When Must I Meet the Spend Threshold for a Sign-Up Bonus?

Nov 23, 2014

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TPG reader Sophia tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy– “Must the minimum spending requirement be met when my third statement closes or exactly 90 days after opening the account in order to earn a sign-up bonus?”

In order to get lucrative credit card sign-up bonuses, you often have to hit spend thresholds. For example, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles, but you have to spend $5,000 within 90 days to earn it.

Sophia is wondering about timing pitfalls for meeting these spending requirements. There are a few things to keep in mind. First, credit card issuers start the clock on spending requirements the minute your account is opened (that is, before you even receive the card and activate it). This can be tricky, because sometimes your application won’t be approved right away, and when you eventually are approved, you don’t know exactly when the account was officially opened.

When do you need to hit that credit card spend threshold by to get a bonus? Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
Don’t guess the timing of your spending requirement; call and ask! Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

I recommend that whenever you get a card with a spending requirement, you call the issuer to confirm exactly when the account was opened in order to make sure you hit get the dates right.

Also keep in mind that some expenses (such as annual fees) don’t count toward your minimum spending requirement. I know some people who have thought that the annual fee was included, stopped short of their spending requirement, and thus didn’t earn the sign-up bonus.

An easy way to keep track of your spending requirements is with the TPG To Go App, which you can download on your phone here. Look under the “bonus” category on the TPG tracker page, and link your card to monitor your progress. For example, the tracker reflects that I already met the spending requirement for my British Airways Visa Signature Card. For any cards you link, you can go in and add a sign-up bonus. The app will then make sure you’re on track to meeting the minimum spending requirement, and will send you alerts if you’re approaching the time limit and haven’t yet earned the bonus.

So remember, always call and check to find out the date your account was opened. Some issuers will give you a little bit of a grace period, but I would advise against cutting it that close.

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

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