5 Common Mistakes Folks Make When Meeting Travel Credit Card Minimum Spending Requirements

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5 Common Mistakes Folks Make When Meeting Travel Credit Card Minimum Spending Requirements

Scott Lieberman5 Common Mistakes Folks Make When Meeting Travel Credit Card Minimum Spending RequirementsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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Each of the best travel credit cards has a generous intro bonus.  And to earn it, you need to meet the card’s minimum spending requirement.  Here are some of the best bonuses:

But there are some common misconceptions about how the minimum spending requirement really works.

Understand How Spending Requirements Work When Unlocking the Intro Bonus on Your New Travel Credit Card

  • The clock starts on the date you are approved — NOT when you activate the card.
  • Paying for the annual fee does NOT count.  Spending includes purchases only.
  • Returned items usually don’t count.  You must spend the full amount not counting refunds.
  • Make a spending plan so you’re certain to meet the requirement.  If you need some creative ideas, check our complete list of ways to meet the minimum spending requirement on your travel credit card.
  • Don’t buy stuff you don’t need and don’t get into debt!  Using miles and points to travel is awesome.  And it’s a great hobby for folks who feel comfortable with credit and pay their bills on time and in full.

Bottom Line

Right now there are some very lucrative intro bonuses!  To unlock them, just spend the required amount in the given timeframe.  Here are a handful of our favorite travel cards:

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Re; “Don’t buy stuff you don’t need and don’t get into debt! ” ” and pay their bills on time and in full.”
Thank you for including this! I wish every article on points and miles would post this reminder for newbies! Not everyone has the self control or attention to detail needed to “play this game”.


Absolutely! I love helping people discover the freedom of traveling with points. But you’re right, it’s only for folks who can basically use their credit cards like debit cards.

Thanks for the comment, Clyn6.

I noticed recently for the southwest credit you earn 40k points after meeting the spending requirement and the other 20K after spending 12k over the next year..

Yes, I always check to find out when “the clock starts”. I forgot about the annual fee, so thank you for the reminder. I’m planning to top off the minimum spend by a few hundred dollars, just to play it safe.


Smart strategy, Jade! And you’re welcome!

Surprisingly shallow write up, given the gravity of the topic. Curious too you don’t include any Amex cards, or the increasingly serious menace out there known as “RAT” teams…. (and the whole issue set involving manufactured spending to meet minimum spends — and how the “RAT” teams will sniff it out and claw it back….. Again, so curious this doesn’t make your list of common mistakes)

But your apparent top mistake I can well attest to:

“The clock starts on the date you are approved”

(though in truth that policy actually varies from one bank to the next. The real mistake is assuming anything…. Don’t!)

At Chase, alas, I got burned badly on this with the Chase British Airways card… Key problem (that you do not mention) is that in many cases new card holders will not know exactly when their card was approved! (especially if your initial application went into “wait” status — or if you applied via mail, or at an airport promo) You MUST ask — and preferably do it via secure message channel., so you have it in writing. Chase higher ups have utterly no sympathy with claims based on your not being informed of what the start date is…. (I was tempted to file a legal claim against Chase, yet then figured I didn’t want to risk an otherwise good relationship with Chase while fighting for that last 25k of miles they cheated me out of…. sic)

You criticize the author, but admit to making a rookie mistake and not meeting your minimum spend well ahead of the deadline? Interesting…..

I take the easy way out. I just pay estimated taxes to cover the minimum spend. The fee is a bit high but the bonus points are always worth much more