Meeting a credit card minimum spend to earn a signup 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 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 signup 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 signup 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, 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/signup bonus period is higher than normal and justifies the fee. Remember, you never want to miss earning a signup bonus.
By using a Plastiq link in this article, you’ll get $500 fee-free dollars after making $500 in payments. I’ll get $1k fee-free dollars.
4. Pre-Pay Bills
You can use a credit card to pay for some of your bills and insurance coverage. This includes homeowner, 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
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.
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 who you can pay medical expenses for with your credit card and be reimbursed by them later. A total win, as you get the signup 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/signup 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 signup 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 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 signup bonus, your paid trip can help you earn enough for an award trip!
There are so many ways to meet credit card minimum spends. By using your everyday spending, bills, and perhaps a little creativity, you’re on your way to earning that valuable signup bonus.
How have you met minimum spend?
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