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This is a companion piece to my beginner's guide to getting free flights using credit card sign up bonuses. Refer to the link below to get more context about this post!
Meeting a minimum spend requirement is the crux of getting a large sign up bonus for most travel credit cards in the US. Here are 11 creative ways I used to meet my spending requirements and earn over 1.1 million miles and points in 12 months.
1. Pay Rent With A Credit Card
I was fortunate to have lived in an apartment where the property management company allowed me to charge my US$1,500 monthly rent to a credit card for a $30 fee. By being able place such a large expense on a credit card, I didn't mind the $30 fee at all. All the bonus miles I made from this alone made paying the fee justifiable. If your landlord doesn't accept credit card payments, you can use RadPad to pay your rent with a credit card for a 2.5% transaction fee.
2. Pay Monthly Car Payment With A Credit Card
I know a lot of people who have a pesky car payment. I was one of them, and was glad I could charge my US$326 monthly car payment on my credit card. You can use a service like Plastiq to make those payments for a 2.5% transaction fee. You can also use Plastiq to make payments to businesses or services that don't normally accept credit cards as a form of payment!
3. Plan A Trip For Friends & Family
Having a reputation of being the perpetual traveler amongst my friends and family, I often volunteer to make all the reservations and even cover all the trip expenses up front for the entire group. For example, a 3 day road trip to Marfa with 3 of my friends enabled me to rack up over US$1,000 in expenses that I was able to charge on my card. I had my friends pay me back after we got back home!
4. Offer To Pay The Dinner Bill
Large dinners with a group of your friends is a wonderful thing until the bill arrives. No one has the right amount in cash and trying to figure out the split can take a long time. In this particular situation, I offer to charge the whole bill on my card (sometimes over $500) and let each person know what they owe me the day after. This works best with friends who you trust will pay you back. Heck, even the waitstaff will love you for it!
5. Get Tattoos
As someone with over 40 hours of tattoo work already, I know for a fact that they are not cheap. My tattoos have costed anywhere from US$100 - US$150 per hour. You can do the math. However, before you get any ink, make sure your tattoo shop accepts credit card!
6. Buy A New Computer
You'll inevitably need an overpriced gadget, such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone, for your personal [insert social network of choice here] viewing pleasure. When that call beckons, make sure you charge that expense on a credit card. The computer that this very article is being typed on cost me US$2,000 (ouch) that I promptly charged on my credit card. This allowed me to meet a minimum spending requirement on a new card in one fell swoop.
7. Offer To Buy Big Ticket Items
Does your dad need a new television, or mom need a new kitchen appliance? Win some browning points and offer to buy and pick it up for them, and charge that expense on your credit card! The key here is to make clear that the recipient is to pay you back and not mistake this act of kindness as an early christmas present.
8. Buy Extra Concert Tickets
If you are a frequent concert go-er like I am, you can ask friends going with you if you can buy their tickets for them and get paid back. Your friends will appreciate the gesture and time savings! On the flipside, if you are certain that the concert you are going to is going to sell out, buy a couple extra tickets to scalp for or above face value!
9. Pre-Pay Expenses
Most businesses will allow you to pre-pay your expenses up to a certain amount. I did this by filling up my Amazon account balance by $500 at a time in advance of any purchases. I was very confident that I was going to spend that money on Amazon at some point so pre-paying made a lot of sense. You can also do this with gift cards to many stores or businesses you frequent a lot.
10. When In Doubt, Ask
If you have an expense coming up of any size, ask the vendor if they accept credit card. When I bought my car in 2014, I was able to put US$2,500 of the down payment on my credit card just by asking. Again, I met a minimum spend requirement for a new card in one swipe!
11. Hide Your Debit Card
Seriously, this works wonders! If you are used to using your debit card up until now, you will continue to use it and forget to place a potentially large charge on your credit card. I dumped my debit card years ago and only use it on the extremely rare occasion when I need to use an ATM.