The 5.5 cards I'll use to manufacture spend in 2016

Happy New Year's Eve to all my readers (and especially to my beloved subscribers)!

2016 is almost upon us, so I thought it might be interesting to share my manufactured spend strategy for the first half of next year.

Here are the five cards I'll be doing virtually all my manufactured spend on for the next 6 months, plus a bonus card to fill in the remaining gaps.

Wells Fargo Rewards

I applied for this card back in March while opening my Wells Fargo checking account, but was declined for income verification reasons. When I received a pre-approval offer in the mail, I jumped on it and was approved with a $10,000 credit limit.

This card earns 5 Wells Fargo Rewards points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and drug stores for the first 6 months, making it my manufactured spend workhorse until June, 2016.

Chase Ink Plus

Although gas station manufactured spend is no longer available in my area, I will continue to order $300 Visa gift cards from Staples and earn 1,545 flexible Ultimate Rewards points for $8.95 — about 0.58 cents each.

As a Hyatt Diamond in 2016, I plan to make a lot of Points + Cash reservations, which both earn elite qualifying stays and are eligible for Diamond suite upgrades. For those reservations, I'll be transferring in a lot of Hyatt Gold Passport points from Ultimate rewards.

US Bank Flexperks Travel Rewards

This card earns "up to" 4% at grocery stores when you redeem your Flexpoints for air travel. That's less valuable and less flexible than my Wells Fargo Rewards card, but when that card's credit limit isn't available, Flexperks Travel Rewards will be my backup card at grocery stores.

American Express Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business

Even less valuable than Flexperks, I'll spend $50,000 on this card in order to earn 70,000 redeemable SkyMiles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles, enough to secure Silver Medallion status for 2017. Then I'll call American Express to ask for either a retention bonus or a product change to a more valuable card.

American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass

Thanks to my Hyatt Diamond status in 2016, I won't be staying with Hilton as consistently as I did in 2015. But I still plan to spend $40,000 on the Surpass in 2016 in order to both secure Diamond status for another year and earn another 240,000 HHonors points, which I'll redeem when Hyatt properties aren't available or are too expensive.

Bonus card: Barclaycard Arrival+

I won't be using Arrival+ nearly as much in 2016 as I did in 2015, but there are a few ideal use cases where I'll continue to generate some spend: funding Nationwide Visa Buxx cards, opening bank accounts, and my actual expenses outside of the Wells Fargo Rewards bonus categories.


As you can see, I keep my manufactured spend practice pretty simple: start with the most valuable cards I have available, set realistic goals, and work my way down from there. That has the additional benefit of giving me the clarity to see immediately which cards would see reduced spend if my ability to manufacture spend suddenly contracted.