What is minimum spend?
Minimum spend is short for minimum spending requirement on a credit card to receive a signup bonus within a certain timeframe. Most new credit cards require you to spend a certain amount of money within the first three months of being approved for a card to receive the signup bonus.
Keep in mind that the 3-month timer starts when you are approved for the card, not when you receive the card.
People usually recommend budgeting apps like Mint.com, but I have seen a few people lose out of a signup bonus because the app was buggy.
Whenever I signup for a new credit card, I track my spending on a weekly basis until minimum spend is complete. For me, I use a low-tech method to track my minimum spend. The two tools I use are:
- Google Calendar
- Google Sheets
Whenever I apply for a card, and I'm instantly approved, I immediately put 60, 30, 5, and 1-day reminders in my calendar. This may seem excessive, but the last thing I want to do is miss out on a signup bonus.
Within these calendar events, I put the details related to the card as well. For example, with the Delta card, I need to meet $3,000 of minimum spend. This is useful if you have a targeted offer with a higher spend requirement than a public offer.
If you decide to use this technique as well, you can choose to set as many or little event reminders.
Google Sheets is Google's free online version of Excel. This step is optional for most people, but I keep track of my purchases on Google Sheets when I'm trying to hit minimum spend.
Find the Google Sheet here: http://bit.ly/2thrTqZ
File -> "Make a copy" or "Download As" to create your own.
For example, I recently purchased a few pairs of Lucky Brand jeans on a new credit card, but I'm planning on returning some of the jeans if they don't fit. The refund would be deducted from the progress you've made on the minimum spend.
What I do is copy and paste my statement transactions into Google Sheets and put an "=" sign next to it. If it's an item I might return, I won't put an "=" sign next to it.
Depending on the credit card issuer, annual fees might not count towards minimum spend. For me, I don't count annual fees in my calculations.
Another precaution I take is that I always spend more than the minimum spend requirement to be on the safe side. For example, if the requirement is $3,000, I'll spend $3,100.
If you don't make returns on purchases often, then you can skip the Google Sheets.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do if you're not automatically/instantly approved for a credit card?
This is tricky because you won't know the exact date you're approved. To be safe, use the date you applied for the card.
Do gift card purchases count?
Depending on the circumstances, I purchase store branded gift cards. I don't purchase Visa Vanilla gift cards because they can be flagged with certain companies.
U.S. Bank and American Express are both prime examples where they clawed back bonuses, and in some cases, closed accounts.
At the end of the day, it's up to you on how to meet minimum spend for a new credit card.