In America, many credit cards offer extremely generous sign up bonuses for new cardholders. These can help reduce the cost of travel, earn you free gift cards and more. Many of the best travel credit cards could earn you a completely free plane ticket for your next vacation!
However, in order to earn these bonuses you’ll almost always need to meet the minimum spending requirements for that offer.
For example, a common credit card bonus might have the following terms:
Sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and earn a signup bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 90 days of card membership.
It’s that last bit that can be tricky. Depending on your spending habits, putting $4,000 on a credit card in 3 months might be difficult – especially considering it can be difficult to pay major expenses like rent and mortgages with a credit card.
This guide will explore some easy ways to meet minimum spending requirements in order to earn these lucrative signup bonuses. But first, let’s go over some things to keep in mind about minimum spends…
style="color: #000080;">Minimum Spending Requirements: Things to Know
- You will typically have 90 days to meet the minimum spend
- This time period usually starts on the day you are approved, although this varies by bank
- The spending requirement is typically around $3,000, but can range from $1 to $10,000 or more
- Minimum spends are typically higher on business cards and luxury cards, and lower on “standard”/mid-level credit cards
- You do not need to carry a balance or pay interest to meet minimum spend or receive your bonus. You can (and should) pay off your card in full every month
- Cash advances are excluded and do not count as “spending”
- Typically all charges on your credit card will be included, although some banks exclude purchases of “cash equivalents” like gift cards
- Any returns or refunds will be subtracted from your spending total
- Annual fees do NOT count towards minimum spend
- If you notice a higher bonus on the same card, you may be able to get matched to the higher offer
With those factors in mind, let’s take a look at some easy ways to meet minimum spend on credit card offers:
Easy Ways to Reach Minimum Spending Requirements:
1. Everyday Expenses
First and foremost, use your new credit card for all everyday expenses you will incur. That means groceries, restaurants, gas, etc. These days, most standard expenses can be put on a credit card.
2. Major Purchases
It’s wise to plan ahead to apply for new credit cards when you have big purchases coming up. Say you need a new laptop – why not apply for a new credit card before making the purchase, and meet half the minimum spend requirement in a single swipe?
3. Bills & Prepaid Bills
Any bill that can be paid by a credit card provides an easy opportunity for meeting minimum spend. Also, consider pre-paying certain bills. Many service providers (think internet, phone, power, etc.) will allow you to overpay your bill, which will result in a credit on your account that will be applied to future bills.
4. Gift Cards & Visa Gift Cards
If there are merchants you shop at regularly, like your favorite restaurant or your local supermarket, you can consider buying gift cards to those merchants as a way to meet spending requirements quickly. Of course this has some downsides, as you’ll have to keep the card safe and remember how much is on it – but it’s an easy way to prepay expenses that normally cannot be prepaid.
Visa/MasterCard gift cards offer more flexibility, as they can be used at any merchant that accepts Visa/MasterCard debit cards. However, there is a fee charged to buy them – usually a flat $5.95, whether you get a $100 card or a $500 card. Also keep in mind that not all merchants will let you buy visa gift cards with a credit card, so you may have to shop around.
5. Rent via Plastiq
Plastiq is a service that allows you to use your credit card to pay certain expenses that normally can’t be paid with a credit card, like rent and mortgage – for a fee of around 2.5%. Basically, you pay Plastiq with a credit card, and they cut a check to your landlord or mortgage provider. Of course you’ll have to pay a fee ($25 for a $1,000 rent payment, for example), but it may be worth it if you’re in a pinch. You’ll also earn credit card rewards, which help to offset the fee. In general it’s only worthwhile to use Plastiq for meeting minimum spend, or when you’re using a card that earns bonus points with Plastiq.
Some landlords and larger property management companies may also offer a direct way to pay rent via credit card, although this is rare (and usually incurs a similar fee).
6. Split/Reimbursable Expenses
If you have any upcoming expenses that you plan to split with someone close to you, you can put the whole charge on your card and have them pay you back in cash or check.
Alternatively, you can ask trusted friends and family members if you can use your card to pay their bills/expenses, and get a check in return. Note the key word trusted!
If you like to donate to charity, plan your tax-deductible donations to align with the 90-day minimum spending window on your new card. Most charities will accept credit card donations. Although, do keep in mind that the charity will have to foot the bill for the processing fee. PayPal and other payment processors do offer discounted processing rates for charitable foundations, but even so, more than 2% of your donation will be routed to pay the processing fee.
8. Taxes (Maybe)
Did you know that it’s possible to pay your federal taxes with a credit card? Third-party processors like Pay1040 make it easy to pay federal income taxes via credit card, for a flat fee of 1.87%. Of course, this really only works if you end up owing a balance at the end of the year, or if you need to make estimated quarterly payments. See our guide to paying taxes with a credit card or the official IRS page for more information.
Other Options to Reach Minimum Spend Quickly
- Buy goods at a steep discount and resell them on eBay/Craigslist
- Look into peer-to-peer microloans via Kiva.org
- Send money to friends via PayPal/Venmo (3%+ fee typically)
- Ask your employer if you can put reimbursable expenses on your personal credit card
- Overpay your taxes & get a bigger refund (NOT recommended, but some people do it!)
- Add an authorized user to your account – their purchases should count towards minimum spend, but double check with the card issuer first
- Open a bank account that allows opening deposits via credit card
- Look into manufactured spending (in 2018, this is getting more and more difficult)
- Pay for business expenses on your card
Given all the methods for reaching minimum spending requirements, you shouldn’t let a high minimum spend stand in the way of a good rewards earning opportunity.
Keep these methods in mind when planning your next credit card application. Beyond that, be prepared before you apply. Plan ahead, and think about how you are going to reach the spending requirement. If you don’t plan ahead, you may find yourself spending money unnecessarily just to get your bonus – or failing to meet the requirements and missing out on a sweet bonus!
What are your clever methods to finish minimum spend requirements? Let us know in the comments below!