When I call to activate a new credit card I always ask a representative two important questions. The first is "what date do I have to meet the minimum spend by?" and the second is confirming the bonus offer. I always want to confirm the date I have to hit the minimum spend by and make sure I have the correct date. Depending on the card issuer and terms the time frame for a 3 month minimum spend requirement can vary from 90 to 103 days and whether or not it starts upon account approval or card activation. The last thing you want to do is to jeopardize a valuable bonus by missing the minimum spend requirement by just a few days.
Most credit card offer terms state that to receive the bonus you "must spend $X or more during the first 3 months". This X number of days could hypothetically vary from 84 days (months with 28 days) to 93 days (months with 31 days).
To get a straight answer I decided to call and ask each card issuer, here is what I found out for a typical 3 month minimum spend requirement. The bottom-line is always do your our research and read the terms because every card offer has its own terms and conditions.
How Do Minimum Spend Timeline Requirements Differ by Card Issuers?
Chase - 103 days from account approval.
Citi - 90 days from account approval.
American Express - 90 days from card approval.
Barclays - 90 days from account approval.
US Bank - 90 days from account approval.
Bank of America - 3 billing cycles from card activation (call and ask when activating the card since billing cycles will vary from 29, 30, 31 days).
Capital One - no clear answer, rep said could not transfer me to customer service unless I have an account. I assume it is 90 days from account approval.
Chase allows the longest time frame for a 3 month minimum spend and allows you to meet the spend requirement within 103 days of account approval. Chase actually starts the minimum spend time period at the time of account approval, but also gives a 13-day grace period to make up for the time lost in mailing you the card. The typical wording Chase uses on its offers is "after spending $X in the first 3 months of account opening."
The most clear wording comes from Barclays. Take for example the wording on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®., the terms state that you need to make "make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening." Barclays includes the specific number of days needed to hit the minimum spend which is helpful.
Three Important Questions to Ask When Calling to Activate a Credit Card
1. Confirm the date you were approved for the card. This way you know the exact date that you were approved and can calculate how much time you have to complete your minimum spend requirement. It also doesn't hurt to ask the rep for the exact date in which you need to hit the spend.
2. Confirm the welcome bonus. You should also confirm the welcome bonus just to make sure all the details were entered into the system correctly. You want to be sure that your new card is registered for the bonus you applied for. With many cards, the bonus details are not mentioned with the standard card documents you receive in the mail with your card.
3. Ask for expedited delivery. Since most of the banks start your minimum spend from the day you open your account, the week or so it takes to mail the card, is time lost from the minimum spend time frame. It doesn't hurt to mention how you have a big purchases or trip coming up in the next few days that you would like to put on your new card and ask to have you new card overnight service your card for free. There is no guarantee, but several times I have had the bank overnight me my new card.
Banks are usually strict about only awarding the welcome bonus if you complete the full minimum spending on time, so it is essential to keep track of the total spending you have made towards meeting the requirement. An easy way to check how much you have spent is by adding the totals of each statement from your online account at the bank's website. Remember that annual fees, returns, and interest will not count towards the spending requirement.
However, when there is a large bonus on the line I would not wait until the last minute to reach the minimum spending requirement. When I sign-up for a new card offer I always try to meet my minimum spend as soon as possible so I don't have to worry about it. It is important to remember the date and to put it on a calendar as a reminder! If you need some ideas of how to hit the spend check out my list of simple and easy ways to meet credit card minimum spend requirements.
The best strategy to get your minimum spends organized and met is to call up the bank and ask the exact date when you have to hit the spending requirement. You don't want to be scrambling to hit the spend requirement or worse, not reach it and miss out on a valuable bonus. Most of the time there is little you can do if you don't meet the minimum spending requirement in time, so it's best to be organized and stay on top of your spending requirements for bonuses. Even better yet, hit your minimum spend as soon as possible and don't hesitate to call the bank and ask.
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