As you’d know if you’re a regular reader of this site, there are frequently offers on credit cards, where signing up for a points-earning card comes with a very lucrative signup bonus.
These offers usually require you to spend a minimum amount on the card, within a certain time period, to trigger the bonus points. The idea here is to get you used to using the card to make up the spending target, in the hope that you’ll get in the habit of using the new card.
For example, the current 120,000 Qantas Point offer on the Westpac Altitude Black card requires a total of $6,000 spend in 90 days, or the American Express Platinum Charge offer of 80,000 Membership Rewards points which requires a minimum spend of $3,000 within the first 3 months.
Depending how much you normally spend on credit cards, for some it could be harder to meet the minimum spend target without spending more than you usually would and remaining financially sensible. That’s where this guide comes in.
We’ll take you through some ideas for how to make the minimum spend for signup bonuses on credit card offers, without over-spending.
It’s worth reiterating – don’t go into needless debt just to earn points. Interest rates on rewards credit cards are usually high, and you need to be able to pay the full statement balance to avoid paying any interest.
Almost all the options discussed are about methods to timeshift when you spend – but that also means you’ll have to bring forward when you pay that off your bill.
So, ensure you only consider offers and transactions which you know you can repay.
Interested in more tips about how to use credit cards? Start by reading our guides to how the Australian credit system works →
Here’s a summary of the methods for meeting minimum spend discussed:
- Put everything on your card (the obvious one) ↓
- Paying bills on your cards, and/or paying them early ↓
- Bringing forward a big ticket purchase ↓
- Putting credit onto gift cards ↓
- Use them for business or work expenses ↓
- Bring forward travel bookings ↓
- Some creative options!
The most obvious, and easiest way, to make up the minimum spend on a new card is to put it at the front of your wallet and use it for everything possible until you’ve made it. All your shopping, all your bills, all your coffees, eating out, take away, etc. Most people would be able to make up the requirements of most cards within a couple of months.
If you’re running behind, or you’ve forgotten about the card and you’ve only got a couple of weeks left to make up your spending, we’ve got a few suggestions for you of ways to make it up.
The key here is to not spend any more than you otherwise would (otherwise it would be easy to suggest going on a shopping spree!); so what you want to do is bring forward future expenses, i.e. pay now for things you’d otherwise be paying for over the next few months.
Probably the most boring option out there, but one of the easiest.
Most (not all) household bills will let you overpay to credit future bills. Even if you’re set up for automatic payment of your bills you can usually make a manual payment for the amount of your choice. If you’re set up for online billing it should be an easy matter to log on and make a payment.
Personally, in the past, I’ve done this for electricity and phone bills. I’ve found it a good way to quickly hit a minimum spend target, and it’s a nice feeling to see the words ‘no payment is required’ on your next bill that comes around!
On the subject of bills, if you have big annual bills (think council rates, insurance, car registration etc) and the offer you’re chasing isn’t time limited to a point that makes this option prohibitive, you can time your signups so that your bill will fall within the window and you can use it to hit your minimum spend.
For example, if there’s an offer that expires at the end of February that requires a $5,000 spend in three months, and you know you have a $,2000 insurance bill at the start of May, you might choose to delay your sign-up until the end of February rather than applying at the start of January, so that you can pay that bill on your new card to help you hit your target.
If you’re thinking about a new fridge, or a new couch, or any other big ticket item, you could consider bringing this purchase forward to help you hit your minimum spend (potentially in one fell swoop). Normal financial advice applies not to overextend yourself on credit obviously!
We’ve covered ways that you can make gift cards work for you before. If you’re a few hundred dollars short, you could buy a gift card now that you can then use after the time limit of your offer. For example you can buy a supermarket gift card to hit your target, that you can then use over the next couple of months to buy your groceries.
As always with gift cards, be aware that you’ll lose any protection of insurance that you’d have had if you bought something directly on a credit card (although how important that is will depend on what you’re buying – you’re not likely to need extended warranty cover on buying bread and milk!)
If you’re lucky enough to work for a company that will let you purchase work-related goods or services, and reimburse you, you can use your card to make the purchase and get paid back, adding some extra dollars towards your target.
If you’ve got travel coming up you need to pay for, book it slightly earlier in order to make up your spending target.
Obviously, if you choose to do this for travel a long way off, you’ll need to take into account the risk of your plans changing, or the extra cost of flexible bookings (if you don’t routinely book them).
People looking for solutions for meeting minimum spend targets are trying to look for transactions that can be made now and then refunded in future. As for the ethics of doing this – that’s up to you to decide.
For example, you could research whether you would feel comfortable drop $1500 on a refundable deposit on a Tesla Model 3 (Visa/MasterCard only), and then decide if it’s for you (or not) later.
Another option, but doing some social good and adding a little risk and time – you could do some social good and give someone in the developing world a short-term loan to start a business.
Transactions are made through Paypal fee-free, including loading up your account and withdrawing your loan repayments.
Be aware that Kiva operates in US dollars so while you should be repaid your loan, you might end up with more or less depending on currency movements.
There’s also the risk of default – Kiva doesn’t guarantee that your loans will be repaid. You also don’t earn any interest on the loan, but that’s not the point.
Summing up: ideas for helping to hit minimum spend targets
These might give you ideas for others.
Inevitably, a few of you will have your own experiences and can add them in the comments. But let’s put this bit in bold: it’s up to you to decide what you feel comfortable with and to research the terms and conditions of any transaction you are making yourself.
Some creative thinking about your upcoming spending should yield plenty of ideas of ways to hit the minimum spend on your credit card, without spending money you otherwise wouldn’t. Making minimum spend shouldn’t be a challenge or costly if you put your mind to it.
Because Point Hacks is responsible for all content we publish, including comments, we’ll be removing any comments which offer specific instructions to breach laws or terms and conditions of purchases. Legitimate options only please!