

I think I have PTSD from buying Visa gift cards in stores. My hands still sweat thinking about being in the store trying to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of gift cards. Typically, I would be denied for a large purchase and my hands were always sweaty when they checked my ID and ran my credit card. Some places didn’t even check my ID for a $2000 gift card purchase which is even worse.

Getting the visa gift cards were one thing, but the next big challenge would be turning it back to money. I was denied even more times in stores for money orders. Eventually, I just paid the fees to liquidate them through PayPal. That’s why I don’t recommend gift cards as a way to manufacture spend. Other people might, but all my methods are online and much easier.

Buying gift cards in stores and online can be dangerous. I know you want to meet your credit card minimum spend requirement, but it’s still better to miss out on that bonus than getting robbed. Play it safe and know these risks when buying gift cards to manufacture spend.

In-Store Purchase: If you’re at a store buying more than $100 in gift cards, people notice. I always felt uncomfortable buying $1800-$2000 in gift cards at stores. That specific purchase amount rode right at the limit for most retail shops. You’ll need to watch out for (1) people physically robbing you and (2) that the gift cards had not already been hacked.

It’s possible for people to steal the numbers on gift cards at supermarkets and reseal the security code. Of course, the gift card has no value until you make the purchase. But these unethical people may have already input the numbers into a program that constantly tries to redeem the gift card until they are activated.

Online Purchases: You can buy gift cards online and then liquidate them through some sites like PayPal or Plastiq. The only problem is that some people that buy gift cards online receive gift cards that have been completely liquidated. That means they ordered gift cards with $2000 on it, but then receive gift cards with a $0 value. This happened to me.

I thought online purchases were safe until I was scammed out of my $2000 purchase. Luckily, I was able to do a chargeback to get my money back, but it was a 3-month battle to prove my innocence. After this event, I completely stopped buying gift cards to meet credit card spend requirements. I did some online digging and found that this is a problem many people have had with Visa gift cards from the Blackhawk Network.

Western Union Manufactured Spending

I don’t recommend using Western Union to generate spend because of the massive fees associated with your transaction. It’s actually pretty slow, inconvenient and expensive to do Western Union Manufactured Spending. I know it sounds like a great idea since you can transfer money using a credit card directly to a bank account, but you can’t do any of it online. You have to physically go to a Western Union and fill out a lot of paperwork manually to process your transaction.

Fees can run from 15% to 35% depending on how much and how you are sending money. They hide the fees and make the process pretty slow. I had to send a relative $100 through Western Union and was charged $135 total. That’s 35%. It’s significantly cheaper and faster to use PayPal, Venmo or cryptocurrency to send other people money instantly and reasonably low costs. Long story short, don’t use Western Union for anything.

Can banks take back points for manufactured spend?

If you are caught manufactured spending banks can take away all the points you earned. It’s a violation of their terms because you are abusing their point system. Most people that are caught are manufacture spending over $50,000 a year.

American Express is notorious for taking back points. They have a lot of great credit cards so I’d want to keep my relationship good with them. Point clawbacks with Chase don’t happen too often. It’s more likely that you’d get points taken away directly with their partner programs like British Airways Avios and Hyatt.

What happens if I miss the spend requirement bonus?

In the event that you were not able to meet the spend requirement for a bank bonus, you will not receive the bonus. I’ve made the mistake before because I miscalculated my total spend due to the annual fee. I’ve tried asking the bank if there’s anything they can do so I can still get the sign up bonus, the answer has always been “no.”

Does the credit card annual fee count towards the minimum spend?

Credit card annual fees do not count toward the spend for a credit card sign up bonus. You’ll need to factor this in when meeting your credit card minimum spend challenge.

What happens if there is a better sign up bonus for the same credit card?

In the event that you signed up for a credit card just before a better offer is released, most of the time the bank will give you the bigger credit card bonus. As long as you ask for the better credit card bonus within 3 months of your initial application, you will very likely be give the higher bonus.

It’s very common for credit card companies like American Express and Chase to have different bonuses on their credit cards throughout the year.


Always set your cash advance limit to $0 so transactions can’t be treated as a Cash advance. Sometimes when manufacturing spend with gift cards you can run into issues like card being empty. If you miss your credit card spend requirement, it’s over. There’s no bonus for you. When a bank releases a better credit card bonus during your first 90 days of having the credit card, you can request a match to the better offer. Credit card annual fees do not add count towards your spending.

You can meet credit card bonus minimum spending through manufactured spending. It’s a method to spend money without actually having to spend money. Manufactured spending not illegal like money laundering, but it’s in a grey area of legality. It’s not illegal to do manufacture spending, but if your caught it can be seen as a form of rewards abuse from the bank. The bank can then take away all the points you earned. There are lots of manufactured spending opportunities and even more methods for failure. Start slow and aim low.