Reader Question: When Does a Card’s Minimum Spending Start?

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Reader Question: When Does a Card’s Minimum Spending Start?

Million Mile SecretsReader Question: When Does a Card’s Minimum Spending Start?Million Mile Secrets Team

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Million Mile Secrets reader Jim commented:

When I sign up and have a minimum spending requirement to do within 3 months, does that mean within the first 3 statements?  Or 3 months from the first purchase? Or 3 months from the date the card was activated?  Or something else?

I always get nervous and make sure I meet the minimum within 2 months for fear I will miss a deadline.

Credit card sign-up bonuses are among the easiest ways to earn miles and points.  You usually get lots of miles and points after spending a certain amount (the “minimum spending”) within a certain time period.

For example, let’s say that Jim signs up for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® with a 40,000 point bonus.

But he has to spend $3,000 (the “minimum spending” ) within 90 days to get the bonus.  Jim could use the 40+ powerful ways to complete his credit card minimum spending requirements.

But when does the countdown to complete the minimum spending start?

It is NOT the Activation Date

One common mistake is to think that the minimum spending starts when you activate the card.

That’s not true and readers sometimes miss out on their sign-up bonuses because  they delay activating their card thinking that it also extends the time in which they have to complete the minimum spending.

It Starts from the Approval Date

The countdown to complete Jim’s minimum spending starts from when he is APPROVED for the credit card.  If he is approved instantly online, the countdown to complete the minimum spending has already started!

If Jim was approved via a letter in the mail, the countdown to complete the minimum spending starts from the date on the approval letter.

Things to Confirm

That’s why Jim should confirm the following when he calls to activate his card:

1.   Approval Date

Jim should confirm the date he was approved for the card when he calls to activate his credit card.

This way he knows the exact date when he was approved and can calculate how much time he has to complete his minimum spending.

Minimum Spending Start
Jim Needs To Know the Exact Approval Date to Calculate by When he Should Complete the Minimum Spending

Sometimes you may think you have 3 months (~ 90 to 92 days) to complete a card’s minimum spending.  But in reality, you may have fewer days to complete the spending by the time you get the card.

2.   Confirm Signup Bonus

Jim should also confirm his signup bonus just in case he isn’t signed up for the bonus he thought he applied for.

Often times, the sign-up bonus isn’t mentioned in the documents sent with your card.

Expedited Delivery

It can take up to 10 business days for a credit card to arrive in the mail.  But the clock has already started ticking when you were approved.

Some banks (but not all banks) will overnight delivery of your card for free, so it doesn’t hurt to ask if you’re eager to start spending on your card.

You won’t get the sign-up bonus if you don’t complete all of the minimum spending in time, so carefully track the minimum spending for your credit cards.

You can check how much you’ve spent by logging onto the bank’s website and adding up the total of all the statements and current spending (excluding annual fees and interest) for your card.

Bottom Line

The clock to complete the minimum spending starts when you’ve been approved for a credit card & NOT when you activate the card.  So don’t apply for a miles and points credit card unless you can complete the minimum spending requirement in time!


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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! :)

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If you get a statement credit, does that count against the minimum spend? -David

I am a newbie! I may have gotten over zealous on my recent App-O-Rama. I may have bitten off more of a spend than I wanted to, and i really dont want to do the whole Bluebird thing. In thinking about my options, what would happen if i decided to ask Chase to not activate my new Ink Bold, to cancel it. Would it be better to do that and reapply in 6 months or so, or put a large charge with a $150 convenience fee on the card; which would meet the requirements?

Million Mile Secrets

@cleopatra – I’d personally pay the convenience fee to get the 50,000 points.

Just to clarify on this — so long as you spend the minimum spend amount within the required time frame in order to get the bonus, you should be able to collect the points, correct? In other words, while I am paying my monthly statements in full, if I have not paid the third month’s statement by the time the clock is out (by virtue of not yet receiving it), I will still have met the requirements.

Million Mile Secrets

@Brad – The date you pay the credit card statements doesn’t impact the time you have to complete the minimum spending requirements. The clock starts ticking from when you are approved for the card.

From my personal experience,

AMEX posts SPG points, Skymiles or MR points the day after you clear your spending limit (Not pending transaction).

Chase, US Bank and others tend to wait until the next statement after you’ve completed the spending limit to post the bonus miles or points.

Also realize that it can take 3-5 days from when you charge something to before the charge actually posts to your account. So don’t play it too close.

Again, that is why I try to make minimum spend in the first 2 months and actually see my points post. If they don’t post, I then have 3 weeks to figure out why and get any needed spend done.

Million Mile Secrets

@Al @ASW – What texasguy77 said!

@Cindy – It is unlikely that you’ll get an extension, but doesn’t hurt to call and ask.

@BillyBob – I was at the Frequent Traveler University in Tampa, so I couldn’t get to the comments. This is usually the case with most banks, AMEX, Citi, Chase etc.

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