Here’s how to make the most of a credit card that offers you bonus points on sign-up.
Bonus point offers give you a way to get thousands of extra reward or frequent flyer points when you get a new credit card, but usually you have to meet a spending requirement to get the points. This can vary from spending a specific amount in the first few months to meeting a minimum spend over a series of statement periods. Some cards even offer bonus points for milestones, such as the 12-month anniversary from when you opened the account.
Use this guide to learn more about different credit card bonus point offers, including the common terms and conditions that apply. You can also explore different ways to meet the spending requirements to help you get extra points and manage your balance.
What are the most common credit card bonus point requirements?
Each bonus point offer includes specific details about what you have to do to get the extra points. Generally, these offers can be broken down into the following categories:
You can learn more about each offer type in the sections below. We also include tips on how to meet the spending requirements so that you can make the most of bonus point offers when you get a new credit card.
Spending a set amount within the first few months
This is one of the most established bonus point conditions where you’re required to spend a specific amount of money in the first few months you have your new card. For example, you might see a card offering 30,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. This type of minimum spend requirement gives you the flexibility to choose how you meet it, as long as it’s within the specified timeframe.
Spending a set amount each month for the first few months
This is a variation of the minimum spend requirement outlined above and stipulates that you spend a specific amount for each month or statement period for the first few months you have a new card. For example, “Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 per month for the first three months.”
So even though it technically offers you 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000, this means you have to split your spending up evenly during the first three months. It also means you won’t be able to get bonus points on a single big-ticket purchase.
Bonus points per $1 spent during the first few months
If you see a credit card offering “up to” a specific number of bonus points, it could be referring to bonus points per $1 spent instead of a lump sum of points. For instance, a card might offer “Up to 30,000 bonus points”, outlining the structure of an additional two points per $1 spent in the first six months you have the card.
With this type of bonus point offer, sometimes known as a “bonus point earn rate”, the only way to get all the bonus points available is to through your everyday spending. So, in terms of the example offer above, you’d need to spend $15,000 in the first six months to get the maximum bonus points available. Keep in mind that this is only factoring in the bonus points available – you’d also get points at the standard earn rate for your purchases.
Bonus points on card approval
This type of offer comes in two forms. With some cards, you’ll automatically get bonus points when your application is approved (meaning there is no minimum spend). In other cases, you’ll get the bonus points when your card is approved and you make a purchase.
Either way, it’s one of the most straightforward options, with the only potential requirement being that you use the card to make a purchase of any value.
Bonus points on your card anniversary
This offer rewards you with bonus points after you have the card for 12 months. Usually this type of offer is directly linked to the card’s approval anniversary and may require you to pay your annual fee.
For instance, an offer might say “earn a bonus 20,000 points when you pay the card’s annual fee in the second year”. In this case, the annual fee is typically charged 12 months after you open the account, so you’d be able to get points as long as you don’t cancel the card before paying this charge.
Tips to meet bonus point spending requirements
Here are helpful tips for how to meet the offer requirements, whether you need to spend a certain amount each month, in the first few months or per $1 spent:
- Pay for everything with your credit card. From groceries to clothing, dining out and bills, using your credit card for all your daily expenses is often an easy way to meet bonus point spending requirements. Just make sure you check what payments are considered “eligible transactions” for meeting the minimum spend. Generally, most everyday transactions are fine but some bills may not count towards the spend requirement.
- Prepay health insurance or other major expenses. Paying your health insurance fees up-front for 12 months can go a long way towards meeting your bonus point minimum spend. As an example, if you were paying $300 per month on a combined hospital and extras plan, prepaying for 12 months would cost you $3,600. Depending on your bonus point offer, this could be enough to make up the entire minimum spend requirement.
- Paying for travel. Planning a big trip in a few months time? Using your new credit card to pay for some or all of your travel expenses is a simple and popular way to meet this type of spending requirement. Depending on the credit card, it could also help you activate travel insurance that may be offered as a complimentary extra.
- Buying major household items. If you’re planning on buying new furniture, whitegoods or even some renovations, using your new credit card could be an easy way to meet the bonus point spending requirement.
- Buying new technology. Need a new laptop, tablet or monitor? It’s possible you could meet your bonus point spend requirement very quickly by paying for them with your credit card.
- Paying for seasonal expenses. If you get a new credit card in time for the holiday season, you could use it to pay for all the presents, food and drinks that you buy for holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve. As a bonus, it may even mean that you’re ready for these holidays well before they arrive (so you can beat the shopping crowds).
- Paying for business expenses. Whether you’re on the road a lot and claim travel expenses or are working from home and need new office supplies, using your new credit card could be a way to meet the minimum spend requirement and manage your work spending at the same time.
- Car services or repairs. If your car’s due for a service or some repairs, it’s possible that using your new credit card will help you meet your minimum spend requirement. Just make sure that the transaction is processed as a “purchase” so that you know it will count towards the spending requirement.
What are 'eligible purchases'?
With bonus point spending requirements and reward points in general, you’ll only be able to collect points based on the “eligible purchases” you make. The definition of what’s eligible and what’s not varies between cards but usually you’ll be able to earn points for most of your everyday purchases at the shops or online.
Transactions that are usually not eligible to earn points include cash advance transactions, government charges, BPAY payments and utility bills. Check the terms and conditions or call the credit card company if you’re unsure about any specific transactions you want to make.
What else do I need to know about meeting a bonus point spending requirement?
Keep these details in mind to make sure you get the most out of credit card bonus point offers:
- Frequent flyer account details. If you get a credit card that offers bonus frequent flyer points, you’ll need to add your frequent flyer membership details to your credit card account so you can earn points. Usually, you’ll be prompted to include your membership details during the application process. Otherwise, log in to your credit card account or call your credit card provider to have these details added so you can collect your bonus points.
- Bonus point processing time. The time it takes for bonus points to be added to your reward or frequent flyer account can vary between cards and could be anywhere from a few days to several weeks you have met all the offer requirements. Check the fine print for the offer to find out exactly when you’ll get bonus points on your new credit card.
- Annual fee. If your bonus points are credited on your account anniversary, remember to factor the annual fee into your repayment budget. Keep in mind that some of these cards may offer a waived or reduced fee in the first year, so it’s worth double-checking the actual fee before it’s charged to make sure it’s affordable for you.
- Interest charges. Bonus point spending requirements often mean you have to spend a lot of money in a short amount of time. If you can’t afford to pay this off by the end of the statement period, make sure you factor in interest charges. Also remember that interest-free days usually won’t apply for new purchases if you’re carrying a balance.
- Refunds. If you meet the minimum spend requirement and then get a refund on your purchases, your points balance may be adjusted to reflect that. If the refund is processed before the end of the bonus points offer period, you may need to spend more before you’re eligible for the extra points.
Point hack for tiered reward programs and bonus partners
If your credit card offers different earn rates for specific transactions or with bonus partners, you could boost your points balance even more by meeting the minimum spend requirement through these higher-earning transactions. For example, say you got a Qantas Frequent Flyer credit card offering 50,000 bonus points when you spent $1,500 in the first three months.
In this scenario, let’s also say the card offers one point per $1 spent, with an additional point per $1 for spending with Qantas. If you booked $1,500 worth of flights with Qantas in the first three months, you’d earn a total of 53,000 points – 50,000 from the bonus points offer and 3,000 from spending with Qantas.
Credit card bonus point offers have the potential to give you hundreds or even thousands of dollars extra value on a card you choose. Just remember to check the type of offer before you apply so you can decide if you’ll be able to meet the spending requirement in a way that works for you.
Comparison of sign-up bonus credit cards
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