This is a collection of methods to help meet minimum spending requirements that don’t require Manufactured Spend. MS is a more advanced topic that merits its own discussion.
- Plan ahead for large purchases. Time your credit card applications with events such as a home remodel, buying new furniture, making a car down payment, or even a yearly insurance bill coming due.
- Prepay (or overpay) a utility bill. Most utilities, such as your cell phone, cable, electricity, gas, etc. will allow you to pay more than you owe. They’ll show a credit balance on your account and apply your future charges against it.
- Buy gift cards. Purchase gift cards to stores you know you will spend money at in the future, such as a grocery store, Costco (they accept all credit card types online), or Amazon. You can also purchase prepaid (e.g. Visa) gift cards from a grocery or drug store and just spend them down over time. Prepaid gift cards typically have a max load of $500 and charge a fee of about $5, so this method will cost you ~1% of your total.
- Open a bank account. Some checking/savings accounts allow you to fund with a credit card, and this will be free to you as long as you are not charged a cash advance fee. Surprisingly, there are many banks where this is possible. Doctor of Credit manages a great list here of which credit card + bank combinations do and do not result in cash advance fees.
- Pay your mortgage/rent/day care/tuition/loans/property taxes/income taxes. Check with your biller to see if they allow credit card payments. If they say yes, ask if there is a fee. Sometimes there isn’t a fee, but if there is, it will typically be in the neighborhood of 2-3%.
- Pick up the tab when going out with friends. Have everyone else pay you back with cash, Venmo, or Paypal.
- Pay for large purchases for friends. If you have any friends who might be making large purchases, try asking if they will let you charge their purchases on your credit card and pay you back with a check. Consider offering them a 1-2% discount to make up for the credit card rewards they might have earned.
- Send money to your friends with Venmo or Paypal. These services charge a fee of about 3%, so only use this as a last resort.
Alright, that’s all I’ve got. If you still can’t meet your minimum spending requirements, it’s time for MS.