Strategies to Meet Minimum Spending Requirement to Earn Sign Up Bonus on new Credit Cards

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Does your excitement of getting a shiny new credit card and an excellent sign-up bonus boil down quickly with the thought of meeting a high spending requirement? Are you someone who holds themselves back from applying for great cards because of a high spend requirement? You might want to think again and consider these options to quickly meet your minimum spend requirement.

PS: I won’t talk about methods where a huge sum of money is blocked for a couple of months or so. Most of these ideas are reliable (though, as always, YMMV), and with fairly quick turnaround time.

1.    Bluebird/Serve

Your mileage will vary highly based on the store, location and the customer service representative assisting you when trying to load these giftcards to serve or converting them into money orders as they are pin enabled. If they say you can’t do it, simply walk away without arguing much. It also helps to start slow, with say a $100 load or a $500 load. You can pay back your credit card directly from the funds loaded on to the serve account or even send payments to Mortgage lenders, car payments, utility companies that do not accept credit cards, IRS to name a few.

Serve and Bluebird are prepaid re-loadable cards issued by AMEX, and they basically act as a debit card. The way to use this to your benefit is to buy visa gift cards from a store like Staples or Office Depot/Office Max when they run the no-fee visa gift card promotion using your credit card (Ink Business Cash gives you a 5% return, which makes this a profitable venture). You then visit a Walmart and use these prepaid visa gift card to load your Serve card. Not all Walmart are friendly with the use of visa gift cards to load these prepaid cards. You can buy Visa giftcards from giftcards.com for $500 denomination (limit $2500 a day including fees) and make sure to go through a website like Topcashback, Ebates and Mr. Rebates to get back 1% of the purchase price bringing down the cost of these giftcards. Make sure to not purchase Mastercard brands as they are difficult to liquidate with these strategies.

Topcashback offers 1% cashback on Visa Giftcards

Amit used sign up bonus from the Hyatt Credit Card for 50K points and Free night certificates with the old Hyatt card (good for any Hyatt worldwide now limited to category 1-4) to spend 5 nights at Hyatt Ziva Cancun.

2.    Plastiq

A lot of expenses, like rent, utility payment, etc. usually require you to pay via a debit card or check and do not generally accept a credit card. In cases like these, you can use a service called Plastiq (this link will get you $500 fee free dollars). You can make these payments through Plastiq, which will charge your credit card and make your payments, usually for a fee that ranges between 2-3%. This method is usually only used when you are very short of meeting your minimum spend and will lose out on a bigger sign-up bonus rather than the 3% fee. We also recommend keeping an eye on their promotions, which offers fee-free transactions frequently.

Do check out our detailed post on Plastiq .

You can visit the leaning tower using points from several portals such as Ultimate Rewards, Thank you points, membership rewards, City National bank Rewards
Business Class seat North America to Italy for 55K United miles just from one sign-up bonus

3.    Gift Card Reselling

Most online and brick-and-mortar stores, especially grocery chains, have discounted gift cards every now and then or provide you with a multiplier rate on fuel-points. You can simply resell the gift cards on portals like raise.com, gyft.com, cardpool.com etc. and will break even or even make a slight profit with your discounted gas and the money you received from selling the gift card. In fact, Amit never pays a full dollar to top off two of his cars. You can actually profit by purchasing these gift cards if your local store has a rewards program that earns points towards groceries or fuel.

Note: It is never a good idea to head to a store and get thousands of $$$ worth of gift cards. Please be cautious especially with American Express, who do not want their customers buying gift cards to meet minimum spend requirements for the sign-up bonus.

4.    More Gift Card Tricks

Additionally, not only can you use gift cards to resell or for personal use, but you can also buy visa gift cards and convert them to a Money Order in a store like Walmart. These are highly YMMV, depending on the cashier and store-policy.

5.    Tax Payments

If you’d like to meet minimum spend and are okay to spend some money on fees, you can pay federal taxes using any of the sources that the IRS mentions on this link. One of the processors on the IRS website charges a 1.87% fee and paying a small fee out of pocket may make sense for some based on the card used and sign up bonus offered. Not only can this help you meet MSR but also provides some float on the funds.

We highly recommend a card like the Amex Blue Business Plus Card where you can earn 2 MR per dollar spent, up to $50,000 per year, in any category.

6.    Everyday Spending

Perhaps the most uncreative way to meet your minimum spend requirement, but if you are only a few hundred dollars short of meeting the spend requirement, it might make sense to hit your nearest wholesale club or grocery store and stock up on non-perishable items. If you have friends or family who are okay with you paying for them in return for cash or a bank transfer, this could minimize the effort required to meet the spend requirement by doing things that you already do.

7.    Spend With Delayed Reimbursements

We previously covered a couple of methods that the members of the Credit Card 101 community are using. The first and more consistent option is to use RebateKey, where you buy products from Amazon and get refunded for the cost of the product after a month. The rebates on these products vary and some are 100% free. Even if you do not have a need the products can be donated to charity or given our as gifts.

The second option is to buy special edition coins that the US Mint releases time and again and sell them, at least at break even, though most times it’s at a decent profit. PFS Buyers club is one company that several members of Credit Card 101 have successfully used in the past.

We’ve covered both these methods extensively on our website here for RebateKey and PFS Buyers Club.

JAL Business class can be scored from North America to Japan for 80k to 90k miles depending on program

8. Electricity and Gas Bills

To specifically pay for your gas and electricity bills, be sure to check Arcadia Power . If you sign-up for Arcadia energy, they will source 50% of the energy from renewable resources, and as an incentive eat up the credit card fee that your utility provider would charge otherwise. This helps you earn points on your card, buys you time with the payment, and save the environment. All this without spending an additional cent!

9. Flipping Items on Amazon and eBay

The founder of Credit Card 101, Amit Desai has been using this strategy for the last two plus years to not only generate profit but a whole lot of credit card miles and points. Again, there is risk involved with starting any business and credit card points should not be the sole reason for starting any business, let alone e-commerce, with the risks involved. But if you ever want to learn more on how to get started, Amit recorded a podcast for Side Hustle Nation

We have specialists in our Premium Group who can guide you with the most ideas discussed above. You can also learn other tips, tricks, and opportunities to help increase credit card rewards.

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The counter-intuitive approach to Chase Sapphire cards

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By now, you would be aware that the Chase 5/24 rule has been extended to each of the Chase personal credit cards, including it’s co-branded cards.
 
In August 2018, Chase changed the sign-up bonus eligibility criteria for its Sapphire series of cards. Traditionally, you would be eligible for a new sign-up bonus on a Sapphire card after 24-month from your last Sapphire bonus. The Conventional path was something like this –
 
Conventional Chase path
Now, the current language states that one can only get a sign-up bonus for the Sapphire line of cards after 48 months from receipt of the first sign-up bonus. For most people in the hobby, 4 years is a long time to hold Ultimate Rewards without using them, since any form of points and miles almost always depreciate. We are also assuming that within these 4 years, you have become seasoned at the points and miles game and understand that the Sapphire Reserve card is something you cannot not have!
 
So, with the new sign-up bonus rules in place, I adopted a lesser known, counter-intuitive approach –
 
New Chase path
While the obvious difference is the missed sign-up bonus on the second card, I see it differently here; Chase would have only allowed me to get one sign-up bonus in 4 years. How would I maximize the value at the least cost?
 
First, I started out with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which helped me accumulate 50,000 sign-up bonus points, same as the Sapphire Reserve, but without any annual fee in the first year. I decided to get my account seasoned, deep dive into the hobby, understand the benefits of the CSP vs. CSR, and then when the annual fee hit for the second year, I simply upgraded my credit card from the Preferred to the Reserve.
 
So, same sign-up bonus, avoided annual fees for the first year, and landed in a better position to redeem all the accumulated Ultimate Rewards, albeit at a higher redemption rate of 1.5x (CSP redemption is at 1.25x). You also save end up saving a very important slot in the 5/24 rule since you are not applying for a new card. This becomes even more important now that Chase has started considering most of its personal credit cards under 5/24.
So if you try to redeem your Sign-Up bonus via the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal, here is how it looks with the two cards –
Redemption via Chase UR portal
 
By following my strategy, you will be able to save annual fees in the first year, and then hop on to a card which offers incredible premium benefits for an effective annual fee of $150 (after the $300 travel credit), or just $50 once every 4 years, if you choose to enroll for the Global Entry program and pay the fees using the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
 
Let me provide a more realistic view – If you are like me, casually trying to accumulate points and have only been in the hobby for a year or so, or are just starting out and intending to slowly build up your Ultimate Rewards points, here is how your points would look at the end of the year  –
Existing UR summary
The Sapphire Reserve (image, above) truly shines with a little over the 200,000 UR’s in my possession. After upgrading to the Reserve yesterday, here’s my redemption calculation –
Personal UR Redemption calculation
Yes, this simple upgrade increases the value of my points to more than the Annual Fees of this card, and it also offers me Priority Pass access (one trip a year is also worth it) and many more benefits!
Not Convinced Yet?
What are the factors holding you back from getting a Sapphire Reserve?
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Maximizing Credit Card Rewards: Meeting Minimum Spend, Category Bonus and Holiday gifts for friends and family, all for free!!!

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One rule all travel hackers in this hobby swear by is to spend the least amount of time and money possible to accumulate points. Over the last five months, members of our Facebook community (free and paid) have used a couple of websites to meet the minimum spend on their new cards, meet the 5% category bonus on cards like Discover IT, which has 5% cashback on all Amazon.com and Wholesale Clubs purchases from October – December 2018, accumulate tons of points, and save lot of money on household products they would’ve otherwise purchased. And with Christmas just around the corner, many members nabbed products that would make great and expensive gifts, all for free(or almost free). You can also donate them to a charity.

Ready to jump in?

The two resources we’ve been using are RebateKey (affiliate link) and Extreme Rebates (affiliate link). On these websites, you get product discounts ranging from 50%  ~ 100%. You must be wondering why? The simple answer is, a lot of sellers want to make sure that their product is highlighted on platforms like Amazon, eBay, Overstock, Groupon etc and the fastest way for a product to become popular is through higher sales and user feedback. By providing these discounted, and often free products which you purchase from, say, Amazon, their product gets more hits. The platforms above have different models, but in the end, you get all the benefits.

(1) RebateKey.com

This is perhaps the most polished version of a Rebate website, and most of us have received thousands of dollars in Rebate back. You simply look up the products listed on the website, purchase them at full price (no coupons to be applied), submit the order confirmation number within one hour, and after 35 days, you receive your money towards the order as a check from RebateKey. Yes, that’s it.

I received this check two weeks ago, worth $903.67, and I am all set with gifts for Thanksgiving, Return of the White Elephant, Christmas and also Diwali!

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 11.16.31 AM

It also provides a dashboard of all the checks you’ve received, and future payouts.

RebateKey only has three conditions, and none of them will break your bank –

  1. Buy product at full – price (Do not apply coupons, even if available on Amazon)
  2. Products cannot be resold
  3. Once you click the ‘Buy Product’ button, you have one hour to purchase the product and submit the order number.

How does the math work out?

With my Discover it card, I was able to earn a $75 cashback reward by spending $1,500 on Amazon (via RebateKey) this quarter. So basically, I earned $75 without spending a single cent after receiving my reimbursement check from Rebatekey!

Screen Shot 2018-11-27 at 10.39.35 AM

You can make a better profit (5% cashback – no upper limit!) if you hold the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card by Chase  or the Amazon.com Store Card .

And by using almost any other card, you will accumulate at least 1 point/ $1, so yes, free miles! You could also consider buying Amazon giftcards from grocery stores if your local store offer fuel points ad save more money .

(2) ExtremeRebate.com

The other website we’ve been exploring is ExtremeRebate, which has a greater product range and feature set. A few items require you to write a review in exchange for a rebate, and the more reviews you write, the more products you can request from the website. The sellers also have some control over who they want to give out the product to, and if you have a blank Amazon public profile with no published review, sellers might refuse to send the product to you. Still, worth a try as you don’t pay for requesting products.

Similar to RebateKey, you make a purchase once the seller approves you to buy their product, and enter the order number to begin the rebate process. On the plus side, you receive a rebate within 7 business days of ordering a product. It’s important to note that ExtremeRebate sends the money via PayPal Business, so we bear a cost of 4.4% of the total rebate + 30 cents. Yes, there is a cost involved, but I’ve been able to buy products costing $200 in Home Depot for $9 from ExtremeRebate and receive the money within a week.

How did I maximize these two resources?

  • $75 cashback from Discover it (Earn $50 bonus by using this link) for spending $1500 at Amazon (Bonus Category Changes each quarter)
  • Use Amex Business card like Business blue that earns 2X MR points on first $50k each year or the Amazon Prime card for 3% rewards.
  • Saved $1200 on Holiday gifts and household items I would’ve otherwise spent money on.
  • Meet minimum spend on my AMEX Blue Business Preferred (10k MR sign-up bonus using the link) . This card is awesome as has no annual fees plus 0% introductory APR for 15 months and Chase will not count it towards 5/24 as it is a business card

Let’s get the ball rolling and score Free points and products!

Here are the links (affiliate) for you to get started with these groups –

Rebatekey

Extremerebates

Please consider using our Affiliate links, it helps us support the website and continue to bring such great tips and resources to you.

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