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How to Meet Your Credit Card Spending Requirement | Credit Cards

Key Takeaways

  • Earning a welcome bonus is a limited-time opportunity, so you must meet the minimum spending requirement by the deadline.
  • Using your new card for everyday expenses and timing your application to coincide with large purchases are simple ways to meet most spending requirements.
  • Be realistic with your spending to ensure you can pay off the balance quickly to avoid interest charges or a negative impact on your credit score.

Getting a new credit card is one of the fastest methods of earning a big chunk of miles or points. Many rewards credit cards offer a welcome bonus for new customers when they meet the card’s minimum spending requirement. However, some credit cards require significant spending – $1,000 to $4,000 or more – in order to earn the bonus, which can lead to overspending and interest charges.

Here’s how to meet your credit card spend requirement without going into debt.

What Is a Minimum Spending Requirement?

A minimum spending requirement is the amount of money you must spend on a new credit card in order to earn the welcome bonus. You typically get three to six months to spend the required amount.

Julia Menez, a points strategy coach at, says, “Most credit cards will require some kind of minimum spend to earn the welcome bonus.” A common minimum spending requirement for a rewards credit card is $3,000 within three months. In general, the more lucrative the bonus, the higher the minimum spending requirement will be.

Most credit card purchases count toward earning the welcome bonus. However, there are some exceptions, like cash advances, balance transfers, traveler’s checks, foreign currency and money orders. Lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, fees, interest charges and other betting or cash-like transactions also do not count.

These limited-time offers encourage cardholders to switch charges to the new card and keep the card “front of wallet” whenever they make a purchase. The banks hope that frequent use will create new habits so customers will continue using the credit card long after the welcome bonus has been earned.

10 Ways to Meet Your Credit Card Spending Requirement

When you see the minimum spending requirement for a welcome bonus, the large number can be daunting. However, when you break the amounts into monthly goals, many spending requirements are rather easy to meet. Here are 10 ways to meet your credit card spending requirement while also maximizing rewards.

Groceries, Dining and Household Expenses

Everyday spending like groceries, eating out and other household expenses are an excellent opportunity to meet a minimum spend requirement. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent figures, the average household spends over $6,000 per month. While you cannot use a credit card to pay for all of these expenses, many of them can be paid with a card without incurring additional fees.

Monthly Utilities and Other Bills

Many utility companies also accept credit cards for payment. These include regular bills like electricity, gas, water, cellphones, cable TV and streaming services. Set up automatic payment of these bills with your credit card to avoid late fees and earn rewards every month.

Travel Expenses

Booking travel is another way to meet your card’s minimum spending requirement. Airlines generally allow passengers to book tickets 11 months in advance. Additionally, some hotels can be booked up to two years ahead of time. Other travel reservations may also be available for early booking so you can earn the welcome bonus.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are an excellent option to meet your minimum spend requirement. Take advantage of your credit card’s bonus categories to earn additional rewards on purchases that traditionally don’t earn a bonus. For example, buying department store and home improvement gift cards at a grocery store with your American Express® Gold Card earns four points versus one point if you paid for your purchase at the checkout counter.

Additionally, if you’re unable to meet your spending requirement on a new card in time, you can buy gift cards for future expenses. You’re prepaying future expenses to ensure that you earn the welcome bonus.

Annual Insurance Premiums

Insurance companies generally bill every six months or once a year. While many offer monthly payments, you may owe fees for this convenience. Time your credit card application so you can use the new card to pay these bills and easily meet the card’s minimum spend requirement.

School Tuition

Whether your child is in day care, private school or college, these tuition bills are a convenient way to earn a welcome bonus on your credit card. Review the school’s payment policies to determine whether they charge credit card processing fees. In some cases, the value of the welcome bonus may be worth the fee.

Federal Taxes

The Internal Revenue Service uses three third-party payment processors so taxpayers can pay taxes using a debit or credit card. While these services charge fees, they can be lower than the rewards you’ll earn from the welcome bonus and earning power of the card.

Home Improvement and Other Projects

Customizing and maintaining a home can be expensive. Paint, flooring, new appliances and other projects can cost thousands of dollars. Find the silver lining in these large expenses by using them to earn a welcome bonus and additional rewards toward a future vacation.

Automobile Repairs or Down Payment

Payments related to your vehicle are also a good way to meet minimum spending requirements. Many car dealers accept credit cards for down payments on a new vehicle. Additionally, they typically accept credit cards for repairs, service and accessories.

Starting a Business

While it is best to separate your business expenses from your personal life with a business credit card, the reality is that many entrepreneurs start out by using their consumer credit cards. Starting a business often requires licenses, security deposits, materials, supplies and services that may be eligible for payment with a credit card.

What to Avoid When Meeting a Minimum Spend Requirement

Earning a welcome bonus by meeting the minimum spending requirement is one of the fastest ways to earn large amounts of miles or points. However, you need to be cautious with your spending to avoid negative impacts to your money and credit score.


It can be exciting when you imagine the possibilities available with your welcome bonus. This excitement may lead you to spend more than you can realistically afford. Overspending can disrupt your budget, cause you to pay interest charges or impact other money goals you have.

“While some welcome bonuses can be extremely lucrative, you need to be sure you can meet the required spend without spending money you don’t already need to,” says Dave Grossman, the founder of and “Don’t make purchases for things you don’t need just to get enough spend for a bonus.”

Inattention to Deadlines

You have a limited time to meet your card’s minimum spend requirement. When activating your credit card, confirm the bonus offer and deadline with customer service. Give yourself a buffer of at least a few days because not all transactions post immediately due to weekends, holidays and business protocols.

Menez recommends planning how you will meet the minimum spend even before applying for the card. Timing your application near larger purchases, like tuition, car repairs or a home improvement project, makes it easier to meet the deadline.

Ineligible Transactions

Not all transactions count toward earning a welcome bonus. Generally, ineligible purchases include cash-like transactions and gambling. Additionally, annual fees, late fees, interest charges and other bank fees do not count.

Carrying a Balance

When you carry a balance to the next statement, the bank charges interest on the unpaid amount. These interest charges can erode the benefit of earning rewards. Carrying a balance may also negatively impact your credit score, since 30% of your FICO score is based on credit utilization.

Ignoring Bonus Categories

While you’re spending to meet a welcome bonus, don’t forget about your credit card’s bonus categories. Common categories include dining, travel, gas and groceries. These categories earn additional rewards on top of the welcome bonus that you’re working toward.

Grossman recommends getting cards that have multipliers for your biggest spending categories. This allows you to double-dip by earning the welcome bonus and capturing extra rewards through bonus categories.

Eligibility to Earn a Welcome Bonus

  • American Express “Once-per-Lifetime Rule.” This rule prevents American Express customers from receiving a bonus twice on the same card and sometimes in the same “family” of cards.
  • Bank of America “2/3/4 Rule.” Customers cannot open more than two cards within three months, three within 12 months and four within two years.
  • Chase “5/24 Rule.” Chase does not approve new cards if you opened five or more new cards from any bank in the previous 24 months.
  • Citi “1/8 and 2/65 Rule.” You’re limited to no more than one card every eight days and two within 65 days.

Additionally, most banks have limitations where you can’t receive another bonus if you currently have the same card open or if you’ve received a welcome bonus on the same (or a related card) in the previous 24 to 48 months.

The Bottom Line

Banks offer welcome bonuses to attract new customers, and many customers can spend enough easily by using the card on their monthly purchases. However, you may need to get creative and time your application with larger purchases or prepay expenses to ensure you earn the bonus. Have a strategy for meeting the minimum requirement before applying to avoid overspending or carrying a balance to ensure you don’t negatively impact your finances.

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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