How to Reach Signup Bonus Spending Goals
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
I’ve said it before, and I'll say it again… The best way to earn the most points on a card is through signup bonuses! The ratio of money you need to spend to points you will earn is higher that it is in other situations, so it is definitely the fastest way to get the biggest chunk of points.
That being said, if you are a college student or young adult who doesn’t have a bunch of income and spending they do on a regular basis, it can be hard to spend several thousand dollars in just a few months. Here are some ideas to help you reach those spending limits (with some specific examples tested out by Chase and I on our own cards):
Plan Your Cards Around Big, Upcoming Expenses
If you are in the process of buying a house or planning a wedding it is the perfect time to sign up for a card that has a hefty spending amount. When Chase bought our house, it seemed like he went to Lowe’s about every day for the first month! Some purchases were small and others were big, but when you have a lot of stuff to buy it will add up quickly! Moving into a house often means you need to buy furniture. Put all of that on the same card to reach that spending amount in just a few purchases.
You can also plan around big events (like a wedding) that you know you’ll be spending a lot on anyway. Might as well put it all on a card and get the points for it! We are currently in the process of using cards to pay for our wedding, and just between the venue down-payment and the full amount for the photographer, we’ve finished two cards! (We have also been putting our daily expenses on them as well, but more than 75% of both cards are wedding purchases!) Depending on the vendor, you may have to pay a little extra for the credit card processing fee, but you may also get a small discount for paying it all up front!
Pay for an Upcoming Trip
If you have a trip that you want to take coming up, get a new card and book all of your flights, hotels, and activities with it. You can then also use the card while you are on your trip, for shopping, food, and transportation (Uber, gas, or metro passes). This strategy can work extra well because a lot of cards will give you extra points for travel related expenses. Many times transportation or food will earn you multiple points per dollar, and some brands reward you extra for spending money on their card at their properties. For example, Hyatt gives you 4x the points on money you spend staying at a Hyatt, so if you aren’t using points pay for the room with your new Hyatt card, and even if you are, eat one of your dinners at the restaurant in the hotel and bill it to your room. Then you will still get the 4x points on that portion as well.
Pick up the Tab
Especially if you’re a college student, chances are you do a fair amount of going out with friend to restaurants or bars. Depending on the night, those bills can rack up pretty quickly. Something you can do to make your life easier (and your server’s life easier) is to pay for the whole group on one check and have your friends individually pay you back. Apps like Venmo, Paypal, and SquareCash make this quick an easy, but you can always have them pay you in cash as well. Not only will it make your server hate your giant, noisy group a little less, it will help you reach your spending goal without having to spend all of your own money.
Pay for friends and family
Do your parents or siblings have big expenses coming up? Chase’s dad bought almost $2000 of supplies to redo the floors in their house, and Chase asked if he would be okay with just putting it on our card to help us reach our spending goal and then paying Chase instead of the company. More often than not your family (especially if you are teaching them all the cool things you learn about travel cards) will be willing to do something simple like this! Even if it’s not a big expense that, I took my little sister clothes shopping for my mom and put about $100 on my card. Then she could just pay me back later, not have to find the time to get my little sister to the store, and my little sister and I got to hang out!
If you do it right, you will only spend exactly the amount of money you need to reach the signup bonus. If you do all your spending on that card you won't spend a bunch of extra money trying to get points.
Put EVERYTHING on your card
$4000 can seem like a lot of money, but especially if you have kids or other dependents, all the little charges can add up much more quickly than you’d imagine. Pay for piano lessons, sports equipment, back to school supplies, class party snacks, and project supplies with the card. Do your grocery shopping and put all of your gas on the card. The same can go for people without kids/dependents but with regular expenses like rent, car insurance, car payments, or utilities. Pay for all of these with the card as well and the regular expenses you have in your normal day-to-day life will make a big dent in the spending amount without you having to spend an extra $4000 in three months.
Another thing people forget about is your subscriptions. When I say everything, I mean everything. Is your Netflix account connected to your regular spending card? Spotify? HBO? Hulu? Magazines? Grocery delivery? Move all of those cards over to your new card so that you benefit from the charges on those as well. It can be a lot to switch over, but your automatic, monthly charges are the most important. However there are several others you should keep in mind and switch over if you plan on using them in the time you are working to reach the spending goal. Services like Uber and Lyft, Doordash and UberEats, and Amazon (our biggest culprit) can be costing you a lot in $5-$25 charges that you might forget to switch over but can add up really quickly.
If you do it right, you will only spend $4000 in the time you are trying to reach that spending goal. Unless it is something you physically can’t pay for with a card you should not be spending a cent that isn’t on your new card. In the end, this will only keep you from spending money you don’t have/wouldn’t have spent and defeating the point of gaining rewards at all.
Pay for business expenses yourself and get reimbursed
If you travel for work or have any business related expenses, put everything on your card and have the company reimburse you instead of using a company card. Chase spent a few months travelling during the week for work and he would regularly have $500-$1000 hotel bills. Those would go on our cards to get the points and progress towards any spending goals we had, and he would get reimbursed for them each week. The same would go for lunch and dinner every day that he was travelling. It was all paid for, but he requested not to get a company card and to just go through the reimbursement process for his meals.
The same can go for you if you are a student. I have been a part of several clubs who had a student government budget for our expenses. I would often volunteer to go buy the event supplies and fill out a form to get reimbursed for the expenses instead of going to get the shared card and just putting it on there. Depending on the event, this can be a super easy way to rack up a few hundred dollars towards your spending goal (or even just to get the points for spending money) and not actually spend your own money.
If you have a few bills that you typically pay with a credit card, pay a few months in advance. If you have the extra funds available and need to spend money to hit your required spending amount, put that money towards practical things like paying for the next three months of your utilities instead of buying stuff you don’t need just to make sure you spend enough to hit the limit.
Some services or subscriptions will also allow you to pay for six months or a year in advance. If you do that, not only will you make progress towards your goal, but you will cut your own expenses down the road. You may even be able to double-save if the subscription gives a discount to people who are willing to commit to multiple months at a time.