Meeting Minimum Spending – Summary of The Basics

Yesterday I received the last of the cards from my recent app-o-rama in the mail. Now it is time to spend! It’s very tempting to begin charging like crazy once you receive cards, and I can see how many people fall into the trap of credit card debt. So let’s talk about how you can meet the minimum spending requirements for bonuses without buying everything you see.

For those who have been doing this for a while there’s nothing new here, just a summary of existing info to help anyone who is just starting out.

1) The obvious – charge all of your normal expenses to the card. Treat it exactly as you would a debit card. When you go to the grocery store or gas station, put anything you can that you normally spend on the card. If you can meet your minimum spends this way absolutely choose it, easy and risk free.

2) Gift cards/Prepaid cards – I was lucky enough on my first churn to come across a couple great gift card deals. As I was attempting to meet the minimum spend on my Hilton HHonors American Express card I saw an ad for Office Max selling $100 Visa gift cards for $91. Yes, this means you can make money while spending even!

It is no longer offered but you can read more about that past specific deal discussed here on Flyer Talk . Before purchasing any prepaid cards, be sure to research your credit card. Some Citibank purchases can trigger a cash advance fee. Look up your specific card and what you intend to purchase or call and set your cash advance limit to 0 so that the transaction will not go through if coded that way and you won’t be charged a cash advance fee. I have not run into any fees myself so far *knock on wood*. You can also buy normal gift cards for stores and restaurants if you know you will use them in the future.  The Frequent Miler posted today about an opportunity coming up at Staples next week.

3) Vanilla Reloads/Bluebird – This is similar to method 2. CVS sells cards called Vanilla Reloads which can be loaded up to $500 for a $3.95 fee. These are meant to reload prepaid cards (note this is different than a Vanilla Visa – make sure you buy the right thing). American Express’s Bluebird can be reloaded by Vanilla Reloads. So essentially you can load your Bluebird account from your credit card and pay bills you normally cannot use a credit card for – such as a mortgage or auto loan, while still receiving points. There is even a helpful video tutorial here at Extra Pack of Peanuts. Yes there is a fee for this method. You need to evaluate whether it is worth it for the points in your particular situation. In most cases I have found it is. For example, before the Hilton devaluation it was possible to get 50,000 Hilton HHonors points for roughly $65 purchasing Vanilla Reloads at CVS hitting the 6X category with the Hilton HHonors American Express. That cost is definitely worth a room at one of the top tier Hiltons! Not a bad method for meeting minimum spend and getting points for normal spending you might not usually be able to get points for. Some CVS stores will also let you use the prepaid Visa/Mastercard/Amex cards to purchase Vanilla Reloads. This can be a method for combining those cards into a single account – many stores will not let you do this however and it can vary based on the cashier at the store that day. There are monthly limits on Bluebird – $5000 deposited this way and $2000 withdrawn from ATMs so be sure to keep that in mind.

4) Prepay Bills – It is sometimes possible to prepay bills like your cable, internet and insurance. By prepaying cable and internet with a card like the Ink Bold (5X in those categories), you can not only meet minimum spend but also accumulate points. Do NOT prepay if you cannot spare the money.

5) Amazon Payments – You can send up to $1000/month through Amazon Payments for free. If it is marked Goods and Services there is supposedly no fee. I have not tried this method yet and have stuck with Vanilla Reloads so far, but there is a lot of discussion of it here on Flyer Talk if you are interested.

6) Other methods – These are definitely not the only methods for meeting minimum spending. There is an entire forum here on FlyerTalk on “Manufactured Spending”. A lot of these methods can be used to meet minimum spends as well.

I will post more on my specific plan for the recent cards I acquired after my last app-o-rama, but this should be enough to get you started. Do not purchase more than you can handle or pay off, and do not do anything that makes you uncomfortable. I recommend you not take any of these to the extreme, as there are a few reports of accounts being shut down for that. Do your research first and come up with a plan.


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About Rebecca

I'm an engineer who is new to the points game. Hoping to share my discoveries as I collect points to travel the world.

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