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).
Doctor of Credit says some banks will unofficially give a grace period to meet minimum spend requirements towards a bonus. I sure wouldn’t want to test that theory. Know how much you need to spend to earn a signup bonus, and when you need to spend it by.
When I signed up for a Citi Prestige Card (an amazing product, here are 15 Things I Love about the card), they notified me by email. And the email said something interesting:
The email said “your account is considered open as of today” even though I didn’t have the card in hand yet! That’s important information to know, since it was the day the clock started ticking for me to spend $3000 within 3 months of account opening to earn 50,000 bonus points. (offer expired)
Notice that it’s not that I had to spend $3000 within “the first three billing cycles” or on the first three statements. It was exactly three months from the date of account opening.
Say that I were to sign up for a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (here are 10 Things I Love About the Sapphire Preferred Card). If the account is instantly approved, that’s day one for spending $4000 within 3 months to earn a 50,000 point signup bonus. But if I’m not instantly approved, and I receive a card in the mail ten days later, I don’t know what the date of account opening was — so I don’t know exactly when I have to have spend completed by.
Most issuers don’t send the email that Citibank, so you may not know the date your card was approved and open. That’s why it can be a good idea to ask this question explicitly. I like to ask via secure messaging using the card issuer’s website so I have it in writing, not just a recollection of what a call center agent said.
Another common question is what spending counts towards the required spending for a bonus. In general an annual fee does not count as that isn’t a ‘qualifying purchase’. And spending that is rebated to you doesn’t count either.