Travel Hacking 101: Meeting Your Minimum Spending

Most credit cards come with a bonus if you spend $x amount within x days. Sign up bonuses are one the best (and easiest) ways to generate points/miles. Depending on your regular money-256314_1920spending habits meeting a minimum spend of $4,000 in three months might be really easy or extremely difficult for you. I never suggest spending beyond your means just to meet a minimum spending requirement.

The first step is to put everything you can on your credit card. If you can pay with a credit card, then charge it (of course make sure you have the money to pay off your bill when its due). There are the normal everyday expenses like groceries, gas, online purchases, etc. You are probably already charging these to a credit card. Make sure when you’re trying to meet a minimum spending bonus that you’re putting all of these expenses on that specific card.

If the first step isn’t enough spending to meet the bonus here are some other options that I’ve found to be helpful:


You can usually pay your utility bills (cable, internet, electricity, water/sewer, etc.) with a credit card. If your utility company only accept paper checks, you can look into utilizing a service like Plastiq. However, websites like Plastiq will charge you a convenience fee (usually 2.5%) to use a credit card. For instance, it’ll cost you an extra $12.50 to pay a $500 electricity bill, but it is sometimes worth paying this fee if you’re trying to meet a minimum spend bonus. You can also usually overpay your utility bills and receive credit towards future expenses.

Gift Cards

If there’s a store or place that you shop frequently, buy a gift card. It’ll basically be like prepaying for whatever you plan on buying. For instance, you can buy grocery store gift cards for future month’s expenses. Many grocery stores and office supply stores carry a wide variety of prepaid gift cards. You can also look into gift card arbitrage/reselling, but this takes a little bit more work.

Student Loan Payments

Some student loan companies accept credit cards for payment. Check and see if yours can be paid via credit card.

Medical Bills

The trend for many employers is to offer an Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) for their employees health care. If you do have one of these accounts, put the expenses on your credit card and then fill out the paperwork to get reimbursed by your FSA/HSA.


See if your landlord accepts rent payments via credit card.

Pay Your Friends (Venmo or Paypal)

You can also pay your friends with your credit card using applications like Venmo or Paypal. Unfortunately, this comes with a 3% fee, but paying a 3% fee is better than not meeting your minimum spending requirement.

Pick Up the Tab

As I mentioned in an earlier post, pick up the tab when you’re out with friends and have them reimburse you in cash or via Venmo.

Big Expenses for Family/Friends

My parents use credit cards, but don’t care as much about miles and points as I do. If they have a large expense coming up, I will often offer to put it on one of my cards and they will reimburse me in cash or check. I also will also offer to do this if we are trying to book flights or hotels for a family vacation.

Reimbursable Work Expenses

Some employers will issue you business credit cards. Others will let you use your own credit card for company expenses and then reimburse you. Use this to your advantage and earn the points for these expenses.