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25 tricks and hacks to meet your credit card’s minimum spend requirement

Reach your credit cards minimum spend requirement and get your signup bonus more quickly with these tips.

There’s nothing like staring at a massive signup bonus and knowing it could be yours soon. The catch? You typically must spend a certain amount of money in a set time frame in order to claim it.

You don’t want to spend money unnecessarily just to hit the minimum spend requirements, as that might erase the value of your rewards altogether. Instead, deploy your card intelligently and spend mostly on the must-haves. That way, you’ll breeze by your spend requirement without shelling out extra dough or buying unnecessary things.

Ready to hit that big signup bonus payday? Here are 25 super-effective hacks to hit your credit cards minimum spend requirement.

Pay for the essentials

You’ll find that you can use your card to buy things you’d spend money on regardless. As much as you can, make those purchases with your new card.

1. Use your card all the time.

Now that you have a new card, start using it for everything. Whatever you’re buying — your morning latte, movie tickets or your next book for nighttime reading — charge it to your credit card. Of course, use your card for everyday purchases like gas and groceries too.

You may even get bonus points or miles for certain types of spending such as at restaurants, gas stations or grocery stores.

2. Buy gift cards for your regular shopping.

Feel like you’re constantly making trips to a certain store? Consider using your credit card to buy gift cards for that location. You’ll get closer to your minimum spending requirement, and you can use the gift cards for purchases you’d make anyway.

For example, if you spend $100 a week at Walmart, you’ll spend over $1,000 within three months. You can use your credit card to buy a $1,000 Walmart gift card, then use the gift card for your shopping. If you’re worried about carrying a gift card with a large amount of money on it, buy multiple gift cards with smaller dollar amounts. You may even be able to send your gift card to your email address or smartphone.

Use this strategy at other locations you frequent, such as supermarkets and gas stations.

How to avoid cash advance transactions

Some card providers classify gift card purchases as cash advances. You want to avoid cash advances as much as you can, because they’re typically very expensive. To get around this, ask your credit card provider to set your cash advance limit to $0. Once you do this, any transaction coded as a cash advance will be declined.

3. Pay your bills.

Some utility, car insurance and home insurance companies allow credit card payments, and you can usually pay your cable and phone bills online using your credit card. If you’ve been paying directly from your savings or chequings account, see if you can use your credit card instead.

4. Pay your bills early.

Most people don’t know this, but you can actually prepay some of your bills. Confirm whether your service providers allow early payments. If they do, they probably limit how much you can prepay — though that limit will likely be high.

If you’re lucky, you may even get rewarded for paying early. Some providers — especially car insurance companies — offer discounts if you buy coverage a few months at a time.

5. Use bill payment services.

You often can’t pay your mortgage, car loan or rent with a credit card. However, some online services can pay bills on your behalf, accepting payment via credit card.

Plastiq is one example of a bill payment service you can try. For rent, look into Dwello and RentMoola.

To use a credit card, you’ll typically have to pay a service fee of 2% or 3%. That said, this method could help you rack up your spending more quickly.

Screenshot: RentMoola

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Tax hacks

Paying taxes is one of a few certain things in life. So why not time your credit card applications to coincide with tax season? That way, you can knock out your tax bill and quickly reach your card’s spending requirement.

6. Use a credit card processor to pay your taxes.

If you’re paying your taxes, you can use a bill payment service like Plastiq.

There is a catch: Payment processors charge fees for credit card payments — for example, Plastiq charge a maximum of 2.5%. This can certainly add up if you owe a lot in taxes, so consider using this method only if your card has a valuable signup bonus or you don’t owe much in taxes.

Screenshot: Plastiq

7. Pay your taxes in advance.

You can get a jump on your tax bill by paying your taxes well before the end of April. If you overpay, you’ll get a refund from the government after you file your tax return.

8. Pay quarterly taxes.

As a freelancer or a small business owner, if you anticipate owing more than $3,000 at tax time, you can pay quarterly income taxes. If you find yourself in this situation, you can leverage your tax payments to hit your credit card spend requirements more quickly.

Get help from others

You don’t have to reach your spending requirement on your own. In fact, you might be surprised how easy the process can be if you recruit some of your friends and family.

9. Add an authorized user.

If you regularly give money to your spouse or children, consider adding them as authorized users to your credit card account. Their spending may count toward your minimum spend requirement. As an added bonus, you might earn points, miles or cash back from their spending too.

Ask your card provider for the scoop on adding authorized users. You may have to pay fees when adding new cards, so consider whether the cost is worth the rewards you’ll get. Finally, remember that you’re ultimately responsible for the debt accumulated by your authorized users.

10. Add your friends as authorized users.

It’s unusual to add your friends as authorized users, but you can do so if you need extra help hitting your spend requirement. Your buddies can spend on your card account and pay you back later, but again, you’ll be completely responsible for their spending.

11. Pay for dinner.

The next time that dinner bill arrives, pay for the meal and ask your friends to pay you back. They can send you money via Interac or by using a handy payment app like PayPal or Google Wallet. Or, they could pay you the old school way — in cash.

This is an especially good tactic if your card gives you bonus points when you spend at restaurants.

Google wallet screenshot showing how the webpage shows on the computer and the cellphone

Screenshot: Google Wallet

12. Buy things for your friends.

Ask your friends if they’re looking to make large purchases. If they are, buy the items and have your friends pay you back.

You can also try paying for your friends’ weekly expenses, such as their grocery bills. This might come with more hassle, though, as the purchases will be smaller, and you’ll probably need to be there in person.

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Spend for the future

Certain expenses will come around sooner or later. Instead of waiting to spend money until you have to, spend while you’re trying to collect your signup bonus.

13. Book and pay for your vacation in full.

If you plan on taking a trip this year (or next year), consider charging it to your credit card. You can score some great deals if you book early, and you can usually cancel plans if you change your mind.

Some cards will give you bonus points or miles for travel spending, which can help you reach your spend requirement faster and let you reap any additional rewards.

14. Buy gifts in advance.

Birthdays and holidays come around like clockwork. That’s a good thing, because it means you can get a jump on your gift shopping. Plus, you can avoid the holiday-season retail rush.

15. Maintain your car.

If you’ve put off maintenance on your car, it could be a good time to get an inspection. You can also perform necessary repairs that you’d have to do later anyway.

16. Update your home.

Have you been waiting for the “right time” to renovate your home? Consider getting the job done by charging a few purchases to your card — now’s a great time to change the carpets or replace old appliances.

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Manufactured spending

Manufactured spending is a secret strategy in the travel-hacking community. In general, it involves buying things that you can easily liquidate to pay off your credit card.

Manufactured-spending strategies change all the time — especially when businesses and card providers make rules to circumvent them. Before using a method you see here, do some research to see if it’s still going to work.

17. Buy money orders with your credit card.

If your supermarket allows it, you can use your credit card to buy a money order. Afterward, deposit the money order into your bank account and pay off your credit card bill.

Most supermarkets don’t allow this due to the potential for fraud — though some smaller ones might. Furthermore, your card provider may classify money orders as cash advances, so first confirm that you won’t be hit with the fees associated with them.

18. Buy and resell items.

Consider using your credit card to buy merchandise — preferably at a discount — and then resell it.

Here’s a pro tip: Buy items through shopping portals like Aeroplan EStore or MBNA Rewards Mall. This way, you can earn travel rewards points on top of scooping up inventory.

19. Open a bank account.

Although it’s rare and hard to find, some banks may let you use your credit card to make deposits into a new account. With this method, first make sure your bank allows deposits by credit card. Then, make sure your card provider doesn’t classify your funding as a cash advance.

20. Gift card churning.

Gift card churning involves buying gift cards and then reselling them at a break-even price — or even a loss. You can buy and sell gift cards on platforms like Card Swap and eBay.

Screenshot: Card Swap

21. Payment-app cycling.

If you need a little boost ahead of your minimum-spend deadline, try payment-app cycling. Just use your credit card to send money through an app like PayPal — then have your recipient send the money back to you. Most card providers code these types of transfers as purchases, not cash advances (but make sure before you do it).

Watch out for apps or money sending services that charge a fee for credit card transfers — many do, so it’s best to use this strategy sparingly.

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Other powerful hacks

While at the end of our list, these hacks are just as good as anything else you can try.

22. Peer-to-peer lending.

To reach your minimum spending requirement, you don’t have to spend money — you can lend it.

That’s where peer-to-peer (P2P) lending comes in. You’ll give loans to other people and be repaid with interest. It’s essentially a way to park and even get a return on your money. Just make sure that you won’t need the money for a while.

P2P lending platforms in Canada include Lending Loop and Lendified. Or, if you’re OK with not earning a return on your money, consider micro-lending platforms like Kiva.

kiva webpage screenshot

23. Donate to charity.

Making charitable donations is a great way to get closer to your minimum spend. If you already donate every year, you now have a reason to do it earlier. If you’re not a regular donator, you can become one now. As an added benefit, most charitable gifts are tax-deductible.

24. Buy general-use gift cards.

Visa gift cards are a great choice because you can use them anywhere that accepts credit. Just remember that they have activation fees, and only buy them if your card provider doesn’t classify these purchases as cash advances.

25. Pay for business expenses.

You might use a company credit card for work-related expenses. If so, ask your employer if you can use your own credit card for those purchases and get reimbursed later.

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