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TPG reader credit card question: Do credit card annual fees count toward bonus spending requirements?

Oct. 25, 2021
3 min read
TPG reader credit card question: Do credit card annual fees count toward bonus spending requirements?
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2021 has been a golden year for travel credit card welcome offers. We've practically seen more cards with 100,000+ point bonuses than ever before.

But many lucrative card bonuses are guarded by a sizable minimum spending requirement. For example, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express comes with 120,000 bonus Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. That might be difficult to accomplish (though there are plenty of strategies you can use to achieve the Amex Business Platinum's bonus).

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With large spending requirements like this, every dollar spent helps. TPG reader Mike wants to know if credit card annual fees qualify as a purchase towards meeting minimum spend requirements towards unlocking a new welcome offer.

Do annual membership fees count towards bonus spend requirements?TPG READER MIKE

This is one of the most common questions we get from beginners here at TPG, and it's an important one. Unfortunately, annual fees do not count towards your bonus spending requirement.

Unlike some parts of the points-earning process, there isn’t any ambiguity here either. Most cards clearly state that fees — including annual membership fees — do not count toward your bonus spending threshold. Here are the Amex Business Platinum rates and fees, which clearly state that fees and interest charges don’t count.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

And here are the terms for the Chase Sapphire Reserve sign-up bonus, which are quite clear in stating that annual fees do not count.

(Screenshot courtesy of Chase)

It’s always important to have a plan of how you will meet your minimum spending requirement before you open a new credit card, so keep these guidelines in mind.

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In addition, be sure to factor in returns when you’re determining how much you need to spend to earn a welcome bonus. A scenario may arise where you earn a bonus and then need to return some items that helped you earn the bonus. Banks have been known to claw back bonuses if they think you're trying to take advantage of them (for example, purchasing a $10,000 refundable first class flight, earning the bonus, and then canceling your refundable flight).

You should always spend an extra few hundred dollars above the minimum spending requirement just to include a buffer. Factor out your annual fee when determining this amount.

Bottom Line

While some policies vary heavily between different card issuers, the answer to this question is nearly universal: Your annual fee does not count toward your bonus spending requirement. You’ll need to make actual purchases in order to earn those bonus points. We've created a guide to give you creative ideas for meeting your minimum spending requirement. You can spend more organically than you probably think.

Let us know if you have any head-scratchers you’d like answered for our weekly reader question series. You can tweet us @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card, click here.

Featured image by (Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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