If you’ve done an app-o-rama and have multiple spending requirements to meet in order to unlock bonuses, you might be feeling a little bit of stress. After all, you may have never applied for multiple cards on the same day before. If you’re feeling stressed, don’t fear – this post is here to help. And just as a reminder, you should not be messing around with these strategies unless you are paying your credit card bills off in full each month!
There are a couple of rules of thumb to understand before I get to how to manufacture spending if you need to. This will help you clear your signing bonuses in the most efficient way possible and ensure that you will clear all of them.
1. Meet signing bonuses in order from lowest to highest
The reality is, sometimes things happen, so there’s always the risk you won’t be able to meet all the spending requirements needed to unlock all of your bonuses. Obviously, you weren’t planning on doing this, but sometimes things happen.
For this reason, it’s important to start with the lowest spending requirements FIRST. Start with the bonuses that unlock after first purchase, then work your way up from lowest to highest. This way, if something unfortunately does happen, you’ve still gotten some of your bonus miles instead of none of them.
2. Switch all your autopay bills to the card that you will pay off last
In other words, switch all autopay bills to the card with the highest spending requirement. That way, you will be slowly working towards paying off that requirement while working on your lower spending floors.
3. Tie goes to the AMEX
American Express cards are accepted in less places, so any chance you have to put money on an AMEX card you’re working on should be one you should consider. Obviously this has to be weighed in light of #1, but ideally, you want to make sure you pay off your AMEX cards first. Otherwise, you might end up only having the AMEX to pay off with nothing to pay. For an example, on one churn, I had an AMEX and a Visa with the same spending requirement. Unfortunately, I assumed that I could pay my $500 heating oil bill with the AMEX. Turns out AMEX wasn’t accepted, so I had to scramble to pay off that last $500 – I should have taken some purchases from my Visa and put them on the AMEX when I could have.
4. Manufacture spending if necessary
If you follow these general practices, you still might need to generate a little bit more spending. There are various ways you can do this, which I illustrate…now!
Ways to Manufacture Spending
The goal when you are trying to manufacture spending is to not spend more money than you normally would. Here are some of my favorite ways to manufacture spending when necessary, listed from order of easiest to most complicated.
Disclaimer: Credit card companies DO monitor spending. All these ideas are to be used when necessary, but not overused. If so, you risk financial review or at worst, your card being cancelled on you. Don’t kill the golden goose.
1. Buy gift cards
This is probably the most straightforward way to manufacture spending when necessary. Go to any grocery store or pharmacy, buy a gift card to Amazon, ITunes, Stop & Shop, or wherever. Then use them at your convenience.
2. Amazon Payments
With Amazon Payments, you can send up to $1000 per month to people using a credit card. This means if you have a spouse, family member, or person you trust, you can generate $1000 of spending every month. The only drawbacks are you have to convince your trusted friend to open an Amazon Payments account, and you also need to trust them, obviously. To get the money back, they can either send it back to you, or they can withdraw it and give it back to you, or whatever. This is definitely a bit of a golden goose – so don’t abuse it.
One frustrating thing is how you can’t pay for a lot of mortgages, bills, etc. using a credit card. Bluebird, by American Express, has changed all that. The essence of the strategy is this: buy Vanilla Reload cards with a credit card (which incurs a $3.95 fee for $500), then load the money into your Bluebird account, and then use your Bluebird account to pay whatever bills you’d like. Rather then reinvent the wheel, you can read about how to use Bluebird here and here.
Meeting minimum spending requirements can be stressful sometimes. At other times, you might even have to manufacture some spending to make your minimums. It’s important not to go beyond your normal spending means, but using gift cards, Amazon Payments, or Bluebird, you can do so.