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As 2014 winds down, there are a lot of important award travel considerations for the end of the year, including elite status qualification, upcoming program changes, and credit card benefits to maximize before they expire.

Back in January I looked at what I think are the top credit card annual spending bonuses. Most of these bonuses are based on spending within the calendar year (as opposed to the account anniversary), so with only 3 weeks left until 2015, I wanted to remind readers to check their progress and offer some tips for how to boost your spending if you’re cutting it close.

British Airways A380 First Class
The British Airways Visa offers a Travel Together certificate as a spending bonus – great for first class!

Among the calendar year spending bonuses I wrote about previously, here are some of my favorites:

  • British Airways Visa Signature Card: spend $30,000 and earn a “Travel Together” companion ticket good for two years. This ticket can be used on award flights, so you can get a lot of value out of it on business and first class itineraries.
  • Amex Premier Rewards Gold: spend $30,000 and earn 15,000 bonus Membership Rewards points. (Note that this benefit will no longer be available in 2015, but current cardholders can still earn the bonus for this year.)
  • Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard: spend $40,000 and earn 10,000 elite qualifying miles. This card helps me maintain Executive Platinum status from year to year.
Book your summer vacation early to boost your 2014 spending. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you’re close to earning your credit card spending bonus but need a little extra push, here are a few ideas to help you get over the threshold:

  • Buy gift cards: you can get gift cards just about anywhere—the grocery store, gas station, your favorite restaurants, etc. By buying those gift cards now, you’re effectively pre-paying for some of your 2015 expenses, but you can apply them to your 2014 spending.
  • Start planning next year’s travel: if you have a 2015 vacation in mind, consider booking it early. Even if you’re planning award travel, there may be portions of your trip that you can’t cover with points and miles.
  • Pay your taxes early: you can use a credit card to pay your taxes, and while you’ll incur some fees for doing so, the trade-off may be worthwhile if the bonus you earn is substantial.

Finally, to help you track your spending and make sure you reach the threshold, check out the premium Tracker function on the new TPG To Go app. It monitors your progress and keeps you apprised of exactly how far you have to go until you earn a bonus.

Which spending bonuses are you going for this year?

Know before you go.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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