Reach Your Starwood $5,000 Minimum Spend in a Snap

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card® from American Express is currently having a limited time sign up bonus offer.  It’s not earth shattering, but I’d rather earn the current 30,000 points instead of the regular 25,000.  Besides, this offer usually only comes once a year so it seems like as good a time as any to jump on the offer.

Here are the current offer details:

  • Earn 10,000 Starpoints after making your first purchase.
  • Earn 20,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months of card membership. (The usual offer is 15,000 Starpoints for spending $5,000 in the first six months.)
The problem is that, for many of us, spending $5,000 on a credit card seems impossible.  However, you’ll find out that it’s probably much easier than you think.

1.  Amazon Payments Option

Amazon Payments will allow you to send up to $1,000 per month to anyone with an email address and Amazon Payment account.

This means that you could reach a $5,000 spend just by sending $1,000 per month for the first five months that you had the card (not that I recommend that).  If you were to send money from your account to another person, they could then send the money back to you, and you’d both get a ‘spend’ on your account.

Here are a few guidelines I personally use with Amazon Payments:

  • I never just send money back and forth between two people.  I usually try and get a third or fourth person involved so that money is going A – B – C – A instead of A – B – A.
  • I usually don’t just transfer $1,000 in a single transfer.  My preference is to do one for an odd number in the four or five hundred (e.g. $467.83).
  • I don’t do all of my spending for a credit card only with Amazon payments.  I mix it up and include it with my other regular spending.

2.  Buy Gift Cards and Upload to Bluebird

I’ve talked about this idea in other posts, but I think many of us undermine the value of a Bluebird account.  Remember, you can order Bluebird checks for free.

Ways to buy gift cards:

In most of the grocery stores close to home, I’ve seen Visa gift cards that allow you to load up to $500 for a $5.95 fee.  Obviously, I’d rather not spend $5.95 to reach a minimum spend, but at the end of the day, spending a total of $59.50 to reach a $5,000 minimum spend and get $600+ worth of rewards seems like a good deal.

If you can buy Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card, you can reach your minimum spend with less effort and cost.  Vanilla Reload cards cost $3.95 per $500 so that means you could reach your minimum spend by paying $39.50 in extra fees.

Buy gift cards through a cash back portal.  As an example, I’ve been using TopCashBack.  However, I just saw that for you now only get .5% cash back.  Instead, I’d go through FatWallet where you still get 1% cash back. The total cost for a $500 Visa Gift card is $507.94.  With the cash back, that’s like paying $502.94 for a gift card.

Think you can’t reach a $5,000 minimum spend?  I bet you can.

Application Link: Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card® from American Express (personal card)

Application Link: Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card® from American Express (business card)


  1. Becky says

    Hey Craig,
    We are having a REALLY ridiculously tough time meeting minimum spend.
    We live in Idaho, and have about 2 months left to meet 5,855 more spending total.
    I have searched high and low for Vanilla reloads, Green Dot reloads, and I can FIND them, but cannot purchase them with a credit card. Anywhere. Everywhere I go they say their policy just changed in the last few weeks to where some places won’t even take debit cards.
    SO, we thought, we’ll just suck up the 2.9% Amazon fee and do it that way. However, we are genuinely concerned that we will get our accounts shut down since we use nearly every day for all our household purchases. I can’t afford for that to happen.
    The same goes for PayPal, though that’s even more risky since that’s tied to my actual photography business.
    I suppose we could do it once for each vendor and do odd numbers so it wouldn’t raise flags. But it’s still got me nervous.
    The question I can’t seem to get straight, is can you use a credit card to BUY a VISA gift card with a pin, and then use it to load bluebird or Rush? Is this always the case, or is it hit and miss like with VRC?

    • says

      There isn’t a fee to use Amazon Payment sending the funds to another person. While I can’t promise you that your account won’t get shut down, I can say I know dozens of people who are using Amazon Payments in the ways I outline and not a single one of them have had their accounts shut down. I’ve personally been doing it for over a year.
      You can go to any grocery store and buy a $500 gift card for a fee around $4-$5. If you get a card that is Visa or MasterCard and allows you to add a PIN you can use those cards to upload to a Bluebird account. If it’s an American Express card you can buy them now and slowly use Amazon Payments to deplete the account balances.
      I hope this are helpful suggestions.

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