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How To Meet The Minimum Spend For A Welcome Bonus [11 creative ideas]

- Jan 9, 2022 Credit Card Info0 comments

Many people recently signed up for new cards in order to receive the welcome bonus. There were many good offers out there and many people jumped for them. Here are some ideas on how to complete the spend, that may or may not work for you.

1. Prepay expenses

If your budget does not allow you to spend the needed minimum spend amount within the required time frame, then consider prepaying some of your expenses so you get charged now, but you’ll be left with a credit to use in the future.

Some expenses that you might be able to prepay:

  • Groceries
  • Pay towards your kids tuition or college 
  • Buy gas gift cards
  • Add credit to your E-ZPASS account
  • Add money to your Amazon or Walmart wallet
  • Utility bills like water, electricity, natural gas, sewer, or trash

Pros

  • It’s a great way to reach minimum spend without really spending more than your budget
  • No fees involved 

Cons

  • You need to have the money available to lay out

2. Buy Visa or Mastercard gift cards

You can buy physical Visa or Mastercard gift cards at many office supplies stores, groceries, pharmacies, or online retailers like Giftcards.com, Simon Mall, Gift Card Granny, and more. Simon Mall can be a great option because they sell $1,000 gift cards with a low fee, but this only works with certain credit cards (see the chart below). Giftcards.com is another great option because you can earn extra cashback by shopping through a portal like Rakuten.com.

These gift cards can be used at any store that accepts Visa or Mastercard (you can use them over the course of the next few months, so you swipe now but use later). These gift cards have a small activation fee (usually about $5). Try to look for gift cards that are $500 or more as you usually pay the same activation fee regardless of the amount on the gift card, so you would want to juice out the most for your buck. 

Please note, Amex might not count gift card purchases as eligible purchases for minimum spend (it will depend on the merchant).  Always double check the merchant by first doing a small test purchase and see if the transaction is earning you rewards or not (if it earns rewards then you can feel safe that it will count towards the minimum spend). You should also always set your cash advance limit to zero.  

Chart of merchants

Amex  Chase Citi Capital One Barclays
Office Depot/Office Max Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Staples Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kroger Affiliate Stores Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Safeway Affiliate Stores Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
GiftCards.com Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Simon.com No, does not
earn points
or count toward
minimum spend
Yes Yes Yes No, may
cash advance
Gift Card Granny Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Pros

  • Easy way to add another few thousand spend to your credit card

Cons 

  • You need to pay a small activation fee (approx $5). Sometimes you can find deals at Staples or Office Depot which will waive the fee.
  • You need to have the money to lay out (unless you have a method of liquidating them for cash which can be tough to find nowadays, but definitely still exists)
Good To Know

If you have the Ink Cash card then buy the gift cards at office supplies stores as you earn 5 points at office supplies stores. If you have the Amex Gold card then buy the gift cards at grocery stores to earn 4 points, etc.

3. Ask your parents or friends to help out

Ask your parents or trusted friends if they have any purchases coming up that they can use your card to help you reach the minimum spend requirements. Just make sure you trust them as credit cards are real money and will need to be paid back. 

 Pros 

  • You don’t need to lay out the money
  • No fees involved  

Cons

  • You are putting some (or a lot) of risk on the table by trusting your parents or friends as they may not pay you back (shame on them!)

4. Lend money through Kickfurther or Kiva

Kickfurther

Kickfurther funds short term business loans and helps manufacturers fund the production of items for sale. All Kickfurther loans are fully backed by verified purchases. You can fund the loans with a credit card at no additional fee but you will need to pay a 1.5% fee to withdraw the money back to your bank account after the loan has been paid back (but the 1.5% fee can be washed out by the interest you earned on the loan). Kickfurther has already funded over 1,000 businesses and raised over $73 million. But there definitely is a risk of losing your principal, so proceed with caution.

Kiva

Kiva lends money to individuals from all over the world who don’t have access to conventional lending options. The idea of Kiva is to match people in need, with people that want to do a good deed by lending money for people in need (you do not receive any interest). Kiva has an underwriting process on how they ensure that borrowers are trusted and they claim that about 97% of loans get paid back. You can use a credit card to fund loans with no additional fees. 

The loan periods are usually not that short, starting at about six months. In order to minimize risk it would be advisable to split up your money between multiple loans so that just in case one defaults, you don’t lose everything (never put all your eggs in one basket). A useful tool for minimizing your risk and diversifying to multiple borrowers is Kiva Lens. Using that site, you can quickly filter through loans that meet criteria like payoff time and partner default rate, and you can bulk add matching loans to your Kiva shopping cart.

Pros

  • No fees

Cons

  • You need the money to lay out
  • You’re risking not being paid back

5. Pay non credit card expenses like rent with Plastiq

Even if your landlord or mortgage bank does not accept credit cards, you can still pay these types of expenses with a credit card through a third party company called Plastiq (and some others which exist as well). Plastiq allows you to pay almost everything with a credit card, including  mortgage, rent, utilities, car payments, and more. Plastiq charges about a 2.85% fee. Plastiq accepts Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover, but you will not be able to make certain purchases with some types of cards. Here is a chart from Plastiq’s website on what cards are accepted for what type of transactions.

Pros 

  • You don’t need to lay out the money
  • Very straight up and legit

Cons

  • There is about a 2.85% fee
  • Not all cards are accepted for all transactions

6. Pay taxes

“Paying tax is rewarding”, said no one ever. But using your tax bill as a method of completing a spend for a huge welcome bonus can make paying tax a drop rewarding. The IRS has partnered with three companies to make it possible to pay your income tax with a credit card for a small fee. Here are the three companies and the list of fees they each charge.

PayUSATax 

  • Fee to pay with a credit card: 1.96%
  • Accepts: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Amex, Star, Pulse, Accel, PayPal

Pay1040

  • Fee to pay with a credit card: 1.99%
  • Accepts:  Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Amex, Star, Pulse, NYCE

ACI Payments

  • Fee to pay with a credit card: 1.99%
  • Accepts: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Amex, Star, Pulse, NYCE, (digital wallets for Visa, MasterCard, and Amex) Paywithcash, Paynearme

You can also use Plastiq to pay your income tax and with Plastiq, you can even pay your property tax or any other tax (see more details about Plastiq above). 

Pros

  • You don’t need to lay out money for future purchases
  • This is considered completely legitimate by credit card issuers

Cons

  • There is an approx. 3% fee involved
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7. Buying groups

A buying group or buying club is a company that looks to buy items that are being extremely discounted but are limited to only one or two units per customer, or items only available on a limited basis, etc. The goal of a buying group owner is to get a group of people buying the same item and to ship it to them. They refund the cost to you plus sometimes a commission as well. An easy way to reach a signup bonus is to sign up to a buying group and use your credit card to purchase the items. A few popular buying groups are BFM, PFS Buyers Club, EMB Deals, USABuying Club, and PointsMaker. But before you jump for this make sure to read the cons below.

Warning

Make sure to research the company well before you send them any products to ensure you will end up getting paid. Also, be organized and be careful to follow the instructions exactly, as if you mess up you will not get paid. In order to be successful, you need to be on top of things properly.  Don’t let it just snooze and forget, as things can go wrong and if you’re not properly on top of it, then you will end up losing money.

Pros

  • It’s an easy way to get a few thousand spend on your card
  • You can earn a commission on top of your points earned

Cons

  • You can be at risk of being shutdown by Chase, and with Amex it can cause an FR
  • You need to trust that the buying group will pay you for the item shipped to them
  • Major retailers, notably BestBuy, Walmart, and Target may ban your account if you do this too many times, but Amazon seems to be safe.

9. Buy and sell gift cards

You can often find sales on gift cards to various stores and later resell the gift cards on websites like CardCash, TheCardBay, AlignedIncentives. These types of deals can, in some cases, make sense especially for someone looking to complete spend for a welcome bonus. GC Galore is great at posting these deals as they come up. You should always double check the gift card reselling sites to see the rates you can get for selling the same card. If the rate makes sense, then bingo! Get as many as you can. 

Pros

  • You don’t need to have the funds available to lay out
  • No fees

Cons

  • It can be time consuming to find the right deal
  • Onboarding with some gift card resellers can take weeks

10. Get free items on Rebate Key or Rebaid

Rebate Key and Rebaid are websites that help online sellers up their ranking by driving traffic to their products. Sometimes it’s worth it for a seller to give away an item for free to 100s of buyers in order to achieve better rankings on Amazon. That is where Rebate Key and Rebaid come into the picture. On Rebate Key and Rebaid, you can find many items that are offered free or for a steep discount (depending on the deal). Once you buy an item, you will need to come back to Rebate Key or Rebaid and enter your order number. After about a month, Rebate Key or Rebaid will send you a check or PayPal payment to refund you for the purchase. 

Often, the free items on Rebate Key or Rebaid are nothing to write home about (although I have gotten in the past a nice few $200 drones, and other useful stuff) but what you are looking for is to complete another few hundred dollars of spend on your credit card. So who cares about the item. To save on sales tax, you can have the item shipped to AmForward.com and have them discard it for you for free. You could also consider donating the item.

Pros 

  • No fees involved

Cons

  • To spend a few thousand dollars this way can be time consuming (I would say this strategy is meant for a few hundred in spend, not thousands)

What does not count towards minimum spend?

Here are a few things you should know about that do not count towards minimum spend: 

  • The annual fee or any other fees
  • Balance transfers or cash advance
  • Interest charged on your account
  • As pointed out above, some cards will not count “cash like transactions” which may include P2P payment apps, money orders, etc. 
  • Items later returned (most banks will not claw back the points after awarded, even if you later make a return on items purchased, but Chase and Amex have clawed back the welcome bonus even after you got it in the past – with Chase, the purchase you made that pushed you over the minimum spend amount is the only one that you need to worry about though.

——————————

Thanks to the great Matthew Wood from Miles Earn And Burn for working with us to put together this post.

Frequently asked questions
If I buy something and later return it, will it count towards minimum spend for a welcome bonus?
If it's returned after the welcome bonus was awarded then most banks will not take away the bonus. But Amex will claw it back and Chase may also sometimes claw it back
If I opened up a credit card but did not meet the bonus requirements, can I have a second chance by closing the card and applying again?
With most banks, yes. But with Amex, no
Is a balance transfer counted as spending in regards to a welcome bonus?
No, balance transfers are not counted towards the welcome bonus
Can I send money via PayPal to my friend to complete spend for an Amex bonus?
No. With Amex, PayPal payments to friends do not count as spend for a welcome bonus and don't earn rewards
I got a limited spend bonus on an Amex card but I don't remember when I joined to know when the six months are up. How can I know?
You can either chat with Amex or search your emails for the confirmation email when joining, and check the date
Would Chase give me more time to do the spending amount for the sign up bonus?
Yes. Many times. Ask them via secured message
Does the time limit to spend for a welcome offer start the day I activate the card or day I got approved?
The day you got approved
After completing the spend on an Amex card, when do I get the bonus?
Recently it's been very fast. Like 48 hours
If I need to spend $5k to get a welcome bonus on an Amex card, plus Amex is offering me a bonus 20k points for spending $5k on an authorized user card, can both be achieved by spending the same $5k on an authorized user card?
Yes. It will count for both
Does a balance transfer get counted as spend for a welcome bonus?
No

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Sam Sam has nearly a decade's worth of experience educating his many readers on everything credit. Sam spends his days checking out credit cards for a full report, from the minute benefit details to the shebang of welcome bonuses. Plus studying the ins and outs of building proper credit. It’s his favorite pastime and he loves sharing it with others.

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