21 Ways (and counting) to Meet Minimum Spend Requirements


Earning frequent flyer miles and travel rewards through credit card sign-up bonuses is far and away the best way to get large chunks of points quickly.

In fact, it’s the way that I’ve earned over 90% of my 3 million frequent flyer miles in the last four years.

However, when deciding which credit cards are right for you, there is one thing you must be keenly aware of:

The minimum spend requirement.

When most of the top end credit cards offer a sign up bonus, they also require you to spend a certain amount of money in a short period of time to get that bonus.

For example, they may require you to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months in order to get a sign up bonus of 40,000 points.

Always, always, always make sure you can meet the minimum spend requirement before opening the credit card.

If you don’t, you won’t be getting the points (and no amount of begging will change that).

If you’re not a big spender, don’t worry, neither am I.  Here are lots of ways to help you meet the minimum spend requirements and make sure you get your sign up bonuses.

The Absolute Best Current Way [No Longer Available]

1.  Target REDcard-  Using a credit card to load up your Target REDcard allows you to spend $5,000 each calendar month and in a roundabout way pay your mortgage, student loans, and other big expenses with a credit card.

It’s a bit more advanced, so click here to read exactly how to do this.  This method will most likely not last very long, so jump on it while you can.

This method is no longer available, BUT you can still use the Target Red card in conjunction with Visa Giftcards mentioned in #10. You can purchase Visa Gift cards and load them onto the Redcard. You can then withdraw the money back to your bank account. MAKE sure that you’re purchasing Visa giftcards that have pin cards. You can use these to load the RedCard because they act like debit cards. It’s awesome!

Simple, Effective Ways to Meet Minimum Spend Requirements

2.  Use a credit card for all your regular spending-  This is a no brainer.  Instead of using cash, make sure to use a credit card for all your regular purchases, such as groceries, gas, etc.  And don’t forget that some cards even give bonus points for certain categories!

3.  Pay your insurance bills in bulk-  Oftentimes, car insurance and health insurance companies will give a discount if you pay in 6 month or yearly chunks vs. month by month.  Pay a large chunk ahead of time, save money and meet minimum spends!

4.  Prepay monthly expenses-  Do you have known monthly bills like a cellphone, cable, electric, or even a gym membership?  Instead of paying each month, ask to prepay a larger chunk in advance.  Most companies will let you pay ahead and get credit.

5.  Make big purchases (that you already had planned)-  Never, ever make frivolous purchases just to make a minimum spend.  No, you don’t need a new tv, couch, or puppy just because you have a minimum spend to meet.  However, if you know you have big purchases, open up cards around that time so the big purchases can help you meet the requirement.

6.  Donate to charity-  Most charitable organizations take credit cards.  This is a win-win for everyone; you’re helping others out and you’re helping yourself make a minimum spend.

7.  “Donate” to Kiva.org- Kiva.org is an incredible microfinancing organization that works with people in developing countries to give them loans.  They have a 99% track record of paying back the loans, so it’s not exactly donating.  You’re giving money now (credit cards are accepted) and getting paid back that money at a future date.  Best of all, in between, the person is using the money to better their life, and you get to choose exactly who the money goes to!

8.  Tithe ahead of time- If you regularly give money to a religious organization every week or month, consider giving a large chunk ahead of time.

 Using Gift Cards To Meet Minimum Spend Requirements

9.  Buy merchant branded gift cards (restaurants, gas stations, stores, online shops, etc)–  You can buy gift cards to all types of places, from Applebees to Home Depot to GAP to Exxon.

These “branded” gift cards don’t usually have any extra fees associated with them (so a $50 gift card costs $50), so buy them and stash them for later.  Just make sure you remember to use them.

10.  Buy Visa gifts cards-  Unlike merchant gift cards, Visa gift cards will have an activation fee (somewhere between $3-$7) but they have the advantage of being able to be used anywhere.  If you’re not able to make a minimum spend, buy some of these during the minimum spend period and then use them at your leisure.

11.  Amazon Gift Cards- Amazon gift cards are an awesome way to meet minimum spends.  Amazon sells almost everything (and is usually the cheapest), their gift cards don’t have any fees attached to them, and they never expire.

Buy Amazon gift cards now and use them on whatever you want in the future.  Or, give them as gifts!

12.  Buy Paypal gifts cards- Some places allow you to buy Paypal gifts cards with credit cards.  If you find a place that still allows it, take advantage.  Load up your Paypal account with gift cards and use that to pay for items you buy online or even to pay other people.

13.  Money Orders- There are some grocery stores (usually smaller, locally run ones) that allow you to buy money orders with a credit card at no charge.  You can then buy a money order with a credit card and then deposit the money order in to your bank.

 Getting Others to Help To Meet Minimum Spend Requirements

14.  Add an authorized user-  Adding an authorized user means that someone else will get a credit card with their name on it but that is tied to your account.  They can spend freely with this card.

If you need help making a minimum spend, consider adding a friend or family member you trust as an authorized user, allowing them to spend money that counts toward  your minimum spend, and have them pay you back in cash or a check.

Just be careful: Anything they spend will be your responsibility to pay off, so make sure you trust them to pay you back!

15.  Pick up the tab when you’re out with friend (cheapskate version)- Out to eat or for drinks with friends?  Pay the entire tab on your credit card and get them to reimburse you for their part with cash.

16.  Pick up the tab when your out with friends (moneybags version)-  Treat your lucky friends or family members by picking up the entire tab on your credit card..and not asking for any money back!

Ways to Meet Minimum Spends That Will Cost You a Little Bit Extra

All of the following can be done using a credit card for FREE by using the Target REDcard method (#1).  However, if you can’t do that, you’ll need to pay a fee (usually 2-3%) to use a credit card to do the following.

It may make sense in order to meet a minimum spend, but I wouldn’t do it otherwise

17.  Pay your mortgage-  Chargesmart allows you to pay your mortgage with a credit card, but it costs a fee of over 2%.

18.  Pay your student loans-  Some colleges may allow you to pay your student loans with a credit card, but they almost always levy a pretty big fee.  Inquire at the financial aid office.

19.  Pay your rent-  You can pay your rent with a credit card through a variety of services like RadPad, RentMoola, and RentShare.  Most charge around 3%.

20.  Pay your taxes- You can pay your US taxes with a credit card.  Here’s the IRS’s list of all the services that they allow.  The lowest charge is 1.87%.

21.  Transfer Money via Paypal- Paypal allows you to transfer money or pay someone with a credit card.  However, they take a 3% cut, which is pretty hefty.  They are also known to shut down accounts if you consistently transfer money back and forth.

Final Word(s)

There are many different ways that you can use to meet minimum spend requirements, most of which require just a small amount of effort and won’t cost you anything extra.

So before opening a credit card, always make sure that you can meet the minimum spend requirement – so that you can get that sweet sign up bonus and travel for free!

But don’t forget to think about all your options, not just your “natural” spending habits.

What are some of your favorite ways for meeting minimum spend requirements?  Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll continually add them to the list above!


None of that automatic “read more” stuff you’ll see everywhere else on the internet!

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Author: Trav

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  • Just saying, it is worthwhile to check your links before posting, like Williampaid says on their website, that it is no accepting payments anymore…

    • @Andy- Thanks for letting me know. That is brand new, didn’t see that when I first wrote the article two weeks ago. I’ll change it now.

  • If I use CitiAA card to load Target Redcard, will it be coded as a cash advance? I regularly load it now, but never with Citi credit card. Meeting min spend on CitiBusiness AA card. Thanks!

    • Mike – I used a Citi card to load $25 on my prepaid redcard on Tuesday as a trial, and it was coded as a regular grocery store purchase. My Citi AA card is on its way, so I wanted to verify that this method would work for me.

    • Hey Mike,

      I’ve been looking for the same information, and it seems to be hard to find. I did find out on FlyerTalk.com that As of 12/31/2014: Loading with Citi credit cards post as purchases.

      I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to go today and see what happens. Trying to meet the minimum spend for the Personal Citi AA card.

  • There is another flavor of number 14 (pick up the tab – cheapskate version). If I’m at other stores and my mom or others with me are paying with cash I charge theirs separately it and take the cash.

    #9 – I always stock up on Outback cards when they give a $20 card for buying $100 in gift cards. I gift some and use others (can’t beat 20% discount).

    • @Carl P- That’s great. Any time you can pay for someone else and get the points and meet the minimum spends, it’s great. I don’t eat at Outback ever, really, but yeah, a 20% is discount is awesome. I’d stock up!

  • Actually 21. You have two 13s.

    Maybe it counts as “regular spending” (#2), but use the credit card for reimbursable business expenses whenever you can. I’d rather go grab a printer from Staples down the street than order through the company account. Then I can use my credit card and Staples number. It can also be good for the company as there are a lot of instant savings that they have in the store or regular web site (especially printers), but not offered in the business web site.

  • Follow up – that link doesn’t take you to the limits page. If you go there, there isn’t a credit card options listed for adding money to the prepaid card.

  • This is a Grey Area that I wouldnt recommend except as a last resort… But what if you were to Buy a $1,000 item, and then return it 28 days later, after your bonus has posted?

    • @Chris- Yeah, that is a bit of a “grey” area. I know people who have done it, and it usually works, but I don’t recommend it at all. Too much risk involved, as well as I don’t feel right about it.

  • I have a medicare advantage plan.One of the points blogs stated that it is possible to pay Medicare a year in advance via credit card.Does anyone know if this is this true for a medicare advantage plan as well. If so, who? how? Do date this is deducted monthly from my SS payment.

  • Trav I submitted the free credit card consultation about 3 times already in the last 3 months? Are you still doing this for free or is it a paid service?

    • @Cory- I definitely am still doing it, and have actually gotten back to everyone who has submitted one, so for whatever reason, it must not be going through. Weird. Could you just email me directly at trav@extrapackofpeanuts (dot) com and put CC Consult in the heading? I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  • 1. Only buy merchant gift cards at discount. Never at full price. Like buying money at a discount.Set alerts in giftcardgranny.com Sign up. 2. Is there ANY place that lets you buy money orders with credit cards? 3. Buy $500 gift cards at Simon malls/outlets and in grocery stores. With no PIN, Citcards accepts them by phone for payments. Otherwise, with PINs,which convert them into debit cards,buy money orders at Walmart and deposit them in your bank account. I pay the MO fees separately in cash.

    • @Jerry Mandel- Giftcardgranny is a great resource, thanks for sharing. I don’t know anywhere that lets you buy money orders with credit cards around me, but some people have had luck at smaller grocery stores.

  • For any Costco frequent shoppers: you can buy Costco Cash (gift cards) online with a credit card and have it mailed to you. I usually spend ~$100 every week between Costco groceries and Costco Gas so I now buy the cash cards with my credit card in advance and use that to pay for my usual Costco expenses. This is another way to meet a minimum spend as well as getting points for everyday spending. I use my Chase Sapphire Preferred for everyday spending.

    Also, Costco Online accepts credit cards other than American Express! So now I still get to do my usual spending for groceries and gas at the wholesale price, maybe even pay for my membership with the cash when time to renew, and at the end of the year I will get even more cash back from Costco because I am still spending a good chunk there! WIN WIN WIN FOR ME!!! Try it!

  • I got both the SWA business premier and SWA plus cards to make the 100,000 point minimum. Can I transfer $2000 via paypal to a friend, then have them write me a check afterward for $2000 to repay me? I understand I’ll be on the hook for the $60 fee (3% for the transfer). . .

  • For anyone that still needs to meet minimum spend, Square is actually running a promotion right now where you can get 1k processed fee free if you sign up for a new account

    Here’s the link: https://squareup.com/signup?s=em&signup_token=07755CAA

    I unfortunately already had an account, but was able to sign up with a family members info (with their permission of course) with no issues

    • Hi Stephanie,
      How did you process? Send an invoice? I’ve just signed up and thinking that’s the way to do it! Am I on the right track?

  • Hey all! I’m trying to find more direct ways of meeting the minimum spends, and was wondering if using Venmo (it’s an app), would also work. If I enter my credit card details and then send money to say, my brother (who would then give me cash back), will it be treated as a purchase or a cash advance?

    • @Has- I’m not sure with Venmo. I’d recommend trying it with a small amount and seeing what happens. It might be a purchase, and if it is, you’re good to go, but…just make sure you check how much of a fee they take. If it’s a lot, it might only be worth it for minimum spends, but not for doing it all the time.

  • Does the period for the spending requirement start counting on the day you open the card or on the day you activate the card? I’m specifically concerned about the Barclay Arrival + and the Delta Skymiles. Thanks!

    • @Luis- It starts when you get approved for the card. So if you get approved automatically the day you apply, it starts then. It doesn’t matter if you wait to activate it, the clock starts ticking when you get approved.

  • Would it work to purchase a Paypal gift card ($50 for example) with a credit card, then enter the credit ($50) into my own Paypal account, which then I can transfer into my bank account to use as cash? I’m not a huge spender but a few of my larger spendings are generally via cash.

    • @Jamie- Yes, but you have to find a place that will let you buy a Paypal gift card with a credit card. Most places that I know of won’t let you do that. But if you did, yes that would count. Also, be sure that there isn’t a huge fee on the Paypal gift card (like a $3.95 activation fee for a $50 card or something crazy). If there is, that’s a pretty huge percentage and you might want to try something else.

  • @Trav – Amazing post! I was wondering: can I pay my credit card bill with another credit card? For example, can I make purchases with my Chase Freedom card and then pay that bill with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card in order to simultaneously meet the minimum spend for BOTH cards? I feel like this is either a *GENIUS* idea or completely useless. I just got approved for both cards, so please let me (us) know before I activate them. Thanks!

    • @Dan McDaniel- No, unfortunately you can’t pay a credit card bill with a credit card. It has to be a debit card, bank, etc. but not a credit card.

    • @Rin – Yeah, different stores have different rules. So you have to find stores that will allow you and go that route. Thanks for the heads up.

  • Coinbase allows you to buy Bitcoin with a CC. Limits increase the more you buy. Fee is under 2%, not sure of the exact amount. Bitcoin convertible back to USD and quite usable online

    • @Dee – Hmmmm…interesting. I’ve never done that, and I’ve never messed with bitcoin really, but that could definitely be useable for some people. Thanks for sharing!

  • Public transport with cards that can be registered in case of loss or theft are another good thing to load up on. I know they work in New York, London and DC and likely other big cities. Just check for max amounts, for example Chicago’s Ventra allows up to $300 but you presumably get 2 or 3 cards, and max out each of them.