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

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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, two of my current favorite bonuses are:

  • 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.

  • 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 pay it using the card.

You may be trying to stretch spend though for the initial bonus of up to 100,000 points from the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN — that requires $10,000 spend within 3 months for the first 50,000 points and an additional $15,000 spend within the same 3 months for the next 50,000 points. (It wa
s a limited-time offer through August 8, 2018. Offer expired.)

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 Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card 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 Chase Sapphire Preferred 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.

To earn upfront 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 requirements 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 car payments or mortgage but that’s MasterCard only. 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 promotions with lower fees.

  • 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.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

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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  1. Great reminder article – my favorite is pre-paying bills and that’s really all I need. I can put $500-$1,000 each on cable, power and natural gas bills if necessary. Working on four bonuses right now and don’t expect a problem – worst case I can put a lot of spend on Amazon, which keeps your balance, and use the credit over time…with no chance of losing gift cards.

  2. I think a little more could be said about Plastiq for people who are apprehensive about the service. It’s a way to pay your bills with a credit card and meet minimum credit card spend in order to get a bonus. Without a promotion the fee is usually 2.5% of the charge making it VERY unlikely to be worth it. But if you have a promotional code it’s a easy way to pick up some spend and meet your bonus.

    One thing to note is that Chase Visa now only allows 20% of your credit limit (essentially whatever your cash advance limit is) to be made with Plastiq. So if you want to spend $500 in one fail swoop, you’ll have to have a credit limit of $2,500. Otherwise, you’ll have to break up the payments. I had to send them a copy of my rent agreement the first time (which at first made me a little uncomfortable), after that first month it was pretty seamless. Didn’t have to send them a copy of my car lease. My referral code of “656912” gets you $500 of Free Plastiq charges.

  3. I chatted to a representative at Plastiq less than two weeks ago and was told that other credit cards outside of Master Card were okay to use for rent payments. Anybody?

  4. @Tim

    Correct (and Gary implies as much as well above) but only for rent payments. For mortgages, it must be done with a MasterCard.

  5. You forgot to pay your family and friends bills. I pay moms car and house insurance on my card. When we go out with friends I pay they give me cash.

  6. My power utilities take credit card through third parties for a fixed fee. One is Western Union Speedpay Bill Payment Service, the other ePay Preferred. Will these both post as credit card payments, not cash advances?

  7. +1 for prepaying some recurring monthly bills. I’ve found T-Mobile makes it super easy to prepay your bill with them, as does Spectrum/Time Warner. I’ve also bought Spotify gift cards to get a little bit of extra spend as well and essentially prepay my service.

    @CSue – Have you checked to see if Arcadia Power works with your utility company? I know they don’t work with every utility company, but if they work with yours, they accept credit cards for no fee and pay your utility company directly while supplying 50% of your energy from renewable sources.

  8. @GC Thanks for the tip. I actually made an account a long time ago but never activated it. So my power company bills Arcadia instead of billing me, and I pay Arcadia for all my power? They’re only giving me an Evergreen option, with a monthly premium and I’m not clear if that’s in addition to what I pay now?

  9. @GC Ah, I see. My utility is small and not integrated, so it works differently. Basically I pay additional for all my power to be wind, but I still pay my power company directly. Good try!

  10. Does the annual fee and travel credit apply to the minimum spend when it’s paid for in that time frame? I just got the Sapphire Reserve and paid the $450 annual fee in the first month. Also, earned the $300 travel credit on my statement.

  11. When you spoke about using your card for all bills “including your utilities” and then to “Prepay your bills” I got really happy. I always figured you had to spend so much money on ‘extras’ to meet those miniums. We spend so much already on normal expenses that it really is possible.

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