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Full disclosure: This was written in 2015 when we were apparently millionaires and spending thousands of dollars on our credit cards every year. We have scaled way back, mostly to fall under Chase’s 5/24 rule so we are eligible for Chase cards again. Carry on.
So think you’d like to apply for a new credit card, but are worried about meeting your minimum spend requirement? Don’t worry, it’s easier than you think! If these two cheapskates can meet their minimum spends, so can you.
The Warckens are on a four-month plan with our credit card applications, meaning every four months we’ll apply for a new set of cards to reap the miles and points benefits, and all on the same day to minimize the hits on our credit scores (if you apply for multiple cards on the same day, they show up on your credit report as just one inquiry). As a general rule, in order to get approved for more cards and consequently more credit, one should wait 90 days after a credit card application before applying for another card. Make that 91 days. Make that four months just to be safe. Of course there are exceptions, as credit card bonuses are constantly changing, and sometimes there are offers you just can’t refuse.
Because I budget every penny we spend, I know that Greg and I are comfortable meeting around $5,000 in minimum spends every four months. You may be a lot higher, you may be a lot lower. I keep track of all our spending so I know exactly how much we’re paying in gas, groceries, utilities, etc. every month. When I know we’ll be spending extra money, like on a big vacation, I’ll apply for cards with higher minimum spends around that time. If you’re still unsure you’d be able to meet a minimum spend requirement, here are 20+ ideas to help you get there:
1. Put all your groceries on your new credit card. If you’re trying to meet a minimum spend, you could stock up on dry and frozen goods to enjoy after all those bonus miles and points are safe in your accounts.
2. Pay your phone bill. You could pay for everyone in your family plan and have them pay you back, if they’re not earning their own miles and points of course.
3. Pay your water bill, your electric bill, your gas bill. Some people even pay a month or two in advance, just to be on the safe side. And some utilities offer miles per dollar spent, in addition to the miles you’d earn on your card. Check your preferred airline’s partner page for more details.
4. Pay your health insurance online. Greg and I are on Obamacare and he’s gracious enough to let us pay him with a credit card. This year we paid the entire year in advance. Hello… minimum spend.
5. Take a vacation. On our last trip Greg and I put everything on our cards, from dining out, to hotels, to wool socks from the Christmas market in Tallinn, to the tolls on the Autobahn.
6. Pay for miscellaneous expenses, like that flat tire repair or an oil change.
7. Put gasoline on your card. Keep your car(s) filled up until those spends are met.
8. Donate to your favorite charity. You can earn airline miles for donating to some charities like Susan G. Komen and the National Foundation for Cancer Research. Double win! Check your preferred airline’s partner page for more details.
9. Pick up a group bill and let everyone pay you back in cash or check. Same goes for group hotel rooms. Same goes for buying groceries for the family and letting Mama or Mama-in-Law write you a check.
10. Pay your internet/cable bill.
11. Pay your auto insurance premium up front, instead of monthly, which can save you extra money too. Score!
12. Buy gifts. Buy early birthday or early Christmas presents on sale and hide them away.
13. Wait for big purchases like new tires or a washing machine until you have a minimum spend to meet.
14. Pay your medical expenses. If you have an HSA you can reimburse yourself later. Plan a big round of new credit card applications around your baby’s due date for maximum minimum spendage. Just kidding. No I’m not. That baby could earn you hundreds of thousands of miles and points if you play your cards right.
15. Buy gift cards to use later, like for grocery or department stores, or to give away as gifts. Even better, buy discounted gift cards at http://www.cardcash.com.
16. Pay your state and/or federal taxes.
17. Put all your company expenses on your personal card and let them reimburse you.
18. Pay your tuition.
19. Buy a car. From what I read you’d be surprised how many dealerships take credit cards. I tried to pay for our truck with a credit card, but the dealer would only allow us to put $1,000 of the purchase on a card, which I did. I wrote out one of those giant PCH checks for the rest.
20. Buy miles and points during promotions, and earn extra, extra miles/points per dollar spent.
21. Now that you’ve got resolutions to worry about, register for your next race or pay your gym membership.
22. Give someone less fortunate a loan through kiva.org.
23. Renew your professional license online.
24. If you can’t find any free ones, pay for continuing education credits online.
25. Renew your vehicle registration.
See? There are lots of ways to get money on those cards. BUT… it doesn’t do any good to spend money you didn’t need to, or put a whole bunch of spending on cards you can’t afford to pay off immediately. Especially on a huge purchase like a vehicle. Don’t go into debt for the sake of “free” travel. Save your money and pay cash for your vacations until you are able to pay all your credit cards in full every month.
Happy spending (that you can afford), lots of miles, and happy travels!