Now more than ever credit card companies are offering ultimate rewards such as enough miles to purchase a round trip international flight or a few nights in a 5-star hotel, enticing you even more to open a new account. This has paved a new way for travel hackers to get free trips such as I outlined in my post about How To Travel For Free. But to reach these rewards many companies require a spend minimum within the first few months.
For instance my two favorite cards I have recently opened are the Ritz Carlton Credit Card and the Executive American Airlines Citi card. Both have a minimum of $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening. Yikes! As I’m sure you know, the last thing you want to do is make a bunch of frivolous purchases that you can’t pay off.
But let’s think outside of the box for a minute. The ideal way to meet the required minimum and also reap the awesome rewards is to pay for something you already were going to purchase and pay it off before it hits the mark where interest will incur.
Don’t think you will be spending $5,000 in the next 3 months? You’d be surprised!
So here are a few ways you can meet the minimum and stick it to those slimy credit card companies by reaping their rewards without paying them a dime!
1. Pay your Car Insurance ahead of time
Most car insurance companies give you a 6 month premium, and an option to pay for the entire 6 months ahead of time, giving you a heads up on your bills.
2. Charge every miscellaneous purchase
From when you pick up your Starbucks coffee to when you order Chinese takeout, put your daily charges all on your credit card. After 3 months, it might even be an eye opening experience as to how much you actually spend here and there.
3. Pay for your school tuition
This is actually one I use very frequently, I pay my tuition upfront with my credit card. Based on your university, if you have a loan in place or federal aid etc. the school will mail you a check and you can turn it around to pay off the credit card. Or in my case, my company reimburses my tuition, but same concept.
4. Stock up on Gift Cards for typical purchases
If you’re close to meeting your minimum, stock up on some gift cards that you will most likely use such as for gas or groceries.Or if it’s around the holiday season stock up on those gift cards for Christmas.
5.Pay Uncle Sam
I know, no one likes uncle sam but its kind of a requirement to pay him….If it’s tax season, paying your taxes is an easy way to meet a minimum. There is a minimal convenience fee but paying before your deadline will prevent penalties and interest fees.
6. Pay your mortgage via credit card
No your bank won’t let you pay your mortgage with a credit card, but there are online services that have found a way around it! Take for instance Plastiq . With very little effort, you can enter your account information and credit card information and they will send a check to pay your mortgage on your behalf. There is a small percentage fee around 3% so make sure it still works out in your favor.
7. Get family to spend it for you
Are you parents or any other family members making a large purchase soon? You can add an authorized user to your account, have them charge the large purchase and reimburse you with cash.
8. Lend money
Lend money that you are being lent? Crazy concept I know. So this only works if you have the amount in cash to cover what you are lending. This can be done via peer-to-peer websites such as Kiva. You can make a difference for those in countries across the globe. Just like any loan though, there are risks, so make sure to do your homework.
9. Vehicle Deposit
Are you purchasing a new vehicle soon? Dealerships allow you to put a deposit down with your credit card. The more the merrier to the dealership so the larger the deposit, the easier you can meet your spend requirements.
10. Pay your monthly bills
Pay bills such as your cell phone or TV and internet with your credit card. You already have these budgeted so it should be a seamless process to pay via credit card and turn right around and pay off the amount spent with your checking account.
Of course, make sure to keep purchases limited to what you can afford to pay off in full each month. You don’t want to eliminate that awesome reward by paying for it via ridiculous interest fees. Also check the fine print or terms and conditions of your card as to what qualifies as a purchase. For instance, cash advances, travelers checks, and balance transfers typically do not qualify.