12k Credit card spend for someone else refunded to me: how?
September 23, 2018 2:07 AM   Subscribe

I need to spend, say, 12,000 USD on a (Mastercard) credit card in the next 3 months (not cash advance, not a balance transfer) in order to get a benefit i really, really want. I don’t need to spend this much money in real life……..How could I go about making a purchase like this for someone else and getting the money refunded to me by that person/entity quickly in the most reliable way?

Assume I’ve maximized my personal spending and I can’t spend any more .

Let’s say I was willing to pay ~1% ish in fees. (~120 bucks), and that it could be any number of purchases up to 6k (ie. 2 x 6k, 3x4k random numbers up to 12k).

Assume I have excellent credit and this isn't a cry for help, just sweet, sweet reward status.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Purchase things for your workplace and get reimbursed.
posted by sciencegeek at 3:06 AM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Do any family members or friends have any big purchases they need to make? Do you have any upcoming work travel that you are allowed to book on a personal credit card? Or any personal travel that you could book ahead of time?
posted by sunflower16 at 4:13 AM on September 23, 2018

Someone once told me to book hotels a year in advance. Fully refundable of course, but you have to pay the full amount upfront. Then when you hit your target and get your reward, cancel the bookings.
posted by moiraine at 4:30 AM on September 23, 2018 [5 favorites]

Can you buy gift cards for groceries or other spending you already have budgeted?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:00 AM on September 23, 2018 [11 favorites]

Do any family members or friends have any big purchases they need to make?

When I've known people in roughly similar situations, they've put home remodeling or home repair through the card. If there's anyone you know and trust who is about to hire a roofer, a plumber, any sort of building contractor for work in this price range, they might be able to participate.
posted by gimonca at 5:50 AM on September 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

College tuition would cover that in a blink, although most schools are charging ~3% for credit card payments.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 5:55 AM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Know anyone about to buy a laptop or tv?
posted by raccoon409 at 6:03 AM on September 23, 2018

Oooo or college textbooks
posted by raccoon409 at 6:03 AM on September 23, 2018

Yeah, you're going to need friends for this; I don't think you're going to find a stranger to do this for you.

If you have friends who pay rent to an org that takes credit cards (your upstairs neighbor landlord won't, but a managed building probably would), maybe you could pay their rent for a few months.
posted by gideonfrog at 6:29 AM on September 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

This concept is called "Manufactured Spending."

The FlyerTalk forums and the Churning sub-reddit both have numerous discussions about various techniques you can use.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:49 AM on September 23, 2018 [25 favorites]

Use Plastiq which will pay your bills in check using your credit card. Pay multiple months rent upfront.

Prepay other utilities like phone, internet, etc. those companies are happy to carry a balance.
posted by artificialard at 8:58 AM on September 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you have extra time and a car, offer to be a personal shopper. People give you a grocery list and you buy it, deliver it and they pay you the amount on the receipt. There are apps like postmates and task rabbit that might let you put things on your own card and get reimbursed, but I don't know how those work exactly.

Start a coffee(tea/snack) club at work and be the buyer.
See if anyone is paying off a medical bill.
posted by soelo at 9:42 AM on September 23, 2018

Good timing. The Marine Corps Reserve will soon be asking for help with Toys for Tots at Christmas. Or, diapers, there is an organization that provides diapers and wipes to others who don't have them at the moment. Or, the United Services Organization should be able to swipe bit away to help servicemen and women a long way from home. Or, Remote Area Medical could use some support just now and will take a credit card.
posted by KneeDeep at 11:06 AM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Large home projects/remodeling maybe? Many contractors will take credit. If you're looking to buy or replace a car soon, many dealers allow you to charge a portion of the down payment as well (I did this recently, the dealer allowed us to charge the first $3000)

Also seconding /r/churning - there's many posts on manufactured spending that might have some good ideas.
posted by photo guy at 11:31 AM on September 23, 2018

Shoot me a MeMail. I may be able to help.
posted by dobbs at 11:42 AM on September 23, 2018

Manufactured spending is not a game for casuals and can blow up on you surprisingly easily--the rules can change at any moment. I wouldn't make my first foray one of spending $12K, or even $6K.

Basically, almost any mechanism for paying your own legit expenses (e.g., prepaying taxes) not routed through the convolutions of manufactured spend is going to cost you more than 1%, because the fees the recipient pays to the processor and bank are higher than that. I think you'll have to do this through covering friends' expenses, if it's doable at all.
posted by praemunire at 1:09 PM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Can you buy a few large ticket items like TVs at Target and Best Buy and where ever else you can spread it around, and ask for gift receipts? Then return them as if you were the recipient who needs cash back since returning it to the credit card would return it to the "person who gave you the gift."
posted by willnot at 3:21 PM on September 23, 2018

You will not get cash back on a credit card purchase at Best Buy, I can say with authority, and in fact ringing up a shitload of TVs and whatever on a credit card and then trying to return them days later for alternate forms of payment will launch you to the head of the fraud line. I have very little doubt that Target’s return policy is similar in this regard. Don’t do that.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:16 PM on September 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Gift cards. If you're not churning in the traditional sense (and going after more credit card rewards immediately after this), then it'd be pretty easy to hit a one time spend that way. Load up your Amazon account with $1,000, and then you don't have to spend any money there for the next few months. same with Target gift cards or grocery store gift cards. These are things that you know you will use eventually and that are easily transferable to cash (via GC marketplaces online) in the event that you need real money quickly. (even if that means taking a slight loss)

Be aware, though that some credit cards code gift cards separately and don't always count them for status points. DoC probably has the details covered.
posted by chrisamiller at 9:14 PM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

that are easily transferable to cash (via GC marketplaces online)

Another somewhat risky choice. One of the major gift-card marketplaces just disappeared in a puff of smoke a couple of months ago (?). I mean, OP, judge your own risk based on your own financial situation and liquid funds, but while I might try this on the scale of, like, $1K, if I really wanted the status, I'd be very reluctant to go much beyond that.

If you're not selling the GCs, then you're carrying the interest until you can use them up--possibly manageable depending on your cash flow, but the math gets unfavorable on that pretty fast. A $5K balance unpaid for 3 mos. on an 18% credit card accrues nearly 5% in interest.
posted by praemunire at 10:10 PM on September 23, 2018

If you're looking for ideas of things that friends might be willing to let you cover, I was able to charge several thousand by covering (and then being reimbursed for) a sibling's medical bill. It works particularly well if by change you/they would be reimbursing through an HSA anyways.
posted by mosst at 6:21 AM on September 24, 2018

If you buy something for someone else and they agree to reimburse you for it, you are effectively offering them a short term loan.

Read some of the other AskMe's about lending money to family or friends before you decide to go this route.

Before you embark on this project, estimate the actual dollar value of the additional perks you'll get by meeting this credit card spend target. Use that value to decide how much of your time, money and effort it's worth.

Also, let's say you buy something on behalf of someone else, i.e. a TV or vacation or whatever, and the other person reimburses you for it. Great, problem solved. Except, if this other person has an issue with whatever was purchased, you're the original buyer, and you'd have to deal with whatever warranty claim, return, or dispute process for them, because you're the original buyer. Some warranties might be voided because they apply only to the original purchaser, which is you. You've essentially sold the product to someone else.

In the movies, I think it was Winona Ryder who solved this problem by pumping gas for random strangers, paying with her credit card, and pocketing the cash.
posted by thenormshow at 12:02 PM on September 24, 2018

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