Meeting Credit Card Spend: Free Shipping, No Service Fees and 1.6% Cashback on Gift Cards
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
I'm asked all the time, "How am I supposed to hit the spend requirements on my credit card?" There are a lot of ways to generate credit card spend for every day activities, but most of the big spend items like paying rent and taxes come with fees that can negate the value of the points/miles earned.
Buying gift cards is a great way to increase the spend on your credit card without having to buy needless merchandise. While these can't be converted directly into cash to pay off the balance (much like how the Mint deal used to work), you can use them to pay for every day items, give them as wedding gifts and possibly even convince any vendors (like cleaning lady, nanny, etc) you deal with to take them as payment. You can even use them to buy other gift cards, which you can then sell on Plastic Jungle or simply sell them on Ebay.
Buying Gift Cards Through Big Crumbs
Update: Warning- Citi may treat these purchases as cash advances, so before you go crazy, I'd test it out with a small order.
Instructions (you don't have to sign-up for BigCrumbs to get the gift cards - you'll just miss out on 1.6% cash back on your order. If you want to order the gift card directly go here and continue from step 4):
1) Create a BigCrumbs account. Here is my referral link if you need it - it only takes a minute.
2) Then search for American Express - two results will come up, personal and business. Choose whichever one - it doesn't matter (I chose personal).
3) Sign-in with your American Express ID. If you don't have one, you can create one (you do not need to be an Amex cardholder to buy Amex gift cards).
4) Choose the Diwali gift card (this one has no fees until 10/31/11).
5) Choose how many you want - up to $5,000 per order.
6) For shipping, choose the third option: Premium Shipping $99 Year FREE TRIAL. You don't actually pay the $99 until your 3 month free trial is up, so make sure you cancel before then.
7) Check out. It will default to your Amex cards, but you can choose to pay with a Visa, Mastercard, or Discover.
I have ordered these gift cards with Amex charge cards in the past and I've never had an issue with it being questioned or being coded as a cash advance. Since gift cards cannot be converted into cash, I highly doubt any credit card company would charge a cash advance and if they did, I would fight it. For reference, this is how they show up on my Amex bill - the charge type is coded as "Business Services- Other Services".
If you recently got the Sapphire Preferred Card (which I know many of you did) and it will take you 3 months to hit the $3,000 spend requirement in order to get the 50,000 sign-up bonus, then you could buy $3,000 in gift cards today and use them over the next couple of months as you would have meeting the spend normally. In this case you get 1.6% back ($48) and you get the bonus right after your statement closes instead of waiting months.