10 Ways to Reach a Credit Card Minimum Spend Requirement

If you frequently churn credit cards, you might run into an issue because you don’t typically spend enough to reach your minimum balance requirement.  I’ve had a few people this week ask for suggestions on how to reach a minimum spend of $2,500 in 90 days for the British Airways 100,000 bonus miles credit card.

10 Ways to Reach a Credit Card Spending Requirement

1.  Cycle everything through a credit card.

As a personal finance blogger, I wonder if this really is the best advice because some people say you spend more with credit cards than you do with cash.  I actually think that is true, but in this case, you are also getting something in return for your spending (i.e. 100,000 BA miles).

Whenever you shop, if they accept credit cards, be sure to pay with your credit card.

2.  Major bills and expenses.

Depending on your company, you may be able to pay auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance … on your credit card.  Instead of writing a check or having it automatically deducted from your bank account, have it charged to your credit card.

3.  Amazon Payments

You can send money to anyone (via a mobile number or email address) up to $1,000 per month.  If you owe friends or family money, you can use a credit card to send them the funds necessary.  There is no fee for using this service.

4.  Buy dollar coins.

You can do this without fees.  If you’ve never done this before, check out this thread at Flyer Talk.  You can only buy 4 boxes ($250 each) of one dollar coins every 10 days.  However, if you spend too much or use a high amount of your credit allowance on coins, it will raise a red flag with the credit card company.  Since you’re just trying to reach your minimum spending requirement, why not just buy a box?

5.  American Express Serve

This website functions much like PayPal, but you can load your account balance with your credit card.  There is a fee of .30 per load and a 2.9% fee.  While a $1,000 will cost you around $30, that is worth it if it helps you reach your minimum spending balance.

6.  Make a donation.

Many charities allow you to make donations online using a credit card.  The only disadvantage is that the charity won’t get the full amount as some fees will be paid by the charity for accepting credit cards.

7.  Pay your taxes with a credit card.

Once again, this option will incur a fee.  You can view your IRS credit card options, but fees will range between 1.9% and 2.35%.

8.  Stock up on gift cards.

If you usually shop for groceries at Wal-Mart, why not buy $500 worth of Wal-Mart gift cards?  When buying gift cards, you’ll want to shop around a little bit to be sure that you’re getting best deal because you can often buy gift cards for less than face value.

At Plastic Jungle you can get the following:

  • Wal-Mart gift cards up to 3% off
  • JC Penny gift cards up to 14% off
  • Home Depot gift cards up to 7% off
  • Target up to 5% off
  • Best Buy up to 6% off

9.  Pick up the bill.

If you’re going to lunch with some workmates, rush and offer to pay the bill.  Have everyone pay you back in cash.

10. Do early Christmas shopping.

If you usually get gift cards for people at Christmas, why not go ahead and pick up those cards now?

Like everything in life, my advice is to use these strategies in moderation.  Divide it up in as many methods as possible to avoid any red flags on your account.  Just remember that even if you do pay a few fees in the process, it will be worth the 100,000 miles pay off.

What methods do you use for reaching your credit card minimum spend requirement?

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

Comments

  1. Daniel Mick says

    I already use most of the above. Amazon and gift cards are brilliant and just the kind of super-efficient hack I’m searching for.

    Some of my own not listed are:
    –paying for school meets almost any minimum purchase in one swoop. School terms also make for convenient timing of churning cards. Be careful to have the funds to immediately pay the balance. Juggling a lower interest rate loan through a credit card makes for easy points if you have the balance to shift.
    –time major purchases to coincide with a new card e.g. vacations, equipment, housing, etc.
    –paying for student loans is one way to rack up HUGE miles. Most don’t let you pay with credit cards though. Check your terms.

    • Craig says

      Daniel,
      Back when I was in grad school I could pay my rent with a credit card. I’ve never heard of using a cc to pay off student loans. If someone could do that without fees that would be a good way to accumulate some extra miles.

  2. K. Rutz says

    @ Craig,
    You and I have a mutual friend who use to pay all his tuition through a credit card so he had miles to fly back to Canada on breaks. Pretty Slick!

    The ideas you listed really opened my eyes to the hundreds of possibilities for cycleing money through cards. Thanks for the post. I’m looking forward to hear from others.

    • Craig says

      Mr. Rutz,
      Great to see you commenting on the site. I deny any insinuation that I have any friends :).

      You used the keyword ‘cycle’ it is just paying for things you normally buy, but getting the miles for your purchases.
      I should start going to one of those churches that has a credit card scan machine you can use on Sunday morning. :).

  3. says

    I like the idea of using the CC for ordinary bills and expenses throughout the month, but using it to do things you normally wouldn’t do (such as pay back money you owe to a friend or relative) is still an expense that is probably outside the normal budget, and might be difficult for some people to pay off when the bill comes due.

    • Craig says

      Liz,
      A great reminder. Never do anything on a credit card that you otherwise wouldn’t do! Also, pay off your bills every month.

  4. David says

    You can buy gold using a CC. You’ll pay a premium on top of their normal premium over “spot.” I’m thinking about buying some gold tho, and I guess if my wife and I both get the 100K bonus for it, one option would be to get a card each, then do $4000 of gold investment and $1000 of CC Amazon or PayPal transfer. The premium would probly only amount to about $100 total, which would easily be worth it considering Craig’s estimation of what that many BA miles is worth.
    (Craig, I want to encourage you a sec. You have great influence! Please don’t let the following bring you down, but I wanted to ask… What makes you confident that churning credit cards for miles will be a worthwhile strategy in the future? You’ve dedicated a lot of your time to this, but could it be something that isn’t relevant in 5 years? I love your diligence and thoroughness; and I know you’re a great steward in your real work, too, pouring yourself out. However, with people talking about finding “super-efficient hacks,” I’m wondering how noble this part of your influence is. Not that any of this is wrong! Just maybe not as worthy. We all do loads of stuff that’s not all that worthy, tho. I do, for sure. But I’ll try to read your book on earning miles from home and see what you say there. I’m sure your message is pure.)

    • Craig says

      David,

      Thanks for mentioning gold as an option. I never knew about that.

      Regarding the question – what makes me sure that credit card churning will be worth while in the future?
      I’m not sure that it will be. What I do know is that I use these strategies to get free or discounted vacations today. It it stops making sense I’ll stop doing it and stop suggesting it to people.

      Next year we’ll be traveling to some really cool places – Australia, Kula Lampur, Thailand, Europe, North Eastern US, and Canada. All told the trip will be about 6+ weeks and we plan to do the flights from Europe and all our hotels for free (we are a family of five). While an hour or two a week might not be worth if for everyone it is for me!

      Using these strategies I’m helping a family visit their daughter who lives in Japan and a family trying to make arrangements for an adoption. I even had plans to use my miles to fly to Japan for a relief effort until the dates didn’t work out. There is nothing ‘un-noble’ about collecting points and using the free flights for good things. Yes, even using them for vacations is good too!

  5. Adam says

    I like the suggestion to use Serve as an alternative to PayPal, but I am under the impression that if you send a bill to someone with PayPal, they can pay with CC now…wouldn’t that work?

    • Craig says

      Adam,
      They can pay with a cc, but they get the points. Yes, you will pay fees.
      Remember, use these tools naturally. If you game the system it will probably come back to haunt you.

  6. Roger Haynie says

    Craig,
    Thank you for this post, it was very helpful. The Amazon payments sounds almost to go good to be true, especially since they do not charge a fee for transferring money to someone else. Do you know for a fact that this will count against the the minimum $2500 expenditure required on the BA card or should I try it with a small amount first, just to make sure.

    • Craig says

      Roger,

      I don’t know why they wouldn’t credit you for spending the money on your credit card nor can I promise that they will.

      The person you send money to needs to sign up for an Amazon payments account. I wouldn’t transfer any more than $500 on a single card (or even company) as you don’t want to raise red flags. Anything within normal usage should be fine.

  7. David says

    Thanks for the reply with the good things that are coming from using these strategies. I’m glad it’s not a big time commitment for you to run this operation.
    This week I spent a bunch of time on taxes (5+ hours), and if someone was helping people make the most of their situation to get credits on their taxes, I would see how that’s a noble purpose. This is kinda like that, I think. So thanks.
    About the longevity of the relevance of this topic, I was mainly referring to your shift in content offered here. Your Frugal Traveller site is now a CC advice site, and if the concept of churning CCs goes away for whatever reason (like people’s accounts getting linked to their phones affecting things in some unforeseen way), well… I see your point that it’s super-relevant now, and that your content can change with the times!
    Thanks again.

    • Craig says

      David,
      Yeah. This is a hobby more than anything.
      There is a certain risk to collecting miles (as there is to saving money as deflation can devalue it), but for those of us who enjoy this stuff I think it’s here to stay. As long as a person is willing to research they can probably find a legal and ethical hack around anything.

  8. Roger Haynie says

    Hey, last night I discovered that I can pay the personal property tax on our home with a CC. We pay the property taxes twice a year on our own. It is not wrapped in the monthly payment. So there is a $1000 of that $2500 right there. Now I just need the card to hurry up and arrive in the mail.

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