Most credit card rewards deals ask you to spend a specific amount of money on your card within a clearly defined time frame. If you complete the task and play by the rules, you can often earn a tidy sum of cash back, airline miles, or hotel loyalty points. Sounds easy, right?
Unfortunately, some sign-up bonuses can only be earned by spending a boatload of money in just a few months — as much as $5,000 within 90 days. For most people, that kind of spending is simply not possible without buying a ton of stuff that you hadn’t planned for and simply don’t need.
On the other hand, some offers are far more reasonable — with bonuses doled out at $3,000 or even $1,000 spent within 90 days. Still, it can be difficult to imagine how to hit that spending goal without sacrificing your real financial goals. Here are a few easy ways to meet your credit card sign-up bonus without making any moves that aren’t in your best interest:
Use Your Rewards Card for Everyday Spending
I use a zero-sum budget, which means I set a defined spending limit for each of my budget categories at the beginning of each month. This strategy makes pursuing credit card rewards easy because I know I am going to spend X amount of dollars on groceries and gas each month and can use that data to plan my rewards strategy.
Regardless, using your credit card for everyday spending is a great way to meet a credit card spending requirement without too much hassle. Expenses like groceries, gas, and household items can add up quickly. Just make sure to pay your credit card bill in full and on time every month.
Charge That Electric Bill
You might be surprised to find out that some of your household and utility bills can be safely charged to a credit card without an extra fee of any kind. I can charge my electric bill, cellphone bill, and Internet/cable bill without a fee.
However, our local gas company charges a 3% fee if we use credit, which is why I opt to pay that one via snail mail instead. Check with all of your providers to see if they accept credit as payment without a penalty, and get yourself that much closer to your sign-up bonus.
Pay Insurance With Credit
Although they don’t necessarily go out of their way to advertise it, many insurance providers will allow you to pay your premiums with credit and without a fee. This is not only true for auto insurance either; the same can often be said for homeowners insurance, life insurance, and even your health insurance. If you can pay any of these bills on credit, you will be that much closer to meeting your credit card spending requirement.
Prepay Bills When It Makes Sense
Paying bills with your credit card is an excellent strategy if you’re pursuing a credit card sign-up bonus, but prepaying bills can be just as good. For example, let’s say you are $200 short of meeting the minimum spending requirement on your favorite rewards card and running out of time. You could simply overpay a bill or utility (that doesn’t charge a fee to use credit) by $200. Doing so will simply place a $200 credit on your utility account that can be used in the following months.
Use Your Card for Reimbursed Business Expenses
If you have a lot of business-related expenses that you get reimbursed for by your employer, you could easily meet a rewards spending requirement by putting those purchases on your preferred rewards card. Just make sure to get permission from your employer ahead of time and leave some breathing room in your budget for the additional purchases. We all know how long it can take to get reimbursed from big corporations at times. Don’t let your pursuit of rewards leave you in the lurch.
Credit card rewards can be lucrative, but it is much safer to pursue them if you have an actual plan in place. Make sure to read the fine print of any rewards offer you are considering, and take time to fully understand all of the terms and conditions.
Once you realize what is required on your end, formulate a reality-based plan to make it happen. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t put your finances on the line for the sake of cash back, airline miles, or anything else. Furthermore, never pay interest on your purchases.
And remember, the best credit card rewards strategy is a simple one.
How do you meet minimum spending requirements without putting yourself at risk? What is the biggest requirement you’re willing to take on?