UPDATE: American Express shut down many Serve accounts on 1/8/16 due to “unusual activity.” If you were shut down, there are other methods to manufacture spending. See below for updated techniques.
To earn most of the credit card bonuses discussed on this site, you will need to spend $X,000 in X months. Sometimes the minimum spend can be quite high. To accomplish this, you can use Visa gift cards and money orders. This is a relatively simple, 4-step process:
- Purchase $500 VISA gift cards issued by Metabank or Sunrise Bank using your credit card of choice. They can be found at most grocery stores and usually have gray packaging. They will have a $3-$6 purchase fee. If you are using a Chase or Amex card, the 1pt/$ spending bonus should negate the fee. You may encounter a fraud alert if you make a large gift card purchase. Simply call the number on the back of your credit card to clear the alert, and then retry the transaction.
- Take gift cards to the Walmart Money Center or anywhere that money orders are sold. Use your pin-enable Visa gift cards to purchase money orders. There will be a fee per money order, which varies by location. For simplicity, request a money order that equals the amount of your gift card, minus the fee. For example: MO fee = $0.68, ask for a $499.32 money order. This will bring the total to exactly $500.
- Deposit the money orders into your checking account. Some people opt to open a bank account specifically for this activity. Banks may question this activity or deem it suspicious as part of their efforts to prevent money laundering. You are not doing any thing illegal, so you should not need to worry.
- Use the funds in your bank account to pay off the credit card balance.
This process is useful for hitting minimum spending bonuses. You will pay $15-$30 in gift card purchase fees and $6-$10 in money order fees per $5,000 spent, but the spending bonuses are often much more valuable. For a list of the best bonuses currently offered, check out our Top Offers page. Cheers!