Applying for new credit cards and completing minimum spend requirements go hand-in-hand in this hobby. We seek out the best bonuses possible to maximize our applications and the value earned for the time spent churning. Unfortunately, some of the best credit card sign-up offers come with a hefty spend required in order to earn the welcome bonus.
For example, the Amex Business Platinum requires $10,000 of spending in the first 3 months of card membership to earn the 120,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus. While it is completely worth it for such a massive bonus, most people would look at that $10,000 spend requirement and immediately shut down. $10,000 in 3 months is simply out of reach for the average person and their spending habits.
This hobby rewards those who can think ahead and plan ahead, including how to best meet your minimum spend requirements. I’ve seen so many posts on the Churning Canada subreddit of someone who has been approved for a card and then asks “how do I meet the minimum spend requirement?”. Frankly, that is just foolish as you should always have a plan before even applying.
If you find the higher minimum spend cards out of reach, or you just want to be able to churn more cards in less time, here are five methods that will help you easily meet your next minimum spend requirement.
Buy Gift Cards
Almost every retailer and service provider sells gift cards for their own business these days. Even better, certain retailers, such as grocery stores, sell a variety of gift cards for other retailers such as gas stations and restaurants.
Simply put, it can make sense to purchase gift cards in advance of needing to use them in order to meet your minimum spend requirement. For example, purchasing five $200 Shell gift cards for future gasoline purchases makes complete sense since you know for certain that gasoline will be an essential purchase for you in the future.
With this method, you aren’t spending any additional money than you would have if you paid at the point-of-sale, but instead, are simply grouping multiple future purchases into multiple gift cards for the purpose of boosting your spending in the immediate term.
We have written previously about how to use Amex at Loblaw’s stores and at Costco. Both of these articles involve utilizing gift cards, so if you shop at any of the retailers under these banners it is worth taking the time to give them a read.
Even better, if you are working on the minimum spend for a credit card that has a multiplier for grocery stores, like the American Express Cobalt, using your card for gift card purchases will earn you even more points.
Pre-Paying Large Expenses
We encounter many larger expenses in our lives. Naturally, it makes sense to put those larger purchases on credit cards to take advantage of the rewards and to work towards minimum spend requirements. However, there are some unconventional larger expenses that you can pre-pay to complete your spend within the required timeline.
Car insurance, for example, can easily reflect a few thousand dollars for a family depending on the plan and resulting premiums. Not only would you save a few dollars on your premium due to not having to pay administration fees related to the monthly payment plan. Additionally, many insurers won’t accept credit cards for monthly payments but will accept them for a lump sum payment to cover the total yearly premium.
When it comes to pre-paying utilities, Reed has seen success with loading a significant amount of credit to his Enmax utility account which will be drawn down over time as billing periods close. Utilities are going to have to be paid anyway, so why not take advantage and meet your minimum spend requirement in the process.
Manufactured spending is exactly what it sounds like: artificially generating spend without ending up with a tangible good. This can be as simple as loading a reloadable prepaid card with a credit card and then liquidating the funds on the card back to cash.
Depending on the method, there may be some small fees attached, but they should typically be minimal compared to the amount of spend that is generated as a whole. This is the most efficient way to meet a minimum spending requirement if you can find a good method that works.
Below are a few manufacturing opportunities that we have previously covered on Frugal Flyer. This is not an exhaustive list of opportunities that are out there when it comes to manufactured spending. Integrate yourself into your local churning community through meet-ups and events to expand your knowledge of these opportunities.
Reloadable PayPower Mastercard
The reloadable PayPower Mastercard is one of the most well-known manufactured spending methods in Canada and has been utilized for years by many churners. This method involves paying a small fee to load a PayPower MasterCard via your credit card at a participating location, such as a grocery store. The funds loaded are then liquidated back to cash, resulting in the spend remaining on your credit card and the cash in your bank account, ready to pay off your credit card bill.
There are a few different ways you can liquidate the funds on your PayPower card, such as bill payments and ATMs. Bill payments are the suggested way to go when it comes to liquidating, as withdrawing at ATMs comes with additional limits and fees, in addition to a greater risk of being banned from the service due to abuse.
Buying groups are another manufactured spending opportunity that you can utilize to quickly meet your minimum spend requirement. These are organizations that utilize consumers’ individual purchasing power when it comes to taking advantage of deals. Essentially, the consumer purchases the requested item, ships it directly to the requested warehouse address, and then is reimbursed for the purchase (often through eCheck or ACH).
I’ve recently been working on a minimum spend on the Amex US Personal Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card and have been doing almost all of the spend through buying groups. Simply put, it’s an easy way to get large chunks of spend done without having to leave my couch. Over the past month and a bit, I’ve run through around $3,000 USD in spend through utilizing buying groups casually. I have no doubt that you could significantly increase this number if you signed up for multiple buying groups.
I’ve had a lot of success with The Deal Buyer and plan on continuing to use them for any US-based minimum spends.
Utilizing Payment Services
Payment services, such as Plastiq and PaySimply, can be used to process payments to specific vendors that don’t typically accept credit cards. These payment services act as an intermediary in-between the vendor and consumer, and process the payment for a percentage fee on the total dollar amount. These services can be used to pay rent, property tax, and tuition as a few examples.
You might also find out that with certain vendors, you can overpay and receive the overpayment back in the form of a cheque. I recommend doing some digging and research into the options available.
I haven’t taken advantage of this method in a few years personally, but I did see success with it back in 2018 when I used Plastiq to directly pay rent to my landlord for a period of time. Once I made the payment, they would send my landlord a cheque in the mail to be received in a defined period of time.
While this isn’t the most effective or optimal method since there is a percentage fee on each transaction, it worked in a pinch before I was privy to some more advanced methods.
Paying Upfront for Medical Expenses
Many medical services, such as dentists, massage therapists, and pharmacies, advertise direct insurance billing as a benefit for the consumer. For most people, direct billing by the medical practice makes sense since it takes the hassle out of submitting the claim to the insurer for reimbursement. This way, the consumer isn’t involved at all and does not need to float any money or manually go through the insurance claim and reimbursement process.
From a Frugal Flyer perspective, it makes way more sense to charge the cost to a credit card that you are currently working on a minimum spend for. Depending on your insurer, you might have to wait a couple of days to a few weeks to receive the reimbursement once the claim has been submitted, but it is a minimal amount of time to have to float money for.
This can add up quickly, especially if you are paying for various medical expenses for a family. You might as well benefit from that $500 dentist visit rather than just direct billing your insurer!
Having a plan when it comes to meeting your minimum spending requirements is paramount to success in this hobby. While you could always just put your normal, everyday spending on your cards to meet your minimum spending requirements, it is always helpful to have some other methods in your back pocket as a failsafe in case you need a bit more assistance especially with reaching the higher minimum spending requirements.
Furthermore, hopefully, the aforementioned methods help you to think about spending a bit differently. If you can apply this thinking going forward, you might even discover other means of meeting your spends or manufacturing spend. Who knows how many more are out there, just waiting to be discovered 😉
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