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

Oct 25, 2021

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

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.

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.

Featured photo by Image Source / Getty Images.

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.