Credit card sign-up bonuses are the fastest way to earn points and miles. But to receive those bonuses, you need to meet the minimum spend requirement. This can get tricky, especially when opening multiple cards or trying to maximize earning categories with other credit cards.
Big Purchases and Expenses
Big purchases or expenses such as a new TV, home improvement project, or large medical expense are an excellent opportunity to meet minimum spend. These expenses usually only earn 1x on most cards, so you might as well charge it to a brand new credit card and maximize your earning. Next time you have a big expense coming up, consider applying for a new card in advance.
For home improvement projects, remember that a lot of contractors accept credit cards, even if they don’t advertise it. Make sure to check if they charge any fees for using a card. Even if they do charge a fee, it might be worth paying it since you can get outsized value from using your points and miles.
One last tip for big purchases: a lot of car dealerships will accept credit cards for a portion of the payment.
Prepay Utilities and Other Bills
Many utilities and other service providers allow you to pay more than what you owe at any given time. If you are a few hundred dollars short of meeting minimum spend, consider prepaying some of your utilities or your cell phone bill. Some insurance providers also allow prepayment, so consider looking into prepaying your car, renter’s, or homeowner’s insurance to meet your minimum spend.
Tuition and Childcare
Many schools, childcare centers, and colleges accept credit card payments. Some charge a fee, but others may not. Like with the other options in this post, analyze the numbers to make sure the benefit outweighs the fee. For a big sign-up bonus, it likely could be worth it.
Bill payment services, such as Plastiq, allow you to use your credit card to pay bills that normally do not allow payment via credit card. Plastiq allows you to use a credit card to pay student loans, rent, car payments, mortgage payments (Mastercard only), and many others. Plastiq charges a 2.9% fee. In the past, they occasionally had specials that bring the fee down as low as 1.0%. Visa and Mastercard have few restrictions on Plastiq (Visa typically does not allow mortgage payments). Amex only allows payments for government, some utilities, education, residential rent, and club fees and memberships.
If you’ve never used Plastiq, sign up with our referral code: 572916. You receive $1,000 of fee-free payments!
Pay Your Taxes
You can pay your federal taxes online for a small fee. Three official websites accept credit cards for your federal tax bill:
- www.payusatax.com accepts Amex, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa for a fee of 1.96%.
- www.pay1040.com accepts Amex, Discover, Mastercard ,and Visa for a fee of 1.99%.
- fed.acipayonline.com accepts Amex, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa for a fee of 1.99%.
You can use any of these services to pay your year-end and quarterly estimated taxes. For more information on using credit cards to pay your taxes, check out this ToP post.
If you ever owe any money to the federal government other than taxes, you can likely use a credit card to pay for that without a fee. Check out www.pay.gov, which is the federal government’s portal for accepting payments. You can search by government agency or use the access code provided in the correspondence you received from the government.
Fund a New Bank Account
Some banks allow you to fund a new checking or savings account one time with a credit card. The amount is usually limited to a few hundred dollars. This is a great opportunity to hit two birds with one stone: meet minimum spend and earn some cash through a bank account sign-up bonus.
Keep in mind that the charge to your credit card may code as a cash advance, so make sure to lower your cash advance limit to $0 on the card you plan to use.
Pick Up the Check
Next time you go out for a bite or a drink with some friends, offer to pick up the check and have them pay you back in cash or through Venmo. Your server will thank you too for saving them the hassle of splitting the check and processing multiple payments!
Consider buying gift cards to your favorite retailers where you know you will spend money eventually (e.g., Amazon, Target, Starbucks, Whole Foods). This allows you to spend money now that you will be spending later anyway.
A word of caution: Amex has typically frowned upon gift card purchases to meet minimum spend. Despite recent data points of this approach working without any issues, we recommend caution here with Amex cards.
Meeting minimum spend can be tricky when you open a new card without a plan. Before applying for your next card, make sure you have a game plan, and consider the options listed above for meeting your minimum spend. Remember to always ask if a merchant or service provider accepts credit cards, and you might just be surprised at their answer!
What other methods do you use to meet minimum spend? Come join the discussion in our Facebook group!