Now that you’ve got one of the best rewards credit cards in hand, it’s time to earn your sign-up bonus!
The only thing that stands between you and your bonus points or miles? The minimum spending requirement.
If this is your first time earning a sign-up bonus (or even your second or third), you may feel intimidated by some of the spending requirements, but rest assured, there are several creative ways to get there.
What does “minimum spend requirement” mean?
The minimum spend requirement, or MSR for short, is the dollar amount you must meet by a certain date in order to qualify for the sign-up bonus. Card issuers specify the dollar amount and timeline, and when you meet the requirement, the bonus gets deposited into your rewards account. Many highly rated rewards cards typically offer a 60- or 90-day window to earn your reward.
💡MSR is a common abbreviation for minimum spending requirement
- 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.
- 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Does the annual fee count towards minimum spend?
No, your annual fee does not count towards minimum spend.
It’s important to note that minimum spend requirements must be made on new purchases. Fees incurred on your card (including the annual fee, if applicable) do not count toward meeting minimum spend. This is a common mistake we cover in our free Ultimate Guide to Travel Rewards.
How to meet minimum spend
Take notes and be sure to tell us which methods you’re using to meet your minimum spend – we’d love to hear!
1. Focus your regular spending on the card until you hit the MSR
An obvious approach, but a good reminder that once you have a new rewards card in your possession, transitioning all of your regular spending to the new card can help you meet the MSR faster.
Pay for food items with your card, think strategically about items that make sense to stock up on, and consider buying a gift card at the grocery store you frequent the most to help you reach your MSR faster.
Same approach as groceries.
If you’re paying for gas with cash or a debit card, use your new credit card instead.
5. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, etc.
Pay for these recurring monthly entertainment subscriptions with your new credit card.
Pay fees associated with your gym membership (or other health and wellness activities like yoga) with your credit card.
7. Car maintenance
Due for a routine maintenance check on your vehicle, oil change, or perhaps even a car wash? Put the expense on your card.
8. Hair salon services
Due for a haircut or other salon services? Book an appointment and make sure to put the expense on your new credit card.
9. Public transit cards
If you rely regularly on public transit, consider adding extra funds on your transit card using your credit card to help meet MSR.
10. Prepay monthly bills
Consider using your new credit card to pay monthly bills such as phone/data services, internet, electric, gas, water, cable, etc. Most companies will let you pay ahead and credit your account.
11. Big purchases you already have planned
If you know you have a big purchase (or two) coming up, it’s a great time to open a new card to quickly meet your MSR. Otherwise, we definitely wouldn’t endorse justifying a large purchase you don’t need just to meet the MSR.
12. Purchase gifts in advance
Plan ahead for birthdays, graduation, holidays, etc., by purchasing gifts ahead of time.
13. Prepay insurance bills
Sometimes auto insurance and health insurance providers will offer discounts if you opt to pay for six months or a year at a time (versus month to month). If your provider offers this, you can save money and meet MSR.
14. Car payments
Consider seeing if your car payments can be made with a credit card.
15. Car registrations, license renewals, etc.
Recently moved to a new state or need to renew your driver’s license? Oftentimes these expenses can be paid for with a credit card.
16. Rent or mortgage payments
Consider using a service to pay your rent or mortgage using a credit card. Typically these services charge a 2-3% fee, but it may be worthwhile to help you meet your MSR.
17. Pay student loans
Some schools will allow you to make payments using a credit card, but similar to paying your rent or mortgage, it may come with a fee.
18. Donate to charity
Most charitable organizations accept donations by credit card. It’s a win-win for everyone!
19. Purchase gift cards you know you’ll use
If you’re having trouble meeting your MSR, consider purchasing gift cards to places you frequent such as restaurants, stores, gas, groceries, etc.
20. Purchase Visa gift cards
Visa gift cards are nice because they can be used anywhere Visa is accepted (which is most places), but it typically costs $3 to $7 to activate the card the first time.
21. Purchase Amazon gift cards
Most everyone we know shops on Amazon, so it’s no surprise that purchasing an Amazon gift card could be a great way to help you meet a MSR. Once purchased, they never expire and you can use it at your leisure.
22. Pick up the tab when you’re out with friends
Paying for your next group outing is a great way to meet your MSR, especially if friends pay you back in cash or using a service like Venmo or Paypal.
23. Pay your friends back
If you owe a friend (or anyone, for that matter), offer to pay them back on a service like Venmo. You can link your credit card up in the app and use it to send money.
*Remember that Visa gift card we mentioned a few suggestions back? You can also link that in your Venmo app to make payments.
24. Buy things for your friends
Another great way to meet your MSR is to put purchases for your friends on your credit card with the understanding that they will pay you back. For example, if they are having a hard time affording a large purchase (say, a couch), offer to pay for it with your credit card and have them pay you back.
25. Add an authorized user
Adding an authorized user to your account means they will receive a card directly linked to your account, so anything they charge to the credit card will go towards helping you meet the MSR. Careful though — authorized users should only be someone you trust since you’ll be responsible when it comes to paying off the bill.
26. Wedding planning & vendors
Planning a wedding? Congratulations! This is a good time to strategize how you can maximize credit card rewards while planning the big event. Ask every vendor, shop, etc., if they will accept payment by credit card.
27. Home renovations
Renovating your home or hiring someone to do it for you? Ask to tag along to the home improvement store you can pay for all the supplies on your credit card.
28. New or used car in your future
Planning to purchase a new or used vehicle soon? Some car dealerships allow customers to put a down payment on credit cards, so it’s worth inquiring before assuming you can’t!
29. Splitting payments
Have several larger than usual upcoming purchases? Consider splitting payments between credit cards to cover big-ticket items such as electronics, TVs, furniture, and more.
30. Fund a new bank account
Some (but not all) banks allow customers to fund new savings or checking accounts with a credit card, which could be a major win for helping you meet your MSR.
31. Pay taxes
Paying taxes isn’t fun, but it could potentially be a good way to help you meet your MSR. Some taxes that may allow you to pay with a credit card: Property taxes, Federal taxes, State taxes, local taxes, school taxes, and more. Similar to some of the other suggestions above, there may be a fee associated with making payments, so be sure to review the details before making a decision.
FAQs about minimum spend requirements
What does not count toward your minimum spend requirement?
Every card has its own list of what kinds of charges count toward your minimum spend requirement. Check the rewards terms and conditions for your specific card to review what is and isn’t accepted. Generally, interest, fees, balance transfers, cash advances, gambling-related purchases, checks and other cash-like transactions, returns, and fraudulent charges wouldn’t count toward the minimum spend for most cards.
Do authorized user fees count toward minimum spend?
In most cases, fees charged to your credit card account will not count toward your minimum spend. This can include authorized user fees, among others. However, some cards will count charges made by an authorized user toward your minimum spend. This can help you reach the amount you’re aiming for faster, though there’s a risk you’ll have to pay for the authorized user’s credit card purchases if they don’t come through with the cash.
Do balance transfers count toward minimum spend?
It would be great to transfer a balance from one credit card to another, and then earn a large number of points. Unfortunately, balance transfers do not count toward the minimum spend for most credit card sign-up bonuses.
Do interest charges count toward minimum spend?
Wouldn’t it be great if the interest you were charged on your purchases earned you miles or points? Sadly, this isn’t the case. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any credit cards in the marketplace that offer rewards points or miles for interest charges.
Did we miss any?
This was a fun list to put together and we hope you found it useful. Are there any we missed?
Remember, many minimum spend requirements can seem daunting and nearly impossible, but it’s probably easier to reach than you realize. By getting creative and planning your expenses and purchases to one credit card for a while, you can earn those large sign-up bonuses and start planning how you’ll maximize your rewards!
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