The next mad challenge


A year ago, I challenged myself to earn a million points and miles in a month.  I called the challenge, “Million Mile Madness”.  Between March 1 and March 31, 2013, I did everything I could think of to earn points and miles for as little cost as possible.  A rule I set for myself was that my net costs for acquiring those miles should be no more than $1000. 

I didn’t think the challenge would be as hard as it was.  This was before gift cards had PINs. This was after most 5X opportunities at Office Depot had dried up.  This was during a time in which not a single worthwhile new portal promotion appeared.  And, there were no hotel or airline promotions of note. 

That month, I earned over half of my points through credit card signups and most of the rest through creative buying and selling techniques.  I ran into many bumps in the road and sometimes feared that thousands of dollars were lost.  It was a painful process that I don’t recommend to others.  In the end, though, I not only earned a million points and miles, but I earned a small profit as well!  If you’re interested in the full story, read “Million Mile Madness: Final Tally” and follow the links backwards in time.  Or, you can wait for the e-book that I’ve been working on in my spare time.  Unfortunately, I haven’t made as much progress on that one as I’d hoped!

The next challenge

I thought that I would do another Million Mile Madness challenge this year. But I never wanted to simply repeat the same game.  I considered alternatives: could I earn a million points exclusively through travel?  Or, could I use my points and miles to actually travel a million miles?  When running the numbers, neither of those ideas turned out to be feasible.  So, I waited for a a better idea to appear…

The new idea first took form in the comments of a Saverocity post.  In that post, MileageUpdate wrote the following comment:

We should have a blog war over who can fund that $5k account 1st by ManuSpend.

And, then, via email conversations, led by Matt at Saverocity, the idea evolved into a manufactured spend competition (manufactured spend is where you spend money with reward earning credit cards in such a way that you will get most or all of the money back).  All contestants will begin with a $5000 bankroll (of their own) and week by week throughout March, they will try to grow that bankroll into additional cash, points, and miles.

Rather than participate in this challenge directly, I’ve signed up to be the contest judge.  Each contestant will be judged not only on how much profit they generate, but also on their efficacy and artistry.  We will look to reward profitability, creativity, scalability, repeatability, and ethicality.

Matt at Saverocity, will continue his roll as contest organizer, facilitator, and master of ceremonies, so to speak. 

Next steps

If you’d like to know more, or would consider competing yourself, head over to Saverocity to read more about this challenge.  See: The Manufactured Spending Tournament.

As we go forward, I’ll setup a space on this blog to post current results.  And, I’ll report in via blog posts now and then to keep you up to date with the latest action.  I hope that this contest will benefit all of us by showing us new techniques to use and to warn us away from unexpected pitfalls. 

As always, I will use my judgment to decide what things to post explicitly, what should be veiled, and what shouldn’t be mentioned at all (see “Blogging the line“).  Other bloggers participating in this challenge can, of course, decide for themselves what to post and what not to.

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[…] The next mad challenge […]

[…] The next mad challenge […]


This could be interesting! I’m going to be watching this one closely.


Ah, the smell of greedy fear in the morning.

All these people screaming that you’ll singlehandedly shut down THEIR favorite way of collecting money and or miles make me laugh.

They tell you that YOU are greedy, when it’s them. I am going to go out on a limb and assume that they don’t make a living off their MS, whereas it’s likely that several bloggers do.

If you get more hits and CC app payments for this, good for you.

And, if some people are willing to start doing a little more work to create MS, based on what they learn here, good for them.

I work in network marketing. I work with a reputable company, with awesome products, and good, ethical leadership. They tell us, all of us, about new methods to create new end users. And guess what? Some people get rich from applying those new methods. Some make a little more money. But the VAST VAST majority of distributors, with access to exactly the same information, make nothing. Because they do nothing.

The same will happen with this promotion. How many of you who are screaming followed the example last year, and earned a million points and miles in a month?

The Mint didn’t shut down because of a handful of people bragging. It shut down because of a handful of people buying and cashing in hundreds of thousands of dollars in coins in one month.

Even if they’d never said a word, it was their own cupidity that did them in.


A million will not buy you much at United, and many other places

Life is not fair….


The sad thing is the Million Miles will not buy you much at United, or anyplace else.

Life is just not fair,

Rick I

Sounds like fun but I would NOT publish updates or results on a public forum. The less press this idea gets the better.


The greed and blind stupidity of bloggers knows no bounds.

[…] The next mad challenge […]


I am amazed people think that banks will suddenly shut you down when they figure outt you are buying VR cards on your credit card……….please folks bankers know what they are doing in this arena and manufactured spend is not on their hit list when it generates them profits………me thinks the lady doth protest too much………..they can audit/review me any day they want…….MS and all………


There are numerous cases of MS shutdowns after mainstream exposure: mint, OD, HIGC, GW. This is not paranoia, the concern from MSers is fully warranted based on past events.


All, please calm down about this. We’re not planning to publish instruction guides.


this is true. But this contest is likely call major attention to several tricks, and more broadly to travel hacking. In turn, we’ll have fewer opportunities. Maybe the powers that be will pull the plug on awesome tricks or maybe we’ll see more devaluations?

not saying that this contest is right or wrong.. that’s a whole different debate.

and certainly, either way, some commentators need to cool down a bit! FM has been good about using appropriate discretion, i’m sure nothing will change.

Please ignore the haters

This is your blog–write and do what you want. There are bloggers that I believe would do this for all the wrong reasons. You and Saverocity have never been on that list.


“do this for all the wrong reasons”

To increase traffic volume?

Randy T.

fm, please consider not giving front page updates on your blog. The other blogs are obscure enough that this may fly under the radar, but yours is mainstream.


I’ll add one more point to how dumb this is…you do realize when (yes when) this MS angle gets shut down, your profit margins are going to take a tremendous hit. If you don’t give a damn about us fine, but your wallet is going to feel a lot lighter when banks start to shut this down.


Don’t publicize it.
Just don’t do it.
MS is very different from cc signup bonuses and miles opportunities.
Banks WILL see this and they will shut down these opportunities.
I know that because my ex works at financial institution and they take fight against MS very seriously.

Good grief

Sounds like a blogger circle-jerk to see who has the biggest MS. Hopefully, their big egos won’t harm MS for the rest of us.

Not Mad, just Really Stupid

Greedy. Self-important snobs. No sense whatsoever. No consideration for anyone but yourselves. Stunningly bad judgement.

Who killed the golden goose? Look in the mirror.
Yes, THIS is exactly why everyone hates you.

Stupid idea and tournament

It is really a stupid idea. You guys will kill MS. I am so sorry to say that. But this is a stupid idea, you guys kill MS. I really dont know what is the point of this tournament? for killing MS?


You wonder why people hate you guys, and it’s because of this exact thing. You all cannot just let it be, you have to publicize it, beat it into the ground, and then let it die. I thought you were slightly different from MMS, TPG, etc., but not after reading this. I’m not sure who the bright mind was that thought this up, but this has got to be one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever seen.

Oh God No, Please No

This is the worst idea I have ever heard on one of these so-called travel expert blogs. You idiots will wreck EVERYTHING. Before you greedy, self-important snobs ruin everything for so many others, stop for one minute and consider this: you are just rubbing the collective noses of the banks, credit card companies, airlines and hotel chains in a smelling schmear of dog poo. You think this will go by un-noticed? Go back and read about how The Mint ended. It ended because those who were responsible for allowing the loopholes to remain open were shamed into closing them because idiots gleefully screamed to the world about how they were scamming those same responsible parties. Guess what? They ended the gravy train.

This proposed idiocy will surely end many if not most of the current MS opportunities. And for what? So you greedy, self-appointed experts can laugh about it, get more clicks, and pul in a few more credit card referrals.

Want to know what;’s wrong with the world? Go look in the mirror. You people suck.


I believe many MS techniques will be shut down as result of this publicity. You have so bigger audience that saverocity and banks will follow you to patch their holes.

[…] during a month of manufactured spending. The contest is being judged by the highly respected FrequentMiler, and promises to be a lot of […]


The least thing I would like to see is that, if the contestant is simply willing to spend more time and gas than others, s/he always can earn more MS money. Just like if you are willing to take more than one job every day, you surely can earn more than others who only have one job. But there is no art, skill, or anything inspiring but simply hard working. Looking forward to seeing the results. Doing above can easily beat typical low level MSers but if you want to reach the top, you must find a more efficient way. That’s what I am looking for!


Looking forward to it! I trust the organizers involved so far to make the right call on what details to include explicitly and which to keep quiet.
(PS – are you still on west coast time? Usually I read your new posts first thing in the morning, but yesterday and today, they’re not up until after I’ve finished my coffee and started my day? …)


I agree with those who are concerned about revealing too much as closing down options.


Love the blog bro but don’t you think this might draw a bit too much unwanted attention? Not to say that the banks don’t know what we’re up to, but it’s another thing to intentionally poke the bear. Even the maniacs on FT are openly contemplating limiting access to the MS forum.


Let MMMSM (Million Mile Manufactured Spend Madness) begin!

If you are playing at home, get the Citi Dividend card because it offers 5% cash back at pharmacies thru 3/31/14, you can make up to $300 (before expenses). Good luck Greg!


Sounds like Frequent Flyer porn at its’ best and I love it……….but just as great porn leaves a little to the imagination you should also employ that technique………..Another great idea!


This sounds better than the Amazing Race!

Please be mindful that overt detailed descriptions can stress and end MS opportunities that otherwise could have lived on. Especially quick easy ones that get flooded with people trying to max it out that week in fear it will die by next Monday. Beating around the bush at times can add intrigue and curiosity to your MS competition.


Sounds like an interesting idea! In regards to a level playing field, the folks with access to more Cash Back credit card seems to have an edge over someone with out the right CCs. Also are players allowed to access family member’s credit cards?

Nonetheless, it’s a very interesting challenge and pushes the level of creativity to a new level.


Good question! With credit cards, I think we’ll insist that the player uses cards in their own name including those where they are an authorized user on another account. I’m open to discussion about this if it becomes an issue.

Alvin Ch

Finally some interesting post on your blog, been waiting for you to write sth like million mile post.

Points With a Crew

Awesome! I loved reading about the MMM and was wondering if you were going to do something similar.

Although this is definitely something that I would enjoy participating in, I think I will sit this one out and root from the sidelines!


Interested to see how they handle selling on Amazon since repayment would most likely fall outside the one month time frame due to the hold backs required by Amazon.


For items shipped to Amazon for FBA, we’re going to let the contestant estimate the proceeds from expected sales and that money will go back into the bankroll for the next day. For other types of sales, we’ll wait until the item has a buyer before putting the money back into play

rick b

Well that’s easy, at least for the next few months. I’ve been making $4 – 4.5k profit every month with the Citi TYP 5x promo.


Are you spending $80K-90K on your TYP card?

rick b

more like $120-130k, that’s as much as i can juice out of it with a $22k credit limit and constant paying off the balance.

rick b profit margin is about 3.9% though, since i buy only $500 GCs and use a complicated cashout method involving wally world.

The Other Carl

Awesome plan! Looking forward to following… and learning!


Going to be great- I wonder if combined we can do a Mil? subscribing


Excellent idea. Looking forward to the techniques!