Yes, You Still Can Earn Miles for Buying Money Orders!

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The big news this week is that, starting today, the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card card is increasing its sign-up bonus from 25,000 points to 30,000 points up to September 3, 2012.

But more exciting to me, is that you may be able to earn miles by buying money orders using a debit card. I’ve been running tests over the last 2 months, and will share the details in the next few days.

Read this very carefully

Of course, you shouldn’t go overboard with this technique.  And before you think of buying $100,000 worth of money orders a day, depositing it in your bank account and becoming a mileage billionaire, remember that there are limits on purchases, that repeated purchases and deposits in your account make it easy to trace, that financial institutions have to file reports to the government for large purchases and deposits of cash equivalents, and that banks have shut down ALL accounts of folks who abuse the ability to buy money orders with a debit card.

Yes, I am trying to scare you into not abusing this technique because the odds are high that you will get caught (more on how to use this ability in future posts).

But you should be able to top off your account or earn miles for transactions for which you otherwise couldn’t earn miles such as student loans, mortgages, etc. with these techniques.

There are also other ways to use the debit cards to earn miles, but since its Emily’s birthday today, you’ll have to wait a bit!

The Experiment

Here’s one of the experiments which was successful (lest you call me a tease!)

I used the debit card which earns Delta miles…

…to buy money orders…

…from this American institution (among others).

Thanks, Sam!

I earned Delta miles for the PIN debit card transaction and paid 60 cents for the Money Order!

I suspect that there will be lots of comments with folks suggesting that I shouldn’t have posted about this, but this has been going on for 10 years and made it to the Wall Street Journal.

Here are my thoughts on sharing deals on the blog and they haven’t changed.  Is this ethical?  Only you can decide for yourself if it is ethical or not for YOU to pursue.

Again – there are risks to abusing this which I’ll outline in the next few days, so be careful.

I’ll be driving for most of the day, so I won’t be able to get to the comments.  It is okay to disagree with me or others, but please be civil with your responses!   Not only is that polite, but it increases the credibility of your thoughts.

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* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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156 responses to “Yes, You Still Can Earn Miles for Buying Money Orders!

  1. @Allen:
    Nothing that I posted caused the deal to be killed. It was someone else who went to NPR 2 years after I posted photos that got it killed within 1 week. My photo only showed many timid flyertalkers that were afraid to but $500 in coins that $25,000 at a time was not a problem or discouraged by the US Mint. They knew who is am and that they shipped overe $1.2M to my office. They knew exactly what they were doing.

    The real problem is jealousy from those who did not get enough, and they can never be pleased. Not my problem.

  2. Looks like you’ve had enough time to reply to other posts that you made within the last day. Why haven’t you replied to the many questions that need answering and have been asked numerous times here…? Very disrespectful on your part to post this on a day you knew you would be gone and then you still ignore it while you are back. You lost a one time loyal reader and have finally turned into all the other bloggers.

  3. Take a chill pill Frank ^^^^

    Frank, chill out man, Darius responds to more comments then any other blog out there. One of the reasons this blog is cool and different is because Darius himself will respond to your questions (I personally have asked multiple questions and always been answered). If I was Darius, I wouldn’t respond to even half of these comments, because they are just wimpy and sad (including yours). If Darius started responding to some of these comments, it would just start all over again. Darius posted his reasons with another post, if you want answers, read that post, but either way please move on.

    • Deep breath everyone! I did think a lot before posting this. I’m sure you noticed that no institutions were mentioned by name or linked to in the post to reduce the likelihood of this appearing in search results. As other have pointed out, you WILL get closed for buying lots of money orders and redepositing it in your account. Much better to use this as a way to earn miles for paying your rent or mortgage.

      I also don’t see why my readers shouldn’t know about this, but it is okay for you to know about it. Talk about in-group vs. out group! Sorry if that upsets you.

      To the ones who’re done reading the blog and won’t use my referral links – Thanks for reading! Many of the links on the blog are to better offers than my referral links, and I don’t blog just for the billions of dollars involved.

      @utbusigal – Exactly! I suggest using this as a way to earn miles for legitimate transactions, not for buying and depositing money orders in your account which will get you closed down.

      – I appreciate your measured comment. I don’t understand why the lack of open discussion on a forum means that my readers shouldn’t know about it? Sure it is ticking if you’ve been buying money orders and redepositing them (not sure if you have)!

      You write ” I just think the system should be able to be milked a bit more before it sees the light of day.” So who determines how long before it “sees the light of day” and why shouldn’t my readers know about it as well?

      @Karen – Yes, you do need a PIN to buy a money order.

      – For the record, I don’t accept any freebies from hotels or airlines.

      @Ed – Some do and some don’t.

      @Drsifu @ff_lover – For most folks this isn’t worth the hassle. And you will get shut down for buying money orders and redepositing them. Much better to use this as a way to earn miles for transactions which usually don’t earn miles such as mortgages, student loans etc.

      @Ralph L – I wrote this without mentioning any institution by name to make it less likely to appear in searches.

      @Bikar – And how many loopholes/deals have I closed by your reckoning?

      @Joshua Pickles – Thanks for the reminder on the limitations and to be cautious.

      Chris F
      – I’d do all three, but AMEX hasn’t been bumping bonuses lately.

      @T.L.M. Hax– Wandering Aramean and Loyalty Traveler are two wonderful blogs without affiliate links. And you could always write your own blog to show us how to do it.

      @Another pizzed off ex-reader
      – Perhaps the most eloquent comment of them all!

      @Marso – I hear you, but I won’t remove this post. The time and effort involved don’t let this scale very well. And I don’t see why my readers shouldn’t know about it.

      @Phil – I suspect the accounts being closed are the ones with significant money order purchases (and perhaps even redeposits). And why is my post “ill-advised” but your post on your blog okay? And don’t say it is because of more readers!

      @Mike @Frank |
      – I am willing to converse, but I am not going to take the post down. Sorry if you see that as “disrespectful.” This may come as a surprise, but writing posts, replying to email, working, commuting, sleeping etc. cuts into the time I have to reply to comments. I’m not sure what “needs” answering in this post, and I also prefer responding to the less “entitled” comments!

  4. @MMS – yes it is because of more readers! Sorry we can just agree to disagree, and the world is a better place for differing opinions. I certainly respect the tremendous job you have done in building this blog up. But this trick is so easily over-exploited that exposing it to thousands of new people in one go (as opposed to a few dozen that read my post, where this trick was actually buried in the middle not headlined front and center) is going to see it closed down very quickly, hence my view it was ill-advised. I will say on the flip side I do agree with your in-group out-group view. There are definitely some “over-entitled” FTers who think they have the right to all knowledge. But things aren’t always black and white, and I think you must have known given your readership that you seriously risked blowing the deal up by posting it, and I think time will prove you did.

    And yes I am sure accounts being closed are those showing lots of large purchases at Walmart. I went big on this myself for the first month and only dialed back because I was travelling a lot. I actually always thought it was just a question of time before this got shut down, and for sure this post has hastened it, and I did not really care if I got shut out my SunTrust.

    I think if you actually use SunTrust regularly for other stuff, and you run less than 2k per month through this method, you will probably stay under the radar. That said my guess is withing a few weeks ST will block PIN card transactions from earning miles, and then it will be done and dusted.

    And as ever bravo for at least responding civilly to all the comments. You’d make a great politician 🙂

  5. You don’t think that the overwhelmingly negative response to this post is indication enough that you should take it down or admit you were wrong in posting this?

  6. I think you underestimate the damage you can do to the image of your blog when posting what many people will see as an idiotic move, and not just the FTers that are complaining right now. Even those precious readers that you refer to are able to recognize that it was a stupid move and that posting it will kill the deal. And it’s a deal that isn’t even that great to begin with, definitely doesn’t seem (to me) worth the criticisms that you could face.

    But back to the image point, I came to your blog because it was not the typical blog and I would never have predicted that you would post something like this. I would suggest you think about the type of posts your readers might appreciate, which ones they might not and which ones might actually affect the ‘brand’ you’re creating with MMS.

  7. I actually received a letter from STB months ago notifying me debit transactions would start earning miles and was going to give this a try. Thanks for confirming this, Darius. If the purpose of miles/points blogs isn’t to inform people about mile-earning opportunities, then I don’t know what they’re for. I won’t be cashing these in, but rather using them to finally earn miles on my student loan payments.

  8. Thanks again for this post. I may not use this deal because of other opportunities with a better ROI for me, but I appreciate knowing about it.

    And keep in mind, research on “negativity bias” and “negative word of mouth bias” shows that people are 5 to 20 times more likely to post a negative comment than a positive comment.

    So, just know that there are alot of people out there that are very grateful for your work, including me. And I admire you sticking to your principles, even when it is difficult.

  9. @MMS, I didn’t say it was disrespectful to not take it down, I said it was disrespectful to post about a topic you knew would cause ripples on a day you knew you would be away from the computer. You might as well have said “I don’t care what you think” and disabled comments. It is no “surprise” to me that running a business cuts into your time commenting (which is also your business), only surprising how little you care about the respect and opinions of the community you strongly benefit from. You talk about “your readers that deserve to know…” as if your readers were 100% organically grown, rather than coming from the miles and points community that existed before your blog existed.

  10. @Hayden: Please specify how the tenor of this comments section is a representative sample of reader sentiments, and I’m sure they’ll offer you a job at Gallup tomorrow.

  11. Love your blog MMS! Much props to you for actually sharing your secrets instead of just promoting the cc’s that give you the most cash. Posts like these are the reason I’ll continue to read your blog on a daily basis.

    I actually stumbled upon this little trick on Phil’s blog after a google search for SunTrust. But I guess since nobody else bothers to read his blog that is OK for him to post it. I guess if he ever gets any readers he will promptly pull his post, but I’m sure he won’t need to worry about that…

  12. “I’m sure you noticed that no institutions were mentioned by name or linked to in the post to reduce the likelihood of this appearing in search results.”

    Um… really? You have a link to the card right in the post (“which earns Delta miles…”). That was what caught me off guard. How you pretty much laid it all out there. Unless you think the people who work in loss prevention / fraud for these companies are idiots, I’m pretty sure they could figure this out in 14 milliseconds. Plus, plenty people have dropped names in their responses. Let’s just put it this way, if anybody from said institution looks at this nice little “how-to”, it’s going to be pretty obvious what’s going on if they haven’t figure it out yet. My guess is they will tighten down and possibly end up punishing everyone who got the card, whether they were abusing or not. That’s what sucks.

  13. I honestly see nothing wrong with what he is saying or doing.
    Personally I think its a lot of work and there are lots of costs involved, so you really are “earning” them. Plus your time is money as well.

    First you have to pay like a $50 annual fee for this “debit card”
    Then you have to pay like 1.50 for each money order.
    Plus your time to go to Wal-mart and stand on line ( and you know how long those lines in customer service at Wal-mart can be only to be waited on by someone huffing and puffing under their breath.)
    Finally is just 1 mile for every $2 so it not that many miles
    Like he says you have to pay legit bills with these because they could trace them back to you own account and cancel you so you cant get them in like amounts of 10k and keep recycling the money.

    A lot of work when there are so many easier ways to get free miles by opening cards. And it will not be any use just to top off miles because they would be very expensive for such few likes due to the annual fee.

    Oh and I hate Wal-mart and everything they stand for so it would be a punishment for me to have to enter one of their stores and see the sourpuss on their faces!

    • @Phil – There would be no progress without different opinions, and we just have to agree to disagree. This takes time and effort to do and I suspect for most folks the risk reward ratio is poor, so I don’t anticipate a lot of folks doing this. BTW, I DO think that earning miles and points on debit cards is an anomaly and WILL be closed down soon because it is likely unprofitable. But I’m not sure if this post will hasten that or not, and there’s no real way of knowing. Either way, now my readers know about it too!

      @Hayden – Different readers expect different things, and I can’t please everyone.

      @Chris M. @Ariana – Thanks for the encouragement and reminder about negativity bias.

      @Mike – But I do care about what you thing, which is why I respond to comments even when there’s nothing in it for me. But I have a life outside the blog as well and can’t respond to all comments instantaneously. Waiting a day also helps prevent an emotional response from me too!

      @Matt – It is a link to a post which links to the card – not a direct link which will appear in a search engine.

  14. oh and you can refer to me as mike P as there is another mike leaving a comment!

  15. mike pretty much everything you stated in your post is factually incorrect. $75 annual fee, 60 cents per money order, you buy them in the money center not customer service, you get 1 mile per dollar. i definitely would not recommend this method for you 😉

  16. The best way to use debit card is to pay for legitemate purshases, like storage sheds for example or other big purchases. I’m shocked how many customers of ours just pay for multithousad dollar purchases with check or regular Debit or credit card. Thank yo for your blog Darius.

  17. are there any debit cards with star alliance possibilities for ua, us or for AA?

  18. any debit card give you aa, ua, or us miles?

  19. THEsocalledfan


    Thank you for responding. I appreciate and respect your opinions even if I disagree. I have pulled off your e-mail list.

  20. Dude Darius it’s your blog, post whatever you want. Don’t let other people dictate what you post on YOUR blog. If they don’t like it then umm so what, because there’s no reader who’s not replaceable. Keep up the good work, and disregard the haters.

  21. @Darius:

    We are going to end up agreeing to disagree on the wisdom of posting this deal. I do believe it is disingenuous to say that you didn’t link to any institutions (by which I assume you mean Walmart) when, in fact, you posted a link to the debit card.

    Regarding posting the deal: The deal will inevitably shut down because people will take advantage of it, but now it will be shut down sooner. Why do I believe that? Because it is now that much more likely that the mainstream media will pick up on it, which is what killed previous deals such as the Mint and US Savings Bonds. @Joshua Pickles’s point was right on the nose: He had been doing this for ages. The bank knew he was doing it. The mint knew he was doing it. Everyone knew why. But when they hit the media, they were done within weeks.

    I can’t tell you what to write on your blog and I think I understand why you did what you did, but I do believe that it will lead to an early death of the opportunity.

    IMPORTANT: For those of you who have not hopped on the deal yet but are planning to:

    This one is not nearly as easy as it seems. ST is a pain in the neck to deal with, particularly if you do not live in a ST state. It was difficult enough to open an account before; it will be next to impossible now for OOS customers (Just read the FT thread on how quickly certain accounts got shut down.). Fees are high and there is an account closure fee within the first several months, which may affect you if the deal dies quickly. Walmart is an even bigger pain in the neck. Few WMT employees know how to process multiple money orders at a high level. All of your personal info will be recorded, including your SS#, and reported. I’ve had transactions take close to an hour.

    Bottom line: This deal is complicated. If you are going to get involved, think carefully. You don’t want to open up a ST account and have the deal die.

  22. Darius,

    Thanks for the great post. I love how you know this would create controversy and yet you still posted it. Nicely done! For those who really care about thousands of new people will be taking advantage of this – please count 1 less – i ain’t interested. None-the-less, those of you not supporting this post because it “endangers” your chances to continue to game the system should be mortified for this behavior (i.e. not supporting free press).

    • @webazoid – Bank of America use to issue a debit card which earned US Air miles, but it doesn’t any more. I don’t know of a debit card which earns AA or UA miles.

      @Michael – It is a link to a post which links to the debit card – and not a direct link to the debit card. Big difference! This “deal” is likely to get shut down because it is likely unprofitable for the parties involved.

  23. Has anyone ever purchased $2 or 3K gift cards from AMEX website?
    Are there anythings I should be aware of if I do?
    Please advise.

  24. Daraius, you saying that MO can be used to pay mortgage. Can I use MO as payment option to pay for daycare expenses? They currently accept only personal checks (or ACH), so I don’t earn any rewards, unfortunately.

  25. Darius, I first want to say thank you for your commitment and hard work in letting anyone who is interested, in travel for less or sometimes free, know of these great deals. I just happened to stumble upon this subject less than 2 months ago. Not knowing that the points and bonuses that are being offered from all these banks credit cards, are enough for great travel. I’ve already scored 3 free nights at the Crown Plaza Key West, and a free South Beach night before a cruise in November. Oh, and a free car rental for that time as well. Thanks to you we are not staying @notellmotel. I wanted to address the few who were upset with you for sharing another points earning strategy. Banks are in the money making business, big money. They have had, in the past few years, federally imposed regulations that have cut into their revenue. They WILL make this loss up. The whole debit card monthly service fee that was almost adopted by several big banks at the first of the year but was shouted down by consumers, was one of their money making attempts. They soon realized this was not subtle enough and are changing many banking products to make up for the 12.5 billion in lost revenue. Debit cards just are no longer a money maker for them (because of the regulated fees charged to merchants). It is not the few thousand points chasers that will kill this points earner, it is the over 60% of consumers, who use debit cards, that will cause less bonuses and more fees attached to the dc’s. So for those of you who are angry with MMS, just realize that this “secret”, is probably on its way out already.

  26. Sigh, My husband got a call today indicating his account was shutdown. He only had it open for 2 months and did the money orders to pay for his mortgage. They will mail a check to him of his remaining funds minus a fee. It should arrive in 15 to 20 business days. No more crazy schemes for us. We’re done.

  27. Darius,
    Thank you so much for so kindly and promptly responding back to my posting.
    The point you mentioned is exactly what I am concerned about: A cash advance fee.
    I recently went to Chase back branch to ask for a Chase gift card
    (I have their premium plus account that waves the $3.50-gift card purchase fee).
    I ended up canceling my purchase after a bank teller notified me of a cash advance fee
    with daily compound interest rate.
    I am thinking about the similar idea what people who have posted earlier:
    Purchase money order at post office by gift card to pay loans to earn extra credit card points…

  28. Folks this isn’t an issue about people hording information on FlyerTalk. The info has been there for quite some time.

    This is Darius’ attempt to spoon-feed those that aren’t willing to invest the time on FlyerTalk, in hopes with what info he harvests will have some sap decide to sign up for one of his credit card referrals, and/or increase traffic to his site so he can become more of an “expert” in rehashing data.

    This goes against the FT mantra of *SHARING* info with others on FT whom have no credit-card referral agenda. This is truly exploting for self-gain.

    Commenter “Maria” has already decided to blow the whistle on this.

    This deal will be dead very soon.

  29. All of the people complaining that Darius — or any blogger — should not write about loopholes such as this are misguided, selfish, and displaying a sense of self-entitlement that’s nauseating. All of us who work to earn frequent flyer miles, hotel points, etc., are part of a community that benefits greatly from the knowledge of others and their willingness to share it. If a deal dies, a deal dies. It’s not for you, me, or anyone else to play God and decide who should or shouldn’t be sharing knowledge they’ve gleaned and benefiting from it. If you don’t want to share your knowledge, fine. If you don’t want to contribute to the greater community, fine. But don’t condemn the good souls who do.

  30. Funny how the people who swore they would never read Darius’ blog again are still here commenting days later…

    Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if “Maria” was a fictitious character that someone made up here to try and scare everyone…not to mention add even more fuel to the fire.

  31. Sharon,
    Fictitious character or not, but a lot of folks are getting their accounts closed. Check FT.

  32. Okay there is alot of feedback on this. I agree you need to give your readers info as i have been reading your blog along with a few others. I also do not have the time to read all posts on ft. On the other hand giving just a little bit of info is better to keep the deal going. I read a post the crypticly mentioned pin and i pm”d the poster and he responded telling me the deal. I have been able to utlize for a few months. Sadly with giving so much info rather then teaching readers how to read or understand by asking questions then giving them the ability to figure out deals and actually use them. In this case you showed them howto do it but now they cannot use the info as it is already dead with accounts closing. It is in your readers interest to be ceative in this way. You keep the ft and sources happy so as to not ruin it for them as well. A little better insight into handling these deals would be better. I dont appreciate you saying you are right in giving every detail out as now i have lost an oppourtuinty.

  33. Darius, Thank you for your great blog. I have benefited greatly over the past few months from reading and using your ideas. I also enjoy FT, but I am amazed at how some FT members think the miles and points world belongs to them; and them ONLY! Deals will end and new deals will surface. Keep up the good work. I use your credit card links, whenever possible. Thanks again, Mike

  34. @webazoid For now I think there is only AS debit card with BoA that can still earn miles, but I could be wrong. I hope they don’t close that one, like they closed US debit card. Hope it helps.

  35. worldtraveller2

    Keep up the good work Darius!
    Next time I would shut off the comments section for the day, just to really piss them off!
    #^*#OFF the naysayers!

  36. One thing is to share the knowledge and teach readers to enjoy the benefits of frequent travelling, the other is to expose even more these loopholes.

    As a blogger you want to appeal to the general audience, you have chosen to go the way that you are polarizing your audience. Is your strategy helping or hurting you more? There are some really nasty comments here.

  37. The funny thing is you took the last few months to “test “the system for your readers. I am curious how much you charged while testing. Did you get enough points to not worry about it being closed so you put the info out there to get more publicity to your blog. This has been a system out there for a while and tested by others. I am just curious why it was not mentioned upfront while you were taking part in the deal? You got points at leasrt every other week since june.

  38. @ORD_TGU

    Trying to appeal to a “general audience” is often a recipe for disaster. Polarizing brands create fierce loyalty and following.

  39. Thanks a lot . Keep up the good work. If we use this sensibly, we should be fine… Keep such posts coming.

  40. First let me say how much I appreciate your Blog; it is well written, fresh, and most of all sincere. You don’t make pretenses or tout your talents in a way that is self-serving as may other bloggers do. You write from the heart and in a style that lets the reader share in your experiences. Kudos to you and Emily, I wish you continued success in your pursuit of miles and a lifetime of enjoyment and happiness in your relationship.

    Thank you for your original post and maintaining your cool and dignity against such adversity. It appears that the majority of your commenters are FTers, and that’s a shame. FT started as a forum to share unique earning and burning opportunities but has evolved into a PM platform for a very immature and self-serving group. It’s very sad as this was, and still could be, a very useful platform for those of us that enjoy the chase and the rewards, and are willing to share.

    Let’s put things into perspective. What is the difference in openly sharing opportunities like the ST account and sharing a mistake in a published fare, lodging, or rental rate? There isn’t; they all have resulted from human errors or misjudgments that have unknown life spans, or they are very well crafted and executed marketing/business strategies. Entities that make errors have the opportunity to correct the errors or allow them to perpetuate. Some take longer to evaluate and/or alter, e.g. the U.S. Mint or Treasury (the Bond deal), while others cut it off at first discovery, which I would hazard to guess came from within the entity via post implementation internal reviews and evaluations or audits, not some blog. FTers, quit being so delusional; let’s get back to the basics of earning and burning!

  41. Hey Guys there is One more bank which gives American Airline miles .
    May be a Less Known Bank, for every $2 you spend you get 1 mile.So if you run out of Suntrust 🙂

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  43. This “sudden revelation” on this website and to most of you has in fact been around for a decade or more. I say if you are too lazy, scared and uneducated to figure this out on your own you don’t deserve access to anything worthwhile like this. This blogger just coppied it off of flyertalk or somehwere else in an attempt to gsin readership, so while you’re busy telling others to share information, maybe ask why there’s nothing new or worthwhile on this blog that isn’t already well known n a dozen other places? I hope the few hundred weak sisters that will actually try this on their own won’t get it shut down for good. But it is FAR FAR better for us all to figure out mileage techniques on your own and keep whatever you learn to YOURSELF.

  44. You FT’ers are truly pathetic – trying to force others to not talk about your “proprietary” deals by acting as if you have some moral position of “ownership”.

    Do you really think that you can keep your secret deals to yourselves when you’re posting on a public forum? Are others supposed to feel an obligation to you to preserve the deal for you just because you think you’ve “earned” it by lucking into seeing a posting on FT?

    My advice: Go create a private forum, if one doesn’t already exist, and go do a circle jerk over there with your secret deals if you don’t want anyone else to participate.

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  52. The SunTrust website claims that you do not get delta miles if you buy money orders.

    I do think SunTrust knows when you buy a money order. Vanilla Visa Debit cards say they cannot be used to buy money orders. I went to the post office, and tried to buy a money order with it. The card was rejected. I then tried to buy stamps with it, and the card was accepted. I repeated this experiment at the grocery store, except instead of trying to buy a money order I asked for a cash advance. The card worked for food, but did not work when I added the cash advance.

    So bottom line, has SunTrust been giving Delta miles for money orders?