Hacking is an chance to travel; travel is a chance to hack

One of the most frequent e-mails I receive is from readers who complain to me:

"That technique sounds great, and it's too bad that CVS/7-Eleven/grocery stores in my area don't accept credit cards!"

Trust me, I feel for you! Over the last year 7-Elevens and grocery stores in my town have stopped accepting credit cards, which is a real pain since those are two of the most lucrative categories in which to manufacture spend, for example using Chase Ink cards for gas, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold for groceries, and US Bank Flexperks Travel cards for either.

Fortunately, what I do is more than extreme couponing. I'm a travel hacker, and that means the opportunity to regularly visit lots of different cities, where stores have different policies. There is no national policy on the acceptance of credit cards at 7-Eleven store locations, for example, so while it's becoming harder to find locations willing to accept credit cards, it's still possible, and it's still worth it.

For example, just in the last month while visiting Chicago and Portland, OR I was able to find 7-Eleven store locations that accepted credit cards for PayPal My Cash cards (I'm happy to share those locations by e-mail with anyone interested).

Likewise, while AAA offices here in the Southern New England division sell only American Express gift cards, in Chicago they sell PIN-enabled Visa gift cards you can use to buy money orders, make bill payments, or load prepaid cards at Walmart.

Now, I'm not saying you should visit Chicago just to pick up a few thousand dollars in manufactured spending. But I am saying it's worth knowing all the techniques that are available, even if you can't apply them on a day-to-day basis – you never know when your travels will take you to a city where they'll pay off, hopefully in a big way.