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Meeting Credit Card Spending Requirements: 2016 Edition

My 3 year-old post on how to meet $40,000 in credit card spending requirements remains one of my most popular posts to date. Things have changed a great deal since then. At the time, there were several prepaid cards that made meeting credit card spending requirements cheap and convenient. With the Target prepaid REDcard out of the picture and the wave of Serve and Bluebird shutdowns, that limits us further. While options for meeting credit card spending requirements are becoming limited, there are a few methods that have survived as well as others that are being explored by more and more people. Taking all of this into account, here are ways to meet $40,000+ worth of credit card spending requirements in 2016:

Håkan Dahlström / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0

Meeting Credit Card Spending Requirements via Household Spending 

It still surprises me how many people don’t charge their household bills and everyday spending to mile-earning credit cards. For many people, it’s easier to just set up auto-pay but they’re also missing out on rewards. Simply charging household spending to a credit card can go a long way in meeting credit card spending requirements. Some people even overpay recurring bills. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you can pay off the balance at the end of the month, but it’s an option.

Meeting Credit Card Spending Requirements With Plastiq

Making payments through Plastiq falls under household spending, with the difference being that Plastiq is for bills that can’t be paid directly with a credit card. This includes student loan payments, rent/mortgage, taxes, individuals, etc. Plastiq does charge a credit card processing fee between 1.99 – 2.5%, depending on whether they’re running a promotion or not. At those rates, I would still only use Plastiq to meet credit card spending requirements, since 2% is way more than I’m otherwise willing to pay for frequent flyer miles. Note, if you use my Plastiq referral link to sign up and make a payment of at least $20, you’ll get 200 Fee-Free Dollars (FFD’s) while I’ll receive 400.

Meeting Credit Card Spending Requirements via Gift Card Churning (~ $10,000 per day) 

The number of miles that can be earned through this method depends on the time you’re willing to devote. There are lots of places that accept PIN-enabled gift cards for money order purchases. The cost of buying them ranges from $0.55 to $2.50 per $1,000. Most people can buy up to $10,000 worth of gift cards per day at their local mall and while there are certainly ways to buy more, who really needs that many miles or that large of a spending requirement to complete in a short period of time?

Meeting Credit Card Spending Requirements With Paypal My Cash Card ($4,000 per month)

I’ve said it before: Paypal isn’t a long-term solution since they tend to shut people down pretty quickly. The $4,000 monthly load limit goes along way and Paypal My Cash Cards are reasonably priced at $3.95 per $500. Again, this isn’t a long-term option and comes with its own risk and hassle, should your account get shut down before you get a chance to withdraw the funds.

Reselling for Miles

I’ve given reselling more than a fair chance and I’m officially over it. Unless I come across an especially lucrative reselling opportunity (i.e. Kate Middleton starts wearing clothes from Zara again or Jason Wu puts out another Target collection that sells out immediately), I’m going to sit it out. Lots of people are reselling successfully, but it’s too much work for me. Just last week I got embroiled in some drama over an item I sold on eBay: The seller closed his account after winning the auction, didn’t pay for it, leaving me on the hook with seller fees, which has been way too much trouble to solve. I’ll stick to my tried and true gift card churning routine.

Meeting Credit Card Spending Requirements With Kiva

Kiva helps aspiring business owners around the world with micro loans that can be charged to your credit card. Kiva currently boasts a 98.34% repayment rate on over $855,000,000 worth of loans! Repayment may take a while and isn’t guaranteed, so don’t spend more than you’re willing to part with (permanently).

Meeting Credit Card Spending Requirements With Kickfurther

Kickfurther is a crowdfunding site, similar to Kickstarter except instead of receiving thank-you notes and product samples, investors get a cut of the action. While Kickfurther accepts credit cards for investments without fees, you will incur a 1.5% fee when withdrawing funds. Considering many investments are repaid within 6 months at a 10% return, the fee still leaves you with a profit. Investing is always risky, so do your research and decide whether meeting minimum spending requirements is worth it. New members who sign-up with a Kickfurther referral link receive a $5 credit.

There are other ways to meet credit card spending requirements these days – some of them more dodgy than others. Some of these methods aren’t discussed publicly because overexposure could cause a shutdown. Anyway, I highly recommend you look around and see what unique manufactured spending opportunities you might have available to you. 

On that note, I’d love to know how you’re meeting credit card spending requirements these days.

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Ariana Arghandewal

31 Comments

  1. Hi Ariana, love reading you and this post is excellent. One of your best IMO. NYC is a wasteland for MS. I have to the next time in SF watch you in action 😉 ..I am able to meet spend requirements because I own property and I am always fixing something. I do take advantage of the 50k Max with Ink Plus and staples VGC and low hanging fruit of from Buxx Cards.

    • Thanks Giovanni! SF is actually also a bit of a wasteland like NYC, but the Sacramento area is much more ms friendly. It sounds like you’re doing ok though – Staples gc’s are one of my favorite methods of ms, though I do wish the limit was higher than $50k…

  2. On gift card churning, I was at Arden Fair Mall trying to buy Simon Visa gift cards and saw a notice informing the public about no acceptance of American Express gift cards from June 1st. Acceptable forms of payment will be limited to MC and VS.

    • That’s very odd – so none of the stores there will accept Amex gift cards? So bizarre, considering Simon sells them. But I heard Arden has been difficult lately.

      • I think I did not make myself clear. What I mean is that their customer service will not accept Amex as a form of payment to buy visa gift cards to MS or meet the minimum spend. Rest of the shops in the mall are free to chose what ever form of payment they accept.

        • I see. That’s odd, though for me it wouldn’t be a major issue since I’m careful about ms’ing with Amex cards. If you’re in the Folsom area, try the Folsom Outlets, which is also a Simon Mall. Vacaville Outlets is also SM and very ms friendly.

  3. I also enjoy your posts very much. You write very well. As a working stiff, I only need enough miles to do the travelling during my limited vacation and just finding “saver” trips is very challenging. I going to slowly dip my toes into the gift card route and hope not many other in my area are doing it.

    • Thanks John! I hear you. Finding saver awards is tough, especially if you’re traveling around the time everyone else is (summer, spring and winter breaks). That’s why I focus a lot of my spending on cash back/flexible rewards currencies, for those times when saver awards just aren’t available.

  4. I concur with the others; your posts are a refreshing read indeed, and have helped me with MS in several cases. One q: how does one single person manage $10000 of GC spend per day? 🙂

  5. Hi Ariana! I love how you are so open about your MS techniques. I have no problem buying $10k in gift cards, my issue comes afterwards when I need to deposit them to my bank accounts without raising red flags. I know you wrote a controversial post earlier about it, but does your ‘technique’ still stand or are you doing anything different?

    • I’m depositing $10k+ into my account each time, to stay compliant. I haven’t had my account shut down like I expected, but I’m sure it will happen at some point. For that reason, I have a separate account for ms – so that if it does get shut down, it won’t interfere with my regular banking activities.

      • Ariana,

        I assume you have a day job. If banks keeps sending SARs to Treasury, it won’t take the IRS longer the couple years to take notice.

        Now, even if everything is perfectly legal, the pain of going through a full blown IRS audit is not fun. They might also consider your MS profit income.

        How do you justify all the risk? Do you not have a real job? Are your taxes really that perfect?

        • I’m not sure what you mean by “are your taxes really that perfect?” As for MS “income”, the IRS doesn’t consider cash back rewards or miles earned through credit card spend as taxable income but rather a rebate.

          • Yes, I am aware of the notice not to treat cashback as income. In your case though, it is clearly a business. You are not doing this for fun, nor does it serve any purpose other than collecting cashback.

            Maybe if you are getting points instead of cashback its harder to prove income, but do you really want to be court case to set precedent?

            You also will be blacklisted by the CC issuer. That does not take 2 years. Plenty of stories on FT & DD. I just don’t understand how is this worth it? Even if you make 30k a year with this… is it worth being blacklisted by Chase or Amex AND having to go through IRS audit?

          • Thankfully that’s not your concern, cupcake, so don’t worry your pretty little head about that. Do hold your breath for that audit post, though. It will be something to do since you don’t seem to have anything other than your pro-bono accounting business to occupy your time.

          • Also, please do blog about the IRS audit when it comes. I am curious.

  6. Yes, my Q is the same as Chelsea’s. Purchasing that much is fine, but “managing” them is another story… 🙂

  7. Thanks Ariana for the post!

    My rent payment was received in 8 days (including the weekend). I would definitely recommend sending the payment with plenty of time before deadlines to avoid late payments. otherwise so far so good 🙂

    I would appreciate it if any new applicants would use my referral link (you’d get $200 fee-free dollars):
    https://try.plastiq.com/473671

    Thank you very much 🙂

  8. Used Plastiq twice so far with my Platinum Skymiles Amex to send my landlord rent checks. No problems. Landlord reported receiving the check by when Plastiq expected to deliver it.

  9. Great advice, I am using it to meet my min spend for SPG. Plastiq is a great alternative to meet your minimum spend requirements (like Chase Sapphire Reserve or AMEX SPG). I just did a referral and I got the credit the same day! (It can take up to 1 day). Appreciate it if you use my link below. $400 FEE Free credit.

    Referral code 648787
    Link: https://try.plastiq.com/648787

  10. I am a small internet Business owner (LLC) in the US. Is it legal to use my internet payments system (stripe and PayPal) to reach my sending requirement for bonuses?
    So basically get a card with a high Bonus (for instance the Chase Ink Preferred Business with a $800 bonus for $5000 in 3 months. Then pay my business $5000 using that card.($145.30 fee to either Stripe or PayPal). Get the money back on my Bank account (no fee).
    Pay the Credit card. $354.70 profit.
    Accounting wise, i will report it both a $4854.70 sales (because of the 1099) and a purchase to myself. I will also report the $145.30 as fee, so i will not have to pay tax on that profit, saving me about $40 in tax.

    So the question: is that legal both from the Credit Card and the IRS point of view?
    Thanks

    • I honestly have no idea and am not qualified to give legal advice. I do know some people have used Square to meet spending requirements even though they didn’t have a business (and were subsequently shut down). I would personally not go this route.

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