18 tricks and hacks to meet your credit card’s minimum spending requirement

Get your sign-up bonus faster with these tips.

There’s nothing like staring at a credit card’s massive sign-up bonus and knowing it could be yours soon. The catch? You must spend a certain amount of money to claim it.

Some cards are tough to crack, like the Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card (you have to spend £20,000 to land a premium upgrade). Others offer an easier path, like the American Express Rewards Low Rate Credit Card (you only have to spend £500).

Whatever the spending requirement, you’ll need to reach it within a specified amount of time. Otherwise, your sign-up bonus is gone forever.

You don’t want to spend money unnecessarily just to hit the minimum spending requirements. 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 spending requirement without shelling out extra dough.

Ready to hit that big payday? Here are 18 super-effective hacks to hit your minimum spending requirement and maximise your bonuses.

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 coffee, cinema tickets or your next book for night-time reading – charge it to your credit card. Of course, use your card for everyday purchases like petrol and groceries.

You may even get bonus points or miles for certain types of spending. For example, the American Express Platinum Cashback Credit Card gives you 5% cashback in your first 3 months. That’s a sweet bonus as you’re working toward your minimum spending requirement.

2. Buy gift cards for your regular shopping.

Feel like you’re constantly making trips to a certain shop? 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 £60 a week at Sainsbury’s, you’ll spend over £720 within three months. You can use your credit card to buy £720 loaded onto a Sainsbury’s 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 pound amounts. You may even be able to send your gift card to your email address or mobile phone.

Use this strategy at other locations you frequent, such as coffee shops, pharmacies and petrol stations.

3. Pay your bills.

Many utility, car insurance and home insurance companies allow credit card payments. And you can usually use a card for your TV, broadband and phone bills and your TV licence. If you’ve been paying through your bank account, see if you can use your credit card instead.

4. Use bill-pay services.

You typically can’t pay your mortgage, car loan, tax bill or rent with a credit card. But other services can pay some bills on your behalf, accepting payment via credit card.

One such payment service is Billhop, a Swedish company which expanded to the UK in 2017. It allows individuals and businesses to pay their bills through a credit card. Although loan and mortgage payments or credit card bills aren’t allowed through this system, you can pay your tax, utility or repair bills with your credit card, while earning rewards. Although a service charge of 2.95% applies, this method could help you rack up spending quickly.

You don’t have to reach your spending requirement solo. In fact, you might be surprised how easy the process can be if you enlist your friends and family.

5. Add an additional cardholder.

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

Alternatively, you could add your friends as authorised users to help hit your spending requirement. Your pals can spend on your card account and pay you back later. As mentioned above, remember you’re responsible for any debt they may rack up.

Ask your card provider for details on adding authorised 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 additional cardholders.

6. 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 using any one of the excellent payment apps out there, like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Pingit, Snapcash and Venmo.

This is an especially good tactic if your card gives you bonus points on dining. For example, the Costco TrueEarnings American Express Credit Card offers 3% cashback on all restaurant dining.

7. Buy things for your friends.

Ask your friends if they’re looking to make large purchases. Then 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.

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 sign-up bonus.

8. Book your next holiday.

If you plan on taking a holiday or mini break this (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. For example, you can receive 3 Avios points for every £1 spent on British Airways with the British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card.

9. Buy gifts in advance.

Birthdays and religious holidays come around like clockwork. That’s a good thing, because it means you can get a head start on your present shopping. Plus you can avoid the Christmas retail rush.

10. 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.

11. 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.

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 valid.

12. 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 Nectar eshops, Quidco or epoints.com. This way, you can earn points on top of scooping up inventory.

13. Gift card churning.

Gift card churning involves buying gift cards and then reselling them at face value – or even a loss. You can buy and sell gift cards on platforms like CardYard, Zeek Marketplace, Zapper and eBay.

14. 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 a peer-to-peer payment app – then have your recipient send the money back to you.

Credit card transfers often come with fees. That said, it’s best to use this strategy sparingly.

Other hacks outside the box

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

15. 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 make loans to other people and be (hopefully) repaid with interest. It’s essentially a way to park and even get a return on your extra money. Just make sure that you won’t need the money for a while, and that you’re OK with the risk involved.

For P2P lending platforms, try Funding Circle, Ratesetter and Zopa.

If you’re OK with not earning a return on your money, consider micro-lending platforms like Kiva, which allows you to help people around the world create opportunities for themselves. For example, you could help a Vietnamese family build a latrine or Senegalese women set up a chicken farm. Its website says it has a repayment rate of around 97% so this kind of investment is more about making yourself feel good about helping someone, than making a big profit.

16. 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. And if you’re not a regular giver, you can become one now. As an added benefit, most charitable gifts are tax-free.

17. Buy general-use gift cards.

One4all or Love2Shop are great choices because you can use them anywhere. Just remember that they usually have expiry dates.

18. 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. Just be aware, being reimbursed through your wages could have implications for your annual tax allowance.

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Chris Lilly is Head of publishing at finder.com. He's a specialist in personal finance, from day-to-day banking to investing to borrowing, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their money. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more. See full bio

Chris's expertise
Chris has written 612 Finder guides across topics including:
  • Loans & credit cards
  • Building credit
  • Financial health

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