Meeting a credit card minimum spend to earn a welcome bonus is the most lucrative way to earn a lot of miles and points for travel.
Most travel rewards credit cards usually come with a minimum amount you need to spend within a period of time, typically 3 months.
A major misconception with minimum spend requirements is that you need to spend money you wouldn’t have normally spent.
Nothing could be further from the truth or even remotely financially responsible.
You should absolutely NOT spend money you have no way of paying off at the end of the month. This will hurt your credit score and make it harder to apply for more credit cards in the future.
The better, not to mention more responsible, strategy is to meet the minimum spend requirements with the money you already spend every day and each month.
Before listing ways to meet minimum spend requirements, there are a few important things to keep in mind to avoid making a costly mistake.
- The annual fee does NOT count towards meeting a minimum spend. Sometimes the annual fee is waived for new cardholders, but if it’s not, don’t count it toward the amount you’ve paid to meet the minimum spend.
- The spending period starts when you’re approved for the card, not when you get it in the mail.
- Know how much minimum spend you can handle before applying for new cards. You never want to miss earning a valuable welcome bonus.
- Always spend a little more than the minimum spend. If your math is off by a few dollars, it could be the difference between getting the bonus or just missing it.
16 Ways to Meet Credit Card Minimum Spend
1. Everyday Expenses
Use your new credit card to pay for all your everyday expenses.
This includes groceries, gas, drug store purchases, home improvement supplies, new shoes from a department store, buying paper towels, cleaning supplies, and other household goods, and pet food.
Anything you would normally pay for with cash or your debit card, pay for with your credit card.
2. Pay Bills
Many of your bills can be paid with a credit card.
These include things like cable, internet, phone, heating, and insurance bills.
When you pay these bills with a debit card or directly from your banking account, you get no return value on your spending. Instead, use them to meet a minimum spend to get some value back in the form of travel rewards.
3. Use Plastiq
Plastiq is a bill pay service you can use to pay bills with your credit card that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to pay with a credit card.
This includes things like your mortgage, rent, tuition payments, taxes, utilities, and car payments. The upside to Plastiq is earning miles and points. The downside is it comes with a 2.5% fee.
However, the return during a minimum spend/welcome bonus period is higher than normal and justifies the fee. Remember, you never want to miss earning a signup bonus.
4. Pre-Pay Bills
You can use a credit card to pay for some of your bills and insurance coverage. This includes homeowners, rental, car, medical, and even pet insurance policies.
Even better, many insurance companies give you the option of paying monthly, quarterly, and for a 6 month period.
Some cable and phone companies may allow you to do the same.
If you’re able to pay off a larger pre-payment at the end of the month in full, it makes sense to use this expense to meet credit card minimum spend.
4. Car Expenses
You’ll need a bill pay service like Plastiq to pay your car payment with a credit card. But, you can pay for gas, repairs, oil changes, new tires, car registration, and toll accounts (i.e. E-ZPass) by using a credit card.
5. Memberships and Subscriptions
Use your credit card to pay for the gym, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, wine clubs, Stitch Fix, magazines, newspapers, ExpertFlyer, fantasy sports websites, and more.
6. Store Gift Cards
Miles and points beginners might only think of gift cards to give as gifts. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Buy gift cards to stores where you frequently shop, like a favorite grocery store, to use in the future. Also, don’t forget online “stores” like Amazon, where you can purchase gift cards for yourself and load them into your account to use for future purchases.
ProTip: Tread lightly with this strategy, particularly with American Express. Their terms and conditions don’t allow gift card purchases to count towards meeting minimum spend.
7. “The Little Things”
Link your credit card to your iTunes or cloud storage account. Use it to buy your morning coffee or a quick snack from a convenience store. It may not seem like a lot, but these little things add up!
8. Medical Expenses
Doctor’s offices accept credit cards for co-pays.
Use a credit card to pay for prescriptions and out-of-pocket costs. (i.e. My eye insurance pays for glasses or contacts, but not both in the same year. I can use the insurance for my contacts and a credit card for my glasses.)
Perhaps you have an elderly parent for who you can pay medical expenses with your credit card and be reimbursed by them later. A total win, as you get the welcome bonus and the money spent on the card paid back to you to pay off the bill!
Medical expenses also include veterinary costs. Annual check-ups, emergency visits, and everything in between can be paid for with a credit card.
Even better if you have pet insurance, as you’ll be reimbursed a percentage of what you paid after submitting a claim.
9. Pay for Services
Some of the people you hire to do a service for you may accept credit cards. This can include a dog walker, a nanny, a contractor, a handyman, or a landscaper.
In some cases, you may even be able to use Plastiq to pay these bills when the business doesn’t normally accept credit card payments.
10. College Tuition & Student Loans
Some colleges will allow payments to be made with a credit card.
The same goes for repaying your student loans.
Plastiq can also help you pay education costs when credit cards aren’t accepted. As always, it’s important to do the math with any fees that are associated with this.
But minimum spend/welcome bonus periods offer a higher rate of return on your money that could offset the fees.
11. Shopping & Gifts
Do you have a birthday, anniversary, or graduation coming up?
Purchase these gifts ahead of time using your credit card.
The same goes for things you may need.
Maybe you’re headed off to a tropical island in a few months and you need a new pair of sandals. If you are able, purchase the sandals ahead of time with your credit card. Shopping portals can help you earn even more miles and points.
12. Plan New Credit Cards Around Larger Purchases
Are you planning to purchase new kitchen appliances?
Do you need new living room furniture? Is your backyard fence beyond repair?
Timing new credit card applications to target these big expenses can help you meet minimum spends with money you were already planning to spend.
13. Parties & Events
Similar to planning for large purchases, perhaps you’re celebrating a family milestone, wedding, or big anniversary.
Vendors like caterers, florists, and DJs usually accept credit card payments and can get you across the minimum spend finish line quickly.
13. Charitable Gifts & Fundraising
Do you give monthly to an organization? Are you planning to make a year-end donation? Are you buying Girl Scout cookies?
Use your credit card to help to do good and earn that welcome bonus!
Whether you’re taking the family to the movies, heading to NYC to see a Broadway show, or just going for a date night dinner at your favorite restaurant, make sure to bring that new credit card!
(Register that new card to an airline dining program and earn even more miles and points.)
15. Pay Bills for Others
Maybe you have roommates with who you share the monthly bills with.
Have your roommates pay you their share and then you use your credit card to pay the bill.
This works also for older parents and family members who need help managing their household expenses and will reimburse you by cash or check.
16. Pay for Travel
Just getting started with miles and points and need to pay for an upcoming trip?
Use your new travel rewards credit card to pay for your travel expenses.
Depending on the welcome bonus, your paid trip can help you earn enough for an award trip!
There are so many ways to meet credit card minimum spending. By using your everyday spending, bills, and perhaps a little creativity, you’re on your way to earning that valuable welcome bonus.
How have you met the minimum spend on a new credit card?
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6 thoughts on “16 Ways to Meet Credit Card Minimum Spend Requirements”
I have pre paid and even overpaid my federal taxes with a credit card to meet the minimum spend.. This is especially useful at this time of year when if you overpay you don’t have long to wait to get your money back. IRS.gov gives you a link to authorized companies to use. Charges from about 1.86% to about 1.99%.
Thanks for reading, Michael. Absolutely a great idea. I have done this as well. I’ll go ahead and add it to the list. 🙂
You might mention that Plastiq fees are going up to 2.85% effective 1 July. Same for your dedicated article.
Great blog, written in a very understandable manner.
Thanks for reading, Kafka. Yes, ugh! Those fees are going up. I will make the edit. Thanks! 🙂
I love the way you explain everything, not only in this article but all of them. I’ve learned more here in the last day or so than I have in so many other travel blogs. I’m working on booking 2 one way flights for February 2023 and trying to determine cash or award booking. Thank you!
Thanks so much for reading. Glad the posts on the blog have been helpful. 🙂 Award flight bookings and the value you get for the points you redeem is subjective depending on who you talk to. It also may not be your main goal if, for example, you need the points to cover the flight costs regardless of the value in order to take the trip at all. (I’m an advocate of always looking at the math plus intangibles like this because they matter, too.)
But as a general rule of thumb, you want to get at least a 1.5 cents per point return value for your award flights. To figure this out, follow this formula. Cash price – award price taxes/fees. Then, divide that number by the number of points need to redeem for that flight.
I hope this helps you make your decision. Thank you again for reading the blog. (Also, I have a free basics course if you’re interested in signing up.)