Do NOT Make These 4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements!

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Million Mile Secrets reader Joe commented:

Well, don’t mess up like I did.  I received a 70,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards point bonus offer from Chase Ink Plus for spending $5,000 in 3 months.  I spent a little over $5,000, but didn’t realize the annual fee does NOT count toward the minimum spending so I am just under it.

Now, I am outside of the 3 months so I may not receive the bonus points or be able to spend a little more to get them.  I have talked to Chase and they are considering my situation, but it will be a week or more before I hear from them.

Do NOT Make These 4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements

Don’t Make These 4 Mistakes and Say “Bye Bye” to Your Sign-Up Bonus

Sorry to hear that, Joe.  Hope Chase can help out.

Have you made the same mistake?  Here’s how to avoid minimum spending mistakes.

4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements

1.   Adding in the Annual Fee

As Joe realized, paying the annual fee does NOT count towards meeting the minimum spending requirements on credit cards.

So with Joe’s Chase Ink Plus, he had to spend $5,000 in purchases.

Do NOT Make These 4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements

The Annual Fee Doesn’t Count Towards the Minimum Spending Requirement on Credit Cards So Joe Should Not Include it In His Spending

2.   Forgetting About Returns

Some folks spend the exact amount requirement and return items.

However, returned items usually count against your minimum spending requirements.  So you should spend a bit more than the minimum required.  Emily and I usually spend $500 over so we have a little cushion.

Do NOT Make These 4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements

If She Says “No,” Returning the Ring Does NOT Count Towards Your Spending

3.   Not Making a Plan

You should have a plan to meet all the spending before you apply for many cards at once.  You’ll lose out on big sign-up bonuses if you can’t meet the spending requirement.

Here are some ways to meet your minimum spending:

Do NOT Make These 4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements

Gift Cards Could Be Part of Your Plan to Meet Your Minimum Spending Requirements

4.   Not Knowing When You Have to Complete Your Spending

If you don’t know the actual end date to complete your spending, you could miss out on getting your sign-up bonus.

The minimum spending clock starts on your approval date NOT your activation date.  So if you’re approved on January 5 and have 3 months to complete your spending, your completion date is April 5.

Do NOT Make These 4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements

Your Minimum Spending Clock Starts the Day You’re Approved

Bottom Line

There are 4 common mistakes that folks make when meeting credit card minimum spending requirements:

  • Thinking the annual fee counts
  • Returned items don’t count
  • Not having a plan
  • Not knowing when the minimum spending clock begins

By avoiding these mistakes, you can meet the spending to get your sign-up bonuses.

Thanks for sharing your story, Joe.  Your experience will help prevent other readers from making the same mistakes.

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18 responses to “Do NOT Make These 4 Mistakes With Minimum Spending Requirements!

  1. Good tips especially the approval date and about the annual fee not counting. I would not suggest spending $500 over the minimum spend though. If you return items just make sure to respend.

  2. Wow bummer 🙁 Thanks for the warning and good luck.. Any idea if Chase is bringing back a better-than-50k bonus on that card? I called my local branch a few months ago and they had nothing better that’s available online.

  3. Helpful tips. Always, always give yourself some leeway, both on the spending side and on the date. Don’t try to calibrate it to the penny or to the minute. Things will go wrong. I do think the companies could be clearer about some of the details that are shared here, but it’s your responsibility to get it right.

  4. Brad,

    That’s great that you could use my comment to help others. The happy ending is that after contacting Chase and being persistent, they gave me a little more time and I was able to qualify for the 70,000 point bonus. Live and learn! Your advice is right on!

  5. Can I cancel my card before the renewal date and still keep the 70k miles, or is there a requirement that I keep my card active for a certain amount of time?

  6. Thanks for the post! I went back and count my statements and found out that I am a bit short after the annual fee. I called Chase immediately and they said they’ll research it and give me a reply by mail in 7 days. Joe, can you share what you meant by being persistent? What did you do to have Chase accommodate your situation? I’m in the same exact shoe as you did so it’ll be great if you can share some insight. Thanks!

  7. Hi Daraius, I love your blog and all the info shared by you. Thanks to you, I have been able to book my parents on business class from India to US for almost free!!

    I have one question, did you apply for business credit cards while you were a student in US? Were you accepted/rejected ? I’m looking towards applying for the Chase Ink Plus, but doubt I’ll get accepted as an F-1 student. Your help will be appreciated!!!

  8. I always over spend the minimum by a few hundred dollars and usually in 2 months if a 3 month requirement. That way I can make sure the sign-up points post and have one more chance if something would have went wrong.

  9. This post saved me! Many thanks! For the first time i forgot to factor in the annual fee!

  10. I agree with Allen. I try to spend quickly, usually 2 months so that points post in 3rd. I always put a couple hundred extra just in case there’s an issue on spend.

    As for Joe being persistent, I recall his comments before where he kept asking Chase for a chance (as he was unaware of the fee not counting) to hit the minimum and they agreed after a week of consideration. I would assume he was always respectful when asking so not to piss off anyone and get a rejection.

  11. I would not count on it, but returns usually don’t subtract toward the minimum bonus spend, at least at Chase. I found this the hard way when I tried a return to get below my spend to delay a bonus for the CP. Returns do subtract against regular miles earned. It’s usually written this way in the terms too. Chase has a meter and once you hit the minimum spend the program kicks your bonus in.

    Again, I would not count on it though and good point about annual fee not counting.

  12. Yeah, I made that mistake once. Fortunately, I kept looking for the bonus miles to show up and, when they didn’t, I realized it was because the annual fee didn’t count toward the minimum spend requirement. And, fortunately, there was still enough time left on the initial 3-month spending requirement window.

  13. I can’t thank you enough for this article, I too… thought the time started when I activated and first used my card. I had been holding onto my Chase Southwest card in order to push things into 2015. I just called and found out that my 3-month window is 2/11 so I have a week to spend $2K. Not hard for me because I will use it for my business but I almost missed out on those bonus points. So thank you again! Glad you changed their mind!

  14. My mistake was forgetting that I had used my card for a cash advance (at a casino – go figure.) At the end of the three months I just looked at the bottom line – forgetting my cash advance. Cash advances are clearly marked as not being qualified – just don’t forget if you’ve taken one out.

  15. Lenny, This is what I did. First, I called a Chase customer service rep and they gave me the party line. So, I asked if someone else could consider giving me a little more time. They took my request and told me I would receive a written reply within 7 days. I did and it was a turn down. However, before I received the written “No”, I used the online message capability to tell Chase what happened and that I felt it was unfair to lose all of the bonus sine i was only around $75 short within the 3 months due to the annual fee. I received a reply the next day that explained the offer and that I did not meet the requirements. I replied that I was very disappointed and asked who I could appeal the decision to. I received a reply that said it had been elevated and I would receive a reply within 24 hours. After 2 days I sent another message asking if a decision had been made. I received a reply that day indicating that I would be given 10 days more to complete the spending and to let them know when I had done so and they would manually add the points to my account. I did the spending within a day and let them know by replying to the message. The bonus was added to my account within a day. As Lea indicated, I was pleasant and respectful during the whole process. By persistent, I mean don’t just take “no” for an answer without requesting a higher lever review. Become the squeaky wheel, but do not be abusive. Brad told me in his advice that as a last resort, I could tell them to cancel my card if they are unwilling to give me the bonus. I didn’t have to resort to that. I hope this helps you. Good luck!


    Whatever you do, don’t buy the Visa GiftCards to get your points. These cards are a fraud waiting to happen. I purchased a $500 Visa Gift Card from Ralphs to get 5X Ultimate Rewards points on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in rotating categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants, and and as soon as I activated it, I made a purchase and the very next day I noticed fraudulent activity when I went to check my balance. I still had $451 on the card when the fraudulent activity of $1.12 (that was pending) was noticed. I called customer service and they told me they had to cancel the card. I said ok, but little did I know it was going to be a very long process to get my money back. They make you fax in your information including the receipt of the gift card and then you have to wait exactly 7-10 days before you can move to the next step. I called daily to see if my fax had simply been received, but they said I had to wait 7-10 business days for them to tell me that because faxes are handled in the order received. I called the 7th day and nothing. It wasn’t until the 10th business day that they processed my fax only to tell me that the next step is when the Dispute center verifies that the fraudulent activity was indeed fraudulent. Even if the pending transaction never went through, the Dispute center handles cases in the order in which it’s received. Since all their cards are not safe, that means the waiting list for your case to be handled is long.

    I’m currently on day 2 of 30-60 business days (that means weekends and holidays don’t count) before my case gets heard. I don’t have hope that my case will be handled before 59 business days, so whatever you do, don’t buy Visa or MasterCard Gift Cards!

  17. Great tips! I know when I started hacking a few cards simultaneously I really had to keep track of my spending and almost missed a $400 Barclay Arrival travel credit. This was the genesis for our idea to track min spending with a web or app solution. I’m curious about other features newbie travel hackers would be interested in?

  18. Do you know if transferring a balance from another credit card to the new one will count toward the minimum spending requirement? In my case, I have about $2500 I could transfer over once approved, but would only be interested in doing so if it counted toward the $3000 minimum required spend of the new card. Thanks!