Credit card manipulator reveals point-hogging strategy
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Monday, November 20, 2017 10:59AM EST
Bank tellers may have rolled their eyes when Avery Campbell started depositing grocery bags full of collectable coins into his account. But he had the last laugh over champagne and caviar while flying first-class to five-star resorts.
The 24-year-old Montreal law student started racking up rewards on his credit card by purchasing non-circulated face-value coins from the Royal Canadian Mint a few years ago. He won’t reveal the total value of all the currency he purchased, but the rewards were enough to bankroll lavish trips and luxury airfare for himself, and often his friends.
Campbell said his travels have taken him to nearly 70 countries in the first-class seats of top-tier airlines such as Emirates, Cathay Pacific, and Qatar Airways. He is only willing to talk about his years cashing in on manufactured spending now because his coin-buying strategy is no longer possible.
“You take the money. You bring it to the bank. You deposit it. You pay off your credit card, and you get the points,” he explained on CTV’s Your Morning on Monday.
The associated costs were absorbed by the mint. The Crown corporation pays a merchant fee to accept the credit card purchase, as well as a two per cent charge to the bank to get its collectable coins back.
The program was halted due to the cost of recovering the coins. The mint told CTV Montreal that 25 bank branches returned coins in 2013. By 2015, 312 bank branches were sending them back.
Campbell even managed to keep his high-flying lifestyle alive when the mint started imposing restriction on how many coins he could buy at one time, employing his partner and friends to make purchases on his behalf at the Ottawa store.
“They would say, ‘Oh, you have five people here, so you can buy five times the limit per day.’ You ended up being able to buy quite a lot of money at one time,” he said. “Eventually they told me, ‘No. We are not selling to you,’ more or less.”
Campbell then started ordering coins from the mint online, using multiple email addresses to skirt the purchase limits.
“Eventually they started becoming a little more restrictive near the end of the program,” he said.
So call manufactured spending or credit card churning is not illegal. Most people who do it find out about the latest lucrative spending loopholes online.
Campbell writes a blog called Don’t Call the Airline where he passes on tips for flying on the cheap, but he is also careful to keep some of this techniques quiet.
“If you talk about it, then it gets exposed and the program ends,” he said.
Some of his other methods for manufacturing spending include buying credit card gift cards sold at gas stations and grocery stores. The blog also recommends credit cards based on their reward features.
Campbell has even attempted to market his skills to companies to help them identify and close loopholes in their rewards programs. So far, he said he has not received any job offers.
“I don’t understand why companies don’t come to people like us,” he said. “It’s becoming more widespread on the internet right now. Everything I am talking about is on the internet. It’s been on the internet for years.”