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Travel Hacking! How to Meet Credit Card Spend Requirements


Hi, it’s Tim and Amy from go with less. We had a killer video (amazing!) done yesterday! We went out to a park and had a gorgeous, “Colorado crisp beautiful day” video. And when we got home, there was the slightest breeze. We learned that all the footage was so…the wind was so intense in all the footage and it sounded like we were in the middle of a hurricane, even though it was a light breeze. So here we are back in our home. At least we’re off the couch! We both love travel hacking but it’s Tim’s baby. So he’s gonna take on most of the points coming up. But we’re gonna talk about how we get our minimum spend met on all those new credit cards we sign up for it so that we can travel the world for free. We travel for free, we stay for free. We’re gonna be talking about travel hacking things once a month so please look out for those every Wednesday and if you’re interested in travel hacking;if you’re interested in house-sitting as a travel hack; if you’re interested in budget travel, please hit that subscribe button over there because we talk about this every single Wednesday, and we’d love to see you back. So let’s get going. So I travelled extensively for business and I earn lots of miles and points through my business travel. However, far and away the best way to earn points and miles is by credit cards. And typically that means signing up for new credit cards. This is gonna be the first in a travel hacking series that we’re gonna run on a monthly basis for an undefined amount of time. That’s real specific! We don’t know how long or what… Whatevs! This is one of my very favorite topics. I love to talk about travel hacking. I love to travel and so these two things go well together. So like Amy said, we’re gonna talk about signup bonuses today and how do you meet that minimum spend. Amy and I like we’ve mentioned a thousand times…we live on $36,000 a year. So often times when you sign up for a credit card, it comes with with the requirement that you have to spend somewhere between fifteen hundred and five thousand dollars over the course of 90 days on that single credit card in order to get this amazing signup bonus that comes with the with the credit car. And and so sometimes that may seem difficult to do so what we’re going to do today is give you some tips on how you can make that happen. Also, I want to put this out there… One of the biggest sins, if not the biggest sin in the travel hacking space, would be signing up for a credit card and then somehow forgetting to put the spend on the card and missing out on that signup bonus. So hopefully, today we’re going to give you some tips that make it so that never happens to you. Before we get into the list of ways to actually meet your minimum spend, we’re going to talk about three rules that we have when we sign up for a new credit card. Number one, if the card doesn’t have at least $500 worth of value and this is value to us (and so you might have to figure out how much a hundred thousand points is going to be worth to you in a given program)… But, if it doesn’t have $500 worth of value minus, or net, the fees that you may pay. So, if you have to pay an annual fee upfront or something like that, we’re not going to sign up for it. That’s rule number one. And by $500, we don’t mean a $500 t-shirt. So I know in the past, when we were in college, you signed up for a credit card and got a t-shirt? Those days are gone! We’re talking about $500 of killer benefits like free travel. Not a free t-shirt. That’s exactly right. So the second thing that we have as a rule is to have a plan. And so before we sign up for a credit card, we know exactly the money that we’re going to be putting on that card in order to meet the minimum spend. So we sign up right before we’re going to have insurance bills due; right before our taxes are to due; right before there’s some event that is going to allow us to meet the minimum spend in an easy way. So we always have that done well before we sign up for a card. We know how we’re gonna meet this minimum spend. And I’m gonna give an example, two of them actually. Two of our friends who do this credit card thing… One of them did a new card before they had three thousand dollars of new trees dropped off to put in their yard. Another one needed some costly dental work. They did it before that. So, be creative think about anything including medical, home, gifts, whatever. Then the third rule is know the deadlines. So whenever you sign up for a card, sometimes the clock starts this 90-day window that we talked about where you got to spend a certain amount of money within 90 days… Sometimes the clock starts the day you sign up for the card. Sometimes the clock doesn’t start until the card actually shows up and so you need to understand completely what these deadlines are so that you can fit that into your plan. That would really stink if you missed your bonus by just a couple days. The biggest sin! And sometimes these cards are sent snail mail. They might take up to two weeks to get to you. So if that clock started ticking the day that you applied or were approved and it took a couple weeks to reach you? Factor that in. Maybe, put a date on your calendar. What we do is we aren’t cutting it very close. So we aren’t getting to the very end to say like, “oh, we’re really far from that bonus”! We’re gonna get that bonus done two weeks early so that things have time to hit the credit card statement and completely be good to go so we know that we’ve reached that bonus. So here’s a bonus rule. As a part of your plan as soon as this card shows up in your wallet… every single penny you spend that you can put on a credit card…should be going on this single credit card until you’ve met that minimum spend. So go ahead and just get the minimum spend done as quickly as you can. So, take all the other cards out of your wallet throw them in a drawer and use this single card over the course of the next 90 days as you’re trying to meet the minimum spend. You might even want to, depending on what your situation is, you might want to take those automatic payments that you have to go to pay your cell phone or pay other bills? You might want to move those over to this card for a short time while you’re trying to meet this minimum spend. We’ve said it before we’re gonna say it again and again and again and again, Don’t! Do not! Don’t! Do not do this if you don’t pay off your credit cards in full every single month. That is a recipe for a disaster and for debt. That is nothing that we’re going to be suggesting that anyone gets into. And, even if you get free travel? If you got into debt to do it, that’s not free. You can certainly advantage of these offers if you want. However, it would be a losing proposition for you to sign up for a credit card and get $500 and then you have a bunch of debt. The interest alone is going to basically wipe away any bonus that you may get in an instant. So do not sign up for credit cards just for the bonus if you’re not gonna pay your credit card off every single month. And, with that let’s get into it. Tim, what’s our first step? So, our first item and this goes back to what Amy mentioned earlier about planning it around a major purchase. In other words, if you’re gonna buy a car; if you’re gonna buy some appliances for your house; if you need a new roof. So plan your signups around these major purchases. Make sure you give yourself a little bit of time…a couple of weeks, three weeks, a month…before you actually need to make this purchase. Go sign up for a new credit card and then put that purchase on the card with the intention of paying it off as soon as that bill shows up. For most people. their home is going to be the largest expense in their life, whether you have a mortgage or whether you have rent. That’s going to be the place where you’re probably spending the most of your money in terms of a percentage of your monthly budget. So, if you have an opportunity to pay your mortgage with a credit card… I think that’s typically few and far between (same thing with rent)…if you have an opportunity to be paying those things with a credit card, you should be doing that. However, sometimes if you are doing this, it may come with a premium. In other words, you may be able to pay your rent, but they’re gonna charge you one or two percent to make up for what they’re paying in exchange fees for the credit card. And so, you might not want to do that if you’re gonna have to pay a fee for it. If you’re in a bind and you’re looking for some way to get some charge on charges on your card? This might be something you look at, but as a whole this is something you could potentially consider. Also, if you have homeowners insurance or if you have taxes on your home, oftentimes it’s rolled into a mortgage. But if you have to pay these expenses outside of a mortgage, often these can be paid on a credit card as well. Also, there’s a service called Plastiq, PLASTIQ. Plastiq will allow you to use your credit card to pay your mortgage, pay your utilities, pay other bills. They likewise charge a fee to allow you to do that. But something you could consider (you’d want to consider this early if you’re planning to do this), but if you need to have some spend and you want some bigger spend, Plastiq might be a way to pay your mortgage or your rent with a credit card. So, a car is probably going to be your second largest expense. And so if you have an auto loan, there’s some chance you can pay that on a monthly basis with a credit card. Odds are low. Plastiq might be an option to pay your auto loan if that’s something you have. Also, just auto expenses are typically…it’s a pretty big line item in our budget…but between gas and insurance, Parking, tolls, oil changes, service, fixing your car. There are all sorts of things that come into maintaining and owning a car where you can actually spend some money using your credit cards. All that goes on a credit card for sure. Gas? One hundred percent! On this single card. Paying for your health is also another large line item in many people’s budgets. Oftentimes, this is covered by an employer so it may not be a large line item in your budget. It is in ours. So, we can actually pay our insurance premiums for our healthcare with a credit card. So also if you go visit a doctor? That’s something you put on a credit card. A dentist? If you have vision care, you’ve got to go buy glasses? That’s something you can put on a credit card. Also, if you have a gym membership. That’s something you can put on a credit card. So many things that are related to your health are costly and these are things you would want to put on your credit card during the course of this 90 days. The USDA estimates that the average couple spends six hundred and twenty-five dollars every month on their groceries. If you’re anywhere near the normal, that’s a lot of money that you could be spending on your credit cards. So make sure that all of that gets charged toward your minimum spending requirement. Yeah that would be 1,800 bucks in the course of 90 days! So an easy way to meet meet some spend there. Amy and I really love numbers and the government’s doing a really great job of collecting up these statistics for us and the Bureau of Labor and Statistics suggests that a family is spending on average about 250 bucks a month on dining out. We don’t spend that much. However, if your average spending with dining out, you’re gonna be spending 250 bucks a month according to the Bureau. That doesn’t even seem like that much. Two hundred and fifty dollars doesn’t seem like a lot of money for a family. Yeah, but that’s 750 bucks that you might have…put it on that card! So utilities is another really exciting place where people spend a lot of money. So electricity, water, television, phone, cell phone. Things like this. All of these things, or many of these things I should say, can be paid on a credit card. Cell phones specifically are something that people can easily pay on a credit card. Also, a lot of people are cutting the cord. They’re not paying for cable television anymore. So things like Hulu and Netflix and Spotify? These sort of services are also things that you could probably pay on a credit card. There’s also this concept that Amy and I…we’ve done it…we didn’t know what it’s called… We learned recently that it’s called shift spending. But the idea is you could go to your cell phone provider and Let’s say you have $100 a month for your cell phone bills. Ouch! Maybe that’s for two people. You could pay for six months worth of cell phone service ahead of time. The cell phone company would gladly take your $600. And that money would just sit there and go away as you’re actually paying your bill month over month. They would just draw down against that balance that you have sitting there on your account. And so that’s called shift spending. So that’s one way to actually move some of that…pull some spending forward and put that on your credit card now so that you can meet minimum spends. If you have children in school, whether that’s elementary school, and you’re paying for private school. Whether that’s high school and you’re paying for a private high school. Even if you’re buying books our public school, we have to pay a few hundred dollars a year. Maybe you’re a student? That’s right. Maybe you’re a student? Maybe have grandchildren that are students? Education costs a lot of money. Even public. Even public education costs money. And so there’s all sorts of opportunities to spend when it comes to books and tuition and fees and room and board. Activities! Activities. So there’s lots of opportunity to spend when it comes to education and something you might want to consider putting on a credit card. Taxes are also something you might want to consider putting on a credit card, whether that’s your federal taxes…You’re talking about income taxes. Income taxes. So actually any taxes for that matter. Taxes you pay on your car, any of these taxes are things that you can potentially put in a card. Something that I’ll warn you about though, is if you’re going to pay taxes, my experience has always been the government will oftentimes let you pay with a credit card, but they’re going to charge you two or three percent, maybe even more, to use that this feature…to actually put your taxes on a credit card. You can do it, but it’s going to cost you something. So this would be something you might want to not consider but if you’re in a bind, again, a way to actually spend some money on a credit card. Many people also give regularly to charity. And so if you do that, oftentimes charities are gonna take your credit card. So if you want to pay a little extra in a given time period to pull some spinning forward? Do that shift spending like we talked about earlier? You can do that with charities that you contribute to as well. There’s also a really cool site called Kiva.org. What Kiva does is micro loans. And so maybe there’s somebody in Indonesia who needs to start their business and they need $1,000 to start their business? You can actually contribute to that exercise by being a partner and a loan to this person in Indonesia. And so, you would give maybe $50 towards this thousand dollar loan, and other people would contribute likewise, and then this person pays you back over time. You don’t get any of the interest, that’s not a feature of the way this solution works. However, you almost always do get your money back. So there is some small risk with this that you don’t get 100% of your return. But this again is a way where you might be able to put some money into this Kiva place and ultimately get it back over time. I wouldn’t count on getting it back quickly. It’s probably going to be at least six months that most loans are gonna be out there. And also you’re not gonna probably do a whole ton of volume on this because, again, it takes a little while to get the money back. But, it’s a really cool thing. So gift cards are something that we also want to talk about and we want to ask you to proceed with caution when it comes to gift cards. So no matter what kind of gift card it is, some of the issuers out there have excluded in their terms and conditions, all gift card purchases in terms of earning signup bonuses. And so you’ll want to make sure that it’s okay by the credit card company for you to be purchasing gift cards to actually do the shift spending thing that we talked about earlier. So we’re gonna talk about three different kinds of gift cards and ways you might actually do some of this shift spending. Number one is a grocery store gift card. Let’s just say you want to go to the grocery store and you’re spending six hundred dollars a month on groceries, right? Well, what you could do is you could buy a $1,200 gift card at the grocery store. So you have two months worth of groceries, sort of in the bank. But then you automatically have that $1,200 on your card. So, just a way to pull that spending forward. Also, if you go to the grocery store, if you go to Home Depot or Lowe’s or other places, there’s often that gift card rack that has all these varieties of gift cards, whether it’s restaurants or travel cards, etc. So you could buy those cards. For instance, we often buy Airbnb gift cards We like to buy those just to have in general. You can buy Delta. You could buy Southwest Airlines. So you can buy all these gift cards in the store. And again, you just have that cash in the bank sitting therefore the next time you’re ready to travel. That’s one way to get, again, some shift spending. So you go and spend that money today. You use it when you need it. But it goes against your minimum spend. And the final gift card type that we want to talk about are Amex or Visa or Mastercard gift card purchases that you can make at the stores as well. So these are even a little trickier. These typically come with fees. So if you go and buy a $500 Visa gift card, sometimes the fees can be 7 bucks on a $500 gift card. Sometimes the fees can be 7 bucks on a $100 gift card. So, careful of those fees. Yeah. So these are again you go ahead and just spend that money today, then you could use that gift card to spend over time. Or, I guess, any of the gifts cards that we mentioned earlier you could certainly give them as actual gifts. You could give those as actual gifts instead of using them yourselves. There are our tips! And next week we’re gonna be back with my specialty which is the house sitting. So we’re going to be talking about how to build a great house sitting profile next week. Tim’s gonna be pretty quiet while I take on most of that one. What are your favorite credit cards? What are your favorite travel hacks that you’ve used with these credit cards? Tell us about the trips that you’ve taken because it is the most inspiring thing to hear all this cool, crazy free travel people do because of credit cards. So if you liked today’s video, please give us a thumbs up. If you haven’t subscribed yet… If you haven’t done it since the beginning of the video, it’s right there, the little button. If you have a comment, again please leave that down below. We do love engagement and dialogue. And, if you know anybody who is interested in traveling for free, please share this with them or on your social media. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you on Wednesday!

Yvette Parker

14 Comments

  1. Hello fellow travelers! Thanks for watching today's video. What is your level of travel hacking experience? Have you used points and miles for travel? If so, please share some of the fun you've had thanks to travel hacking.

    We use Travel Freely to help us organize our different cards. This FREE service lets you know when your sign-up bonus deadline is approaching and when it's renewal time. It also provides reminders that it's time to sign up for a new card. Here's our referral link – https://my.travelfreely.net/share?bref=glyt

  2. New subscriber here! I have many questions but my first one is which of the cards are your favorite cards to apply for? Do you just go off of offers you get in the mail or do you have a better way to find them? My husband is retiring next year, he watched your video yesterday and was so excited to see and hear about your lifestyle, we want to learn from your videos. Thank you so much for sharing your life!

  3. Thanks Tim and Amy! You gave me a great idea to use this for our annual health insurance bill! Can’t wait to learn more from you about travel hacking!!

  4. THANK YOU TIM & AMY!!! I had no idea how easy it is to get travel points from every day spending.

  5. I usually time a big purchase to meet my minimum spend: new windows, new iPhones, new suits, etc. Just redeemed for 5 free hotel nights on a 6 night stay in Orlando.

  6. Very informative video! I'm still kind of new to this whole process but have been learning a few strategies from different videos. If you need to meet a credit card spend requirement, have you heard of or considered Ebates? It's a cashback website for online shopping. If you do any kind of online shopping (most do) you may want to look into this as an option. Not only can you use it for online shopping, but could double/triple dip in rewards Here is one example. If you're viewing these types of videos you have some sort of system for tracking your spending or an outlined budget. Everyone has the basics, whether it be transportation, housing, grocery, clothing, entertainment, etc. I would recommend signing up for Ebates (you get a $10 cash back offer (check or PayPal )when you spend $25 on your first purchase (here is my link https://www.ebates.com/r/JCVEGA7?eeid=28187) and I'll walk you through the process. You mentioned gift cards in your video. If you go through Ebates you could click on the Raise.com link through the Ebates website. Currently offering 1% cash back. Not a lot, but again, you need to meet your minimum spending requirement, RIGHT?. So what you do is go to the site. They offer gift cards at a lower price of the retail value. Meaning others are trying to get something out of an unwanted gift card. And this is your opportunity to strike! Think about upcoming expenses. If it's groceries (Wal-Mart, Randalls, Target), entertainment ( movie like AMC/Regal Theaters/Cinema), Clothing and Apparel ( you have several options here; Macy's, Dillard, Nordstroms, Banana republic, etc) you can buy a gift card through by going to raise.com's link and the best part of all is that you can use a credit card as payment! I literally just tried this tonight. I'm currently doing some minor renovations at my condo and was purchasing a new faucet for my kitchen sink. I found the one I wanted at lowes.com. Great price too, (discounted by using my other hacks) but got it for $79. So what I did was went to Ebates, activated the 1% cash back offer at Raise.com. Since I was new to Raise.com, they were offering $10 0ff a $50 purchase. So I bought 3 $25 gift cards (would've done $50 but since they were cheaper than the retail value I needed an extra one). In total, I got $75 dollars worth of gift cards for $62.33, $.063 in Ebates, and then got an additional 1% cash back on my faucet purchase from Lowes .79 I also used my Venture One card from capital one that gives me points. May seem like a lot of work but I'm saving my points for my bday trip to Bangkok with my partner in August. I can then use those points to get travel expenses reimbursed. Thanks again for the tips, I like learning from other's experiences and yours were quite helpful!

  7. My guess is that you need to keep a spread sheet going to track all the dates and requirements unless you cancel the card later. I understand you have over 30 cards – taking these sounds like a headache to me.

  8. Okay, let me get this out of the way, your DO NOT intermission clip was so cheesy that I had to go back, again and again, to laugh about you guys, lol! Other than that, I love your channel! Compared to other channels, yours is a realistic and down to earth approach that makes sense for people like you who are retired and/or with little kids. I'm in the military myself stationed in Korea and we are having a blast because we get to go to places that are very close compared to the states. And there are still so many places to visit but we are on a budget and still learning this credit card and travel hacking system. Anyways, keep up with your videos and hopefully to hear from you soon!

  9. My husband and I are just getting started with travel hacking. The current promotion we signed up for takes $4,000 in three months, which might be a little tight! We budget ahead, so I was thinking about paying bills ahead just like you mentioned! Thanks for the video.

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