This article is by staff writer Holly Johnson. Holly is a wife, mother of two, and frugal lifestyle enthusiast. She is the co-founder of Club Thrifty and a staff writer at Get Rich Slowly and Frugal Travel Guy. Check out more of her super awesome skills at clubthrifty.com. If you’re interested in writing for Vosa contact us here.
The credit card rewards game can be a lucrative one, but it can also be confusing.
After all, the rules vary from card to card and certain criteria must be met to earn certain rewards. For example, most credit cards require that you hit a minimum spending requirement before getting the sign-up bonus. And this is where it gets tricky.
Some cards might require that you spend as much as $3,000 or $5,000 within 90 days, creating a barrier between you and your potential bonus. Obviously it doesn’t make any sense to go on a wild shopping spree in order to earn free rewards, right? You don’t want to go into debt- you want to get free stuff.
Fortunately, there are ways to hit your minimum spending requirement without breaking the bank. For most of us, that includes putting groceries, gas, and miscellaneous spending on our cards. But, what if that isn’t enough? The truth: You might just have to get creative to take your spending to the next level. Here are 5 unique strategies for doing just that:
- Charge your insurance payments- Even though they may not advertise it, most insurance companies will allow you pay your insurance premiums with credit, and usually without a fee. That means that you could potentially pay your car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, life insurance, and health insurance on credit. If you’re unsure of whether or not your provider allows payments with credit, all you have to do is ask.
- Prepay your utilities-Most people know that utility companies- including things like water, gas, electric, and even cable television- allow you to pay your bill with a rewards-earning card. But, what most people don’t know is that they allow overpayments, allowing you to bump up your spending by prepaying your account. Any overpayment is simply stored in your account as a credit until your next bill rolls around, which means that you could use credit to prepay your bills for as long as it takes to hit your minimum spending requirement.
- Buy gift cards- If you’re close to hitting the minimum spending requirement on one of your cards but not quite there, you can always use gift cards to push you over the edge. If you shop at a specific grocery store, for instance, consider loading up on their store cards, which means you will be effectively “prepaying” your grocery bill. You can also buy gas cards or gift cards to be given as gifts. Another popular strategy is to buy pin-enabled gift cards on credit then use them to buy money orders at Walmart. Then you just deposit the money orders in your regular account and go on your merry way.
- Pay your taxes- The IRS allows you to pay your taxes with a credit or debit card, and even go as far as listing available providers on their website. Basically, it works like this: When you are ready to pay your quarterly estimated or owed taxes, you would sign up to pay them on credit through a company like PayUSATax.com. For a fee of 1.87% of your transaction, they’ll let you charge your tax payment and get it to the right place. Sounds good, right? Unfortunately, paying your taxes with credit doesn’t always make financial sense. Think about it. Paying a $5,000 tax bill would mean ponying up an extra $93.50 in fees. However, it could make sense in certain situations, or if you’re trying to meet the spending requirement for a huge sign-up bonus. It just depends.
- Ask friends and family for help– If you’re still having trouble hitting the minimum spending requirement, it might be worth it to ask family and friends for help. See if you can pay a few of their expenses on credit and ask them to pay you back in cash. You can even call your credit card provider and ask for an authorized user card for someone you trust. I do this with my mom and it works great. She simply charges larger items on the card and mails me a check for payment. Easy.
Credit card rewards can be lucrative and fun to pursue, but the game isn’t without its challenges. Fortunately, there are a ton of ways to expand your reach when it comes to earning rewards, including these creative strategies.
One of the best travel rewards cards currently available is the Barclay Arrival World MasterCard. The deal is this: Spend $3,000 within 90 days of card ownership and earn 40,000 bonus miles. You also earn 2 points/$1 spent, which means that you should bank at least 46,000 miles just by hitting the minimum spend. Sounds great, right? But it gets better. The cool thing about these particular points is that they can be redeemed for all kinds of travel including hotel stays, plane tickets, and more. And 46,000 miles translates into $460 in travel credit, which is a lot for a sign-up bonus.
If you don’t think, even with the 5 ways to meet minimum spending requires from above, that you can spend $3,000 in 90 days, be sure to check out the Hawaiian Airlines credit card offer where you earn 35,000 points (can be used on American Airlines and many others as well) when you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. You also get a 50% off companion ticket to Hawaii in the first year as well. Can you say “aloha”?!?
Or if you’d rather just have travel credits, and are okay with a smaller bonus, then apply for the little brother to the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard where you earn 20,000 points and only need to spend $1,000 in 90 days. You will also earn 1,000 points to meet your minimum spend which means that you’ll have 21,000 points which is good for $210 worth of travel.
What creative ways to do meet your minimum spending requirements? Any tips?