7 Ways to Meet Minimum Spending on a Credit Card Without Breaking a Sweat

I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).

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There’s no quicker and easier way to earn a large amount of miles quickly than with a new credit card.

It’s not super complicated and you probably have access to more spending that you can put on a credit card than you think — so it’s far less daunting to meet credit card minimum spending requirements than you think in order to earn a signup bonus.

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 50,000 points — which transfer to a variety of airlines and hotels — after $4000 in spending within 3 months plus 5000 more points for adding a free authorized user to the account and making a purchase within that same timeframe.

  • Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card offers 80,000 points after $5000 spend within 3 months and earns triple points on the first $150,000 spend on travel, telecommunications, shipping and advertising on social-media and search engines. It even comes with protection for your cell phone if you buy it using the card.

Between the signup bonuses and all the points earned from spending — and spending category bonuses — a plurality of miles are awarded by banks, no longer from flying.

With the points from these cards you could transfer 80,000 to Korean Air and book a roundtrip business class award to Europe on Air France or KLM. You could transfer to British Airways and book short haul flights in Europe or Asia starting at 4500 points on BA, Iberia, Finnair, Cathay Pacific, JAL or Malaysia Airlines. You could transfer to Singapore Airlines for Suites awards from Europe to Asia or book US domestic first class on United for just 20,000 miles each way.

One concern though is that to earn signup bonuses you have to meet minimum spending requirements with most of the more lucrative cards. And that can limit the cards you can get.

When I started with miles and points there were no minimum spending requirements. A dozen years ago we started to see $250 (Chase) and $750 (Citibank) minimum spend requirements. Since then the amount of spending required has gone up. There are three reasons for this.

  1. Getting you used to using a card, and even using it exclusively, is a way to get you in the habit of pulling out that card and keeping it top of wallet.

  2. It focuses the card on higher spend customers. More expensive cards need people who spend a lot on them in order to be profitable.

  3. And it serves as a barrier to some people that would just sign up for the bonus and move on to the next bonus.

However it’s really not hard to meet minimum spend requirments for signup bonuses. And you don’t need to do complex things, either.

  • You probably spend more than you think. So focus on the card you’re trying to meet minimum spend with. When adding up spend over a number of months the amounts start to sound big (“I don’t spend $4000!”) but when you break it down over time more people spend $1333 a month than realize it, especially adding up across different card products.

  • Make sure you pay all your bills with a credit card, including your utilities. Break out of path dependency, if there’s anything you pay by check, via billpay, or ACH you should check to see whether it’s possible to pay by credit card.

  • Only get one card at a time. If that’s all the spend you can handle. Know how much you can easily spend, spread that out over new cards, and wait to get your next card until you are sure you have the available spending capacity.

  • Plastiq for rent or mortgage and car payments. Once your biggest bills can go on a credit card it’s much easier to meet spend requirements.

    They charge 2.5% to charge your credit card (purchase) and mail a check for your bills. They also run frequent promotions.

  • Prepay your bills. Since you have a specific period of time — from card approval (date the account is created) to the deadline for earning the bonus — you may want to pull future bills into the present. Spending from month four, five or six can be paid in month three if you need to in order to meet a spending requirement and you have the cash flow to do it.

  • Pay quarterly taxes or end of year taxes due. Some people even overpay their taxes (make a quarterly payment) and get a refund later. Pay1040 charges 1.87% and PayUSATax charges 1.98%.

  • Reimbursable business expenses. Some people are required to use company credit cards or purchasing cards, but even there are you required to do it for all business spend? And how firm is the requirement?

    If you can use personal credit cards, and your company is stable (can reimburse you) and expeditious (will do so quickly enough) then you may want to put as many work expenses on a personal card as possible. That could be air, hotel, ground transportation and meals but perhaps you can even put business purchases — equipment, advertising, computers — on your card? See what precedents there are with other employees, what your boss will support, and what policies are in place.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Has Citi completely closed the “loophole” where you could fund a checking account with a CC?

  2. Hey Gary, I was able to pay my 2016 year taxes on pay1040 for the first time, however, I cannot find how to pay estimated tax for the first quarter of 2017. Could you link to the correct place to do that? I’m kind of confused how to do it… Thanks a million!!!

  3. @Gary:
    Regarding your last point, what kind of guidance do you offer your people at your workplace? How far can they “push it”, so to speak?

  4. @Sam – really it varies by workplace. Some are much more flexible than others. My sister travels for work – works for a large private university – and they allow using personal card then filing a reimbursement within a certain period of time. However, employees at the university are required to use sound judgement and they have rejected someone’s request to be reimbursed for a flight change + fare difference ($800 for one way) as there wasn’t a business need to make that flight change.

    At my company – large Fortune 500 company – anyone who spends more than $1,000 in a calendar year for business related expense whether it is for travel or local purchases for business needs are required to get and use a corporate card for all expenses. If someone who has a corporate card chose to use a personal card for a business expense then attempts to get reimbursed that violates the company policy which will potentially expose the employee to termination (repeat offenders) and rejection of reimbursement request.

  5. 8a. Buy Visa gift cards at Simon outlet mall.
    8b. Use Visa gift cards to buy money orders at Wal-Mart.
    8c. Deposit money orders to bank account.
    8d. Pay credit card bill!

    Also note – Chase has blacklisted people because they made estimated tax payments.

    Also also note – a quarterly app-o-rama is usually more fruitful than applying for individual cards more frequently than every 90 days.

  6. Great post! Plastiq is running a promo (soon to be over) offering 400 fee-free dollars if you make a payment by April 18th – using Plastiq is a great for paying bills, rent, mortgage, etc. with credit cards to meeting minimum spend. If anyone wants to try Plastiq and get 400 fee free dollars during the – please use my link
    My referral code is 648787
    Thank you!

  7. Huge bonus from Plastiq lately to use for your minimum spend requirements by using it to pay for your mortgage. You can get $500 FFD (as May 23, 2017). I have been using it as last resort to meet the min spend for my Chase CSR card that I got recently

    Referral code 648844
    Link: https://try.plastiq.com/648844

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