While I’ve been in the miles and points hobby for years now, one of the things I never really got into manufactured spending. I dipped my toes into the practice at times, but it was always small volume. I’d catch a Visa deal at Safeway, or top off an account buying a couple Visa cards at CVS, cashing out at the USPS (until that died). Never more than $1,000 to $2,000 per month. However, now that you can buy Simon bulk gift cards, my ability to sustain a reasonable manufactured spending volume has changed. Completely.
Why Simon Bulk Gift Cards Changed My MS Landscape
Living in a rural area, I have multiple factors that limit manufactured spending. There are only a handful of stores that sell Visa gift cards. When cards go on sale at Staples, for example, I can’t hit up four or five locations in a single trip. There is just one in the County.
And it isn’t right around the corner. Time adds up quickly since we live in a rural area. While earning points is always nice, it isn’t worth it much of the time. Even if I do get my hands on some cards, I then need to cash them out. This I’ve primarily done at the WalMart money center, where I’d often be unlucky enough to run into a giant line. More time lost. The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze. MS ended up being just the occasional $10 off gift card sale at Safeway, since we are there regularly anyway, cashing out a card or two when we pass by WalMart anyway. MS had to always be quick and convenient.
Simon bulk gift cards changed all this, along with a new method of cashing out the cards that doesn’t involve the WM money center (I don’t plan to write about….sorry). Now I can order $1,000s in Visa gift cards and cash out multiple cards at once. Even though there is a cost to this, it’s worth the time and effort.
Simon Bulk Visa Gift Cards: All The Details
Back in April 2020, Simon Mall started a new program offering their Visa gift cards (VGCs) online and in bulk. Previously, you could only buy these at a mall office. I’d only ever grabbed their VGCs on a couple occasions, as the closest Simon mall is ~3.5 hours away from where we live. Now you can sign up as a bulk buyer and have them shipped right to your door. Here’s the process:
If you want to become a Simon bulk Visa gift card buyer, you’ll first need to register with Simon online. You can do that at this link. You’ll be taken to the registration page where you’ll fill in your info.
The initial part of the form is your basic contact info and email and password you’ll use to log into Simon bulk gift card ordering and management. Pretty simple. The next section asks for some company info, if you have it, and your intended use of the cards. Since I contribute to this blog as a side job, I added this info and the link to the Travel Update website. I flat out wrote “manufactured spending” into the intended use of cards box. Don’t be shy with Simon. They are MS friendly.
Finally, you’ll set up your shipping address and delivery instructions. You won’t yet register a credit card, but do indicate that you’ll be paying with a card. After submitting the form, check your email and click to verify your address.
From this point, registration is manual on Simon’s end. Their team seems very responsive from all my experience so far. It’ll likely take them no more than a day or two to approve your registration request, but it could be longer.
Adding Credit Cards For Purchasing Cards
Once your account is approved, you’ll need to add credit cards for purchasing bulk Simon Visa gift cards. To do this, log in and click My Profile. Scroll down until you find the Add a New Credit Card button. Click this, and add your credit card info. I already have multiple cards in my account, and yours will show up as you add them.
Like account approval, credit card approval is a manual process. You actually won’t be able to order any cards until a Simon representative approves the card(s) you add. Each new card added locks your account from ordering until it is reviewed. The fastest card approval I experienced took just a couple hours, though, so don’t expect to wait that long. I highly recommend adding all cards you plan to use at the beginning. Then all of them will be reviewed once, and you’ll be ready to start ordering!
Ordering Bulk Simon Gift Cards
To start a bulk Simon Visa gift card order, click the Order Now button in the menu. You’ll be taken to a screen showing options for Visa, Mastercard, or iTunes gift cards. Obviously, you can order the others, but I’m focused on Visa cards. Click that button.
From there you’ll be taken to a screen asking what type of order this is. You can order either identical cards of the same value, or you can order multiple cards of various amounts with various messages. This is obviously for a more “real” purpose of buying gift cards for company staff, or the like. I always buy identical cards of the same value.
From there you’ll be taken to the card selection screen. There are four styles you can choose. I always go with Black Sparkle, as it makes the “Simon Gift Card” least visible. I’ve run into issues with cashiers who don’t like you cashing out “gift” cards. The message you choose will be shown at the bottom. I always put my name in Line 1, and my business name in Line 2. Add the number of cards you want and the amount. The maximum is $1,000 per card.
From there you’ll need to finalize and submit the order. Pick which credit card you want to use, and pick a shipping speed. I always go with ground shipping as it is the cheapest. Each card carries a $3.95 purchase fee, and there is a $10 flat processing charge. A typical $9,000 order has $62.26 in fees. Not fantastic, but not bad at 0.7%.
Usually I get better than this, however, as Simon has already been running promotions for free shipping, and reduced purchase fees at times. If you have one of these promotional codes, enter it into the box and the totals will change. Simon emails them out routinely.
From there you simply need to check the final boxes and submit the order. You’ll be notified by email that your order is received, and you’ll get updates when it is processed, shipped, and delivered. Simon provides the tracking number.
Activating Simon Visa Gift Cards
The final step occurs after your cards arrive. Before you can liquidate them, you need to activate. This tripped me up the first time. The papers attached to the cards state that they come activate. They do not. You need to log back into your account and click the Activate Order button. All my orders show completed, but you’ll see it saying “Ready to Activate” or something similar. Click the arrow at the side to activate.
You’ll need to enter just one of the gift card numbers into the activation screen. Submitting this will send off the order for activation. This is also a manual process for the Simon reps. In my experience, they tend to get to this within 24 hours. You’ll get a final email that your order is complete. At that point you can liquidate!
I’m glad Simon does have this activation requirement. This means that to steal your cards, someone would have to both intercept the Visa cards in the mail and have access to your Simon account. Obviously, once you have them and they are active, they can still be lost or stolen.
My Personal Ordering Strategy
Even with Simon bulk Visa gift card ordering available to me, I’m not doing more than ~$20,000 in a typical month. This has been the volume thus far, and I’m comfortable with it. I may scale up, but this is what’s easily doable and comfortable. I know bulk ordering has only been available few months.
My typical order is for $9,000 (9x $1,000 cards) on a Citi Double Cash card (capped by a $9,400 credit limit). The total fees and shipping for this come to $62.26. However, Simon has offered promotions pretty much every month that at least include covering the cost of the ground shipping. This brings the fees down to ~$45 for a $9,000 order. Obviously, with static shipping and processing fees, the more cards you order, the better deal you get.
Since I’m not actually interested in cash from my Double Cash, I end up converting the bulk of the cash back to ThankYou Points. But….I do cash out some to offset the MS cost. The total cost for MSing this is ~$55 after liquidation costs. Since I’m earning $180 cash back, I like to cash out $30 and convert the remaining $150 to 15,000 ThankYou points. Those I will most likely transfer to either LifeMiles or Turkish Miles and Smiles. Earning 15,000 Turkish Miles and Smiles per month is essentially earning a free round-trip flight out our local regional airport every month. This is amazing ongoing value.
It’d be nice to do this twice a month, but I try not to ever cycle my credit limits. I’ve done it on low-limit cars, but I’ve heard that doing this routinely is a no-no for MS. I’ve used other cards for 1-2 more orders each month, based on whatever points I want to accrue.
I have been quite excited to have Simon bulk gift card ordering available for manufactured spending. It will allow us to accrue tens of thousands of points every month, augmenting our hotel and airline balances. It’s also nice to be able to look ahead and plan a bit for what points we need, as they are now much easier to obtain. Maybe we’re 30,000 Hyatt points short for a stay in four months? No problem. Plenty of time to rack those up.
Finally, I want to leave you with a word of warning. Although points hold a huge appeal, remember that you are playing with $1,000s here. Losing just one of these cards would result in a major loss, wiping out multiple months of “work” at manufactured spending. Keep this in mind, and make sure you are comfortable with the level of risk that you’re taking.
Have you used Simon bulk Visa gift card online ordering? What is your points earning strategy?