For many budget travelers, hitting a credit card minimum spends to earn free flights can seem daunting. They rather stay away from them, thus missing out on some opportunities that will essentially pay for the their travels.
In my opinion they are too valuable to ignore. Understanding credit card sign up bonuses is essential to earning miles and maximizing them for some amazing and almost free trips. Rewards credit cards that do have a high bonus offer can often have a minimum spend requirement that can range from $1,000 to $5,000 within the first three months of getting approved.
This doesn’t mean that you should go start spending money you don’t have just to meet a minimum spend requirement. It means that you have to strategize your spending habits.
List out each one of your monthly expenses whether you would pay for them with cash or electronically. With the combination of bills, rent, food, and gas it’s likely that you’re spending at least $1,000 in monthly expenses even if you have a budget-conscious lifestyle.
Everyday Purchases to Help You Meet the Minimum Spend Requirement
Put all of your expenses on your credit card, especially purchases that will earn you 2x the miles or even 5x depending on its category. If some of your purchases are ones that you wouldn’t typically make with a credit card, like rent for example, you could ask your landlord or manager if they would accept payment through online services like PayPal or Amazon Payments where neither party would be charged a credit fee. This is a great way to rack up extra airline miles.
Purchases to Meet the Minimum Spend Requirement
Amazon Payments– Amazon Payments is one of the easiest ways to hit a spend requirement without actually spending any money. You can send $1,000 per month to a person for free. Make sure you register a bank account and your new credit card to increase the credit card payment limit to $1,000 per month.
Manufacture Spend- From Vanilla Reloads, Venmo, Kiva, and Amex gift cards, there are multiple ways to earn points through manufacture spend methods.
Dining- Everywhere you eat, every time.
Insurance- Use a credit card to pay for all of your insurance – auto, homeowners, medical, or renter’s insurance. Considering paying in advance for a few extra months if you need to add some spending.
Groceries- Use your credit card to pay for all your groceries. If you are getting close to the end of the 90 days, consider buying grocery gift cards that you can use to buy groceries in the coming months. I will often buy a couple gift cards at Trader Joes and use them after I am done working on the minimum spend for a card.
Amex Gift Cards- You can easily buy Amex gift cards and use the gift cards for everyday spending over the next several months. You’ll spend an extra $3.95 per gift card, but this may be worth if it you’re in a pinch and in risk of not hitting the minimum spending requirement. You can even buy themonline.
Gas-Always pay using your credit card.
Toll Transponders- Do you have an automated toll transponder in your car ?(K-Tag, FastTrak, I-Pass etc.) You may be able to reload additional dollars to you toll account with your credit card.
Cellphone/Cable/Internet- Simple. Pay all of these by credit card.
Pay Bills- Pay all of your gas, electricity, trash, and other utilities on your credit cards, and then if you need more help, pay some in advance.
Netflix/Hulu/Spotify- Pay for your Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify subscriptions using a credit card.
Pre-paid Gas Cards- A great way to add some spending in the first 90 days and use them in the coming months.
Business Travel-Why not rack up some extra miles without even spending your own money! If you travel on business and your employer is willing to reimburse your expenses from a personal credit card, then this is a great way to earn miles and meet the minimum spend.
Gym Membership- Pay for your gym/yoga/club membership on credit card. If you need more help your gym may offer a discount if you prepay a year in advance.
Home Improvements– If you have any home improvement projects see your contractor will let you purchase all of the supplies on your card. Even better, if your contractor doesn’t accept credit card payments see if you can pay them with Amex gift cards.
Rent-For a fee Williampaid is a site that lets you pay your rent via a credit card.
Xoom Money Transfers- You can send international money transfers for a fee usingXoom.
Amazon.com Gift Cards- If you shop on Amazon.com, consider buying gift cards to use on future purchases (gift cards never expire).
College Tuition- Many universities allow you to pay for tuition and housing expenses with a credit card for a small fee. Some schools even don’t even charge a fee, so check your schools payment web page to find out more information.
Taxes-You can use Official Payments to pay almost all kinds of taxes for a fee. This includes federal, state, and local taxes.
Donations-Many charities accept donations by credit card. If you plan on making any charity donations during the year do it using your new credit card instead of later.
Holiday and Birthday Gifts-Consider buying birthday and holiday gifts in advance. If you can’t decide what gifts to get, stock up on either store gift cards or American Express gift cards to use later.
What are some other ways you could meet your minimum spend requirement?
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