Author Topic: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?  (Read 101275 times)

Mister Fancypants

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #100 on: March 28, 2014, 07:48:21 AM »
Just here to reiterate what Saverocity and others have mentioned, which is to start small and work your way up. 

Also be aware of the financial review:

http://boardingarea.com/viewfromthewing/2013/05/02/preparing-for-the-dreaded-american-express-financial-review/ 



I actually under report my earning when applying for credit and generally use slightly more then my gross W-2 earnings.

We have substantial insurance income that is not reported on our tax returns and I feel it would so much more of a hassle to deal with a review, so it is easier to under report. For things like a mortgage I report the insurance earnings as it is more practical... But for an AmEx card it's not worth it.

I keep my total credit utilization including my HELOC under 40% and never let any single credit card go over 80% and pay every balance off in full every month... I don't imagine I will have a problem unless I am simply randomly selected from a computer... But my guess is the criteria is not so random (nothing in computers is ever that random).

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #101 on: March 28, 2014, 08:03:01 AM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic.

You just described most of the financial services industry.
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Mister Fancypants

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #102 on: March 28, 2014, 08:10:24 AM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something. Parasitism is where one side gains, one side loses.

You may well expend effort in getting this money, but if the value of the money is greater than the value of your time, it is 'worth doing' - financially.

I didn't know you were employed by any of the companies providing the products that facilitated "Manufactured Spending" and could verify that they don't provide a benefit to anyone but the person getting cash back?

Let's analyze that, for starters, if you buy Vanilla Reload cards, Vanilla Reload (InComm) makes $3.95 per card, if you swipe your credit card at CVS or 7-11 they record a store sale for the dollar amount you charged and InComm gets a fee for processing that charge. There are interchange fees associated with credit card swipes so the acquiring bank and the issuing bank gets a slice of that fee. The rewards card is supported by marketing fees, so the swipe might be at a loss but the use of the card is part of the marketing cost which is used to sell other cards and increases market share of the card to make that card profitable, and only an insider would know that.

So you make some pretty blanket statements based purely on your beliefs that this takes advantage of a lot of companies, when in fact these very companies might be encouraging the behavior by making it accessible to the savvy intelligent users but simply can't market it.

Many other companies want your data like Amazon or PayPal and they will pay dearly for it.

In the end, if AmEx didn't want you to load Serve with a credit card then they wouldn't make it an option, they do so your ethics are nonsense. They as a credit card company also don't make the charges cash advances.... I doubt that's a coincidence... If CVS didn't want you to charge at their store they wouldnít have made the deal with AmEx. If Vanilla Reload didnít want to be the service provider they too would not be taking credit cards.

You seem to think you know what these companies want you to do and think people are taking advantage of stupid poor people, but your attitude is simply based on uninformed guesses and is nothing more than an opinion. So if people found a way to operate within the TOS of various products to make money more power to them, if you donít want to do that is your prerogative but donít tell people this is unethical and no else benefits when you absolutely no proof whatsoever to back up your statements.




Mister Fancypants

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #103 on: March 28, 2014, 08:17:44 AM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic.

You just described most of the financial services industry.

Thatís an unfair accusation there are at least 7 people who work in finance who aren't parasites :P

All kidding aside, for the most part the goal of a company is to be profitable, and if it is a financial services company it is really hard to have your goals and thereís align so for the most part everything they do is in an effort to be profitable at the expense of someone.

Even everyone's beloved Vanguard, their low fees are generally geared at attracting assets under management (AUM), the more they have the more those fees bring in.

Fee only advisors have nothing to gain by giving you bad advice, they charge only for their time, but like lawyers and doctors who donít take insurance they charge a lot for the time, you pay for their knowledge...

Finance is not a user friendly field.... Even for those of us who think we know a lot, we get eaten alive more often than not.

mh1361

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #104 on: March 28, 2014, 08:19:04 AM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something. Parasitism is where one side gains, one side loses.

You may well expend effort in getting this money, but if the value of the money is greater than the value of your time, it is 'worth doing' - financially.

I didn't know you were employed by any of the companies providing the products that facilitated "Manufactured Spending" and could verify that they don't provide a benefit to anyone but the person getting cash back?

Let's analyze that, for starters, if you buy Vanilla Reload cards, Vanilla Reload (InComm) makes $3.95 per card, if you swipe your credit card at CVS or 7-11 they record a store sale for the dollar amount you charged and InComm gets a fee for processing that charge. There are interchange fees associated with credit card swipes so the acquiring bank and the issuing bank gets a slice of that fee. The rewards card is supported by marketing fees, so the swipe might be at a loss but the use of the card is part of the marketing cost which is used to sell other cards and increases market share of the card to make that card profitable, and only an insider would know that.

So you make some pretty blanket statements based purely on your beliefs that this takes advantage of a lot of companies, when in fact these very companies might be encouraging the behavior by making it accessible to the savvy intelligent users but simply can't market it.

Many other companies want your data like Amazon or PayPal and they will pay dearly for it.

In the end, if AmEx didn't want you to load Serve with a credit card then they wouldn't make it an option, they do so your ethics are nonsense. They as a credit card company also don't make the charges cash advances.... I doubt that's a coincidence... If CVS didn't want you to charge at their store they wouldnít have made the deal with AmEx. If Vanilla Reload didnít want to be the service provider they too would not be taking credit cards.

You seem to think you know what these companies want you to do and think people are taking advantage of stupid poor people, but your attitude is simply based on uninformed guesses and is nothing more than an opinion. So if people found a way to operate within the TOS of various products to make money more power to them, if you donít want to do that is your prerogative but donít tell people this is unethical and no else benefits when you absolutely no proof whatsoever to back up your statements.

+1

There's no way Amex doesn't know this happens. And if they're fine letting it continue, clearly it still benefits them. And I'm sure for every x% that does this correctly, there is a x% of people who bite of more than they can chew, and get nailed with the interest. It seems similar to large sign up offers.

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #105 on: March 28, 2014, 08:47:57 AM »
Mustachians, forget the blogs, because here is where the writers are getting their information.  I present to you the motherlode: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending-719/

This stuff isn't new, and many have made six figures annually from these shenanigans.  Gotta have organizational skills, and what I like to call a "backstop."  That means money that you can afford to lose access to for several months, in case someone like PayPal or Bancorp locks up your funds for a little while.

REQUEST TO MMM - Because of the high visibility of your blog, if this material ever becomes main-story, headline material, these shenanigans will receive press that they don't need, and it could negatively affect many people's profits.  Please keep this info in the forums, and off the front page of MMM.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2014, 08:56:41 AM by HawkeyeNFO »

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #106 on: March 28, 2014, 08:49:09 AM »
There's no way Amex doesn't know this happens. And if they're fine letting it continue, clearly it still benefits them. And I'm sure for every x% that does this correctly, there is a x% of people who bite of more than they can chew, and get nailed with the interest. It seems similar to large sign up offers.

Right.  What indicates that most to me is not the Vanilla reload stuff, but the fact that you can load your Serve card directly with your credit card online.  On their site!  Using one of their cash back cards!

They allow you to load it directly with a credit card.  As part of their system. 
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mh1361

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #107 on: March 28, 2014, 09:22:54 AM »
Mustachians, forget the blogs, because here is where the writers are getting their information.  I present to you the motherlode: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending-719/

This stuff isn't new, and many have made six figures annually from these shenanigans.  Gotta have organizational skills, and what I like to call a "backstop."  That means money that you can afford to lose access to for several months, in case someone like PayPal or Bancorp locks up your funds for a little while.

REQUEST TO MMM - Because of the high visibility of your blog, if this material ever becomes main-story, headline material, these shenanigans will receive press that they don't need, and it could negatively affect many people's profits.  Please keep this info in the forums, and off the front page of MMM.

I would be absolutely shocked if companies like Amex don't have departments (or at least a bunch of interns) devoted to perusing forums like Flyertalk daily. I've seen plenty of customer service reps from companies responding to comments on Flyertalk and other forums. But if all of a sudden the amount of people doing MF increased by 20% or something, then I imagine that might cause some changes to the system.

daverobev

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #108 on: March 28, 2014, 12:06:12 PM »
REQUEST TO MMM - Because of the high visibility of your blog, if this material ever becomes main-story, headline material, these shenanigans will receive press that they don't need, and it could negatively affect many people's profits.  Please keep this info in the forums, and off the front page of MMM.

I really have issues with this request. Again, I 'get it' - tragedy of the commons. Except it isn't a tragedy. You're asking MMM/the mods specifically to keep this a secret?

thepokercab

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #109 on: March 28, 2014, 12:07:34 PM »
Not to be rude, but you are postulating here, and what you are saying is both incorrect and narrow minded.  I always preface things that sound rude with not to be rude and now you can't be upset - I read that somewhere.

As for the obfuscation. no.  It is not needed. There is no rent payment for me, straight back to card, amazon payments between people with same last names, whatever. 

My own postulation is that the players like Amazon, Bluebird, Vanilla etc are in this for the big bucks, and using the data gathered by gamers along with all the rest to increase the empirical value in order to gain new business.  The BB/Vanilla has been structured to allow incredibly abusive fees to the unbanked on one end of the spectrum, and marginally abusive back at them on the other from the gamers.

I think narrow minded is a bit harsh, but hey, you make a lot of money from this (Upton Sinclair quote *again* - hard to get someone to accept a point of view when their income depends on it...).

Your postulation - so basically you're taking advantage of companies keeping the poor and stupid poor and stupid? Unethical!

Look, I'm not telling you to stop, I do think it's pretty cool in some ways, but getting thousands of dollars for literally nothing... it's mad. Sign up bonuses, carrot not stick, I get that. But free money for nothing. Why do you think it's ok?

Why is it free money for nothing? It isn't a passive activity.

Ok, so, in the olden days.

Person X spends several hours a day growing food and selling it, digging up rocks and selling them, shining shoes, whatever. The value of the thing being sold is greater to the person buying it than the cost of paying for it - so you spend $1 having your shoes shined because the person doing it does a better job, is quicker, etc than you.

What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something. Parasitism is where one side gains, one side loses.

You may well expend effort in getting this money, but if the value of the money is greater than the value of your time, it is 'worth doing' - financially.

Here's an example: On Hallowe'en, my wife - who looks very youthful - takes sweets and treats meant for children. Every year, she goes back to a number of houses and takes a small number of candies for herself. Is that ethical? Is that fine?

Note I am not saying you should all stop, you're all evil. Start small and work your way up? So as not to raise any alarms? Hmmm.

Its ok @daverobev.  My wife thinks exactly the same way. When I tell her about these manufacture spend opportunities, or really about any type of loophole I find that nets us a few bucks she tells me that she feels like we are "ripping the company off" and that we really shouldn't do it.  I love her for it. Her parents are the same way.  That's just the way she was raised- you don't earn a dollar unless you get your hands dirty to earn it. 

And I'm sure thinking like her's brings a smile to every financial services CEO out there.  Not only do they get to make obscene profit off of the average shmuck who is too lazy or just to poor to pay off their credit card balances on time, or in full- they also don't need to worry about losing any money from people who consider themselves too ethical to take a dollar for themselves from their obscenely high pile of money. 

All they got to do is worry about the few creative folks out there who won't play their game, while also making a few bucks.  It's pennies for them. I'm sure they've got some algorithm where if these activities cost them something like one-half of 1 percent off their profit margin, they'll put a stop to it or something.  I think they'll be fine.   

GregO

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #110 on: March 28, 2014, 12:35:44 PM »
Even if you don't feel that Manufactured Spending is ethical, you can still use this strategy to make some money.  I am going to use the Blue and Amex to pay my mortgage and all my bills, including my other credit cards.  They are legit expenses that need to be paid.  The only difference is that now I'm getting an extra 30 days and cash back to pay them.  I'll probably only be using $3-4k of the limit each month, but that's still $150 each month (as long as AmEx doesn't change anything).  Thanks to everyone for the education lesson.  I had heard of almost all of this before, but never put it all together well enough to put it into practice.  And thanks to Westchester for starting this thread.  I think it's pretty interesting that she has started another very popular thread and hasn't even made any further comments on this one.

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #111 on: March 28, 2014, 12:37:31 PM »
REQUEST TO MMM - Because of the high visibility of your blog, if this material ever becomes main-story, headline material, these shenanigans will receive press that they don't need, and it could negatively affect many people's profits.  Please keep this info in the forums, and off the front page of MMM.

I really have issues with this request. Again, I 'get it' - tragedy of the commons. Except it isn't a tragedy. You're asking MMM/the mods specifically to keep this a secret?

As of this time, there is no plan to keep any information secret.  See earlier discussion about this topic in the Loyal3 thread.
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arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #112 on: March 28, 2014, 12:38:39 PM »
I think it's pretty interesting that she has started another very popular thread and hasn't even made any further comments on this one.

WCF ended up deleting nearly all of her comments (200) or so, and editing out the ones she could't delete (see the first post in this thread, for example).  Her account was deleted shortly after.  Hopefully at some point she will start a new account with a fresh start.
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daverobev

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #113 on: March 28, 2014, 01:41:35 PM »
Even if you don't feel that Manufactured Spending is ethical, you can still use this strategy to make some money.  I am going to use the Blue and Amex to pay my mortgage and all my bills, including my other credit cards.  They are legit expenses that need to be paid.  The only difference is that now I'm getting an extra 30 days and cash back to pay them.  I'll probably only be using $3-4k of the limit each month, but that's still $150 each month (as long as AmEx doesn't change anything).  Thanks to everyone for the education lesson.  I had heard of almost all of this before, but never put it all together well enough to put it into practice.  And thanks to Westchester for starting this thread.  I think it's pretty interesting that she has started another very popular thread and hasn't even made any further comments on this one.

Absolutely, and I would do that in a heartbeat. Unfortunately our options here in Canada are the Canadian Tire Mastercards which allow a weird psuedo bill pay (I'd be able to get 0.25% off our property tax.. about $4.50). Oh, and a Pivot card, but it's pretty terrible, I think. Bluebird is - don't get me wrong - fantastic and really cool - but only US residents are eligible.

@thepokercab - thanks - I have no issues with taking full advantage of whatever offers I can - eg I'm scheming buying gift cards at the supermarket to get 2% rather than the 1% I would get if I used my CC where I'll spend the money. Not much of a scheme, right? :)

I agree it is probably small beer to the companies. I guess small beer is relative. I feel semi-guilty having a $75 balance at a credit union, when they give a $1 a month credit for electronic statements.. $12 is not a small deal if you're in a third world country, but here, well. Not even worth sweating over, right?

I would certainly use something like Plastiq (at a cost of 2%) to meet minimum spends on new cards - eg, I could pay my income tax bill of several thousand dollars. Unfortunately I don't have any relevant min spends to meet.

Yeah. I like playing Paladins in RPGs. :)

Emilyngh

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #114 on: March 28, 2014, 02:32:56 PM »



What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something.


Again, this is the same argument I hear against people reaching FIRE.   How is living off of investment income any different?

$200k

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #115 on: March 28, 2014, 02:44:27 PM »
Even if you don't feel that Manufactured Spending is ethical, you can still use this strategy to make some money.  I am going to use the Blue and Amex to pay my mortgage and all my bills, including my other credit cards.  They are legit expenses that need to be paid.  The only difference is that now I'm getting an extra 30 days and cash back to pay them.  I'll probably only be using $3-4k of the limit each month, but that's still $150 each month (as long as AmEx doesn't change anything).  Thanks to everyone for the education lesson.  I had heard of almost all of this before, but never put it all together well enough to put it into practice.  And thanks to Westchester for starting this thread.  I think it's pretty interesting that she has started another very popular thread and hasn't even made any further comments on this one.

This is my practice as well, but for points.  I use these techniques to shift my non-points-earning regular spending (i.e. rent, utilities) to points-earning credit card spending.  I rarely do any manufactured spending, but I see no ethical implications of it either. 

daverobev

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #116 on: March 28, 2014, 07:21:02 PM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something.


Again, this is the same argument I hear against people reaching FIRE.   How is living off of investment income any different?

Because FIRE is on money you've earned and invested. A state pension is given to all equally (depending on government/country). This isn't dumpster diving (taking money that would otherwise go to landfill); it is systematically finding loopholes to siphon money into your ownership.

Buying shares with money you've earned which in turn give you money is investing. Taking pens from your place of employment is theft. And while I don't think MS is theft, and it may well be a cost of fleecing the poor (!), the fact people want to keep it hush-hush speaks volumes.

It is wrong in the same way financial advisers getting ongoing kickbacks is wrong.

mh1361

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #117 on: March 28, 2014, 09:16:59 PM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something.


Again, this is the same argument I hear against people reaching FIRE.   How is living off of investment income any different?

daverobev, do you think Amex knows that manufactured spending occurs?

Because FIRE is on money you've earned and invested. A state pension is given to all equally (depending on government/country). This isn't dumpster diving (taking money that would otherwise go to landfill); it is systematically finding loopholes to siphon money into your ownership.

Buying shares with money you've earned which in turn give you money is investing. Taking pens from your place of employment is theft. And while I don't think MS is theft, and it may well be a cost of fleecing the poor (!), the fact people want to keep it hush-hush speaks volumes.

It is wrong in the same way financial advisers getting ongoing kickbacks is wrong.

Saverocity

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #118 on: March 29, 2014, 06:27:52 AM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something.


Again, this is the same argument I hear against people reaching FIRE.   How is living off of investment income any different?

Because FIRE is on money you've earned and invested. A state pension is given to all equally (depending on government/country). This isn't dumpster diving (taking money that would otherwise go to landfill); it is systematically finding loopholes to siphon money into your ownership.

Buying shares with money you've earned which in turn give you money is investing. Taking pens from your place of employment is theft. And while I don't think MS is theft, and it may well be a cost of fleecing the poor (!), the fact people want to keep it hush-hush speaks volumes.

It is wrong in the same way financial advisers getting ongoing kickbacks is wrong.

We all have our ethical and moral code.  I personally think that people who FIRE are accelerating the destruction of Social Security because they are pulling out of a system that desperately needs their support, which is fine, until those same people show financial plans that include 'their fair share' of social security later in life.  It is also dangerous to plan like that as they are bringing down a system they later plan to lean on.

There are many things that are wrong out there, personally I have no qualms making extra cash from financial institutions, but I can understand that some people will feel the urge to protect these banks and credit card companies from such tactics.

Emilyngh

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #119 on: March 29, 2014, 06:57:50 AM »

Because FIRE is on money you've earned and invested. A state pension is given to all equally (depending on government/country). This isn't dumpster diving (taking money that would otherwise go to landfill); it is systematically finding loopholes to siphon money into your ownership.

Buying shares with money you've earned which in turn give you money is investing. Taking pens from your place of employment is theft. And while I don't think MS is theft, and it may well be a cost of fleecing the poor (!), the fact people want to keep it hush-hush speaks volumes.

It is wrong in the same way financial advisers getting ongoing kickbacks is wrong.

During FIRE you live off of way more money than you've earned through working, and often benefit from tax breaks for doing it (covered by those who are continuing to work).    The fact that you once placed it in a different kind of an account (investment vs savings) doesn't take much more effort than MS (if effort for money is so meaningful)...And investment certainly isn't dumpster diving either.   


mh1361

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #120 on: March 29, 2014, 08:56:57 AM »
What Manufactured Spend is has no benefit to anyone except you. It is parasitic. In the olden days, the grower/manufacturer/service provider gets something (money), and the purchaser gets something (service, good). In this setup, you get something (money), and the provider loses something (money). Symbiosis is where both parties get something.


Again, this is the same argument I hear against people reaching FIRE.   How is living off of investment income any different?

Because FIRE is on money you've earned and invested. A state pension is given to all equally (depending on government/country). This isn't dumpster diving (taking money that would otherwise go to landfill); it is systematically finding loopholes to siphon money into your ownership.

Buying shares with money you've earned which in turn give you money is investing. Taking pens from your place of employment is theft. And while I don't think MS is theft, and it may well be a cost of fleecing the poor (!), the fact people want to keep it hush-hush speaks volumes.

It is wrong in the same way financial advisers getting ongoing kickbacks is wrong.

Daverobev, do you think Amex knows that Manufactured Spending occurs?

daverobev

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #121 on: March 29, 2014, 05:13:59 PM »
I can't comment on social security as I don't know exactly how it works. I will get something from the Canada Pension Plan only for the years I have paid in, which is fine. Ditto UK State Pension. I will get out in proportion to what I have paid in.

As to protecting the banks? Ah... no. I am well aware they are.. unethical, perhaps, themselves, but really IMHO the problem is advertising and 'convenience'.. but that is another topic.

Yes, I assume Amex knows about MS, and yes I assume they close down the blatant loopholes and count the rest as a cost of business. That doesn't make stealing from a thief not stealing (for example).

I'm done here, I think.. I don't wish to argue though I do find the whole thing fascinating!

chad

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #122 on: March 30, 2014, 06:33:01 AM »
This is all really interesting, and I've been thinking about it nonstop since I found the thread last night. On the moral issue: people keep talking as if AmEx is the one taking the hit here, but I think it's way more plausible that CVS is taking the hit. CVS is paying the transaction fee to AmEx. That is about 5% from what I understand. And perhaps CVS gets to pocket the $4 fee. So they're paying out the $21 that ends up in your pocket. This also explains why some CVSs have stopped taking credit cards for these purchases.

I guess, for my part, it seems a little crappier to take the money if it is out of CVS's pocket. Unless I could be convinced that this is not just an oversight on their part, I'm not inclined to take advantage of an error that they made in setting up their policies. Compare: a mis-loaded atm machine is spitting 100s instead of 20s. Do you just withdraw the maximum and count it your lucky day? In a case like this, someone made a big mistake, and it seems to me that the right thing to do is to say "hey, you guys made a mistake" rather than take advantage of their error.

If it were AmEx, I'd be more inclined to say "you guys deserve it" and also I'd think that they probably knew what they were doing and I was missing something. But CVS seems like they just have erred in setting things up this way, and I have no beef with them, or really any reason to think that they deserve this sort of treatment.

Emilyngh

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #123 on: March 30, 2014, 06:44:29 AM »
This is all really interesting, and I've been thinking about it nonstop since I found the thread last night. On the moral issue: people keep talking as if AmEx is the one taking the hit here, but I think it's way more plausible that CVS is taking the hit. CVS is paying the transaction fee to AmEx. That is about 5% from what I understand. And perhaps CVS gets to pocket the $4 fee. So they're paying out the $21 that ends up in your pocket. This also explains why some CVSs have stopped taking credit cards for these purchases.

I guess, for my part, it seems a little crappier to take the money if it is out of CVS's pocket. Unless I could be convinced that this is not just an oversight on their part, I'm not inclined to take advantage of an error that they made in setting up their policies. Compare: a mis-loaded atm machine is spitting 100s instead of 20s. Do you just withdraw the maximum and count it your lucky day? In a case like this, someone made a big mistake, and it seems to me that the right thing to do is to say "hey, you guys made a mistake" rather than take advantage of their error.

If it were AmEx, I'd be more inclined to say "you guys deserve it" and also I'd think that they probably knew what they were doing and I was missing something. But CVS seems like they just have erred in setting things up this way, and I have no beef with them, or really any reason to think that they deserve this sort of treatment.

If CVS is losing money selling vanilla reloads, then regardless of whether you are using them for a manufactured spend or not, they're losing money on a product they sell.   You are not making money off of CVS, you are making money from Amex rewards, and CVS is possibly losing money on selling vanilla reloads (a loss they'd have regardless of whether you're profiting or losing money through vanilla reload fees).

Companies take losses on products deliberately and often (they're called loss leaders).   These are not oversights, they are planned losses with the company gambling that they'll make it up through the traffic through their stores.   Or, is purchasing any of the other loss leaders at CVS unethical?

Is one really expected to try to figure out for each product one buys if the company loses money on it?   What if you buy other stuff and they are making a huge product off of those items; do your losses/their gains balance out?   Or what about all of the people buying products at CVS not at all on sale, is CVS unethical if they make too much of a profit?   Or, are the customers the only ones with the ethical responsibility to make sure that the other party is really profiting from their choices?
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 06:47:35 AM by Emilyngh »

chad

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #124 on: March 30, 2014, 07:21:52 AM »
Quote
If CVS is losing money selling vanilla reloads, then regardless of whether you are using them for a manufactured spend or not, they're losing money on a product they sell.

If I'm right that CVS gets the $4 fee, then they don't lose money on reloads that cost $80 or less. But you're right that they're losing money on all vanilla reloads over that price.

Quote
You are not making money off of CVS, you are making money from Amex rewards, and CVS is possibly losing money on selling vanilla reloads (a loss they'd have regardless of whether you're profiting or losing money through vanilla reload fees).

I don't know who to say that you're "making money off" because this isn't a precise expression. But what's true is that people who do this are getting money from CVS for free. And it is false that CVS would lose money on the purchases of individuals engaging in this strategy if those individuals stopped engaging in the strategy. So it's false that the loss CVS incurs as a result of this strategy is a "loss they'd have regardless of whether you're profiting". What's true is that they'd continue to lose money on the transactions of those people who buy vanilla reloads over $80 who were not engaging in this "manufactured spending" strategy. But I think that's a red herring. I am not criticizing people who buy those reloads without engaging in this strategy.

Quote
Companies take losses on products deliberately and often (they're called loss leaders).   These are not oversights, they are planned losses with the company gambling that they'll make it up through the traffic through their stores.   Or, is purchasing any of the other loss leaders at CVS unethical?

No, buying loss leaders is not unethical. I find it implausible that these cards are being offered as a loss leader. I think there's a moral difference between buying a loss leader and (say) scooping up 100s from a mis-loaded atm machine. Don't you agree that there's a difference here? Or would you be happy to take 100s from such a machine? In any case, I'd be interested if anyone has a reason to think that this is really a loss leader for CVS rather than a mistake akin to the atm example.

Quote
Is one really expected to try to figure out for each product one buys if the company loses money on it?   

No. But if a company has made an obvious error (say, an expensive $1000 item somehow scans at the register for $1 by computer error), the ethical thing is to point it out. There's a relevant difference between this and being "expected to figure out for each product one buys if the company loses money on it". I'm suggesting: there is a morally relevant distinction between them engaging in a poor business strategy, on the one hand, and them *accidentally* messing up. Maybe it's hard to sustain this distinction, but I think I can see it pretty clearly.

Quote
Or what about all of the people buying products at CVS not at all on sale, is CVS unethical if they make too much of a profit?   

No, that falls on the strategy side of things. Business is in some way a game of strategy, and, if everyone is playing the game, some will make bad moves. But its one thing to beat someone fair and square, and its another to take a 20 from them because they accidentally thought it was yours.

Quote
Or, are the customers the only ones with the ethical responsibility to make sure that the other party is really profiting from their choices?

Everyone has a responsibility to not take advantage of other people when they accidentally made an error. That's what I'm saying. If they are thinking (seemingly stupidly) that this is a profitable loss leader, then I'm ok with buying it. But I doubt that's what is happening. They didn't realize that they stepped in it with this. As soon as they do, the strategy will dry up. Meanwhile, its not very good to take advantage. So it seems to me.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2014, 08:17:18 AM by chad »

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #125 on: March 30, 2014, 11:42:00 AM »
CVS may be done with this as of 1 April.  Blogs are saying that CVS will no longer take credit cards for VR's as of April.  Will "press to test" on Tuesday.

unix_kung_fu

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #126 on: March 30, 2014, 04:03:09 PM »
Just activated the Bluebird Card, going to wait for our bank account to link up first.

My gf and I have Capital One Venture cards, gets like 1.25x miles per dollar spent. Probably not the best card for this. Either of us could get any prime card we wanted (~750+ credit scores). 

I'm a little confused on what card to look for, so far its looking like one of the American Express, I guess the BLue Cash with the annual fee. I live right next door to a 7-11 always has a ton of the vanilla cards in stock, there is no gas pump, not sure if it counts as grocery or gas or neither (and what happens to 6% cash back after the limit of 6k? reduces to 1%?)

We all also travel domestic ~8x/year and international once every other year or so (Chicago is homebase ORD or MDW depending). If anyone has any advice it would be greatly appreciated :)

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #127 on: March 30, 2014, 06:58:58 PM »
Can anyone comment on the following scenario (I'm not sure if it will actually work):

TCB is offering 2% back on AMEX gift cards. My plan is to buy 10 of these in $500 increments, for a total of $5,000. There is a $3.95 fee for each card, and $8.95 for shipping, totaling $5,048.45. I would be using my Capital One Quicksilver card which offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Therefore, my total "profits" would be 2% on the initial $5,000 + 1.5% on the $5,048.45 = $175.73. However, I would still need to liquidate and/or pay bills/expenses with these cards, so I would go to Walmart and purchase 10 VISA gift cards that are able to be loaded onto a Bluebird account (if I'm not mistaken, you can't load AMEX gift cards onto BB). The fees for these cards would be another $3.95/card, or $39.50 total. These fees, plus the fees listed above ($48.45) come to a grand total of $87.95. Quick math suggests that I would profit the $175.73-$87.95 = 87.78/month.

I plan on actually using the BB account to pay rent ($400/month) and my student loan payments of ~$2,400/month. So some of the spending is manufactured but some of it is real. Is this scenario optimized and/or a real possibility? If so, I'd be looking at over $1K/year for not that much extra work.

Thoughts?

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #128 on: March 30, 2014, 08:55:14 PM »
Can anyone comment on the following scenario (I'm not sure if it will actually work):

TCB is offering 2% back on AMEX gift cards. My plan is to buy 10 of these in $500 increments, for a total of $5,000. There is a $3.95 fee for each card, and $8.95 for shipping, totaling $5,048.45. I would be using my Capital One Quicksilver card which offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Therefore, my total "profits" would be 2% on the initial $5,000 + 1.5% on the $5,048.45 = $175.73. However, I would still need to liquidate and/or pay bills/expenses with these cards, so I would go to Walmart and purchase 10 VISA gift cards that are able to be loaded onto a Bluebird account (if I'm not mistaken, you can't load AMEX gift cards onto BB). The fees for these cards would be another $3.95/card, or $39.50 total. These fees, plus the fees listed above ($48.45) come to a grand total of $87.95. Quick math suggests that I would profit the $175.73-$87.95 = 87.78/month.

I plan on actually using the BB account to pay rent ($400/month) and my student loan payments of ~$2,400/month. So some of the spending is manufactured but some of it is real. Is this scenario optimized and/or a real possibility? If so, I'd be looking at over $1K/year for not that much extra work.

Thoughts?

I think Visa gift cards at Walmart are more like 5.95 for $500, so reduce your profits by another $20 if you plan on buying 10.  Also, you can only load $1000 per day, so plan on making 5 round trips, which will eat into your profits again.  And that's if you have no issues loading, or buying the visa gift cards in the first place.  Not worth it in my opinion.

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #129 on: March 30, 2014, 09:14:37 PM »
Can anyone comment on the following scenario (I'm not sure if it will actually work):

TCB is offering 2% back on AMEX gift cards. My plan is to buy 10 of these in $500 increments, for a total of $5,000. There is a $3.95 fee for each card, and $8.95 for shipping, totaling $5,048.45. I would be using my Capital One Quicksilver card which offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Therefore, my total "profits" would be 2% on the initial $5,000 + 1.5% on the $5,048.45 = $175.73. However, I would still need to liquidate and/or pay bills/expenses with these cards, so I would go to Walmart and purchase 10 VISA gift cards that are able to be loaded onto a Bluebird account (if I'm not mistaken, you can't load AMEX gift cards onto BB). The fees for these cards would be another $3.95/card, or $39.50 total. These fees, plus the fees listed above ($48.45) come to a grand total of $87.95. Quick math suggests that I would profit the $175.73-$87.95 = 87.78/month.

I plan on actually using the BB account to pay rent ($400/month) and my student loan payments of ~$2,400/month. So some of the spending is manufactured but some of it is real. Is this scenario optimized and/or a real possibility? If so, I'd be looking at over $1K/year for not that much extra work.

Thoughts?

You're not ready to get into this game. 

For one thing, the fees are higher than $3.95 for gift cards, and ultimately you have too many steps in liquidating the funds to get a meaningful profit.

arebelspy

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #130 on: March 30, 2014, 09:59:57 PM »
You're not ready to get into this game. 

For one thing, the fees are higher than $3.95 for gift cards, and ultimately you have too many steps in liquidating the funds to get a meaningful profit.

Any constructive criticism or suggestions on how the poster could improve their strategy?
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beltim

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #131 on: March 30, 2014, 10:25:24 PM »
Can anyone comment on the following scenario (I'm not sure if it will actually work):

TCB is offering 2% back on AMEX gift cards. My plan is to buy 10 of these in $500 increments, for a total of $5,000. There is a $3.95 fee for each card, and $8.95 for shipping, totaling $5,048.45. I would be using my Capital One Quicksilver card which offers 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Therefore, my total "profits" would be 2% on the initial $5,000 + 1.5% on the $5,048.45 = $175.73. However, I would still need to liquidate and/or pay bills/expenses with these cards, so I would go to Walmart and purchase 10 VISA gift cards that are able to be loaded onto a Bluebird account (if I'm not mistaken, you can't load AMEX gift cards onto BB). The fees for these cards would be another $3.95/card, or $39.50 total. These fees, plus the fees listed above ($48.45) come to a grand total of $87.95. Quick math suggests that I would profit the $175.73-$87.95 = 87.78/month.

I plan on actually using the BB account to pay rent ($400/month) and my student loan payments of ~$2,400/month. So some of the spending is manufactured but some of it is real. Is this scenario optimized and/or a real possibility? If so, I'd be looking at over $1K/year for not that much extra work.

Thoughts?

You should look into Evolve money, which is set up to do bill pay from things like Visa gift cards.  If nothing else, that would save you a trip to Wal-Mart. 

HawkeyeNFO

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #132 on: March 31, 2014, 07:20:43 AM »
You're not ready to get into this game. 

For one thing, the fees are higher than $3.95 for gift cards, and ultimately you have too many steps in liquidating the funds to get a meaningful profit.

Any constructive criticism or suggestions on how the poster could improve their strategy?

Sure thing.  Start by acquiring a credit card that gives you 5% back on groceries and drug stores, then go here:  http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending-719/

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Re: Does anyone use Amex Bluebird?
« Reply #133 on: May 23, 2014, 02:07:14 PM »
You're not ready to get into this game. 

For one thing, the fees are higher than $3.95 for gift cards, and ultimately you have too many steps in liquidating the funds to get a meaningful profit.

Any constructive criticism or suggestions on how the poster could improve their strategy?

Yes..  but first, keep in mind CVS no longer accepts Credit Cards for Vanilla Reload cards.  You'll need to buy another Visa or MC gift card for $5 to $7, load it with $500, purchase it with the credit card you're earning miles on, go to Walmart, and use their Money Center to transfer the Gift Card to a Bluebird account.

A 2% cashback isn't gonna make this strategy worth your time.  Sign up for new credit cards that offer, say, 30,000 to 50,000 miles or points for spending around $1000 to $5000 (depending on the card) in the first few months.  Then buy gift cards with them and transfer the gift cards to Bluebird as described above.  Then you can use Bluebird to pay your bills that can only be paid using a check (i.e. Rent, Mortgage, Car Payment, etc.)