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Many credit cards have generous sign-up bonuses, most in the tens of thousands of rewards points that would normally take years of purchases to earn. However, many of those sign-up bonuses require you to spend a certain amount of money on the card in a certain period of time, often called a minimum spend requirement (MSR), which in may cases is more than we’d spend naturally. Don’t worry, there are many ways to hit that bonus without spending much more than you normally would. Some methods are fee-based, but the fees will likely be a small fraction of the sign-up bonus you’re trying to hit, and are definitely worth it versus not getting the bonus at all.
1. The big purchase method
This one is a bit “duh”. Time your credit card sign-up with upcoming larger purchases you were going to make anyway – a TV, a couch, a Tesla*…you know, normal purchases. You could also time your sign-up when you know you’re about to spend a bunch of money anyway – a new dog, a new baby, a new boyfriend/girlfriend.
*I’m only half joking – you can pay for your Tesla deposit using a credit card.
2. The “I’ll pay for that” method
Going out to eat with friends? Is a friend or family member about to make a purchase using cash or a debit card? Put it on your card and have them give you the cash. This has a potential added benefit for retail purchases if the card you’re using has purchase protection and the item they’re buying qualifies for it. One caveat is returns/exchanges may require you and/or your credit card to be present.
3. Pay your bills (possibly with a small fee)
It’s quite possible that many of your bills can be paid using a credit card. Even if a company doesn’t accept credit cards, you can use a payment service (such as Plastiq) to mail a check on your behalf.
4. Pay your rent (probably with a small fee)
While most landlords don’t offer a way to pay rent with a credit card, some do. In the extremely rare case that your landlord will allow you to pay rent by credit card without any extra fees, you’ve hit the credit card spend jackpot.
If your landlord does not accept credit cards, you can still use an online payment service that will mail a check to your landlord on your behalf. This is an easy way to turn money you were already going to spend into a large purchase towards your sign-up bonus.
Best services for paying rent online:
|Urbanr||1.5%||Lowest fee available.||Does not accept AMEX.
Requires your landlord to sign-up for this service.
|RoomiPay||2.0%||Low fee without requiring your landlord to sign-up.||This may not really be a con, but RoomiPay requires more verification than other services.|
|Plastiq||2.5%||Easy to use.|
Can use to pay bills, as well as rent.
Often has promos that decrease the fee.
|More expensive for paying rent than the other services.|
If you do decide to use Plastiq, consider using my referral link here. After signing up through a referral link and sending at least $500 in payments, I get $1000 FFDs (fee-free dollars) and you get $500 FFDs to save us both a few bucks on fees for future Plastiq payments.
5. Pay your taxes
Disclaimer: Officially, I’m recommending that you speak to a tax planner about paying your taxes with a credit card.
This is very easy if you happen to owe taxes at the end of the year. Use an online tax payment service – my recommendation is Pay1040.com. They offer the lowest fee (1.87%) of any service I’m aware of. I’ve used them several times (and still do) with no issues at all.
Pro tip: To give yourself a more steady stream of spending with this method, have your payroll department stop taking taxes out of your paycheck and pay them yourself quarterly using a service like Pay1040.com.
6. Pay a friend
Pay your friends with your credit card using services like Venmo or PayPal. I wouldn’t rely on this method for large amounts of spending, as both PayPal and Venmo will shut you down for too much volume and/or using many different cards.
Don’t forget to spend responsibly
Those are just some ideas for how to hit your minimum spend requirement. Please remember that, as lucrative as these credit card sign-up bonuses can be, they’re not worth ruining your credit or going into debt for. Be responsible and don’t outspend yourself. You can keep track of your spending manually or use an online service like Mint.