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Can I Use Promotional Checks to Meet Spending Requirements?

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TPG reader Christiaan sent me a message on Facebook to ask about cash advances:

“I just got some 0% APR promotional checks from my new Southwest card. Can I use those checks to help me meet the spending requirement for the sign-up bonus?”

There are plenty of credit cards that come with an introductory 0% APR on purchases, including several that earn travel rewards. I think it’s best to avoid carrying a balance whenever possible, but if you’re trying to manage existing credit card debt, these cards can give you some relief from more costly interest charges. That said, there are other 0% APR offers with much less favorable terms, and the ones Christiaan received are a perfect example.

Credit card companies often send out promotional checks that come with a 0% APR, but the deal isn’t as good as it may seem on the surface, especially when it comes to earning rewards. For starters, payments made with these checks are generally processed as balance transfers or cash advances. That means you won’t earn points or miles, and any amount you spend will not count toward meeting the spend requirement for the sign-up bonus.

Even worse, you’ll likely get hit with additional fees. For example, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card charges at least 5% of the transacted amount for balance transfers and cash advances, as well as a higher interest rate for cash advances. If you need to transfer a balance, you’d be much better off with a card like the Chase Slate, which offers a 0% APR on purchases or balance transfers for 15 months from account opening, and it doesn’t charge a fee when you transfer a balance within the first 60 days.

Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be very useful, especially if you earn the companion pass.
Promotional checks won’t count toward earning a sign-up bonus from the Southwest Premier card.

I get these promotional checks frequently, and I think the best thing to do is run them through the paper shredder. Award travel can be incredibly lucrative, but carrying a balance and incurring additional fees on a rewards credit card will eat into the value of the points and miles you earn. I recommend you think twice about applying for a card if you’re going to have trouble meeting the spending requirement, and think long-term when it comes to managing your finances and credit score.

For more on managing credit and maximizing rewards, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers.
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49% Variable $89 - Waived first year 0% Excellent/Good