Before you’re allowed to receive the generous sign-up bonuses, credit cards issuers have minimum spending requirements ranging from $1,000 to $7,500, typically within three months of approval.
So how do we meet minimum spending requirements quickly?
Tran and I usually time our card applications to when there are big purchases coming up such as trips back to California or when property taxes are due. Of course, we don’t have huge purchases throughout the year so found ways to meet the requirement without accumulating more debt.
We buy Visa gift cards at drugstores. They look like this.
For example, one of my favorite cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred * and it has $4,000 minimum spend. To meet the requirement, I buy a total of 8 $500 visa gift cards at CVS and/or Walgreens. I’ve only gotten them at a few Walgreens but they all seem to have a limit of $500 per day per brand. For CVS, the daily limit is $2000 but I’m risk averse so prefer to only buy 2 cards at a time, twice a week. There is a $4.95 activation fee per card. Make sure you spread out the purchases so the banks don’t get suspicious. People have gotten their accounts frozen by being too ambitious with this.
Once gift cards are purchased, I go to the post office or certain grocery stores to purchase money orders (MOs). Each MO costs between $0.69-$1.20, depending on where it is purchased, so make sure you ask first before you tell the cashier the desired amount for the MO. You’d want to buy enough to cover $500. For me, the MO fee is usually $1.20 at the post office so I buy $498.80. When it is time to pay, just swipe the card and enter the 4 digit numbers (of your choice) when prompted. It works just like a debit card. Make sure to refuse the cash back option if asked. You cannot withdraw cash from these gift cards.
I then take the MOs to a local bank to directly pay my credit card balance. For example, I can go to Chase to pay off the balances on my Sapphire card since it is issued by Chase. Otherwise, you could deposit them into your checking account then use it to pay other cards with different banks. I personally don’t recommend doing that because the banks might flag you for money laundering if you do it often and in hefty sums. You are not breaking any rules doing this but it is always better to err on the side of caution when banks and money are involved.
For 8 cards, I’d spend $39.60 in activation fees and $9.60 in MO fees, which equals to $49.20. Spending less than $50 in exchange for 50,000 UR points that could be transferred 1:1 to many airlines and/or hotels is a great steal. With 50,000 UR points, you could transfer to Hyatt to stay at the Andaz Tokyo for 2 nights. You cannot even find a hostel for that price!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is an introduction to “manufactured spending,” and it helps us to meet minimum spending requirements for 30+ cards without going into debt.
I recently found out that these visa gift cards could pay my youngest brother’s rent. Yes! It’s another way for me to liquidate these gift cards quickly, easily, and with less fees!
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UPDATE: 11/4/17. As of today, we cannot buy MOs at USPS anymore. Also, these gift cards’ activation fees have all increased to $5.95. I could no longer find $4.95 cards. Here are some other ways to meet the minimum spending without actually using much of your own money.