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The best way to earn miles and points is by applying for credit cards and earning intro bonuses. The catch is that to earn travel credit card bonuses you will need to meet the card’s minimum spending requirements. Most of these spending requirements range from $2,000-$5,000 dollars, but some can be much more.
So you’ll want to make sure that you have a plan for meeting these spending thresholds before you apply. There is no shortage of ways to meet these, here are 39 of our favorites.
How to meet minimum spending requirements
Has this happened to you? You’ve been approved for one or more credit cards, but you’re worried you won’t be able to complete the thousands of dollars in minimum spending required to get all those valuable welcome bonuses. Lots of us who collect miles and points are thrifty. So spending thousands of dollars in a few months can seem daunting, but there are plenty of common everyday expenses you can charge to your rewards credit card to help you meet your spending requirements.
There are also more unconventional things you can charge to your credit card that you may never have realized was possible. And when you’re in a bind, you can reach minimum spending with very little effort for a small fee. I only recommend this method if it’s absolutely necessary.
Travel rewards cards with big welcome offers often require a substantial amount of spending in a certain timeframe to unlock the bonus. For example, two of the best travel credit cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, come with a minimum spending requirement of $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Here are 39 ways to meet minimum spending on your new credit card.
I’m always amazed at how many people pay cash or use a debit card to pay for gas. Use your new credit card instead.
2. Cell phone, cable, and internet
You can usually pay for your cell phone, cable, and internet bill using a credit card. You may also be able to prepay your cellphone, cable, or internet bill via a credit card by paying more than the monthly amount due. Do not do this if you can’t pay off your credit card bill when it comes due. The interest you’ll incur for carrying a balance will negate the value of your miles & points.
Pay for all your dining expenses using a credit card. Don’t pay cash unless you absolutely have to and it’s even better if you can use one of the best credit cards for dining.
Pay for all your groceries using a credit card. If there’s a sale, it’s a good time to stock up on essentials.
Pay your car, homeowners, medical, or renter’s insurance using a credit card. If you are on a monthly plan, consider paying in advance for a few extra months. Once again, only do this if you can pay off your credit card bill when it comes due.
6. Gym membership
Pay for your gym membership with a credit card.
7. 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?
8. Toll transponders
If you have an automated toll transponder in your car (E-ZPass, I-Pass, FasTrak, etc.), you may be able to use your credit card to load additional money to your toll account. And with cards that earn bonus points on travel these purchases may count qualify for the bonus.
9. Holiday gifts
Consider buying your holiday gifts in advance, which is nice because then you won’t get slammed with all your holiday expenses at the end of the year.
10. Birthday gifts
Buy birthday gifts for friends and family in advance.
11. Graduation gifts
If you know a soon-to-be graduate, buy their gifts now to help meet your minimum spending.
12. Charitable contributions
Many folks make donations to charities. Consider making a donation using your new credit card.
13. Religious contributions
It’s possible you could make your regular religious contributions (church, temple, etc.) via credit card instead of writing a check or using cash. If you’re not sure, it never hurts to ask.
14. FSA account
If you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you likely have a debit card to use for 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. It’s a bit more inconvenient, but it helps complete minimum spend requirements.
15. Vision insurance
If you have vision insurance, you may be able to buy contact lenses online or from a vision provider with your credit card, and submit a request for reimbursement later.
16. Home remodeling & other services
If you’re renovating your home, you can look for a contractor that accepts credit card payments. It’s important to note that a contractor or other household service provider you trust is much more important than a few extra miles (blasphemy, I know).
17. 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.
18. Babysitter, maid, pet sitter, handyman, landscaper
Ask your babysitter, maid, pet sitters, handymen, and yard work providers if they will accept credit card payments.
Friends and family
19. Reimbursement for purchases
Ask your friends or family if you can pay their expenses using your credit card, and get them to write you a check to pay you back. Like any of the above expenses we’ve already talked about. Of course, only do this with friends and family you trust implicitly.
20. Add authorized users to your cards
This is a more seamless way of paying for your family’s expenses. This way they can use your credit card account to make their everyday purchases and they can reimburse you later. Again, only do this with people you trust.
21. Splitting payments
Most shops will let you use multiple credit cards for one transaction. For example, if you are buying a $1,000 TV, you can ask the cashier to charge, say, $300 on one card (to complete the exact minimum spending required if you had only $300 left to spend on that card), and $700 on a different card. That way you can complete your minimum spending on more than one card.
22. 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. Weddings can be costly, and using the right credit cards can net you a free honeymoon.
Pay a convenience fee to use your credit card
In general, paying a convenience fee (2% or higher) to use a credit card for a payment is not worth the miles earned on a regular basis. However, it can 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, you’ll get one weekend night at participating Hilton hotels when you spend $15,000 each cardmember year on The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card.
If you’re $4,000 short of your spending requirement this year, you could use a service, like Plastiq, that allows you to pay with your credit card for a 2.5% fee. That’s like paying $100 to earn the free weekend night. Paying $100 could be totally worth a weekend night, especially if you use it at a fancy hotel. Like the Conrad Koh Samui in Thailand, which sells rooms regularly for $600+ per night.
You should always check the fees involved and do the math to see if these options make sense for you.
23. Car registration
You may be able to pay for your car registration with a credit card for a small convenience fee.
You can use Plastiq to pay any bill (business or individual) with a credit card. That includes bills that do not accept credit cards. They charge a flat 2.5% fee, but sometimes have promotions with lower rates.
24. Car payments
Use Plastiq for your monthly car payment.
25. Mortgage payments
Unfortunately, Plastiq no longer accepts Visa or Amex cards for mortgage payments. But any other card should be fine.
26. 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 Plastiq, for a fee.
27. 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.
28. Student loans
You may be able to use a credit card, for a fee, directly through your loan provider.
29. 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.
30. U.S. taxes
You can 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.
31. 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, like Official Payments, for a fee.
Small business owners
32. 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.
Lots of folks in the miles & points community enjoy reselling products. It’s a good way to make a few extra bucks, and a bunch of miles & points in the process. Buying lots of items and reselling them can be very helpful for meeting minimum spending. But there are definite risks associated with reselling. It’s not guaranteed you won’t lose money in the process.
34. Regular business expenses
Depending on what kind of small business you own, meeting minimum spending may not be an issue at all. Simply switching your small business expenses temporarily to your new cards can help you reach your spending requirement.
Some folks may not like this idea, because it’s convenient to have all business expenses on one card, and personal expenses on another. But getting free travel is worth the hassle. If you’re a carpenter, you may spend thousands of dollars per month on building materials. Just swipe your new cards for those purchases and keep track of that spending for tax season.
Websites like Kiva Loans allow you to help fund the hopes and dreams of other entrepreneurs with your credit card and loaning money with your credit card does not count as a cash advance. However, it will take 6+ months for you to receive your full amount of money back. So if loaning money will result in carrying a balance on your credit card, this is not a good idea and there is always slight risk that the loan could default, and you’ll lose your money.
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. Read all the terms and conditions, so you know what is allowed and what is not.
This is a way to transfer money from person to person with a credit card using your phone. It’s great to pay others for things like meals, rent, groceries, etc. For example, if your roommate is at the store, you can reimburse them immediately for purchasing the $1,500 bronze elephant trunk wall sconce you’ve been wanting.
Venmo charges a 3% fee when you use a credit card to send money. Just know that Venmo has been closing accounts that frequently transfer money back and forth. So even if you and a friend legitimately transfer money to each other all the time, Venmo may not like it. It might be a better idea for you to transfer money through Venmo, and your friend to write you a check when he wants to give you money for legitimate expenses.
PayPal is a large payment processor similar to Venmo, which charges a fee of 2.9% + 30 cents for purchases or personal transfers with a credit card. There are lots of reports of PayPal closing accounts for frequently transferring money between accounts. So use it as intended, or you’ll be shut down.
38. Money transfers
Companies like Xoom let you send money internationally for a fee.
39. Fund a new bank account
Some banks allow you to initially fund a new account with certain credit cards. Keep in mind, some cards will not work because the transaction posts as a cash advance. So set your card’s cash advance limit to zero before you try this.
Don’t let large minimum spending requirements prevent you from getting big credit card bonuses. There are lots of ways to meet credit card minimum spend to unlock a lucrative welcome bonus.
The above tips and a little planning will let you meet most of the spend necessary to get the large credit card welcome offers to unlock free travel.
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