Beginner’s Guide

This is my quick tutorial on how to begin travel hacking and earn miles at a much faster rate. This guide is based on how I personally earn my own miles. I found this way to be the easiest for me, but feel free to find your own method once you start to learn more about travel hacking and manufactured spending.

The best way to describe manufactured spending and why I’m buying gift cards with credit cards: It typically takes 25,000 miles to book a free flight with an airline. For the majority of us, it’s going to take years to charge $25,000 to one credit card and earn a free flight. Who wants to wait that long?

By purchasing Visa gift cards thousands of dollars at a time, I’m speeding up the process to earn free flights at a much faster rate. No, this isn’t a scam and it’s not illegal. The banks are still getting paid each time you swipe your card and the stores are collecting their fee for each gift card that is sold.

Last updated: September 28, 2014.


1. Apply for your favorite credit card to earn miles towards your next vacation. Not sure which credit card to get? Two of the most popular travel cards in my opinion are the Barclaycard Arrival and the Capital One Venture. Both earn you double miles on every purchase. You can use your miles to erase your airline ticket once the transaction has posted to your account. If you don’t have enough miles for the full ticket, then you can pay the difference. If you’d rather get a credit card with a specific airline such as American Airlines or United, then just be sure to search for the best available offer before applying.

2. Visit and register for a free. BlueBird is by American Express and this card allows you to deposit Visa gift cards to the it at your local Wal-Mart. You need a BlueBird card in order to unload Visa gift cards that you’ll be buying with your credit card(s).

3. Visit your local pharmacy, grocery store or office supply store and start looking for prepaid Visa gift cards that can be purchased with:

  • 1. A credit card (some stores have a ‘cash only’ policy when buying gift cards)
  • 2. Find a gift card that allows you to create a pin (typically the pin will be the last 4 digits of the gift card)
  • 3. Try and find a prepaid Visa card that allows you to load $500

4. Once you find a gift card with a pin, purchase one with $20 on it (for testing purposes. If it works, then you’ll eventually buy the maximum amount on the gift card, which is typically $500.) Visit your local Wal-Mart with the Visa gift card and your BlueBird card. Some Wal-Marts have a kiosk in the customer service department that allow you to swipe your BlueBird card and deposit funds on your own without ever having to deal with a cashier. I prefer to have no human interaction, thus staying under the radar and not draw any attention to myself. If your store doesn’t have a kiosk, then you’ll have to load your BlueBird card with a cashier.

5. Once the money has deposited into your BlueBird account, you can login to and setup a BillPay and send the money right back to your credit card company. Do NOT transfer the money from your BlueBird account to your bank account. American Express might think this is suspicious and close your account if you keep doing this repeatedly. I use BillPay 100% of the time and have never had any issues.

6. Rinse and repeat! Buy Visa gift cards over and over with your  credit cards, deposit the money to your BlueBird account and then send a BillPay to your credit card companies while you collect the miles!


Things to keep in mind:

1. BlueBird only allows you to deposit $1,000 a day.

2. BlueBird only allows you to deposit a maximum of $5,000 a month. Need to know how to deposit more than $5,000 a month? Read more here.