7 Simple Ways to Meet Minimum Spending on a Credit Card Without Breaking a Sweat

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You’ll need to meet minimum spending to earn a large amount of miles quickly than with a new credit card. It’s not super complicated and you probably have access to more spending that you can put on a credit card than you think.

For instance you may wish to earn:

  • Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card has a 100,000 point initial bonus after $8,000 spend within 3 months. That can even be enough for a roundtrip business class award ticket between the US and Europe.

    It earns 3 points per dollar on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel — that’s airlines, hotels, rental cars, tolls, even Uber — and shipping and advertising on social media and search engines, so great for anyone who advertises on Facebook or Twitter, or who spends money advertising with Google. It also comes with $600 protection against theft or damage when you use it to pay your cell phone.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has an offer to earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

    Points transfer to United, Hyatt, Southwest, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines, JetBlue, Air France KLM, Emirates, JetBlue, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Marriott Rewards, and IHG One Rewards.

Between initial bonuses and all the points earned from spending — and spending category bonuses — a plurality of miles are awarded by banks, no longer from flying.

With the points from Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card you can transfer points to a variety of airline and hotel programs and leverage your points for international business class award tickets or hotel suites.

To earn upfront bonuses you have to meet minimum spending requirements with most of the more lucrative cards. And that can limit the cards you can get.

When I started with miles and points there was no need to meet minimum spending requirements. About 15 years ago we started to see $250 (Chase) and $750 (Citibank) minimum spend requirements. Since then the amount of spending required has gone up. There are three reasons for this.

  1. Getting you used to using a card, and even using it exclusively, is a way to get you in the habit of pulling out that card and keeping it top of wallet.

  2. It focuses the card on higher spend customers. More expensive cards need people who spend a lot on them in order to be profitable.

  3. And it serves as a barrier to some people that would just sign up for the bonus and move on to the next bonus.

However it’s really not hard to meet minimum spending requirements for up front bonuses. And you don’t need to do complex things, either.

  • You probably spend more than you think. So focus on the card you’re trying to meet minimum spend with. When adding up spend over a number of months the amounts start to sound big (“I don’t spend $4000!”) but when you break it down over time more people spend $1333 a month than realize it, especially adding up across different card products.

  • Make sure you pay all your bills with a credit card, including your utilities. Break out of path dependency, if there’s anything you pay by check, via billpay, or ACH you should check to see whether it’s possible to pay by credit card. Don’t forget many charities will happily charge the donation you’re going to make to your credit card!

  • Only get one card at a time. If that’s all the spend you can handle. Know how much you can easily spend, spread that out over new cards, and wait to get your next card until you are sure you have the available spending capacity.

  • Plastiq for rent or car payments or mortgage (mortgage is Mastercard only). Once your biggest bills can go on a credit card it’s much easier to meet spend requirements. They charge 2.85% to charge your credit card (purchase) and mail a check for your bills. They also run promotions with lower fees.

    Of course the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® lets you earn up to 100,000 points annually for paying rent and has no annual fee. You must make at least 5 purchases per billing cycle to earn points.

  • Prepay your bills. Since you have a specific period of time — from card approval (date the account is created) to the deadline for earning the bonus — you may want to pull future bills into the present. Spending from month four, five or six can be paid in month three if you need to in order to meet a spending requirement and you have the cash flow to do it.

    Another version of this is to buy gift cards (e.g. Amazon, Trader Joes and Safeway) for things you’re going to spend on in the upcoming months.

  • Pay quarterly taxes or end of year taxes due. Some people even overpay their taxes (make a quarterly payment) and get a refund later. Pay1040 charges 1.87% and PayUSATax charges 1.85%.

    Similarly property taxes (if you’re a homeowner). This may incur a fee up to 3%, but if the return from the bonus is large enough the charge can make sense.

  • Reimbursable business expenses. Some people are required to use company credit cards or purchasing cards, but even there are you required to do it for all business spend? And how firm is the requirement?

    If you can use personal credit cards, and your company is stable (can reimburse you) and expeditious (will do so quickly enough) then you may want to put as many work expenses on a personal card as possible. That could be air, hotel, ground transportation and meals but perhaps you can even put business purchases — equipment, advertising, computers — on your card? See what precedents there are with other employees, what your boss will support, and what policies are in place.

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. Running out of material?
    What’s next? Do I pay overseas hotel bills in their currency or my currency? (Actually that’s better than this topic).

  2. Always pay in local currency. Reject offers to convert to USD. You’ll be ripped off faster than the foreskin of a Jewish penis.

    @Bob, don’t you think Gary deserves to eat, for all the good he’s done for us on this blog? Gary has some problems like exploiting photos of bikini clad flight attendants, and I call him out on that and implore him to cease such disgusting behaviors. But he’s done right vis-a-vis deleting racist and homophobic comments.

  3. To expand on Olaf U. Fukker-Sergei’s Hobbesian comment, perhaps off-color attempts to be humorous with a pseudonym should also be banned.
    “Liberal individualism has an innate tendency toward authoritarianism.”

  4. Interesting. Four quarterly estimated payments for federal and four quarterly estimated payments for state. Depending, someone could hit the spending requirement on eight cards in a year. Wow. Anyone know about New York accepting credit cards?

  5. If one drinks, buy a bunch of booze like whiskey or wine in advance. It’s not like it is going to spoil if you keep it at room temperature without too much sunlight.

  6. be mindful If using amex to pay for property tax. they told me multiplr agents that property tax does not qualify for spend.

  7. None of these are really useful or beyond drop dead obvious. For me the key is to defer major purchases (or taxes) until the new card arrives. New set of tires is $1200, Summer camp fees are $4k, Property tax installment is $5k, DMV car reg is $500, new frig is $2k, you get the picture. We can charge 3 grand in <1 month, easy. The only one that really requires any timing is $15k over 90 days.

  8. By the wifey another bag, necklace, tropical vaction and your minimum spend is covered.
    You are welcome.

  9. I run around $10,000 a month through my credit cards (pretty much everything on them including $2000 in monthly healthcare insurance premiums – retired and pay my own insurance) and also have $40,000-$50,000 a year in “one time” charges (vacations, property insurance, etc.). Pay them off every month and never have an issue with initial spend.

    If you don’t understand how you will cover the initial spend requirement you shouldn’t apply for the card and if that is difficult for you to figure out maybe the entire points/miles process isn’t for you since, IMHO, the initial spend requirements are the EASY part. Figuring out how to maximize 10-15 credit cards to ensure I get best payback plus meet all the requirements for benefits is much more difficult. Then you get into how to most cost effectively book airlines and hotels which is a whole other level (like booking Qatar through Virgin using Delta miles transferred from Amex Membership Rewards – BTW I know this is not a valid booking but many are just as complicated).

  10. I’m a big fan of kiva.org microlending. I’ve charged nearly $10,000 in deposits into my account over the years and have lost less than 2% in defaults and currency exchange losses. Great way to manufacture spend while helping out budding entrepreneurs around the world trying to improve their lot. In fact, prior to the recent skyrocketing of interest rates and when I had a 2.5% cash back card (alas, the USAA signature visa is down to 1.5% cash back so now totally unusable), it was a better bet than just putting money into a savings account when I funded a microloan that paid back over 5 or 6 months, even for unbonused spend.

  11. I fund my online betting portals, and withdraw for mailed checks. Rinse & Repeat

  12. As Dime Bag stated . . . “rinse and repeat.” In todays information world this article is a dinosaur. Come on Gary, more airline and “other” travel tips and less shilling for credit cards. You can and have done better.

  13. Stock up on groceries, buy some to donate. Buy extra for donations. But gift cards for gifts and donations.
    Little stuff adds up.

  14. If it looks like I’ll have difficulty meeting the spend $xxxx within say 3 months I’ll book a fully refundable airline ticket for far in the future that will push me over the required spend threshold. In the subsequent months I’ll continue to put organic spend on the card until I’ve spent enough to where I can cancel the airline ticket.

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