Canadian student Avery Campbell had hit the travel rewards point jackpot when he found out a way to get those points for free, sponsoring his champagne- and caviar-fuelled, first-class flights to far-flung places around the globe.
Campbell, who studies law at the Montreal’s McGill University, bought silver coins from the Royal Canadian Mint programme using his credit card, which gave him reward points, CBC reported. Those coins were sold as at the value of the actual coin through its Face Value programme.
“You could buy a $20 coin for $20 or a $100 coin for $100,” said Campbell. “They were these lovely silver coins.”
'Manufactured spending': How a university student racked up travel rewards points for free – Business – CBC News https://t.co/UAvH83wlsa
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Campbell then deposited those coins, which are legal tender, at the bank. The money then goes to repay his credit card company.
This method is known as “manufactured spending” where you use your credit card to buy things that you don’t need or want, for the sole sake of collecting those reward points that come with them.
For Campbell, this was something he did once a day or once a week, buying those coins online or at the physical store, sometimes coming out with grocery bags full of coins.
“It was an after-school thing to do: Go to the mint, buy coins and go to the bank,” Campbell said.
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There’s no doubt this oversight by the mint would have resulted in a big cost for it. CBC notes that the mint also paid the bank a two percent administration fees and would most likely have to fork out the credit card transaction fees for those coin purchases. The Canadian news portal earlier this year reported that the mint has been suffering losses overall in 2015 mainly due to “a higher than anticipated return and redemption rate of face value collector coins.”
After discovering its programme may have been abused, the mint has started putting in protocols to stop future cases of concentrated sales and returns. While the mint had at first placed a limit of the number of coins that could be bought online, they weren’t enforced, but they subsequently did, forcing Campbell to have to go to the store to buy those coins.
There’s no mention whether the programme will continue, but seeing how Campbell has gotten creative this time (and legally,too), the “manufactured spending” expert may just find another merchant or program to hack again soon.