Best credit cards with low minimum spending requirements
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If you’re like many of us, you’re not trying to meet large spending requirements at the moment. The global economy has been sucker punched by COVID-19, and lavish purchases and disposable income aren’t as commonplace as just a month or two ago.
It’s still possible to earn hundreds (even thousands) of dollars in cash back and points without meeting intimidating spending requirements. Below is a breakdown of the top cards that have a spending requirement of $1,000 or less — some of the best cards below have NO spending requirement at all!
There are many more cards that come with small spending requirements, but we’ve only included the best:
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best cash back credit card
- Avianca Vuela Visa® Card: Best card for Star Alliance flights
- AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Best card for Oneworld flights
- Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best hotel credit card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best card with ongoing perks
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best card for simple rewards
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Comparing the best credit cards with low minimum spending requirement
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best cash back credit card
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred card has a $300 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership.
While this card earns 6% back on select U.S. streaming services, remember that sometimes you won’t earn that bonus if the service is paid for as part of a package deal. In example, if a streaming service was bundled with your cable or internet provider, you likely won’t earn the 6% back. Terms Apply.
The card has some of the highest bonus categories of any card on the market. You’ll receive 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1% cash back), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit and 1% cash back on everything else.
$0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 (see rates and fees)
Why it’s worth it
The Amex Blue Cash Preferred is great for stacking up savings on your daily commute. You’ll get unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. And the transit category is broad: it includes subways, ferries, taxis, ride sharing, tolls and parking.
The 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services is a bonus category almost everyone can easily take advantage of because it includes services like:
- Amazon Music
- Apple Music
- CBS All Access
- Direct TV Now
- Fubo TV
- HBO Now
- Kindle Unlimited
- NBA League Pass
- Prime Video Unlimited
- Sling TV
- SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite
- YouTube Music Premium
- YouTube Premium
- YouTube TV
Just keep in mind that if you pay for one of the subscriptions through a third party or as part of a package deal, you might not earn the bonus cash back. Also, certain superstores, like Target or BJs, won’t qualify for the U.S. supermarket bonus. Read our full review of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred
The card’s welcome bonus is $300. If you spend an average of $500 per month between groceries at U.S. supermarkets and select streaming services in the U.S., you’ll receive a return of $360 per year with this card. In the first year, you should have no problem realizing $750 in hard cash.
Avianca Vuela Visa® Card: Best card for Star Alliance flights
The Avianca Vuela Visa offers 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase within the first 90 days of account opening.
This card does occasionally offer an increased intro offer (we’ve seen as high as 60,000 bonus miles), though in the past that has been coupled with a spending requirement (instead of receiving the full bonus after your first purchase).
Additionally, this card is issued by Banco Popular, which is a small player in the U.S. credit card game. If you’ve got lots of other cards from more prominent U.S. issuers, this could be a good card to pick up.
The card earns:
- 3 miles per dollar spent on Avianca purchases
- 2 miles per dollar spent at gas stations and grocery stores
- 1 mile per dollar on all other purchases
You’ll also receive plenty of Avianca-related perks. For example, you’ll get 15% off when you purchases miles with Multiply Your Miles. You’ll also receive:
- One free additional piece of luggage for travel between the U.S. and Central America
- 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the U.S. after you spend $12,000+ each year
- Another 50% discount on an award ticket redeemed for travel to Central America or Colombia from the U.S. after you spend $24,000+ each year
You may not be intimately acquainted with Avianca miles. They’re not as ubiquitous as American, Delta, or United miles, but they work just as well.
Avianca is a part of Star Alliance. That means you can use Avianca miles to fly on partner airlines all over the world — with no fuel surcharges. You can book flights on United Airlines, Lufthansa, Swiss, Japan Airlines and many others. Avianca miles can take you just about everywhere.
We estimate that Avianca miles are generally worth 1.7 cents each. That makes this 40,000 mile welcome bonus worth an average of $680 in flights. Not bad for a bonus with NO spending requirement.
And remember, you can get far more value from your miles if you know how to use them. for example, you can book a one-way lie-flat business class flight to Europe for just 63,000 Avianca miles on partner airlines. That could potentially save you thousands.
AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Best card for Oneworld flights
You’ll earn 60,000 bonus miles and a companion fare after making one purchase and paying the card’s $99 annual fee within the first 90 days from opening the account (companion fare valid for a single use on American Airlines in economy and costs $99 plus taxes).
This card is issued by Barclays, which is notorious for being stingy with credit card approvals. They take a hard look at each customer’s credit card application history, and are more likely to deny you if you’re over the Chase 5/24 rule. Also, they are known to look at how much you spend on your current Barclays credit cards to evaluate if you’re a profitable customer.
Each time you renew your card, you’ll get a Companion Certificate valid for one travel buddy, priced at $99 (plus taxes and fees) after spending $20,000 on purchases. Your account must also remain open for 45 days after your anniversary date.
This card comes with:
- Annual $25 credit for inflight Wi-Fi
- First checked bag free for you and up to four companions traveling on the same reservation
- Priority boarding (Group 5)
- 25% back on eligible inflight purchases
This card’s benefits makes it hands-down one of the best American Airlines credit cards on the market.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a card that offers such a valuable bonus for so little effort. If you need miles in a hurry, and you don’t have any upcoming large purchases, this is the card for you.
We estimate the value of American Airlines miles to be at least 1.4 cents each. A welcome bonus of 60,000 miles should net you $840 in flights on American Airlines. Plus, the introductory Companion Fare and free checked bags can easily save you another few hundred bucks. This card should effortlessly provide $1,200 in value to you for the first year.
The information for the Barclays Aviator Red Card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Hilton Honors American Express Card: Best hotel credit card
The Amex Hilton Honors American Express earns 100,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn up to $100 in statement credits on eligible purchases made on the Card at any of the Hilton family of hotels in the first 12 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/25/2021.
Amex will occasionally will send offers to their cardholders giving them the opportunity to upgrade their credit card to a more premium Hilton card — and a chance to earn its bonus.
After earning this welcome bonus, you could receive a message inviting you to open a card like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. You can keep the same account number when you upgrade or downgrade a card, so it’s like earning multiple bonuses with one credit card! The information for the Hilton Surpass card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
There’s obviously no guarantee you’ll get this invite, but there are many data points showing that it’s not exactly a rarity.
The card provides you with the lowest-tier Hilton status, Silver Elite status, the three main benefits being (terms apply):
- 7 points per dollar spent at participating Hilton hotels
- 20% bonus on base points you’ll earn at Hilton hotels
- Fifth award night free on award stays of five or more consecutive nights
The card also comes with access to Amex Offers, complimentary ShopRunner membership (two-day shipping at many merchants), secondary car rental insurance and more (read our full Hilton Credit Card review for more details). Enrollment required for select benefits.
$0 (see rates and fees)
You can find Hilton hotels for as little as 5,000 points per night (though they’re rare), which means you could stretch this bonus out to 15 nights — or even more if you book your nights in increments of five or more, as the card’s complimentary Hilton Silver Elite status gives you every fifth consecutive award night free on all stays.
Hilton points are worth 0.5 cents each on average, according to MMS valuations. That means this no annual fee card provides an average of $400 in hotel stays. But the points can be worth much more if you know how to use them. Read our post on the best ways to use Hilton points for more details.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best card with ongoing perks
The Chase Southwest Priority comes with 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
The points you earn with this card (welcome bonus points included) help you to achieve the best deal in travel, the Southwest Companion Pass. With this, you can bring a friend or family member with you every single time you fly Southwest for just the cost of taxes and fees. That could save you thousands of dollars depending on how often you fly!
Benefits & perks
With this card, you’ll receive:
- Earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
- Earn 2x points on Southwest purchases and 1x point on all other purchases
- Up to $75 in statement credits for eligible Southwest purchases each account anniversary year
- Four upgraded boardings (positions A1 to A15) each account anniversary year (worth $30, $40, or $50 each, depending on the flight)
- 20% back on Southwest in-flight purchases
- 7,500 Southwest points on your account anniversary (worth ~$113 in Southwest flights)
- 1,500 tier qualifying points (TQPs) for each $10,000 in purchases up to $100,000 in purchases annually (which equal 15,000 TQPs)
- No foreign transaction fees
This card can completely negate the annual fee each year with very little exertion. If you fly Southwest with any regularity, you’ll receive ~$188 in free airfare each year, thanks to a $75 Southwest statement credit and 7,500 Southwest points for renewing your card each year.
We estimate that Southwest points are worth an average of 1.5 cents each toward flights. That means this 40,000 point bonus is worth $600 in Southwest flights.
You can receive $1,000 in value from the card in the first year:
- 41,000 points after earning the intro bonus and meeting spending requirements (worth $560 based on our Southwest points value estimation)
- $75 Southwest statement credit annually
- $113 in points (based on our Southwest points value estimation) annually
- Up to $200 in upgraded boardings annually
This is hands down the best Southwest personal card, and it’s not even close. Here’s our Southwest Priority Card review.
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Best credit card for simple rewards
The Capital One VentureOne earns 20,000 Capital One miles after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Not all Capital One transfer partners are a good deal. Most partners offer a tranfser ration of 2:1.5, but Singapore Airlines Emirates and Accor offer an even worse 2:1 ratio. No matter which partner you choose, you’re earning less than 1 mile or point per dollar with the VentureOne card. Read our full Capital One VentureOne credit card review for an in-depth look at its perks.
This card earns 1.25 Capital One miles per dollar on all purchases. As stated above, the miles you earn with the Capital One VentureOne are transferable to Capital One airline partners. For ideas on how to redeem your rewards, check out our post on the best ways to use Capital One miles.
This card also comes with secondary rental car insurance, extended warranty benefits and travel accident insurance. Benefits only available to accounts approved for the Visa Signature card. Terms apply.
If you don’t like juggling bonus categories, and if you don’t want to worry about blackout dates, available hotel reward nights, etc., you should be collecting Capital One miles. They’re essentially as good as cash for travel purchases, and they’re perhaps the easiest rewards currency to use (read our Capital One miles review for more details).
The card’s 20,000 mile bonus is worth at least $200 in travel, and can be redeemed toward travel-related purchases. It’s worth potentially more when you transfer your miles to Capital One’s airline partners — but you’ll have to crunch some numbers to decide if that route is worthwhile. Transfer ratios to travel partners are not kind. Read our full Capital One VentureOne credit card review.
You don’t always need large upcoming expenses before you open a credit card to meet their spending requirements. Some of the best cards have no spending requirement at all. You can earn hundreds in cash back, airline miles and even flexible points by spending $1,000 or less.
Let us know your favorite “biggest bonus for lowest minimum spend” credit card. And subscribe to our newsletter for more credit card analysis delivered to your inbox.
For rates and fees of the Amex Hilton Honors Card, click here
For rates and fees of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred, click here
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)