40+ Powerful Ways To Complete Your Credit Card Minimum Spending Requirements


Has this happened to you?

You have been approved for 6 new credit cards this month, but are worried that you won’t be able to complete the thousands of dollars in minimum spending required to get that large sign-on bonus!

Most of us who collect miles and points are thrifty and spending thousands of dollars in a few months seems daunting.

In this post, I’ll discuss 40+ ways to complete minimum spending requirements on a credit card so that we can all get those large sign-on bonuses.

We start with common everyday expenses which you can charge to your credit card and then move onto expenses which you can charge to your credit card for a small fee.

For example, I would gladly pay a 3% fee on a transaction if it was the only way I had of meeting the minimum payment necessary for sign-up bonuses.

We conclude with other *ahem* delicate ways to bump credit card spending such as payment processors and other methods.  As always, let your personal values and ethics guide your decision to use or not use a particular method

Use Your Credit Card With No Fee

Regular Expenses

1. Insurance. Pay your car, homeowners, medical, or renter’s insurance using a credit card.  If you are on a monthly plan, considering paying in advance for a few extra months, provided you can pay off your credit card bill when it comes due.

2. Cellphone/Cable/Internet. You can usually pay for your cellphone, cable, an internet bill using a credit card.  You may also be able to pre-pay your cellphone, cable, or internet bill via a credit card by paying more than the monthly amount due.  Once again, don’t do this if you can’t pay off your credit card bill when it comes due!

3. Dining. Pay for all your dining expenses using a credit card.  Don’t pay cash unless you really have to.

4. Groceries. Pay for all your groceries using a credit card.  If you regularly buy groceries, consider buying grocery store gift cards and use them to buy groceries in future months.

5. Netflix. Pay for your Netflix subscription using a credit card.

6. Gas. Don’t pay cash or use a debit card.  Use your new credit card instead.

7. Gym Memberships. Pay for your gym membership with a credit card.

8. Car Repairs. Why write a check or use a debit card to pay for oil changes and repairs when you can use your new credit card?

9. Toll Transponders. If you have an automated toll transponder in your car (I-Pass, K-Tag, FastTrak etc.) you may be able to use your credit card to load additional dollars to your toll account. (Hat Tip to Gary Steiger)

10. Business Travel. If you travel on business, you may be able to charge expenses to your personal credit card and then claim reimbursement from your employer.  My employer offers a business credit card, but I haven’t applied for it since it does not offer reward points.  I use my personal credit cards instead!

Gift Cards

11. American Express Gift Cards. You can buy American Express gift cards from Big Crumbs and get a 1.6% rebate.  American Express ships the gift card to you in 2 days ($8 fee), and you can usually avoid paying fees to buy the gift card.  Use code EMSVCA to purchase gift cards fee free until January 31, 2012.

It usually takes 2 months to actually get the cash rebate from Big Crumbs, but this is a good way to complete minimum spending requirements quickly. You can then use the American Express gift cards instead of your credit card to pay for  expenses in future months.

Be aware that Citibank may charge a cash advance fee for purchase of American Express gift cards directly from American Express.  I bought gift cards using my Chase credit cards in June, but was not charged a cash advance fee.  However, you should order a small quantity at first to see if you are charged a cash advance fee on your credit card.

Buying gift cards from drug stores or grocery stores should not trigger cash advance fees, but you should always determine that for yourself.

12. Amazon.com Gift Cards. Consider buying Amazon.com gift cards to use later.  You can now earn extra miles for shopping on Amazon.com, and the gift cards never expire. (Hat Tip to Gary Steiger)

13. Store Gift Cards. Stock up on your gift cards to your favorite stores.  Only do this if you expect to use the cards and won’t pay interest on your credit card for pre-buying the gift cards.


14. Holiday Gifts. Consider buying your holiday gifts in advance!  Stock up on either store gift cards or American Express gift cards if you can’t decide what gifts to get.

15. Birthday Gifts. Consider buying birthday gifts for friends and family in advance.  Can’t decide what to get them?  Get them American Express Gift Cards or store gift cards!

16. Graduation Gifts. American Express Gift cards make good graduations gifts, since to misquote Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that  a graduate in possession of a new diploma must be in want of cash cash-like gift cards.

17. Charitable Contributions. Many Americans make donations to charities.  Consider making your donation now using your new credit card, instead of later in the year.

18. Religious Contributions. Perhaps you could make your regular religious contributions (church, temple, etc.) via credit card instead of writing a check or using cash. (Hat Tip to Megan)

Medical Expenses

19. FSA Account. If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you likely get a debit card with which to make your medical expense payments (co-pays, prescriptions etc.)  In most cases, you can pay for your FSA-approved expenses with a regular credit card and submit a request for reimbursement.  Yes, it is a bit more cumbersome, but it helps complete minimum spend requirements.

20. Vision Insurance. If you have vision insurance, you may be able to buy contact lenses on-line or from a vision provider with your credit card and submit a request for reimbursement later.

Home Remodeling & Other Services

A contractor or other household service provider whom you trust and does outstanding work is much more important than a few extra miles (blasphemy, I know!).  So don’t be too aggressive with these suggestions, or they may not stick around very long!

21. Contractor Payment. Ask your contractor if you get a discount for payment by cash (if you can’t pay by credit card).  If there is a cash discount, ask if you can get the cash discount if you pay in American Express Gift cards.  If  yes, use Big Crumbs to purchase American Express gift cards at 1.6% discount (#10).

22. Contractor Supplies. Ask your contractor if you can purchase the supplies needed for your project directly from the shop (Home Depot, Lowe’s, the lumber yard etc.).  If your contractor agrees, purchase the supplies using your credit card.

23. Baby Sitter, Maids, Pet Sitters, Handymen, Yard Work Providers. Ask your baby sitter, maids, pet sitters, handymen and yard work providers if he or she will accept gift cards instead of cash.  If yes, buy American Express Gift Cards from Big Crumbs (#10) above for a 1.6% discount.

Or perhaps  you can convince them to accept payments via Amazon Payments (#37) or PayPal (#38)?

Friends and Family

24. Reimbursement for Purchases. Consider paying your close friend’s and family’s expenses using your credit card and getting them to write you a check for reimbursement.

For example, purchase  your dad’s new home theater system on your credit card, and then ask dad to write you a check for the amount.  Do the same with friends whom you trust.

25. Additional Cards For Your Partner Or Children. Get additional add-on cards for your partner and children and have them put all their expenses on the card.  Be careful, since this can get expensive quickly!

Other Ways

26. Wedding Expenses. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding, but don’t forget to ask the vendors if you can pay the deposit or other wedding expenses with your credit card!

27. Splitting Payments. Most shops will let you use multiple credit cards for 1 transaction.  For example, if you are buying a $1,000 TV, you can ask the cashier to charge, say, $300 on your Visa card (to complete the exact minimum spending required if you had only $300 left to spend on that card) and $700 on your American Express card. That way you can complete your minimum spending on more than one card. (Hat Tip to Roger Haynie)

28. Insurance Payments. If you receive a payment from an insurance company, you may be able to charge your expenses (car or home repair) on your credit card and use the money from the insurance company to pay your credit card bill. (Hat Tip to Roger Haynie)

Pay a Convenience Fee To Use Your Credit Card

In general, paying a convenience fee (2% or higher) to be able to use a credit card to make a payment is not worth the miles earned on a regular basis.

However, it may be useful to meet the minimum spending requirement on a credit card or to achieve a certain level of spending on a card, for example the $30,000 needed to earn a free companion certificate on the Chase British Airways Visa credit card.

For example,  paying a 3% fee on a $4,000 minimum spend requirement to get 75,000 bonus miles will cost you $120.

Paying $120 as a fee is totally worth it to me if I would otherwise miss out on those 75,000 bonus miles!

You should always check the fees involved and do the math to see if this makes sense for you to do.

Recurring Expenses

29. Mortgage Payments. Charge Smart allows you to pay your mortgage via credit card (Visa, MasterCard & Discover, but currently NOT American Express) for a fee of ~2.4% or higher.

30. Rent. Williampaid lets you pay your rent via a credit card for a fee.

31. Car Payments. Charge Smart also lets you pay your car payments via a credit card (Visa, MasterCard & Discover, but currently NOT American Express) for a fee.

32. Car Registration. You may be able to pay for your car registration with a credit card for a small convenience fee.

33. Utility Payments. You can pay for utilities such as water and electricity by using a credit card either through your utility provider or via a 3rd party provider such as Charge Smart for a fee.

Education Expenses

34. College Tuition. Many colleges will let you pay for all or part of the tuition and housing costs with a credit card for a fee.  Check your college’s website or Official Payments for more information on paying with a credit card.

35. Student Loans. Charge Smart lets you pay your student loan payments via a credit card for a fee (Visa, MasterCard & Discover, but currently NOT  American Express).  You may also be able to use a credit card, for a fee, directly through your loan provider.


36. Property taxes. You may be able to pay your property taxes with a credit card for a fee either directly through your county or through a 3rd party service provider such as Official Payments.

37. US Taxes. You may be able to pay your Federal Income taxes with a credit card for a fee.  The IRS maintains a list of tax payment service providers on their website.

38. State & Local Taxes. You may be able to pay your state and local taxes either directly through your county or through a 3rd party service provider such as Official Payments for a fee.

International Money Transfers

39.  Money Transfers. Xoom lets you send money internationally for a fee.  (Hat Tip to zeesh86)

Other ways to complete Minimum spending

These methods may not be for everyone, so please let your personal values and ethics guide your decision to use or not use a particular method.

Payment Services

Payment services allow you to transfer money from one person to another.

Be aware that the fees and policies are continually changing, so I recommend that you check the fees before using any of these options. Please read each providers’ Terms & Conditions so that you know what is allowed and what is not!

Instead of transferring money back and forth between accounts (which is easier to detect), you may want to consider transferring money from person A to person B using a payment service, and having person B return the money to person A by check.

40. Amazon Payments. Amazon Payments currently lets you transfer $1,000 a month from person to person free of charge (if you select the “goods and services” option).

41. PayPal. PayPal is a large payment processor which charges a fee for purchases or personal transfers.  There are lots of reports of PayPal closing accounts for frequently transferring money between accounts, so do your own research before using this method.

42. Venmo. This is a way to transfer small amounts of money from person to person using a mobile phone. The Venmo website describes the service as a way “to pay each other back for lunch, dinner, drinks, rent, groceries, tickets, and trips.

For example, you could pay your partner or friend for the groceries they bought for you.

Currently there is no fee, but there is a monthly limit of $ 1,200 which can be transferred via credit card.

Be aware that Venmo has been closing accounts that frequently transfer money back and forth.  Transfers in a 1-way direction may not arouse as much suspicion as regular back-and-forth transfers between 2 people.

Venmo will soon charge a 3% fee for sending money in May 2012.

43. Pay Divvy. Pay Divvy lets you send money from person to person using a credit card for a 3.5% fee.

Other Ways

44. Returns To Stores. I am uncomfortable with this method and have not personally used it, so please do your own research if you decide to use this method.

A few stores – particularly those noted for excellent customer service such as Costco or Nordstrom – allow you to receive a refund for a purchase on a different credit card than the one used to make the purchase.

There have been reports of folks charging, say, a $60,000 ring from Costco on a mile earning credit card and then returning the ring in a few days, and asking for the refund to be processed on a different non-mile earning credit card.  The net result is that you have “earned” 60,000 miles or points on your credit card.

45. Money Orders. Some grocery stores will let you buy money orders with your credit card.  You then deposit the money order in your bank.

I have not found any grocery store which has let me buy money orders with a credit card, but your luck (especially with smaller non-chain grocery stores and in small towns) may be better!

Bottom Line: Don’t let large minimum spend requirements prevent you from getting large credit card sign-up bonuses.

The above tips and a little planning will let you meet most of the spend necessary to get the large credit card sign-up bonuses and have Big Travel with Small Money!

What are your favorite ways to meet the minimum spending requirements on your credit cards?  Tell us in the comments!

Related Posts:

Disclosure: I don’t get any commission or payment from any of the service providers mentioned above or from anyone else for this post or for the links in this post.

299 Responses to 40+ Powerful Ways To Complete Your Credit Card Minimum Spending Requirements

  1. @PointsObsession – That’s no fun!

    @Andrew – You could try using Amazon Payments to transfer the money, but it could be time consuming.

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  4. Is there any fee for buying American Express Prepaid Cards?

  5. I need to meet my $5,000 Chasee Ink spending requirements buy next week to get my 25,000 point bonus/ Any suggestions? Thanks!

  6. @Dan - There is a fee, but Big Crumbs is offering cash back which helps offset the fee. And EMSVCA may waive the purchase fee.

    @Billy D – Perhaps buy gift cards, use Amazon payments etc.

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  8. I applied for both the personal and business Southwest Chase cards and got approved. However, I already have a Amazon.com card through Chase, and was wondering if balance transfers count towards the minimum spending requirement? I already have charges on the Amazon card, and it would make reaching the $2,000 spending requirement that much easier.

  9. @Jason – I don’t believe they count towards the minimum spending requirements and you pay high rates of interest with them. See Amazon Payments in the list above.

  10. If utilities, cell phone, auto companies take credit card payments……does it still count as a “purchase” even if you don’t go through a website such as Charge Smart? I want to avoid the fees on Charge Smart if possible to pay directly on the account website. Thanks! Love this site!

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  12. Has anyone used Xoom successfully recently without a cash advance fee? I tried Chase and they charge a fee. Any credit cards that don’t?

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  14. @Amanda – It sure does count and you should always see if you can do that to save on fees!

  15. I recently purchased a Square card reader for my iphone. You can charge credit cards & gift cards for a 2.75% fee. If you were creative enough, this may be another good option for meeting minimum spending.

  16. @Stephanie – Be careful with square. They do shut down accounts and you will receive a tax form for exceeding $20K and 200 transactions a year.

  17. What a bunch of losers you are.

  18. This article on how to meet the minimum spending requirements was tremendously helpful!! I have the Hilton Visa Card and want to be a Diamond member but have to charge $40,000 a year to do so. Being a Diamond with Hilton has huge benefits…even compared to being Gold. Being a Diamond will get you a “yes” almost every time to anything you need with Hilton! Thanks to you, I am going to be a Diamond member, and not just Gold!

  19. @Elvis – Glad it helped!

  20. Citi Question

    Will there be a cash advance charge if I use the Citi AAdvantage card for amazon payments? I heard that citi is notorius in charging fees for amazon payments?

  21. Couple questions,
    - I’ll be charging a $1000 security deposit for a vacation rental to my new card. This will help me achieve the $5000 minimum spend, which I plan to complete in March. The deposit will be refunded back in May, so I should have received the sign-up bonus by then. Will the refund and potential negative cash flow affect my bonus points?
    - Just want to confirm, does the time window for the minimum spend begin when you activate the card? So if I hold on to it without activating it, can I push the time window out if I’m expecting some larger expenses?

    Thanks for all the great info, love the site!

  22. SecondCor521


    I just applied for several travel cards and it seems that the answer to your second set of questions is “no”. All the cards started the clock when they approved the card; activation was a necessary step but irrelevant to the time window.

  23. @Citi Question – Do a small test to make sure.

    @Debbie – As mentioned, the clock starts ticking from when you are approved for the card, not from when you activate the card. The terms of most cards say that you need to have “net purchases” of a certain amount to get the bonus. In practice, you still currently get the bonus if you have a refund, but the terms could be enforced anytime.

  24. Help! So I am new to credit card churning and I got a little bit too excited and was approved for 6 cards. The spending requirements are clearly way over what I normally spend, so I am looking for ways to meet them in a timely matter without being frivolous. Any ideas other than the ones above? What about purchasing things via paypal and then returning and transferring the funds to the attached bank account-would that work? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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  26. I just want to share a success story with using Amazon Payments. Yesterday I sent $950 to my husband. The money has already appeared in our bank account but the charge has not yet been posted to my credit card (a Citi card).

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  29. I’ve embraced the Free-after-rebate (FAR) Method. Monthly outflow $1000+, After 3 months I have a constant inflow of that amount (Rebates take 8-10 weeks to process). In the end I end up with a net zero amount, +/- amount spent on stamps. Best if used on those credit cards with $1000+ required spending. Even better if you have multiple mailing addresses. I use a spreadsheet to manage all of the rebate tracking numbers to make sure all of them come in.

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  31. @Kayla – Check out Amazon Payments and the posts on Bluebird.

    – Thanks for sharing!

    @Steve K - FAR can be really lucrative for folks who can track it properly!

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  38. Do you know of a website or where I can buy Visa or MasterCard gift cards or prepaid card with my American Express card?

  39. Has anyone had luck using Venmo, WilliamPaid and Amazon Payments with the Chase Ink business card? I’m a little nervous using them because I don’t want to get hit with the 3% fee if the payments are not qualified. Thanks!

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  49. Georgia Natural Gas has a relationship with Delta Airlines (headquartered in ATL) whereby you earn miles monthly based on your gas bill. You give them your Skymiles number and the miles show up on both your GNG bill and your Skymiles monthly statement. I wish a lot more companies did this!

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  52. Hi Daraius!

    I am trying to complete my spending requirement for two credit cards (Citi AA and Amex) right now, and also my credit union-issued credit card is offering points for balance transfers (and no BT fees), so I was wondering if I pay my Citi AA and my Amex with Balance transfers, will the BT “payments” still count as real payments to those cards? In other words, will citi and amex care that I paid my balance with a balance transfer to another credit card?


  53. @Athen – You have to complete the minimum spending excluding balance transfers. But once you complete the spending, you can use a balance transfer to another card.

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  55. Hi,
    It’s great blog. For below point, costco accept only credit card or amex(creditcard), they don’t accept other credit card.
    Can you please tell me how to use that if i am missing something?

    44. Returns To Stores(costco).

  56. Does the annual fee count towards minimum spending requirement? For example I got the Southwest card which does not waive the annual fee and charges it as soon as the card is issued.

  57. @Gail – The annual fee usually doesn’t count towards the minimum spending requirement.

  58. if i have the chase ink plus bold card and i want to make sure i earn the 50,000 bonuus points during the 1st 3 mos. can i go to an office supply store (earn 5 points) and buy a pre pay visa with my chase credit card? will i earn the 5% and also will it go towards the 5,000 i need to spend?

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  60. I made sure to spend the required $2000 on a Chase BA card to get the 50000 avios (I had recently flown BA on business so had some avios to start with). I got the purchases in on time; however, I did need to return one small item ($160) and didn’t think about the card being credited back and therefore losing my 50000 avios. The Chase customer service rep was sympathetic and filed a “petition” with the marketing department to see if they would grant me my avios. She was a bit optimistic but wasn’t sure what the outcome may be. What do you think my odds are of getting this and can I appeal the marketing department decision if it does not go my way? Thanks.

  61. @jocelyn – That will work and it will count towards the minimum spending and earn 5X points.

    @Dan – You likely won’t lose the points if they are already in your BA account.

  62. Thanks for a great blog. do you know if Williamspaid or grocery store money orders show up as cash advance? i am trying to meet min. spend on the ink bold..thanks!

  63. @pinkscarf80 – They show up as regular purchases.

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  65. I just got approved for a southwest chase credit card. I was planning to use it on my rent payments to spend 2000 to get the to free round trip tickets. Would this work? Does rent payments count as a purchase?

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  69. @Abby Anatra – All purchases should count towards the minimum spending requirement. And rent does qualify!

  70. *Xoom transfer-
    Please don’t use your credit card to send money by Xoom. They post it as cash advance and this doesn’t count towards bonus points on the top you get charged for cash advance.

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  72. Going on a cruise. I took out 3 United credit cards with $1000 spend. One for me,One for my wife, and one for business. Also I took out 3 Delta American Express cards using the same 3 accounts. I paid for the cruise by putting $1000 on each card. I then qualified for enough miles for the free trip.
    I did the same thing with hotels and will be staying at some VERY nice hotels in Amsterdam and London–Free.
    Getting a business tax ID is easy. Google the federal tax ID site yourself and apply for free.
    We pay for everything with credit with credit cards.
    Caution–Read the fine print and alway pay your bill on time. Usually after I make the spend, I put that card away and go back to the two that I always use.

  73. Amazon Payments is without a doubt the best way. I paid my wife 1000 and she paid me 1000 each month for how many months it took (one to three depending on the card), then we transferred the cash into our bank account, and paid off the CC with the money. One big circle and ZERO fees. Just be sure you select “goods and services’ option so it does not trigger a cash advance fee.

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  80. Great post, I’m so glad I found it! I recently was approved for the Barclay Arrival no fee card with a $1000 limit. This cards offer is spend $1000 in 3 months for 20,000 bonus miles. My question is how do you suggest I complete the minimum spend requirements with only a $1000 limit? I would have to max the card out just to get the points right?Thanks!

  81. @Dai – Thanks! You can always pay some of your balance back online which should free up some of your credit.

  82. Ok great! Thanks!

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  84. Another great way is to make a micro loan to someone via Kiva. This is great of you don’t need the money back right away (loan repayment plans can be as short as five months). That way your doing some good in the process, though I would also make a donation to Kiva while you’re at it to help it cover it’s expenses.

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  86. I want to apply for big crumbs. However, I see not reason not to let someone get the referral. Do you have a Big Crumbs user ID number I should use as a referral?

  87. @RGL – Thanks for thinking of me, but just sign-up without my link!

  88. I was able to use my chase sapphire at cvs to get a visa one vanilla of $500 with a small reload fee of 4.95 is this the same concept u speak of bro?

  89. @josiah – That would work and you can use the card elsewhere for regular purchases. I usually get the Vanilla Visa gift cards to use elsewhere.

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  93. New to the Game

    Google Wallet allows you to tranfer money from your credit card to your bank account for a 2.9% fee. However the first $250 is free.

  94. Happy beauty

    Hi Admin,

    I visited every CSV near me. There is NO vanilla card. Where can I buy vanilla card?

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  97. I was planning on using charge smart to meet my min spend on my ink card. My question is any experience on paying a Chase mortgage with Chase ink card through charge smart? Would this cause a red flag? How does the charge appear on cc statement?

  98. @Rich – Chargesmart is a legitimate service and it shouldn’t cause a red flag for using it.

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