5 Cheap Ways to Meet Credit Card Spending Requirements

October 20, 2016

Credit card companies are giving out bigger and bigger sign-up bonuses to earn your business. However, there are usually some strings attached. In order to qualify, you are usually required to spend x dollars within y months of account opening. So let's talk about 5 of the cheapest ways to meet these lofty requirements.

Credit card companies are giving out bigger and bigger sign-up bonuses to earn your business. However, there are usually some strings attached. In order to qualify, you are almost always required to spend x dollars within y months of account opening. So let's talk about 5 of the cheapest ways to meet these lofty requirements.

Once upon a time, I bought 500 dollar coins from the US Mint with free shipping for $500, effectively making 1% on my purchase by using a cashback credit card. Unfortunately I wasn't the only guy who thought of that. The Mint quickly caught on and shut it down. So what are the best options today?

STORE GIFT CARDS

Unlike money orders and cashier's checks, there is usually no fee for using a credit card to purchase gift cards from many retailers. I don't mean buying just any gift card, but only for those shops you frequent. For example, I pretty much buy everything other than groceries from Amazon. I wouldn't think twice about picking up $1,000 in Amazon gift cards and apply it to my account because I know for a fact I will use it. The same goes for Netflix and Starbucks.

VISA, MASTERCARD & AMERICAN EXPRESS BRANDED GIFT CARDS

If you want something that's almost as good as cash, these branded gift cards are for you. A Visa, Mastercard or American Express gift card can be used anywhere their credit cards are accepted, which makes for a lot of places. The catch here is there is usually a purchase fee when you buy in store and a shipping fee if you buy online. Still it's not a bad option. For example, you can purchase a $3,000 AMEX gift card online for a purchase fee of $3.95 with the free shipping code FREESHIP16 (Good thru 10/31/2016). That gives you a cost of 0.13% - not too bad when you are earning rewards at a minimum of 1% with most credit cards.

PREPAY UTILITIES

Utilities are relatively inelastic. You can keep your house as dark and as cold as you want, but I bet you'll still get an electric bill at the end of the month. The same goes for cellphone and internet bills, which are pretty much necessities these days. For example, when I first received my Chase Ink Plus card, I quickly charged $1,000 on my T-Mobile account.

CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION (CME)

Whether you are a medical trainee or an attending physician, you likely have a CME budget provided by your training program or employer. More often than not, you can charge CME expenses to your personal credit card and then turn in the receipt for reimbursement. Given how ridiculous medical conferences and professional society fees cost, this is one of the fastest ways to reach your credit card spending requirement.

PAY ALMOST ANY BILL USING PLASTIQ

Plastiq is a online e-payment service that essentially lets you pay almost any bill using a credit card. You can see my full review HERE. Their standard fee is 2.5% but they frequently run promotions with a lower fee, like this featured DEAL. I have been happily paying my rent using Plastiq for months now.