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You might be doing a victory dance if you just qualified to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You could earn a generous sign-up bonus: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The first thing you need to do is plan for how you can meet that minimum spending requirement on your card without increasing your monthly expenses unnecessarily.
Include the following strategies in your plan to make sure you don’t lose your sign-up bonus:
Determine the exact date by which the purchases must be made. Any charges made after the first three months won’t count toward your sign-up bonus. Mark this date in your calendar. Set reminders to alert you every 15 days, so that you can make sure you’re on track to earn your bonus points.
Expect to charge a little more in the first month. Divide your required spending by three to figure out how much you'll need to charge each month. It’s nearly impossible to plan to hit this target evenly, especially because bills can vary from month to month. Plan to charge a little more in the first month, if your budget allows it, so that you have room to adjust your transactions later.
Switch your monthly bill payments to your new card. Look at your monthly bills for items such as electricity, internet and cellphone. Since you’ve already planned for these expenses, you’ll be able to pay them off on a monthly basis to avoid interest charges. If you’re using automatic bill pay with another card, switch the payments to your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. And if you can, prepay these expenses in advance with the new card.
Charge all daily expenses to your new card. Charge all necessary purchases, including groceries and gas, on this card for the first three months. You might be using other credit cards that offer higher rewards for certain expense categories, but instead use your Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card until you reach your spending requirement to get the sign-up bonus, which is in addition to the regular points you earn on the purchases.
Make a small, nonessential charge only if you’re out of time. Don’t use a bonus offer as an excuse to splurge. Unnecessary spending would offset any advantage you’d get from earning the bonus points. However, if you’re racing to meet the spending requirement at the end of the three-month period, charging a small nonessential purchase that snags those bonus points could be worthwhile.
» Learn more: Chase 5/24 rule explained
» LEARN: Cash back or points — which rewards strategy is right for you?
Earning bonus points is one of the perks of having good credit. In addition to the sign-up offer, you can earn more bonus points by making your travel and dining purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Remember, though, that any payments on charges by the user would be your responsibility as the primary cardholder.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Chase Sapphire Preferred: Top 5 reader questions Chase Sapphire Preferred review: A must-have for any traveler How I use Chase Sapphire Preferred: Let’s travel!