After the big American Express Platinum 150,000 Point Sign Up Bonus  when you spend $20,000 in 3 months, MDP reader Pete asked “But how do you spend $20,000 in three months?”
Great question Pete! It’s obvious for a gigantic spending requirement like that we would all need some sort of plan to “spend” that much in three months. However, anytime you do an application spree  or take advantage of a sign up bonus, like the Chase Ink Plus $600+ Sign Up Bonus , you need a way to hit the spending requirements.
Here’s a list of how I meet credit card spending requirements to earn sign up bonuses.
How to Meet Spending Requirements
- Everyday Purchases. I’ll carry my new card and use it for everyday spending. My quarterly 5% Rotating Cash Rewards  cards usually take a back seat when I have to meet huge spending requirements.
- Prepaid Utilities. Our utility companies allow prepayments of $500 and $600. I charge the maximum at both places. I often prepay a few months or even the entire year.
- Buy American Express Gift Cards. Purchasing American Express Gift cards is one of my favorite ways to meet spending requirements. I often buy these when there’s an increased cash back opportunity . Today, Simply Best Coupons  has increased cash back.
- Tax Payments. I often make tax payments with our credit cards  to meet spending bonuses. I pay property taxes, state withholding, federal withholding, business taxes, and our taxes due on the April tax deadline . I often pay these with the American Express gift cards above to offset the fee or even make money paying taxes  when the cash back is higher than the fees.
- Prepaid Insurance. I pay for all of our insurance for the year. Even when I don’t owe anything I often login and submit payments before the renewal arrives. When we get the bill, it shows the credit and no payment due.
- Amazon Reselling. I buy lot of inventory to resell on Amazon . Normally, I focus on highly profitable items, but when I need to hit spending requirements, there’s an opportunity to buy things just to break even or make a small profit. I did this to earn points for our free trip to Steamboat  last winter.
- Prepay Bills. I will prepay any bill to a company that accepts credit card payments. This includes cell phone, internet, satellite, etc. Since we were going to pay it anyways, I might as well use the future payments to hit spending requirements. When bank rates  are low, prepaying to get sign up bonuses is a much better payoff than earning interest.
- Negotiate for Annual Payments. In addition to companies that let you prepay your bills, some companies (including many gym memberships) will give you a discount to pay for a whole year. If you are planning large payments, call and ask for a discount to pay for the whole year!
- Amazon Gift Cards. Amazon Gift Cards  are almost equivalent to cash at our house. I’ll prepurchase them and immediately load them to our account.
- Gift Cards. In addition to Amazon gift cards, I consider some of what our spending will be for the year and purchase gift cards for any of the restaurants and stores we’ll be using for the next few months. I also prepurchase gift cards for teacher gifts and holiday presents. Better yet, buy them at a discount through a place like Cardpool .
- Charitable Donations. Normally we make our charitable contributions once a year. However, I will often move up the donations I was planning to make anyways if the timing coincides with hitting spending requirements.
- Kids Stuff. I plan out the entire year for our kids and prepay any expenses I know we will incur. I usually prepay summer camps and I max out their school lunch accounts whenever I’m in the middle of meeting spending requirements.
- Open a New Bank Account with Credit Card Funding. I recently opened a new bank account for the sign up bonus. If they allow the initial funding by credit card (as a purchase, not a cash advance) I maximize the opportunity!
- Buy Things for Friends. I will offer to pay for any group activities (dinners, hotel stays, etc.) that get reimbursed by friends. It often takes a little work to be the coordinator, but it’s an easy way to hit sign up bonuses without spending your own money!
- Visa or Mastercard Gift Cards. I often stop by the grocery store to pick up Visa gift cards. I used this in conjunction with a Bluebird  or Serve  account to cash them out before I closed my Bluebird/Serve accounts to get a Target Prepaid Redcard.
- Target Prepaid Redcard. While the direct credit card loads for the Target Prepaid Redcard  ended earlier this month, some people are finding that you can still load these with the debit gift cards.
- Pay Your Rent or Mortgage. There are a few companies that allow you to pay your rent or mortgage with a credit card . However, they charge fees, so make sure any benefit you are getting covers the expense of the fee.
- Medical Expenses. Often a FSA  will give you a card to use for copays and prescriptions. However, while it’s convenient, you don’t get any rewards for those purchases. Instead, I use my own credit card for the expenses and request a reimbursement from the FSA.
- Move Your Auto Payments. Some of our expenses are automatically billed to our credit card. Make sure you login to your accounts and change the card that the automatic payments are tied to.
- Send Money Online. In the past I have sent some money via paypal to some willing friends and family. The cash back more than covered the fees associated with sending the money.
- Seasonal Sporting Events. Every year we buy season tickets for football and season passes for the ski hill in the off season. The nice thing about many seasonal sports, they are happy to take your money early!
- Manufactured Spending. In addition to all the ways above, there are entire forums dedicated to manufactured spending . There you’ll find many more ideas including Target for American Express, Visa Buxx, Simon Mall gift cards, money orders and various prepaid cards.
Don’t Spend More
Don’t forget the idea is to make your spending count, without actually spending any extra money. That would defeat the purpose of the sign up bonus! As always, be careful and organized if you decide to use these strategies. Also be sure you have the money to cover the altered cash flow with some of these ideas.
How do you meet spending requirements for sign up bonuses?
More on Credit Cards
- Avoid Joint Credit Cards to Double Your Sign Up Bonuses 
- How Much Do Credit Inquiries Really Matter? 
- Does it Ever Make Sense to Pay Annual Fees on Credit Cards? 
- Tips and Tricks for Planning Credit Card Application Sprees 
- How to Collect Multiple Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses 
- Convert Credit Cards Instead of Paying Annual Fees