I’m Joining In On The $20,000 Spending Challenge

Vinh from Miles Per Day recently started his own $20,000 reselling challenge after applying for the Amex Business Platinum card that awards 150,000 MR after spending $20k in the first 90 days.  $20k is way more than the average person spends in 90 days, so of course he was looking for a way to manufacture the spend and get most of it back when it’s all said and done.  Inspired by Big Habitat, a reselling master, Vinh decided to try his hand as buying $20k worth of merchandise to resell via Amazon and hopefully make a tidy profit along the way.  In his post, he also threw out a question of whether or not product reselling was more lucrative than gift card churning.  A short Twitter conversation later, both Chasing the Points and I decided to take him up on the challenge.  Thus, the Amex Business Platinum $20k Challenge was born.  I’ll discuss the details of the challenge below and what my plan is to complete it.

The Rules

(Copied from the Official Challenge Post, but I did help write them)

Goal: Meet $20,000 minimum spend requirement of the Amex Business Platinum card in the most efficient way possible that returns the most money back to you (manufacture the spend) in 90 days.  The “winner” will be the person who has the most profit with the least amount of time.  The  winner will be arbitrarily judged by the community at large because there’s not an actual prize here.

  1. Must spend $20,000 on AMEX Platinum Business card (see rule 10) within 90 days.
  2. Sales won’t need to be completed in 90 days, but if you still have inventory left over after 90 days, that will affect how you are judged.
  3. You can finish early but cannot count more than $20k worth of spend.  You cannot “cycle” the money or re-use profit either. Once you’ve spent $20K, you are done.
  4. As the $20,000 spending requirement on the Amex Business Platinum inspired this goal, we won’t count any credit card earnings or signup bonuses except for the signup bonus on this card (150,000 MR) and points generated by the spending on this card (20,000 MR).
  5. Profit will be calculated by adding Cash, Cash Equivalents (staples rewards, best buy rewards, ebay bucks, fuel points, etc.), and points/miles earned from portals along with the 170,000 MR earned from the actual spending.
  6. Time is also a very important factor in the process of manufacturing spend, so keep at least a rough estimate of the time spent, miles driven, etc. in the pursuit of spending, buying, unloading, and/or selling as a part of this challenge.
  7. It is at the participants’ discretion how much information he or she shares about how the methods used.  This will entirely be on the honor system.
  8. You may only count purchases actually made and used towards your profit totals, no hypothetical where you “would have bought AGCs first”.  We usually discuss the best case scenarios for MS, but lets keep this challenge in the real world and look at our actual returns.
  9. You can start whenever you want, and you can backdate purchases starting on 5/4, since that’s when the challenge unofficially started.  If you bought AGC at 2.25% that day using another cc, you can claim that spend was on the Amex Plat.  If you also bought Raise GC on 5/4, you can’t claim you used AGC on that purchase, but you can claim you would have put it on the Amex Plat.  It’s on the honor system.
  10. If you didn’t get the AMEX Business Platinum card, use any credit card and pretend you placed the spend on the AMEX Platinum card (but you can’t count the bonus spend on the actual card you used)

My Plan

If you had asked me a few months ago how I would manufacture $20k worth of spend in 90 days, I probably wouldn’t have had an answer for you.  After getting my gift card reselling business up and running though, $20k seems perfectly reasonable.  If you caught my recent post, Three Months of Gift Card Arbitrage: Some Stats and What’s Next, I outlined that I ended up selling almost exactly $20k worth of gift cards in a 3 month span.  My volume is higher now than when I started a few months ago, so I should be able to complete another $20k well within the 90 day period.  While I don’t plan to sign up for the Amex Business Platinum card at this time because of my brand new business and other recent inquiries, I will participate my using my own credit card(s) and treat it as if I was spending on the Amex Plat card.  I am also going to officially “start” the challenge back on 5/4 to line up with Vinh and because I keep detailed records, it will be easy to calculate my progress from that date.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to maintain the ~5% profit margin from the first $20k worth of gift cards I sold, but it will be interesting to see where I end up among other manufacture spending techniques.  I anticipate that I’ll use a lot more time than someone just buying Visa gift cards to unload, but I should end up with a much higher profit margin.  On the other hand, it will be interesting to see where actual product reselling falls in the mix.  I know it can be rather profitable at times, but I think the time and effort involved goes well beyond gift card churning.  I can’t wait to see how it all turns out and will do my best to keep everyone updated on at least a weekly basis.  Since I technically “started” a week ago, look out for one of those updates soon.