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The credit card industry is highly competitive and issuers are always looking for ways to entice new customers to sign-up and spend with them. One way they do this is through incentives or signup bonuses. Typically, the company will reward new customers with a signup bonus in the form of cash or travel rewards points if the customer meets a spending requirement.
In most cases, these rewards are available exclusively to new customers. The first three months of having the card tend to be the time when most rewards and bonuses are available.
Signup bonuses are a great way of earning some free money but it’s easy to fall into the trap of overspending on things you don’t need simply to qualify for the rewards. This is something you want to avoid as you could actually end up negative in the long run.
Instead, follow the ten tips listed below. They show how to tailor spending to maximize your credit card rewards bonuses without spending money on things you don’t need.
1. Use Your Credit Card for Everything
Once you’ve signed up for your new credit card, the easiest way to meet any spending requirements and qualify for bonuses is to maximize the percentage of expenses you charge to the card. You want to do this without making unnecessary purchases, so switch all of your regular daily purchases from your old credit or debit cards (or cash) over to the new card.
Daily necessities like gas, groceries, and toiletries all add up and this is a great way of boosting your credit card usage with minimal effort and no extra spending.
You should also use your credit card for any larger purchases. For example, if you’re booking a trip or you’re investing in some new furniture, charge all of this to your credit card. These will give your overall expenditure a nice boost and let you reach the minimum spend requirements even quicker.
2. Move Your Automated Payments to the New Card
Moving any automated payments over to your new credit card will also increase your overall spending on the card and allow you to meet the bonus requirements.
Things like cable bills, Netflix or Hulu subscriptions, gym memberships, and cell phone plans can all be transferred over to your new credit card and can boost your monthly spending. Getting these changed over is generally pretty straightforward. In most cases, you should be able to do this online with very little effort.
This is a great, easy way of increasing your credit card spending and meeting those spending requirements.
If you feel more comfortable having your automated payments coming out of your regular bank account rather than a credit card, you can always change them back after you’ve qualified for the bonus.
3. Time Your Credit Card Applications with Large Purchases or Expenses in Mind
Be forward-thinking and plan your finances in advance. This is one of the keys to taking full advantage of signup bonuses and rewards.
For example, you might be due to renew your annual car insurance policy, you might be getting ready to replace an old laptop or TV, or you might be planning to book a big vacation. Try to time your credit card applications so these costs will fall within the bonus period.
Most credit card applications will take a few weeks or a month to be fully processed and approved (from the time you apply to the time when you have the card in your hand), so schedule your credit card applications accordingly. Any large expenses will make it even easier to quickly qualify for the bonus payment.
4. Donate to Charity
Similarly, if you make regular payments to charitable trusts or organizations, try to time these so they fall within the credit card bonus period. Maybe you normally make a donation each month. As an alternative, you could make several months’ worth of donations all at once, during the bonus period.
The majority of charities will accept donations by credit card, and this is a great way to earn some extra cash while also giving to a good cause.
If you’re looking for ways of meeting the spending requirements but don’t like the idea of making unnecessary purchases or contributing to unsustainable consumerism, making charitable donations instead is an excellent option.
5. Pre-Pay Your Bills
Some bills and utilities will allow you to overpay, putting you into credit which can then be used to save on bills in the future. In this case, you’ll be spending money before you would normally need to spend it, but it will reduce the amount you need to pay in upcoming months.
This is also a great way of qualifying for credit card bonuses. If you can afford to, overpaying will let you meet the spending requirements more quickly and qualify for those bonus rewards.
Not all billing companies allow this and some don’t give the option to overpay so it’s definitely best to carry out some preliminary research and check with your providers before attempting to make extra payments.
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6. Buy Gift Cards
Buying gift cards for stores, restaurants, hotels, or any other facilities or vendors you use regularly is another excellent way to boost spending and reach your credit card bonus within the qualifying time period.
If you regularly shop at Target or Amazon, buying yourself a gift card to use in the future is essentially like pre-paying for your future purchases. Similarly, if there’s a restaurant you order from on a regular basis, consider buying a gift card now to use in the future.
Almost all retailers and vendors sell gift cards, and there are also many options available that can be used in multiple stores and restaurants.
Once you have qualified and received your credit card bonus, you’ve essentially earned some free cash for purchases you would have made in the future anyway. Again, by thinking ahead and planning your spending in advance, you can really maximize your rewards bonuses.
7. Buy Gifts in Advance
Any upcoming birthdays, Christmas, or special occasions could also be utilized to enable you to reach your spending requirements. By shopping in advance and buying any gifts ahead of time during the credit card bonus period, you could boost your spending and reach the target spending amount.
Shopping out of season can also mean you get some great deals and heavily discounted prices. You might also be able to avoid the stress of shopping during busy periods.
Getting on top of all your gift buying ahead of time is always a rewarding feeling and in this case, might come with the added bonus of some free cash!
8. ‘Buy’ Free Products on Amazon
If you regularly make purchases with Amazon, you might have heard of the many Amazon rebate websites that offer huge savings or cashback offers on Amazon’s products.
RebateKey is one of the most well-known examples and gives customers up to 100% rebates for products sold on Amazon. You’ll need to purchase the item at full price, provide RebateKey with your proof of purchase, and then wait up to 35 days for the cashback to be awarded to your account. If you only purchase products that are offering 100% rebates, you’re essentially getting the product completely free of charge.
Since you’re purchasing the product at full price (RebateKey will pay you by check or direct deposit), you’re able to increase overall spending without being out any money. This is the perfect way to meet the requirements for signup bonuses when your normal expenses aren’t enough.
9. Add an Authorized User
Lots of credit cards allow you to add a second authorized user to your account. By adding a family member to your account, you’ll also authorize them to use the credit card account, meaning any purchases they make will also count towards your overall spending. This can enable you to meet minimum spend requirements much quicker and is likely to mean more rewards.
Of course, it’s vital that you only add trusted parties to your account. As the account holder, you are still solely responsible for repaying the credit card bill, so if they overspend and are unable to pay you back, legally you’re liable for the debt.
10. Pay with Plastiq
One of the major drawbacks when it comes to using a credit card regularly is lots of vendors or billing companies still don’t accept credit card payments. This can be frustrating and can also make it much more difficult to maximize your rewards bonuses.
Plastiq is an online service that lets you pay any bill using your credit card. Simply head over to the Plastiq website and input some basic data such as who you wish to send the payment to, the amount you wish to pay, and your own credit card details. Plastiq will then handle the payment, sending the money to the vendor via wire transfer or check, and charging the payment to your chosen credit card.
It’s important to note that this service does not come without its flaws; there’s a 2.85% fee for every payment made through Plastiq, so this isn’t the most cost-effective way of using your credit card. It’s therefore not advisable that you use this service regularly, but if you’re nearing the required amount to qualify for your credit card’s reward bonus, you could use this as a one-off to cover a rent or mortgage payment and give your overall spending a nice boost.
Using credit cards requires some financial discipline and it’s important you only spend what you can afford to repay and use your card sensibly.
With that being said, there are lots of opportunities to benefit from using your credit card and earn yourself some free money.
By using the tips listed in this article and using your credit card to spend wisely, you could earn extra cash without spending any more money than you would in your regular day-to-day life while avoiding any unnecessary purchases.