[FPMD: Welcome to another installment of Future Proof posts on Physician's Money Digest (PMD). In my previous post I Added Up My Credit Card Rewards And.... I illuded to a future post about manufactured spending. Here are some cheap ways I meet credit card spending requirements. As usual, read the full post at PMD. An excerpt is provided below.]
Credit card companies are giving out bigger and bigger sign-up bonuses to earn your business. However, there are usually strings attached. In order to qualify, you are almost always required to spend x dollars within y months of account opening. So let's talk about 5 of the cheapest ways to meet these lofty requirements.
Once upon a time, I bought 500 dollar coins from the US Mint with free shipping for $500, effectively making 1% on my purchase by using a cashback credit card. Unfortunately I wasn't the only guy who thought of that. The Mint quickly caught on and shut it down. So what are the best options today?
Store GIft Cards
Unlike money orders and cashier's checks, there is usually no fee for using a credit card to purchase gift cards from many retailers. I don't mean buying just any gift card, but only for those shops you frequent. For example, I pretty much buy everything other than groceries from Amazon. I wouldn't think twice about picking up $1000 in Amazon gift cards because I know for a fact I will use it. The same goes for Netflix and Starbucks.
Visa, Mastercard & American Express Branded Gift Cards
If you want something that's almost as good as cash, these branded gift cards are for you. A Visa, Mastercard or American Express gift card can be used anywhere their credit cards are accepted, which makes for a lot of places. The catch here is there is usually a purchase fee when you buy in store and a shipping fee if you buy online. For example, you can purchase a $3,000 AMEX gift card online with a purchase fee of $3.95 using the free shipping code FREESHIP16 (Good thru 10/31/2016). That gives you a cost of 0.13% - not too bad when you are earning rewards at a minimum of 1% with most credit cards.
Utilities are relatively inelastic. You can keep your house as dark and as cold as you want, but I bet you'll still get an electric bill at the end of the month. The same goes for cellphone and internet bills, which are pretty much necessities these days. For example, when I first received my Chase Ink Plus card, I quickly charged $1,000 on my T-Mobile bill.
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