Disclaimer: This website is monetized by ads, Amazon Associates, CreditCards.com, and other affiliates. As such, this article may contain affiliate links. If you decide to use them, you can sleep easier knowing you're helping me give my cats a better life. :) I really appreciate your support!
There are two different categories of tools needed for manufactured spending, acquisition tools and liquidation tools. Take Visa Buxx, for instance. The acquisition tool would be Visa Buxx itself, because points are earned by loading money onto the card. The liquidation tool would be an ATM or money order, since those are used to remove the money from your account.
Serve, Bluebird, and REDcard are a little different, because they could be considered both an acquisition and liquidation tool. For example, they can be used to acquire points by loading money onto the cards, then they can be easily liquidated using their bill pay function. That would be awesome if every prepaid card worked like that, but, unfortunately, they’re anomalies in the world of manufactured spending.
Regardless, the purpose of this post is not to outline all of the different acquisition and liquidation tools we have, but to highlight one very important tool that I don’t see commonly mentioned – an MS specific bank account.
When I first got into the manufactured spending scene, I didn’t see the need for a separate bank account. I just went about my normal business of depositing, withdrawing, and bill paying thousands of dollars every month, thinking everything was fine. I’m sure my bank didn’t find it weird that I randomly started moving large sums of money in and out of my account, but they didn’t care right? Wrong.
I started noticing that some of the tellers would write something down when I would deposit a lot of money, which worried me. I think it was an SAR, but I’m not entirely sure. Needless to say, I decided it was time I moved my MS business elsewhere, so I could keep my real transactions separate from my manufactured transactions. I’m really happy I did too, because I got a sign-up bonus for opening a new account, I don’t have to worry about my MS mixing with my everyday transactions, and If I get shut down, it’s not a big deal.
If you don’t already have a bank account specifically for manufactured spending, here’s why you should get one.
Just like with credit cards, bank accounts often have sign-up bonuses that can range from a few dollars to a few hundred. Obviously, this is nothing new to the world of points and miles, but it’s still something to consider when looking for a new bank.
Doctor of Credit does a great job of posting the top bank account sign-up bonuses available, so if you’re interested, you can check out his list here.
Also, it’s important to note that cash sign-up bonuses issued when opening a new bank account are usually considered interest. That means you can expect to pay taxes on the bonuses you earn at the end of the year. I know, it sucks.
If you like your bank, don’t risk being shut down by making sketchy transactions. They may not be sketchy to you, because manufactured spending is 100% legal, but to a bank or anyone who doesn’t know what you’re doing, they can be. As the famous saying goes, “You shouldn’t s*** where you eat.” It’s less messy that way.
When it comes to bank accounts, your regular transactions shouldn’t mingle with your manufactured transactions. Why? Because, more than likely your manufactured transactions are much larger sums of money than your regular transactions, which may look a bit suspicious. If a bank is suspicious of you, there’s nothing stopping them from closing your account. If that happens at a bank you really like that, say, earns interest, that’s too bad. That bridge is likely burned.
Having separate bank accounts for MS and normal spend may sound like structuring, but it’s not. Structuring is the process of making deposits into multiple accounts to avoid limits and paperwork. In short, it’s illegal. Having two accounts does not constitute structuring, it’s more like organizing. You have one account for your normal incomes and expenses and one account for your MS income and expenses. It’s the process of keeping everything neat and tidy.
So, should you have two bank accounts, one for MS and one for everything else? Absolutely!
New bank accounts are super easy to open up, especially online, they usually reward you, and they help you avoid shutdowns, so why wouldn’t you open one up? Exactly. Do it.