How to meet the minimum spend for credit card bonus points
From offer requirements to eligible purchases, here’s what you need to know to earn credit card bonus points.
Credit card bonus point offers can be a fast way to boost your reward or frequent flyer balance. But you usually have to meet a set of requirements to get these points through a new credit card, such as a spending a minimum amount in the first few months.
Use this guide to find out about the common terms and conditions that apply. You can also explore different ways to meet the spending requirements, compare bonus point offers and get tips on how to decide if these points are worth it for you.
What are the spending requirements for credit card bonus point offers?
Every credit card that offers bonus points also has a set of spending requirements and other conditions you need to meet before you can enjoy the extra rewards. This usually includes:
- New customers only. Signup bonus points are usually only available for new credit card customers. That means if you already have a card with the same provider, or have been a customer in the past 12 months, you may not be eligible for the bonus points. Check the offer terms and conditions before you apply to make sure you are able to get these points.
- A minimum spend in the first few months. Usually, you need to spend a set amount of money on eligible purchases to earn the bonus points. For example, you might have to spend $3,000 in the first 3 months from card approval.
- Eligible purchases. The minimum spend required to get bonus points usually relates to eligible purchases only. These can vary between cards, but they usually include everyday spending on groceries, petrol, travel, dining and retail shopping. Common exclusions are cash advances, BPAY transactions and government charges.
- A time limit. These offers are only available for a limited time, so you have to apply for the card before the promotion ends. Once you get the card, there is also usually a deadline for reaching the spend requirement, for example, within the first three months.
Other details to look for with credit card bonus point offers
The following requirements are less common but still come up for some credit card bonus point offers:
- A minimum spend each month for the first few months. Some bonus point offers require you to spend a set amount in each statement period for the first few months you have a new card. For example, a card could offer you 20,000 points per month for the first 3 months if you meet a monthly spend requirement of $2,000. This means you could technically earn up to 60,000 points for a total spend of $6,000 in the first 3 months, but only if you met the $2,000 spend requirement each month.
- Bonus points per $1 spent. With this type of bonus point offer, sometimes known as a “bonus point earn rate”, you'll earn additional points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases – on top of the standard earn rate. For instance, a card might offer “Up to 30,000 bonus points” and then explain that you can earn this amount by getting an extra 2 points per $1 spent in the first 6 months you have the card.
- Bonus points after your first purchase. Occasionally, there are offers that give you bonus points after your first purchase (regardless of the dollar value), but those offers are less common than ones with set spending amounts.
- 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 for meeting bonus point minimum spend requirements
Some of the most common strategies people use to meet the minimum spend requirements include paying for travel bookings, purchasing big-ticket items such as furniture or using your card for bill payments. Sticking to purchases you would normally make anyway, such as grocery shopping and fuel spending, can also be a practical and cost-effective way to meet bonus point offer requirements without blowing your budget.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to meet minimum spend requirements, remember that it’s important to only spend what you can afford to pay off. Avoiding interest charges should also be a priority. So before you pull out your plastic to meet the bonus point spend requirement, consider the following steps:
- Budget for repayments. Make sure you look at how much you’ll have to pay off your card to avoid interest when you’re meeting the minimum spend requirements. For example, if you have to spend $3,000 in 3 months, you would need to put $1,000 a month or around $250 per week towards your credit card balance.
- Set up auto-pay for your credit card. Set repayments up so that they automatically come out of your nominated bank account by the due date on each statement. If you’re using your credit card more so you can meet the bonus point minimum spend, then opting to pay the full amount automatically will help keep your account debt-free.
- Transfer money as soon as you make a purchase. If you’re using your credit card for purchases you’d normally make with a debit card, this pay-as-you-go method will help you keep your balance in check. Just use your credit card for purchases, then log in to your Internet banking account and transfer the same amount from your everyday bank account to your credit card to keep your balance clear.
What transactions do and don't count towards the minimum spend requirements?
The minimum spend requirement for bonus points only applies to eligible purchases you make with your card. While the definition of an "eligible purchase" varies, it usually covers most of your everyday spending. Transactions that usually don't count towards the bonus point spending requirement include:
- Cash advances. As well as ATM withdrawals or getting cash out at the register, cash advance transactions can include foreign currency purchases, transfers between accounts and gambling transactions. Be aware that these transactions also attract the cash advance interest rate and a cash advance transaction fee that will add to your account costs.
- Gift card purchases. Many credit card providers consider the purchase of gift cards and prepaid debit cards as cash advance transactions. So if you were thinking of buying gift cards as a way of meeting the bonus point minimum spend, make sure you check with the card provider or refer to the credit card reward program terms and conditions to find out if this is possible.
- Balance transfers. Balance transfers let you move existing debt onto a new card, which means they’re technically not purchases and won’t count towards your minimum spend requirement.
- BPAY Payments. Many credit card providers and reward programs exclude BPAY transactions from earning points, including CommBank Awards, Westpac Altitude Rewards and St.George Amplify Rewards. But even if BPAY transactions are not excluded, they may be processed as a cash advance (depending on how the biller has set up BPAY Payments), which means you still wouldn’t get points.
- Bill payments. Most credit card providers exclude bill payments made over-the-counter at the bank or at Australia Post from earning rewards. Check the other payment options available for your bills and refer to our guide to see if they’ll count towards the minimum spend for your credit card.
- Government charges. Most credit cards won’t earn points for government charges, including those made to the Australian Taxation Office. There are some exceptions, such as the American Express Explorer or the American Express Essential credit cards. But even these may have specific requirements that limit your options for meeting the minimum spend amount by paying government bills.
- 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.
Is spending money on bonus point requirements worth it?
In some cases, the amount of money you spend getting bonus points could outweigh the value of the rewards. You can look at the following details to help decide whether or not a bonus point offer is worth it:
- Potential interest charges. Look at the purchase interest rate and the minimum spend amount to estimate how much you could end up paying for each month you carry a balance from meeting this bonus point requirement. For example, if the spend is $3,000 in 3 months on a card with a 19.99% p.a. purchase rate, you would be charged around $49.80 per month on the balance.
- The annual fee. Reward and frequent flyer credit card annual fees can quickly outweigh the value of rewards, even if you’re getting thousands of bonus points.
- The value of the bonus points. You can consider the value of the points based on what rewards you want to redeem. For example, you could use 50,000 Qantas Points for a business class return flight from Perth to Auckland. In comparison, purchasing this fare would typically cost around $1,100 to $1,500 (based on a fare search on 15 February 2017). Looking at these types of options will help you decide if a bonus point offer is worth it.
- 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 after you have met all the offer requirements. If you want the points for a particular reward, this timeframe could help you decide of an offer is worthwhile for you.
Compare credit cards with bonus points offers
Other factors to consider
As well as considering the bonus point offer, it’s important to look at the other features of the new credit card you’re interested in applying for. The following are the key details to compare:
- Purchase rate. The purchase rate is particularly important when there is a minimum spend required for bonus points. Remember to check if there is an introductory purchase rate, and make sure you find out the standard variable rate for purchases that will apply at the end of any promotional period so you can accurately estimate the interest costs.
- Balance transfers. If you’re planning on using the card to pay off existing debt, remember that any repayments you make will go towards the debt with the highest interest rate first, such as the purchases you make to meet the minimum spend. This could mean you end up with more ongoing debt and interest charges in the long term.
- Cash advance rate. Most cards charge a different rate for cash advances. Even if you don’t plan to use your card for this type of transaction, it’s good to check this rate and the specific transactions your provider classifies as cash advances.
- Reward earn rate. This is the standard amount of points you earn per dollar spent and affects the ongoing value of the card. Think about how much you’ll usually spend on the card and the points that you will earn to decide if the program offers value beyond the bonus point offer.
- International transaction fee. If you plan to use your card for purchases overseas or online with an international retailer, be aware that most cards charge a fee ranging from 2-4% of the total transaction amount. Check this fee before you get a card to decide if it’s worth it.
- Complimentary extras. Many reward credit cards come with perks such as complimentary insurance, concierge services and airport lounge access. These features can add value to your account if you use them, just remember to weigh the benefits against the costs from the annual fee or interest charges.
Credit card bonus point offers can give you hundreds of dollars in extra value but only if you can meet all the promotion requirements. If the minimum spend is more than you normally spend on a card, it may not be worth it. So weigh up all the costs of each card to decide if it will suit your budget and your goals.Back to top
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