We’re less than 30 days away from the end of the year, which means it’s time to rev up spending on our credit cards – at least the ones that offer annual spending bonuses. With all the year-end sales and holidays coming up, many of you will be putting lots of legitimate spend on your credit cards – so why not get something extra out of it, besides the usual 1-6 points per $1 spent? Whether you’re in the market for extra airline miles, hotel points, free nights, companion passes or elite status, you can get it by channeling your spending onto the right rewards credit card.
Time is limited, so if you’re just getting started and can’t pull off $40,000 worth of manufactured spending in a single month (and you really shouldn’t do that on a single credit card), there are a variety of bonuses you can earn by meeting lower spending requirements. Below are your options, categorized by the amount of spend required:
$2,500 – $7,500 Worth of Spending
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard: Earn 1 tier point per $2,500 spent (up to 2 per month).
- Marriott Rewards Credit Card: Earn 1 elite credit for every $3,000 spent (unlimited).
- Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn 1 elite credit for every $3,000 spent (unlimited).
- Fairmont Visa Signature Card: Earn 1 elite stay credit for spending $7,500, up to two credits per calendar year.
I wouldn’t recommend focusing your spending in this category unless you’re already close to achieving elite status with Fairmont. As for Virgin Atlantic and Marriott, if having status with these programs is more important to you than earning free nights or other perks elsewhere, then this might be a good place to focus your spending. However, keep in mind that there’s a cheaper way to earn top-tier Marriott Platinum status, which involves putting $75,000 worth of spend on the Ritz Carlton credit card.
$10,000 – $19,000 Worth of Spending
- Hawaiian Airlines World Elite MasterCard: 5,000 bonus miles after $10,000 in annual spend.
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card: One free weekend night certificate after spending $10,000 per year.
- Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card: One free night certificate valid at U.S. hotels after spending $10,000 per membership year.
- Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature Card: One free night certificate valid at U.S. hotels after spending $10,000 per membership year.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for every $10,000 spent (up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying Points per calendar year)
- Fairmont Visa Signature Card: Earn 1 free night each anniversary after spending $12,000 per year.
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard: 50,000 miles after spending $12,000 within 6 months of account opening.
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard: 7,500 bonus anniversary miles when you spend $15,000 per calendar year.
Within this category, the only spending requirement that has to be met by calendar year (as opposed to credit card anniversary) are the bonuses from the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard and Tier-Qualifying Points from the Southwest Premier Business Card. I can’t remember when the 90,000 Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard offer ended, but if it was still valid in June and you got in on it, there may still be time to earn the 50,000 point bonus by completing $12,000 worth of spending. If you’ve missed the cut-off date, then you can still learn 7,500 bonus anniversary miles by completing $15,000 worth of spending by the end of this calendar year.
If your Club Carlson card anniversary is coming up and you’re on the fence about whether to keep it and meet the $10,000 spending requirement for the annual free night, then check out my list of the 10 Best Club Carlson Hotels to Redeem Your Free Night Certificate. It’s not exactly an impressive line-up, but the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago and Radisson Martinique Broadway are good redemption options.
$20,000 – $29,000 Worth of Spending
- Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard: 5,000 EQMs per $20,000 spent (up to 10,000 EQMs per calendar year).
- Chase Hyatt Visa Signature Card: Earn 2 stays/5 nights after spending $20,000 per calendar year.
- United MileagePlus Explorer Card: 10,000 bonus miles for spending $25,000 within one calendar year.
- Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard: Spend $25,000 per year and get a companion ticket for half the miles when you redeem an economy award ticket.
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: Earn 10,000 MQM’s after spending $25,000 in a calendar year.
Aside from the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard card offer, all of the above listed bonuses can be earned every calendar year. It’s not advisable to spend $20,000 – $25,000 on a card in a single month, but if you’ve already put some of that spend on these cards since January, you may have very little left to do.
$30,000 Worth of Spending
- Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard: $99 Companion Certificate after spending $30,000.
- British Airways Visa Signature Card: A Travel Together Ticket after spending $30,000 within a year.
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express: 15,000 MQM after $30,000 spent.
- Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard: $100 flight discount coupon after spending $30,000 per year.
- Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express: Earn SPG Gold status after spending $30,000 in a calendar year.
The British Airways Visa Signature Card and Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express both offer bonuses that can be earned each calendar year. Whether you’re after the British Airways Travel Together Ticket or MQM’s for Delta elite status, you can do it before the end of the year.
$40,000 Worth of Spending
- Citi Executive AAdvantage Card: 10,000 EQM after spending $40,000 in a calendar year.
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card: Top-tier Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year.
- Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express: Top-tier Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 within a calendar year.
- Chase Hyatt Visa Signature Card: Earn an additional 3 stays/5 nights towards elite status after spending $40,000 per calendar year.
If it’s top-tier hotel elite status or AAdvantage EQM’s you’re aiming for, both of these can be achieved by channeling $40,000 worth of spending on the appropriate credit card. I would focus on earning Hilton Diamond status, since I had such a great experience as a Diamond member at the Conrad Bali this summer. That’s not to say I haven’t received great treatment as a mid-tier Gold, but Diamond status is a step up and worth earning – to me at least. When my Diamond status expires, this will be my preferred method of earning it back. While you can certainly go the Hyatt route and earn extra stay/night credits towards Hyatt Diamond, I don’t think that’s the best value for your money spent. I would recommend holding out for a Diamond status match or challenge instead or mattress running, if you’re not too short on stay requirements.
$50,000 Worth of Spending
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express: Earn an additional 10,000 MQM’s after spending $50,000 in a calendar year.
- Hawaiian Airlines Business MasterCard: Earn 20,000 bonus miles annually after spending $50,000 – $99,000.
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express: 15,000 MQM after $60,000 spent per calendar year.
- Ritz Carlton Rewards Card: Earn Platinum elite status after spending $75,000 per year.
- Hawaiian Airlines Business MasterCard: Earn 40,000 bonus miles annually after spending $100,000.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card: Earn a Southwest Companion Pass when you earn (either via credit card sign-up bonuses or spend) 110,000 Rapid Rewards points annually.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card: Earn a Southwest Companion Pass when you earn (either via credit card sign-up bonuses or spend) 110,000 Rapid Rewards points annually.
Of the above bonuses, only the $60,000 spending requirement from the Amex Delta Reserve Credit Card has to be met in a calendar year in order to earn 15,000 MQM’s. If you’ve already met the majority of the required spend and are close to earning elite status with Delta, then it’s worth generating some extra spend on the card. Otherwise, I’d focus $50,000+ worth os spend towards earning the Southwest Companion pass or Ritz Carlton/Marriott Platinum status.
For tips on how to meet $2,500 -$50,000 worth of spending requirements in a year (or less), be sure to check out the Newbie Guide to Manufactured Spending.
Which of these annual credit card spending bonuses will you be focusing on through the end of the year?
Subscribe to Blog via Email