AwardWallet receives compensation from advertising partners for links on the blog. Terms Apply to the offers listed on this page. The opinions expressed here are our own and have not been reviewed, provided, or approved by any bank advertiser. Here's our complete list of Advertisers.
A typical hesitation to applying for travel rewards credit cards is related to how to meet minimum spending requirements. Some may feel the spending requirements are too high for their income levels. Others think that much spending sounds rash, as if it's a surefire way to get into credit card debt.
Typical welcome bonuses can require spending $4,000 on your new card within three months of opening the account. That can feel like a lot of spending — especially if you aren't used to spending that much on a credit card.
However, there are a few tricks to tackling this spending requirement without increasing your overall spending. The goal is to shift all (or as much as you can) of your spending onto the card during the welcome period. After all, it's money you'd be spending anyway.
Here's how you can meet minimum spending requirements to earn a new credit card welcome bonus.
Ways to Meet Credit Card Minimum Spend (Without Paying Fees)
In the simplest terms, you should use your new credit card to pay all of your existing bills. Swipe it at the grocery store, pharmacy, and gas pump. Use it to pay your phone bill. Here are our best tips for putting your existing expenses onto your new card:
- Put the card in the front of your wallet. This way, it's the first card you'll see when making purchases.
- Log into your online accounts / recurring bills and set this as the default payment method. This applies to Amazon, utilities, your streaming subscriptions, dog walking service, meal kit subscriptions, house cleaning, car insurance, medical insurance, and any other recurring bills.
- Use this card for any one-time payments during the bonus period. If you need to reload your toll pass, pay an annual gym membership up front for a discount, or prepay other large expenses like HSA/FSA, now is the time to make those payments so they count toward your minimum spending.
- Use this card for any work expenses for which you'll be reimbursed. Depending on your workplace and its expense system, you may get reimbursed for various expenses that you put on your credit card. If that's the case, these expenses are part of your eligible purchases.
- Buy gift cards in advance for your upcoming expenses. Your supermarket, pharmacy, and other stores sell gift cards. You can purchase these now to use in the future, assuming you can afford to spend the money several months in advance.
- Donate to charities or religious organizations. Many charities accept donations online by credit card. See if your church, mosque, or synagog takes contributions this way. If you regularly donate to these groups, contributions can help you meet minimum spending requirements by shifting your payment method.
Other Large Expenses That Could Help Meet Credit Card Minimum Spending Requirements
Do you have a contractor working on your home? See if you can pay with your credit card. If not, can you pay for the supplies with your credit card? Leaving your credit card on file at Lowe's or adding the contractor as an authorized user on your account (then they buy the supplies with that card) can go a long way toward earning your new card's bonus.
You also may be surprised to learn that numerous car dealerships accept credit cards for down payments when purchasing a car. Depending on the dealership, you can typically pay anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 on any credit card — including Amex. That completes a minimum spend requirement in one swipe! Just ensure that you talk to the finance department to ask about this transaction; ensure that it isn't coded as a cash advance (which has a lot of fees).
Additional Ways To Meet Spend Requirements (With a Fee)
If the above methods won't help you meet the minimum spending requirements, there are additional methods you can use — though these come with fees. These fees range depending on the payment processor but are typically around 2%–3.5%.
Calculate whether these fees are worth it to unlock the bonus on your new credit card. It's also good to know about these options if you need to meet multiple minimum spending requirements simultaneously or you’re pressed for time. Some examples include:
- Pay your mortgage, rent, and car payments. You can use a service like Plastiq to pay these sizeable bills and more via credit card. You'll provide the recipient's information and your account number, then Plastiq can send a check in the mail or pay by money transfer. You'll pay a 2.9% fee using your card here.
- Pay your taxes with a credit card. You can pay the IRS using a credit card through one of the approved payment processors for a fee of less than 2%. Depending on the location, it’s also possible to pay state and local taxes with a credit card directly or through a third-party provider for a fee. You can use this to make estimated payments for the future or to pay outstanding taxes from prior filings.
- Pay college tuition or student loans. See if your institution accepts credit card payments and whether there are fees. For your student loans, you may need to pay through a service like Plastiq.
The requirement to meet spending amounts to earn a credit card's sign-up bonus can feel daunting. However, if you break the spending requirements into monthly pieces during the earning period and then shift all of your recurring expenses onto the credit card during that time, you may find that it's not as difficult as you originally thought.
If you have additional expenses that can't be paid by credit card without a fee — and the fee-free options won't be enough to earn the welcome bonus — consider which is worth more: the card's bonus or the fee you'll pay to complete the spending. If the bonus is worth more than the fee(s) you pay along the way, it can make sense.
The most important element is to ensure you aren't spending additional money just to earn a welcome bonus. It isn't advantageous to go into debt for some airline miles. The goal here is to earn a credit card's sign-up bonus by using your existing expenses to meet the card's minimum spending requirements.
Are there any other tips for meeting the minimum spending requirements that we missed?
The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.