How to hit your card’s minimum spending bonus — even if you’ve recently refunded purchases

You met the minimum spending requirement on a shiny, new credit card spending requirement — well done! It may even have taken a couple big purchases or perhaps even travel reservations — all of which seemed great at the time. Until … you returned that big-ticket item or canceled that trip, and now you’re short on the spending requirement for that new sign-up bonus. If you find yourself in this situation, we’ve got your covered.

Here are six ways to quickly hit your minimum spend if you’ve had recent unexpected returns.

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(Photo by Emilija Manevska/Getty Images.)
(Photo by Emilija Manevska/Getty Images)

Pay for everything with one card

Whether you’re stockpiling toilet paper (please don’t) or paying household bills, now is the time to charge everything you can to your rewards credit card if you are trying to hit that minimum spending requirement. If you have any household bills set to autopay, consider swapping out cards temporarily. The next time you’re ordering groceries through Instacart, update your credit card so you’re getting closer to your spending goal.

Every purchase you’re making should be channeled toward helping you complete those spending requirements. Foregoing category bonuses isn’t ideal, but it’s worthwhile if doing so helps you earn a substantial welcome bonus that could be worth $1,000 or more.

Prepay bills

If charging all of your daily spending and household bills to your credit card still isn’t enough, consider prepaying some bills. Everything from your utility bills to cellphone, internet, cable and even insurance premiums can usually be paid in advance.

Meeting spending requirements to earn a substantial welcome bonus is great, but not at the expense of incurring debt. Be sure to only charge as much as you’re able to pay off at the end of the billing cycle. The last thing you want is to rack up interest charges that offset the value of the welcome bonus. But, if you can afford to put some extra cash to bills you charge on your card ahead of time, that will work to get you closer to earning that bonus.

Related: Reader tip: Getting a refund even after your credit card is canceled

Buy gift cards

If you have no bills to prepay, consider buying gift cards that you can use for future purchases. Merchants like Sam’s Club, Staples and even Safeway often run discount promotions on merchant gift cards. You can save 10–20% on future purchases at popular merchants, earn points and meet minimum spending requirements. Buying gift cards for your favorite grocery store can also be a good option since you know you’ll spend that money there eventually.

Gift cards can also be a great way to support local businesses that may be struggling at the moment. You’ll get closer to your spending goal and help your local business (hopefully) weather the storm.

Mortgage and rent payments

Mortgage and rent payments are one of the biggest expenses for most households, making them great for meeting credit card spending requirements. You can pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card using services like Plastiq, Radpad, PlacePay, RentMoola and Venmo. Fees range from 2.5% to 3.99%, though there are ways to get your Plastiq fee waived.

Some of these platforms have restrictions around which credit cards you can use for specific payment types. For example, Plastiq doesn’t accept Visa cards for mortgage payments. Be sure to look into these restrictions and have a back-up plan in case paying housing expenses with a credit card is not an option. Also allow some extra time to be sure everything goes through as planned. While we don’t always advocate paying any fees to earn miles, in the case of a big bonus, it can be worth it.

(Photo by Grace Cary/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grace Cary/Getty Images)

Pay your taxes

We’re just a few weeks away from April 15, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect if you plan to file your taxes right away. While the government has postponed this due date by 90 days to help taxpayers through the coronavirus calamity, if you are paying in the near-term, that’s another way to earn that welcome bonus. There is a processing fee to pay taxes using a credit card that starts at around 1.87%, but that works out much cheaper than paying your rent or mortgage with a credit card.

To put some math to the equation, say you need to quickly spend $2,500 (in the first three months of account opening) to earn the 60,000-mile bonus from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. Charging a $2,500 tax bill to the card would cost you $46.75 through Pay1040. That’s not a bad tradeoff, considering TPG values 60,000 AAdvantage miles at $840.

Related: 60,000 American Airlines mile offer available on the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select

Add an authorized user

If you’re not able to complete your credit card spending requirements by doing any of the above, then considering enlisting a little help. Adding an authorized user costs nothing in most cases and can help you hit your spending goal faster with two people working on a shared goal. The person you designate will receive a copy of your credit card with their name on it and can charge their personal spending to it.

Choose your authorized user carefully, as you’ll legally be on the hook for any charges they incur. Be clear about repayment expectations and consider limiting the amount of credit they can access. There’s also the challenge of keeping spending separate, so I would proceed with caution on this one, but it’s also an option.

Bottom line

With so many travel plans getting canceled and spending priorities shifting due to coronavirus, some people are getting refunds on their credit cards for large canceled and returned charges. While that sounds like a great thing (especially if you’ve spent hours on the phone to secure that refund), you might have relied on those big purchases to meet minimum spending requirements on new credit cards. Now that the refunds are processing, you still have plenty of options for generating extra spending on your cards without really spending extra cash.

While there’s absolutely no guarantee this will work, it is worthwhile to call your credit card issuer and ask for an extension if you are really falling short. Credit card companies are attempting to accommodate cardholders who have been affected by travel cancellations, so it’s worth a shot. But if you can just get down to business, then these six options should help you hit your minimum spending requirements on time.

Featured photo by Grace Cary/Getty Images

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