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Credit Cards

9 ways to earn a credit card welcome bonus, responsibly

Welcome bonuses are exciting, but be sure to meet the spend threshold responsibly.

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Credit card welcome bonuses are a great way to quickly bolster your points, miles or rewards' balances. But nearly all welcome offers come with a prerequisite to spend a specific amount of money within a certain amount of time.

It can be a somewhat daunting experience to spend that amount of cash in a short time frame, but with a little planning, it's quite simple to accomplish.

Select analyzes the different ways you can earn a valuable credit card bonus, without overspending or stretching yourself too thin.

How to earn a credit card welcome bonus without overspending

When signing up for a new credit card, the welcome bonus is typically the most valuable benefit of the card in the first year — so it's important to meet the threshold within the allotted time period.

However, it's equally important to not make purchases you wouldn't normally make to simply meet the bonus offer. This is the equivalent of spending a dollar to earn a few pennies.

So, before you get that next credit card, it's key to try and time your sign up when you have a lot of upcoming expenses. But if you're still having difficulties meeting the minimum spending requirements, here are a few ideas of how you can earn that next bonus, responsibly:

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Use it on all purchases

On a daily basis, you may make one or more small purchases. Whether it's a cup of coffee or filling up your gas tank, each purchase can quickly help you get closer to earning the card bonus.

Even though these purchases are small, they can quickly add up over time. So the best strategy to follow is to eliminate all other cards from your wallet while you are working towards the minimum spend threshold. Also, consider adding it to pay for your recurring subscriptions.

Contact your auto and home insurance to see if you can pay ahead

Many insurers will allow you to pay your premium ahead of time, and sometimes they'll even give you a discounted rate when you do so.

So, if you have the available funds to pay off your insurance premiums ahead of time, this can quickly help get you closer to earning your welcome bonus.

Pay your rent or mortgage

Paying your housing bill with a credit card may seem odd, but it can be done with a few simple steps.

If you're a renter, contact your landlord to see if they accept card payments. If they do accept credit cards they may levy a 2-3% surcharge. In the case of earning a welcome offer, it may be worth paying the fee.

If you own your home but have a mortgage, consider using a credit card bill-pay service like Plastiq. For a 2.85% fee the company will issue a check directly to your lender and charge your credit card.

Friends and family expenses can help

If you have trusted friends or family members with large expenses in the near future, ask them if they wouldn't mind paying with your card or an authorized user card.

For example, if you know (and trust) someone who is purchasing a new iPhone, you could pay for their phone and have them reimburse you by check, cash or a payment app like Venmo, Zelle or PayPal.

Pay your taxes

If you owe taxes, there are several ways to pay using a credit card. However, if you owe a significant amount, paying with a card is only advisable if you have the funds to pay the statement immediately, or by putting it on a 0% intro APR card.

There are a few servicers you can use to pay your taxes. The cheapest one, PayUSATax, currently charges 1.96% to process payment by credit card. You can see the three different options here.

On my 2021 taxes, for example, I owed an amount I didn't feel comfortable paying upfront. Therefore, I paid my taxes using the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card as the card offers 0% introductory APR on purchases for the first 15 months that your account is open (16.49% - 26.49% variable after that). I paid the 1.96% fee, but with the welcome offer of $200 after spending $500 in the first three months from account opening, I still came out ahead.

As I make payments on my balance over the next 15 months, I will either pay off the balance in full at the end of the 0%-APR-intro period, or I can use another balance transfer credit card to extend my repayment period.

School tuition and/or daycare services

Tuition and daycare services continue to rise in price, with no signs of slowing down. But before you pay your next invoice, check to see if your school or daycare provider accepts credit cards.

If they do, this could easily put you over the spending threshold on many credit cards.

If they don't, you can consider using a credit card bill pay service like Plastiq, but the 2.85% fee may be difficult to stomach with a large purchase like this.

Down payment on a car

If you're in the market to purchase a vehicle and plan to do so from a car dealership, you can talk with the financing department to see if you can make the down payment using a credit card.

Some car dealerships are hesitant to accept credit card payments because of chargebacks and absorbing processing fees, but you may be able to negotiate a card payment into the deal.

FSA/HSA reimbursements

If you use either a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) to fund your healthcare related purchases, they may issue you a debit card to spend with.

While the debit card is convenient, you can easily use your personal credit card for those expenses. Then submit your healthcare receipts for reimbursement and pay off your credit card with the money from your reimbursement check.

Charitable donations

If you want a simple tax deduction and have a verifiable nonprofit you choose to donate to, you can use your credit card to make a donation.

Some nonprofit organizations prefer to not receive donations via credit card as they have to incur a fee, so you may want to consider using a bill pay service.

Best welcome offers available

If you're looking for a new card and want to find one of the more valuable welcome offers available, here are our recommendations:

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining, 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    18.24% - 25.24% variable on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

 

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back. That's 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    17.24% - 25.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Intro fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater, on transfers made within 60 days of account opening. After that, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 within 6 months of card membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Annual fee

    $695

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit Needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Ink Business Cash® Credit Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year (then 1%); 2% cash back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary year (then 1%); 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months from account opening on purchases; N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.49% - 21.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

Terms apply.

Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase made for your business

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months from account opening on purchases; N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    15.49% - 21.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

Terms apply.

Bottom line

A sign-up bonus from a credit card is a great way to get a non-taxable rebate on your spending. However, it can sometimes be overwhelming to try and hit the welcome bonus spending threshold. But with some planning, and maybe a bit of help from friends and family, you can quickly earn your bonus without accruing credit card debt.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

For the rates and fees of the Platinum Card from American Express, click here

Information about the Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Plenty of rewards and benefits including 4X points per dollar for dining at restaurants worldwide
Enjoy an intro APR on purchases plus, Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.