Manufacturing Money Spent: Bluebird

update: BlueBird has shut down many accounts of people who have used them to Manufacture Money Spent as in this article and others. While not all have been shut down and it is still possible to open accounts and do a bit of MMSing, it is dying and should not be seen as a guaranteed option.

Manufacturing Money Spent or MMS. What is that and what does it mean? MMS is the act of making it look like more money is being spent on a credit card than you are actually spending. Often times, as it is with the strategy I demonstrate in this post, a person will spend 1% to earn points or miles. This means, that if a credit card gives a return of anything more than that 1%, we can turn a profit. It means that when we sign up for a credit card that has a $5,000 minimum spending requirement to receive the sign up bonus, we do not actually have to spend $5,000 of our money.

Gift Cards

The first step in this strategy to MMS is to find a local store that sells Visa or MasterCard gift cards. I go to my local grocery store, where I get a 5% return on groceries, and buy their $500 Visa or MasterCard gift card. They each come with a one time activation fee of $5.95, so just above 1%. There isn’t much difference between the two, the main thing to keep in mind when buying the gift cards is that they can not be Vanilla brand, any other bank issuer is fine, and American Express gift cards do not work. The other difference is that with the Visa cards, the PIN is automatically the last 4-digits of the card number, while with MasterCard, there is either a code attached to the card, or you have to call MasterCard to set a PIN. Once I have my gift cards, I make my way over to Walmart.

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Excluding Steak and Shake, these cards all had balances of $200 or $500

Bluebird

Bluebird was created from a partnership between Walmart and American Express (Amex.) It is a prepaid card with online access, it is not a checking account and there is no credit attached or involved. A Bluebird card can be obtained in two ways, either by purchasing a temporary card at Walmart, usually for $5, or by going to their site, Bluebird.com and signing up there. Temporary cards must be registered on their site and go through the application process as well. They will mail a permanent card once the application is approved. Identity verification is required at times.

Bluebird has compliance limitations to what accounts are allowed to do. Each account can upload $1000/day at Walmart’s ATM machines or $1,500 at the Money Center. They can also only load $5,000 per month per account. With this, we can MMS $5,000/month, not a small amount, however, some, like myself, want to be able to MMS more than that. I currently manage 7 Bluebird accounts that my family and best friend have opened and allowed me to use. This means I can load $35,000/month. If I do it all at the grocery store and I use my Wells Fargo Cash Back card, which gives 5% cash back at grocery stores, I will spend $416.50, but I will receive $1750 in cash back, turning a profit of $1,333.50 per month.

Bluebirds Small

Now that I’m at Walmart, I’ve bought my Visa or MasterCard gift cards, and I have my Bluebird cards, I head over to the Money Center. If there is an ATM, I use that, otherwise, I head to the register. If I’m at the register, I hand the cashier a Bluebird card and tell her I would like to add $500 to my account, sometimes $500 to two accounts. If I have a Visa card, when the time comes, I just slide the card, enter the last 4 digits of the card number and it should go through. If I have a MasterCard, I have to hit “Change Payment” and select “debit card,” enter the PIN that came attached to the card or the new PIN I called to set and, it too, should go through. If I use the ATM, my preference because I generally don’t like telling cashiers what I’m doing or that I’m using a gift card to add money to my account, I hit the Bluebird button to start. I follow the steps of swiping my Bluebird card, entering the amount I want to load, $500 at a time, accepting the amount, clicking “Debit Card” as the payment option, and swiping my gift card. Here, it does not matter if I have Visa or MasterCard, both will work, I just slide, enter the PIN and finish.

While at the ATM, when I try to load more than $1,000 onto one account or $1,500-$2,000 onto multiple accounts, the ATM’s camera sees that it is the same person and decides that I have reached the compliance limit for the day. I have to wait until a worker comes to help or just walk away. If I wait, the associate will generally cancel the transaction and I will either have to wait until the next day to continue or go to the cashier and put a last $500-$1,000 onto an account or two. To avoid the machine showing the compliance message, after I load $500 or $1,000, I’ll walk away and either get a drink of water, use the restroom, do some shopping or let someone else use it and wait behind them. If I go shopping, I ask to load $500 at the end of the transaction. This time away resets the ATM and will allow a bit more to be loaded without the message popping up.

Once I have loaded my gift card balances onto my Bluebird accounts, I either go onto my Bluebird App or go home and pull up the accounts on my computer. Once I am logged in, I go to the “Pay a Bill” page, this is the final step in the MMS strategy. I’ve added my payee’s by clicking the “Add Payee” button, searching for whichever bank issued the credit card I purchased my gift cards on and then putting in my credit cards info so that I can send payments to it. I give the payee the nickname of the type of card I have so I can distinguish between payees without referencing card numbers when I have more than one credit card from a single bank. Bank accounts can be linked too and the balances can be withdrawn to it instead of being sent to the credit card. Since the payee is set, I click “Pay a Bill” and send the balance from my Bluebird account to the credit card.

Using this strategy, I make it look like I am spending thousands of dollars each month while only spending 1% of that. Any spending requirement is within reach and any points or miles goals can be achieved. It is essential to stay organized when doing this with more than one card, it can become complicated very quickly. Watch for my upcoming post about how to stay organized and MMS like a pro.

 

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How to Get IHG Points for .292 Cents – Stay in Hotels for $15!

While the offer is limited, IHG – Intercontinental Hotel Group, is still offering the purchase of 100,000 Rewards Club Points for only $565 through Daily Getaways, a purchase value of .565 cents, a better value than the normal points and cash purchase value of .7 cents – 10,000 for $70, it seems most people have not realized that this is actually a much better deal than it appears.

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When purchasing getaways from the site, the purchases are coded as travel, so we are able to buy the points using the Barclay’s Arrival Plus card and earn 2 miles per dollar and then 10% back when redeeming for travel – essentially 2.2 miles per dollar spent; okay, great, we’ll get 1243 miles back – $12.43, not adding up.

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The great thing here is that we can buy Visa and Mastercard gift cards, $500 for $5.95 (at my local grocery store,) and upload them to BlueBird by American Express and Walmart and then use that money to pay Barclays. But, wait, there’s still the $1,000/day $5,000/month limit, and we need 55,257 miles to redeem for the purchase (minus the miles earned on the purchase,) and we only have 120 days to earn them.

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Here’s something I haven’t read about in any blogs; open Bluebird accounts for friends and families – it’s a prepaid debit card, no attachment to credit, I have done it with my four family members, best friend, and grandma and hope to open others in more family and friends names. This allows for a lot more miles to be earned, much more quickly, now the limit is how many friends and family members will let you open an account in their name instead of the set limitations.

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Now, during the 120 days, we can buy 55 gift cards (round to the next highest, without factoring the 10% point rebate) for $327.25 and upload each to our Bluebird accounts. Redeem 56,500 miles for the paid value of $565 and voila! Our price has dropped to $327.25, factor in the rebate and you have another 5650 miles left which you didn’t have to buy another 6 gift cards for $35.70 to get, so take that from the price and we’re at $291.55, or .29155 per point.
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Now, redeem these points for 20 nights at the IHG Pointbreak Hotels for 5,000 points per night, and you’re looking at 20 nights at a hotel for $14.58 – cheaper than a lot of shared dorms in hostels. While most of the hotels are budget ones like Holiday Inn, there are some incredible places on the list – like the beautiful InterContinental Lhasa Paradise in Lhasa, XZ, China, where rooms start at $180 when I looked, a savings of $165.42  or 91.9% every night, and a point redemption value of 3.6 cents. Another top place currently is the Hotel Indigo in San Jose, Costa Rica where the rooms start at $123.  Hurry, because these deals are almost gone.

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