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Luckily, the spending requirements and other terms for earning a welcome bonus are clearly advertised. Some cards will, unfortunately, be out of reach for your personal situation. Others might be right on the borderline. For those cases, these suggestions on how to hit a credit card minimum spending requirements will help you ensure you can pocket your bonus rewards.
What To Consider Before You Apply
Consider Spending Thresholds Carefully
Credit card welcome bonuses vary widely in scope, with some offering cash upfront and others advertising 100,000 miles or more to first-time cardholders. Not all bonuses are created equal even when the numbers look the same. The miles in one program buy different rewards than another. Finding the right fit for your personal needs is important.
More importantly, though, is choosing a card you’re likely to hit the spending requirements on in order to earn the bonus that enticed you in the first place. If the requirements aren’t in reach, you should hold off on applying until a different time in your life.
When it comes to the official requirements, there’s no halfsies. A day late or a dollar short is enough to forfeit the bonus entirely.
Set a Plan to Track Your Progress
Unless a spending requirement is so easy that you know you’ll hit it automatically—there are a few rare cards that still offer modest bonuses after a single purchase—then you need a plan to track your spending.
Some cards have account tools to show your total spending at a glance, but not all do. You may want to export transactions into a spreadsheet for easy accounting or do it the old-fashioned way by adding up all your transactions (remembering to subtract out returns or other credits).
Two finer details to keep in mind as you’re tracking your expenses:
- The clock starts ticking the day your card application is approved—even if you don’t get a physical card in the mail for another week or so. Some card issuers will overnight ship your card and/or provide a digital account number for online purchases for immediate use.
- Annual fees, balance transfers, interest charges and any fees other than spending transactions won’t count toward your quota.
How To Meet Your Minimum Spending Requirements
Use Your New Card for Any and All Purchases
Common sense dictates that the more you use a new card, the more charges you’ll
One of the easiest ways to boost your spending on a specific card is to simply use it as often as possible. Until you’ve hit your minimum spending, use your new card for every purchase. Bury your cash, debit cards and any older cards at the bottom of your wallet for emergencies only and give the new card a workout.
If you have another household member you trust, adding them as an authorized user to your card account will add their purchases to your total spending so you hit your required spending sooner. Be aware this means you’re on the hook for their purchases, so don’t jump into adding an authorized user unless you’re sure of your decision.
Time Your Applications to Coincide With Large Expenses
In a perfect world, you’ll time your new applications with when you know you have large upcoming expenses. New furniture, appliances or an engagement ring are easy ways to hit your spending requirements, fast. In some cases, you may even be able to use credit cards toward a down payment on a car or making tuition payments (but check in advance before making that assumption since these may incur extra fees).
If you applied without a second thought toward timing, you might not have the advantage of obvious large expenditures. However, if you have funds available, this might be a good time to tackle projects that have been on your to-do list for awhile: car repairs and DIY home renovations are more ways to boost your spending if you have the funds socked away to support it.
Prepaying expenses won’t be an option that works for everyone. Charging additional expenses to your credit card if you won’t be able to pay it off by the deadline will backfire as interest charges eat away at any potential rewards. However, if you can float the extra upfront costs, prepaying expenses is a convenient way to boost your spending while you’re earning a welcome bonus.
Some services, like insurance policies, may give you a discount for prepaying in full making it an especially attractive strategy. Paying for travel in advance can also come with savings as you lock in hotel and car reservations. Balance that with the flexibility trade-off. Often, prepaid reservations are also nonrefundable.
Even without a discount, prepaying recurring expenses like your cable or cell phone bill will help you hit your minimum spend. Though buying physical goods or services in bulk isn’t always practical, you can essentially prepay those expenses too by buying gift cards to businesses you frequent.
Foot the Bill for Someone Else
If your personal expenses won’t quite hit your minimum spending requirements, you might be able to use friends’ and family expenses to your advantage. Next time you head out with a group, offer to pick up the whole tab on your new card and have them reimburse you with cash or a payment service such as Venmo or Zelle.
You may be able to finagle some business expenses, too. If you have upcoming work expenses but don’t have a corporate card, offer to make the purchase on your new credit card and submit an expense report for reimbursement. Again, you’ll need to have funds to float the purchase in case you aren’t refunded before your due date, but this can be a good way to increase your spending without technically spending a dime.
Pay Rent and Other Bills
For most of us, the largest expenses in a monthly budget are often bills you can’t pay by credit card directly. Your mortgage, rent, taxes or student loans usually require a payment directly from your checking account.
However, for a convenience fee (typically 2-3%), services like Plastiq, PayUSAtax and ACI Payments will process payments to thousands of bills after charging your credit card. Since those extra fees can get expensive quickly, this option should be a last resort. Remember, if you’re close to hitting your spending thresholds, you may be able to split payments between your card and a check, so that you don’t need to pay a surcharge on the full bill.
Find The Best Credit Cards For 2022
No single credit card is the best option for every family, every purchase or every budget. We’ve picked the best credit cards in a way designed to be the most helpful to the widest variety of readers.
If a welcome bonus seems a little out of reach at first glance to the card’s initial spending requirements, you might not be out of luck. Rearranging your normal spending within the offer period can make a considerable difference toward your bottom line and help you earn rewards on a new card after all.