Meeting a spending requirement for a credit card bonus is easy, but it’s important not to go into debt to do it.
The best travel and rewards credit cards offer bonuses worth $500 or more within the first few months, but there’s a catch. They all require you to meet a minimum spending requirement in order to snag the bonus, and you may have to charge thousands of dollars in purchases in a short amount of time.
Take the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for example. This flexible travel credit card offers a sizable bonus of 60,000 points worth $750 in travel, but only when you spend $4,000 on new purchases within three months of opening your account.
Some spending requirements are even higher than that, which begs the question: What steps can you take to meet a credit card spend requirement and earn a bonus when your regular spending isn’t enough on its own? Below you’ll find eight ideas that can help you meet a minimum spending requirement with ease.
A warning about overspending to earn a credit card sign-up bonus
First, a warning about overspending on credit cards. While any of the strategies we suggest can help you earn a generous credit card welcome bonus, you should make sure you always have the cash to pay your credit card bill in full. After all, the average credit card interest rate is currently over 18 percent, so you’ll be losing money if you earn a bonus but rack up long-term credit card debt.
The best way to earn a credit card bonus is with a plan in mind and the regular income you need to remain debt-free. There are some rewards cards that offer sign-up bonuses along with 0 percent APR on purchases for a limited time, but these offers tend to be less generous. If you pursue an offer with 0 percent APR, make sure you can pay your balance in full before the intro offer ends. And now, consider these options to meet that spend and get your bonus:
1. Prepay utility bills and recurring expenses
Consider prepaying regular bills and recurring expenses to meet a minimum spending requirement. For example, most platforms let you “pay ahead” on your electric bill or gas bill, and overages will apply to your bill as a credit for future months. You can also use plastic to prepay for trash pickup, your household water bill and your cable bill.
Make sure to check for convenience fees that can apply when you pay utility bills with a credit card. While these fees can be worth it when you’re procuring a generous credit card sign-up bonus, you should still factor them in. When it comes to utility bills, for example, you will typically find flat fees of $1.50 to $3 for each credit card payment you make.
2. Pay your tax bill with plastic
You can also pay your tax bill with a credit card, although where you’ll pay and your options can depend on the type of taxes you’re paying and where you live. For example, your state will likely have its own set of options when it comes to paying state income taxes with a credit card.
Either way, fees will apply any time you pay taxes with plastic. When it comes to paying your federal taxes with a credit card, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers several options with credit card convenience fees that range from 1.87 percent to 1.98 percent of the payment amount.
3. Use credit cards for holiday shopping
Holiday shopping presents an excellent opportunity to meet a credit card minimum spending requirement. And keep in mind that you can start your holiday shopping any time during the year, so if you want to do it in August, snag a new card and get shopping.
4. Pay college tuition and fees
Many colleges and universities make it possible to pay tuition and fees with a credit card, although some charge convenience fees for doing so. Either way, charging tuition can help you meet a minimum spending requirement, and you can even reimburse yourself from a 529 savings plan after the fact (if you have one).
5. Charge insurance premiums to your credit card
Some insurance companies may let you pay premiums with a credit card, and usually without a convenience fee. Examples of insurance you can pay with a credit card can include auto, homeowners, health, life and more.
6. Use a credit card for your rent or mortgage payment
You may also be able to pay your rent or mortgage payment with a credit card, but there will likely be some extra hoops to jump through since you typically can’t do so directly. For example, you can use a platform called Plastiq to pay some rent or mortgage payments. However, Plastiq only lets you use Discover or Mastercard for these specific expenses (not American Express or Visa cards).
You can also look into the Bilt Rewards Mastercard, which was created to help people earn rewards on rent payments. This is a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee, and you can redeem rewards for transfers to hotel and airline partners, rent payments, a down payment on a home and more.
7. Pay for dining out, gas and groceries
According to a consumer expenditures survey released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in September of 2022, household spending on food increased 13.4 percent in 2021, with a 27.6 percent increase on food spending away from home. Costs for fuel also went up by 37 percent last year.
Throw in household grocery spending, and you can easily get closer to meeting a minimum credit card spend requirement if you start using plastic for these regular expenses.
8. Set up a credit card as payment on all your subscriptions
Also make sure you set up all your regular subscriptions on your new credit card, including things like Hulu, Disney+, and Sirius satellite radio. While regular subscriptions may not cost a lot on their own, setting up all your regular monthly subscriptions on a new credit card can help you meet the minimum spending threshold faster.
Now that you have some good ideas on how to meet the credit card spending requirement to get that bonus, it should be easy to meet the threshold. Just make sure you devise a plan to meet it and that you don’t overspend just to get a bonus, particularly with interest rates of over 18 percent.