If you've been thinking about getting a new credit card in 2018, but you're not sure how to meet the minimum spend requirements to get the sign-up bonus, here are a few ideas.
This post will focus on:
- How to time things
- Which cards to consider
- Major events that might occur
The first half of the year provides plenty of opportunities to put expenses on a credit card, especially if you need to pay taxes or student loans. As a reminder, you should only put expenses on a credit card if you can pay it off. It doesn't make sense to get into debt to get "free" travel.
How to Time Minimum Spend
One important factor to consider is that you need to plan ahead if you want to use the sign-up bonus. For example, if you wanted to take a vacation at the end of this month, it would be impossible to be credited the sign-up bonus in the same month.
You have to wait for the card to arrive in the mail after being approved, then you need to hit minimum spend and wait for the transactions to post, and then you have to wait for the sign-up bonus to be issued.
Sign-up bonuses usually take at least one to two billing cycles to post. Even after you have the points, you need to find availability for flights and hotels. The ideal timing is at least 2-4 months before the trip; the more time, the better.
Which Cards to Consider
After you have a destination in mind, the next step is to determine which credit card you should get.
Ideally, you should go for Chase cards if you're under the Chase 5/24 rule. After Chase cards, go for a good hotel keeper card, and then Amex cards.
If you need guidance on which card to get next, feel free to fill out a Free Card Consultation, and I can recommend a few options.
Minimum Spend Opportunities
1. Health Insurance Payments
If you're self-employed or your job doesn't provide health insurance, then paying your health insurance premiums is the perfect opportunity to get cash back.
I usually use a credit card that earns more than 1% like the Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5%) or the Citi Double Cash (2%).
The deadline to pay the IRS for taxes is April 15. There is a 1.87-1.99% fee to use a credit card, so it's up to you determine if the fees outweigh the rewards.
Refer to the IRS site for information about fees on specific payment processors: https://www.irs.gov/payments/pay-taxes-by-credit-or-debit-card
3. Student Loans
If you're a student, paying your student loans with a credit card through the Gift of College is a great way to meet minimum spend.
Gift of College is a service that lets you purchase gift cards to pay off student loans. You can pay off your student loans or invest in a 529 plan to help prepare for college for yourself or someone else. Before you buy gift cards, be sure to call your loan servicer works with Gift of College.
4. Valentine's Day
Valentine's day is a Hallmark holiday, but some people love to spoil their partners with gifts or weekend getaways.
5. Group Trips
If you're a student and planning something fun for Spring Break, Memorial Day weekend, or Summer, then this is the perfect opportunity to hit minimum spend. This is especially true if you're traveling with a group of friends and you have hotel expenses. Offer to pay for the hotel and have everyone give you cash.
On the same note, group trips are a great way to liquidate points for cash. Use your hotel night points or certificates to make the reservation and charge the group the retail (or discounted) price.
6. Wedding Expenses
The national average cost of a wedding is upwards of $25,000. If you use a credit card to pay for all the expenses, you can easily hit the minimum spend for a few new credit cards.
Depending on the credit cards you choose, this means you could get the honeymoon for (practically) "free."
Keep in mind that sign-up bonuses usually take at least one billing cycle to post, so plan in advance.
7. Dining with Friends
Make your waiter's life a little easier by volunteering your card and have everyone Venmo their share whenever you dine out. Don't forget to factor in tax and tip when you split the bill. Yeah, I'm that guy.