Earning a big welcome bonus from your first (or any) travel rewards card is exciting. There's no easier way to get a bunch of miles to fuel your travel.
But in order to earn it, you've got to spend a certain amount of money within the first few months: Typically between $500 and $5,000 over a three- to six-month period, depending on the card – and sometimes much more. No matter the requirement, it's no small matter.
Credit cards are serious business: Spending more money than you normally would leads to debt and high-interest payments, wiping out any benefits the points and miles might provide while harming your credit score. Responsibility is key.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to meet your minimum spend requirement on a travel rewards card without going on an irresponsible three-month shopping spree. These are some of our favorite ways to meet those spend requirements without spending any more than you normally do.
What You Need to Know
The welcome bonus offers you see are the largest sum of points you can earn quickly by signing up for a new credit card. And over the last few months, we've seen some of the best and biggest welcome offers ever.
It doesn't get any better than the new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, which is one of the best new travel cards we've seen in years – if ever. You can earn 75,000 Venture Miles, and there are plenty of great ways to use Venture Miles for maximum value.
But to earn all those miles, you have to spend $4,000 over three months – a spending requirement that pushes your all-in bonus to at least 83,000 Venture Miles.
There's also the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is out with a bonus of 60,000 points. But you have to spend $4,000 within the first three months to earn them.
No matter the bonus or the spending required to earn it, you definitely don't want to come up short.
So it's important to have a plan for meeting that minimum spend requirement by the set time frame, and doing so responsibly – i.e., without spending money you don't have. If you can't pay off every dollar you put on your new card, don't open a credit card.
Here are a few of the steps we use to meet that minimum spend goal.
- Know the sign-up bonus details: How much do you need to spend, and by what date? Each card's requirements will be different. Set a reminder in your calendar for the weeks leading up to the deadline, so you can be sure you won't miss your goal. And keep in mind that clock starts from the date you're approved – not when your new card arrives.
- Know how much you normally spend in a month: To know if you can comfortably reach this goal without overspending, you need to know how much you spend in a month. If you have a monthly budget spreadsheet, use Mint.com, or have any other means of tracking your monthly finances, see how much total monthly spend you can feasibly put on this new card.
- Track your progress: Keep close tabs on your progress toward earning your sign-up bonus goal to make sure you're on track and will meet the minimum spend requirement. We recommend using an Excel spreadsheet, or one of our favorite card-tracking programs, TravelFreely.
Now that you know the basics to set yourself up for success, let's chat about some ways you can meet minimum spend without buying anything more than usual.
Put All Purchases Towards Your Goal
The first method is pretty simple: Put all your spend on that one card. From the gas station to the grocery store and fare beyond, even seemingly small monthly costs can eat up a majority of a minimum spend requirement.
Did you know you can pay most of your monthly bills with a credit card? Whether it's your cable, cell phone or certain utility bills, you can switch them over to your new credit card and add other monthly costs like daycare or monthly gym memberships to that new card and watch that goal come into focus!
You can even pay your rent with Plastiq on some credit cards! I've used Plastiq to pay for rent for a few months, and that alone helped meet almost all the minimum spend requirements on my newest card.
When dining out, buying tickets, or attending activities, ask your friends if you can pay the full bill for your party and have everyone use Venmo or Zelle to pay you back. Picking up the tab at a happy hour or paying for the whole dinner out with family will add up fast on your new card, and it's easier on the wait staff than eight separate bills.
Time it Right with Taxes or Big Purchases
If you know you have some larger purchases coming up – and you've got the money saved up to pay it – it can be a great time to open your new travel rewards card. Time it right, and use your new card to pay for college tuition, home renovation, new furniture, or a new phone or laptop that you had been planning to purchase.
Some companies may charge a small fee to pay for something with a credit card, so it's important to do the math. But if you're getting a big stash of bonus points or miles, it may be worth the small fee to meet your minimum spend goal. Keep in mind that paying those fees isn't necessarily worth it just to earn the regular points after you've already met a minimum spend and earned the sign-up bonus.
If you owe the government money each year, you can also pay your taxes with a credit card! There is a small fee, so again, this may not be the best option for earning normal points. But it can be a great way to hit your minimum spend on that new card. And with tax deadlines around the corner, it's not a bad time to consider picking up a new card.
All of the below options are IRS-approved payment processors for paying your taxes with a card. However, PayUSAtax.com charges the lowest fee at 1.96%, so there really isn't a reason to use the others.
Get Help from an Authorized User
Maybe you don't have a big bill coming up … but what if a family member does? Adding them as an authorized user could help you hit the goal to earn the bonus responsibly.
Adding an authorized user to your credit card means that person will get their own physical card, which they can use to make purchases on your behalf. It can be a great way to work toward the minimum spending requirement to earn a big points bonus.
It’s a good option for spouses, families, or employees – especially if you want to share some sweet travel benefits. For example, the Capital One Venture X Card allows you to add up to four authorized users for free!, sharing lounge access and other travel perks.
Read more about adding authorized users to the Capital One Venture X Card!
Just remember: You're ultimately responsible for ensuring that any charges your authorized user makes get paid off. Most credit card companies make it easy for those users to set up their own accounts and make payments on your account, but at the end of the day, it's your credit and credit score.
A few other things to keep in mind:
- Being an authorized user on somebody else’s credit card will allow you to build credit history. Assuming all payments are made on time and in full, it will have a positive impact on the authorized user’s credit score.
- Since authorized user accounts will typically appear on your credit report, they will count towards your Chase 5/24 status. That could make it harder for an authorized user to open a Chase card down the line.
That said, there are many data points out there that suggest calling into the Chase reconsideration line may result in some representatives removing authorized user accounts from your 5/24 status.
If you've put all of your monthly spending on that new credit card and timed it right to make the most of larger purchases but still have a bit more minimum spend to make, it's time to get creative!
Two of our favorite unique options for hitting minimum spend responsibly are through reselling and microfinance loans.
If you love a good thrift and flip or are already a reseller, put your skills to work helping you meet that minimum spend goal! Purchase whatever you're reselling with a card and flip it on Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, eBay, or other selling platforms. Just remember that when reselling, earning that money back isn't instant; make sure you've got the financial security to wait for those items to sell and earn it back.
Want to hit the rest of your minimum spend requirement all while supporting a charitable organization? Microfinance a loan through Kiva! Loan money to business owners in 83 other countries using your credit card. Over a million people have supported loans on Kiva, and the Kiva borrowers have a 97% loan repayment rate.
This is a long-term play: The minimum length of time for a loan term is six months. But if you can wait six months for that repayment, this is a great and charitable way to meet the rest of your minimum spend goal.
Meeting minimum spend requirements to earn your sign-up bonus doesn't need to be as daunting as it seems. With these simple methods, you can meet your goal without spending any more than you typically do in a few months.