Manufactured Spending

Category Archives for Manufactured Spending.

Airbnb Hosting by the Numbers: 2017 Update

My downtown Dallas Airbnb

Also see: 

Thought it was time to do an update on my Airbnb hosting. And the state of it. Mostly because if the numbers look good, I might get another one.

Long ago, I started my Airbnb operation in New York, which was a smashing success. Until it wasn’t. I no longer have properties in New York, as of last month.

So far it’s going well in Dallas. I have two here. They’re easy to track and manage for what they are because they’re on two separate profiles.

airbnb hosting 2017

My downtown Dallas Airbnb

In my opinion, a side business is the best way to “manufacture spend” these days. I easily put $6,000+ of expenses on my cards each month – and the bulk of that is in bonus categories.

I recently found out some rent payments code as 3X for “travel” with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. So that’ll keep me with an extra ~20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per month – a handy ransom (if they all code as 3X)!

Airbnb hosting by the numbers

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Did You Do the Kohl’s Appliance Deal? Get Back $2 per Item!

Throw them all in the same pot

Out and Out reader Claudia let me know all the of the items included in last week’s awesome Kohl’s appliance deal are now on sale for $14.99 (at the time, they were all $16.99).

So if you’re crazy like I was/am, and bought 40 items in total, making a quick 15-minute call to Kohl’s can get you $80 back!

That obviously sweetens the previous deal – and saves you more.

Here are a couple of things to note.

Some tips for Kohl’s, and shopping in general

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[EXPIRED] Hurry! ~$500 Moneymaker on Kitchen Appliances at Kohl’s With Discover It or Freedom

Lots of appliances for $17

Update 10/4/16: It looks like Kohl’s gift card purchases from the MPX app are NOT coding as department store as expected. Peeps in the comments say it didn’t work with their Chase Freedom cards.

No dice here, either

No dice here, either 🙁

It looks to also be true with Discover It. My purchase coded as “Misc. General Merchandise.” So I lost the 10% cashback and will get 2% cashback instead.

I haven’t heard of this happening before now, so I will gather new data points before I recommend this moving forward. Thanks to all who let me know!

I’m bummed about this, but at least we got the 1,500 United miles (worth ~$30) as consolation. Though I would’ve preferred the cashback.

Update 10/3/16: This deal has expired. I plan on writing about my experience with it – here’s how to keep up with the blog so you’ll get the updates!

Need a little rush this weekend? How about buying $600+ worth of appliances at Kohl’s? 

Last year they had a similar appliance deal I didn’t take part in. But this year I did.

Now before you think I’m crazy (although it may be waaay too late for that), let me explain.

This is a moneymaker if you do it right!

Hat tip to Jill Cataldo for blogging about this and my friend Jas for turning me on to this deal!

Build the deal

I feel like I say this every time I write about Kohl’s, but… it’s no secret I freaking love Kohl’s.

Right now, they have a lot of appliances on sale for $17, including:

Lots of appliances for $17

Lots of appliances for $17

In total, there are 8 kitchen appliances at the $17 price. 

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All of the items have a $12 Visa gift card rebate

And, all of the items linked above are eligible for a $12 mail-in rebate. You get a Visa gift card with a limit of 5 per product.

That means if you buy 5 of all 8 items, you can get 40 X $12 back, or $480.

Right now, there’s also a 15% promo code: SMS1871. And it does work for these items.

When you add all of them to your cart and add the promotion code, the total is ~$625. You also get $110 in Kohl’s cash to spend next week.

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I paid ~$625 for all 40 appliances

Note that taxes in your state might be different than mine! In Texas, the taxes came to ~$48.

And, you must purchase the items by tomorrow, October 2nd, 2016, to qualify for the rebate (here’s the rebate form). Cheers to the weekend!

Stack stack stack

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Get an Extra 3X on Gift Cards at Staples (So 8X If You Have a 5X Office Supply Card)

Update: Wow, instant response! Chuck from Doctor of Credit let me know this may or may not work. So for now, I think the best thing to do is start slow at your local Staples (like try $5 and see if it works) and go from there, should you decide to try this. Thanks all for any info you want to add!

I was poking around as I am wont to do and assembled an 8X combination that I think will work.

Now, I haven’t done this myself, but it seems totally do-able.

What you’ll need to get started is:

  • The MileagePlus X app (which I’ve written about) AND
  • If you want 8X points, a Visa or MasterCard that earns 5X at office supply stores

Such as:

You can also get 5X on top of what you’ll earn from any other card with the exception of a couple of Amex cards.

Or, if you’re trying to meet a minimum spending requirement and want to get an extra 3X at office supply stores, this should work nicely.

Stack 3X through MileagePlus X with 5X on another card

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Is the Citi AT&T Access More Card + RadPad a Viable MS Option?

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Also see: 

I wrote earlier about my wishes for the Citi ThankYou program and increasing fascination with Citi.

Today, I had some sort of psychic break and picked up the Citi AT&T Access More card.

Oops, I did it again

Oops, I did it again

I applied for it instead of the Citi ThankYou Premier card. Based on my current spending habits, and the fact that I already have Citi Prestige, the Citi ThankYou Premier seemed redundant.

Except for its broad 3X category for all travel including gas. But then I thought, you know, no.

Before I go all-in with Citi ThankYou, I wanna see what’s next. I can pick up that card up any time. And use my Chase Sapphire Preferred (or some other card) for gas/other travel.

And then, thinking more on the Citi AT&T Access More card, I thought about why it could be better. Including for paying rent at RadPad, a topic I’ve mined frequently.

About the Citi AT&T Access More card

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16 Points & Miles Predictions for 2016

"Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?"

Happy New Year! I thought I’d hop on the bandwagon with the predictions. So here’s my effort.

"Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?"

“Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?”

2015 was a crazy year

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

Out and Out’s Points and Miles Predictions for 2016

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Out and Out’s Best Posts of 2015

Celebrate!

Wow. Out and Out made huge strides in 2015. A lot happened – and even more will happen in 2016.

Blog traffic tripled this year. In fact December 2015 is the biggest month ever for the blog (and it’s not over yet!). I’m thinking of how to improve things around here even more, and celebrating every step of the way because I couldn’t grow without your support.

Celebrate!

Celebrating!

You guys are awesome. I love my readers!

I’ve ironed out many ideas on here and found solid resolutions thanks to tons of community-focused comments. And meeting new peeps at the regular Reach for the Miles meetup has been fantastic.

I hope to continue the momentum and keep improving.

But first, I want to take a moment to pause and look back at where we’ve been this year.

Best of 2015

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PayPal My Cash Cards With Credit Cards at CVS Still Working, but YMMV

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Also see: 

Out and Out reader Jack commented:

Had trouble today for the first time loading my PayPal my cash card with a credit card at CVS.

Once the lady scanned the PayPal My Cash card the computer prompted her as CASH ONLY. She refused my credit card.

Did they finally hardcode?

I wanted to follow up because I had a similar experience here in New York City.

I went to a CVS on Houston Street, handed over 2 PayPal My Cash cards, and requested $500 on each, for a total of $1,007.90 after activation fees.

The cards scanned without a problem, and the total popped up.

I swiped my new Citi Prestige card, hoping to help meet the $3,000 minimum spending requirement this way, and then pay with rent with RadPad and the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard.

Like Jack, I got a similar prompt on the register. I asked if she wouldn’t mind just trying to swipe the card. It wasn’t declined. It simply didn’t process.

She said it looked like cash only – no credit cards allowed.

So I set out to try a store in southern Illinois over the Thanksgiving break.

Success! But it’s very YMMV

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Get an Easy 1% Cash Back on Your Rent and Other Debit Card Purchases

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Also see: 

I have to thank Out and Out reader Greg for pointing this out.  He says:

I have a Paypal Business Debit MasterCard that earns me 1% cash back on “credit” purchases. I don’t fund it, I just use it to pay almost all of my bills and have it linked to my bank account.

I get my 1% cash back on everything, don’t have to worry about my Paypal balance (as long as my bank balance is good), it makes me feel like I’ve added a layer of protection to my bank account, and it buys me some float time from when I make a purchase until it clears my bank account.

I don’t do “debit” transactions with it BC I don’t get 1% cash back and and money is immediately withdrawn from my bank account… Unless of course my Paypal account still has a balance left from my monthly cash back reward, then that is deducted before anything hits my bank account.

After doing a little digging, Greg is absolutely right!

I wrote about how to pay rent with RadPad and the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard.

You can add in PayPal My Cash cards purchased from CVS to earn points and miles, too. As long as you load up your account and ONLY take the money out through a purchase made from the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard.

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RadPad and PayPal play well together

And yes, RadPad specifically codes as a purchase and earns 1% cash back.

In application

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List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

Also see: 

Spoiler alert. On this list, I find the FIA Fidelity AMEX to be the most valuable. I just love that card so much.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

Thank you for being a friend – and for NOT being issued by American Express

And this post is gonna be focused on Serve.

Note: It is possible to send money between Serve and REDbird, or Serve and Bluebird.

So if you’re managing multiple cards, you can get a Serve card, load it up for $1,000 each month, and send it to Bluebird or REDbird to pay bills that normally don’t accept credit cards. Like student loans, utilities, mortgage payments, or anyone else.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express: 

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Exploring Amex Serve for free money and handy uses after April 16th

Also see:

 

Since I’m without REDbird and just have Serve as an option here in NYC, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to best use Serve following its move to Amex-only cards after April 16th.

They’re really not leaving consumers with a whole lot of options, but there are a few ways to get some great value and/or handy uses out of Serve using just American Express cards.

But don’t get them from American Express

In this post, I produced a list of all the Amex cards that are not issued by American Express.

Why?

Credit cards issued by American Express will not earn points and will not count toward minimum spend when used to load Serve. Which is so lame. I’d love to be able to use the Amex EveryDay Preferred to load this puppy up.

But alas, we take what we can get.

The FIA Fidelity Amex (!!!)

Why don’t other bloggers talk about this card more? This is my number one use of this card following April 16th. I’ve written about this card in detail many times before.

The transactions post flawlessly and are coded as purchases and earn free money.

I loaded up my Serve this month with my Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard for $990 to take AAdvantage of the 50% bonus that I was targeted for a few weeks ago to earn some extra free miles.

But then I loaded up the remaining $10 to my FIA Fidelity Amex to see how it would post.

Serve reloads code as purchases with FIA

Serve reloads code as purchases with FIA

And points post without any issue

And points post without any issue

What does this mean?

You can earn an extra completely, totally 100% free $240 to credit toward an IRA, brokerage account, or checking account for 1 minute of “work” each month. I use the Serve iPhone app to blearily load up my Serve account from bed the first 5 days of each month. It takes me literally seconds. This is the easiest money I’ve ever earned in my life, I think. I consider this, by far, the best use of the Serve card after April 16th.

Why?

The FIA Fidelity Amex has no annual fee and earns an unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase… including Serve reloads.

Say you get the FIA Fidelity Amex, which is free, and the Serve card, which is also free, and load up $1,000 each month and then pay it off.

You’d be stashing away a free $240 annually into a retirement account with very little effort.

I plugged in my own numbers into Bloomberg’s retirement calculator, and, assuming I contribute nothing but the $240 each year (and it grows at 7% annually) between now and when I’m 68, I’d have a totally free $40,000+ waiting for me on the other side.

My $240 a year would grow to over $40,000 for my retirement

My $240 a year would grow to over $40,000 for my retirement

This whole Serve reload thing probably won’t last for the next 38 years, but take the free money while you can. I like to stash away at least $200-$400 per month into my IRA, and the extra $20 isn’t much but with compound interest on your side, a little truly goes a long way. And this is completely free money. Which is awesome, and there is no reason not to take advantage of this if you can.

Get some free miles

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Earning Points with Serve Reloads After April 16th

Also see:

I haven’t fallen off the earth or anything like that. Real estate in NYC is heating up, and my past few days have been pretty crazy with gearing up for the busy summer season.

I still intend to post the remaining 2 reviews from my recent NOLA excursion and have a few other things in the pipeline for ol’ Out and Out. And of course I’ve been keeping up with the latest points and miles news.

And here is a post in which I clutch at straws.

REDbird Part 2

Boo hissss

Boo hissss

After having a terrible time reloading the REDbird card at my local Target in Brooklyn, I brutally dumped it and opened a new Serve account.

So, I was pretty dismayed when I found out they were going to restrict credit card reloads to only include American Express cards starting April 16th.

“Manufacturing spend” in New York City is already hard enough, and this is definitely an added blow. But there are 2 things I can find here that still might make Serve worth it for some people.

1. Even without earning points, this is a great way to pay bills that would not otherwise accept credit cards

2. There are at least 2 Amex cards that are NOT issued by American Express that may still earn points

The first point. Although there are better ways to pay rent than with Serve, if you need to float your payments through a charge card for a month or so, you can still use your Serve account to pay your bill and give you a little extra wiggle room, which could help a lot with cash flow from month to month.

The second point. It is up to the individual card issuers about whether or not to issue points for a purchase. American Express has decided they will not issue points for their own credit cards. But what about Amex cards that are not issued by American Express?

FIA and Citi + others

Two that I can think of right away are the FIA Fidelity Amex and the Citibank Platinum AAdvantage Amex. Both banks do not currently impose cash advance fees for Serve reloads (someone correct me if I’m wrong here), and both banks should continue to issue points since the reloads code as a purchase.

American Express may not give you points, but FIA and Citi still might. And this might continue to be a good way to get either 12,000 AAdvantage miles per year for minimal effort or $240 free dollars contributed toward an IRA with Fidelity.

Then, going back to the first point, you’d still earn miles and/or points for loading up your Serve card, and then can pay rent, student loans, mortgage payments, etc. to merchants who wouldn’t otherwise accept credit cards.

List of Amex cards not issued by American Express, by issuer

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