New Card, but Can’t Travel? Hit Your Minimum Spend From Home

May 7, 2020

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As we all make adjustments to our daily lives during the coronavirus pandemic, you may be wondering what to do about those credit cards that you recently opened or were considering opening. You might have a welcome offer spending requirement to hit or be eyeing a card with an attractive sign-up bonus.

While you may be postponing existing travel plans and waiting to book future travel, you can still take steps to hit your minimum spending requirements. All you need to do is make adjustments to your travel credit card spending strategy. Check out these suggestions so that you hit your minimum spend and get those bonus points that you’re after, even if you’re spending way more time at home these days.

Charge your regular expenses

If you’ve been paying for most of your daily living expenses with a debit card or through your checking account, now is an excellent time to check and see if you can make a switch. You can charge many expenses to credit cards without paying additional fees. Some examples may include:

  • Cable and internet bills.

  • Cell phone bills.

  • Gasoline fill-ups.

  • Takeout orders.

  • Online classes.

  • Groceries (including delivery and pickups).

  • Software subscriptions.

  • Streaming services.

Make a list of your monthly expenses and check to see which payment methods can be changed. Before you charge your card, make sure you won’t be charged additional fees.

Use Plastiq to pay other bills

Some expenses may require an alternative method to use a credit card for payment. These bills may include rent, mortgage payments, HOA dues, tuition fees, utility payments, daycare costs, car payments, taxes and insurance. Luckily, Plastiq exists for this exact reason. How does it work? You’ll choose how the person or company will receive your payment:

  • Paper check.

  • Bank transfer.

  • Wire transfer.

Plastiq will make the payment on your behalf. Your credit card will then be charged for the purchase.

You should know that Plastiq does charge a fee for its service; the max fee that you will pay is 2.85%. Consider this when charging bills this way, and do the math ahead of time. If you’re close to your minimum spend, and depending on the circumstances, the bonus points you'd earn may outweigh the fees that you pay.

Make purchases for family members and let them reimburse you

If you think you can’t meet your minimum spend on your own, consider asking trusted family members if you can charge some of their larger purchases and then ask them to reimburse you. Be sure you can cover the credit card payments on time, as paying interest is rarely a good idea when trying to earn bonus points.

Use your credit card to pay for future gifts

If there are upcoming birthdays, special occasions or holidays, consider using your credit card now to purchase gifts for loved ones. You can even think ahead for future holidays if you’re able to continue spending during this time. If you’re going to spend the money eventually, there’s no harm in buying now if you can continue to make the payments on time.

Make improvements at home

The spring and summer seasons are the perfect time to work on projects at home and around your property. If you’ve been wanting to make some home improvements or plan to take care of landscaping needs, be sure to use your credit cards for the charges. Big retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s offer shipping services and delivery by truck for many items, so you don’t even need to leave your house to go shopping.

Think of future travel plans

If you know you'll need to travel in the fall or winter (or beyond), perhaps for an annual business trip or holiday travel, you could start planning that travel now and use your credit card to pay for these expenses ahead of time. It’s a good idea to consider refund and cancellation policies, especially during these uncertain times. If you’re OK ending up with airline credit if you need to cancel later, that gives you even greater flexibility. You might also look into purchasing additional travel insurance.

If all else fails, call and request an extension

If you’re having trouble hitting your minimum spend goals, or if just want to be extra cautious with your spending during this uncertain time, you should at least give your credit card issuer a call to see if they will make an exception. They may work with you and extend your minimum spend timeline. You’ll never know unless you ask.

You should know that some card issuers are already automatically extending their welcome offer timeline for newer cardmembers. For example, American Express will be extending its welcome offer for an additional three months. Terms apply.

No matter which strategy you take to continue earning points, it’s a smart idea to continue paying off your credit card bills in full.

Just because you’re currently pausing your travel habits doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to work toward your travel credit card or minimum spending goals. Stay safe and healthy, and keep earning those points and miles from home.

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 2021, including those best for:

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