You might be doing a victory dance if you just qualified to get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. You could earn a whopping 50,000 bonus points worth $625 toward travel — if you charge $4,000 to the card in the first three months. 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. If you try to divide your required spending by three, you’d end up trying to charge $1,333.33 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, maybe about $1,500, 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 $50 nonessential item that gets you an equivalent of $625 in bonus points could be a worthwhile purchase.
» 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 50,000 sign-up points, 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 rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2018, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®).
- Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card (Earn unlimited 2 miles per dollar on every purchase).
- Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Get 3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases).
- No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card (Earn unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent on all purchases, with no annual fee).
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Get 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, plus get access to the Global Lounge Collection). Terms Apply.
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!