Credit Card Points (Chase/Amex/Citi), News

The #1 Mistake You Can Make With a New Credit Card Bonus Offer

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There’s no better way to accrue miles and points than with the bonus offer. I’m talking about, of course, about bonus offers that often come with a new credit card. You know, like “Get 60,000 Bonus Points when you spend $3,000 within your first 3 months.”

credit card minimum spend requirement mistake

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There are many ways you can mess this up, like using gift card purchases to meet minimum spend on a new American Express card account (cue the clawback train!) but there is one mistake that I’ve seen people make more than once and it’s heartbreaking.

In fact two friends recently made the exact same mistake with Citi for a new Citi Premier card which comes with an offer for 60,000 bonus ThankYou points when you spend $4,000 in 3 months. You can be sure that I’ll be highlighting what I’m writing below to anyone I know that applies for a card from here on out.


Annual Fees DO NOT COUNT in your Minimum Spend Requirement

To those that are old pros in this sport, it’s obvious. An annual fee is a bank charge / fee and those don’t count as part of your Minimum Spend Requirement.

But to a newbie, the charge posted on the account and it’s easy enough to add up your statement balances and hit pause when you clear the minimum spend requirement, in this case $4,000.

In both cases, these people missed the $4,000 by $50 or less.


Yes, it’s in the Terms and Conditions – But It’s Buried

In both cases these people were incensed that they were being denied these bonuses over less than $50 when they had in fact spent over $4,000 and missed on a technicality. In both cases Citi told them to pound sand.

One friend told Citi to just cancel the card (and he did – he feels that a credit card relationship should be a two way street and he’s a small business owner with LOTS of credit card spend).

The other was offered 5,000 ThankYou points as a consolation by a Supervisor after the back office declined her polite requests to simply let her spend the rest under the circumstances. But of course she’s still upset about the situation and plans to close the card after a year (on my advice to hold it a year since the annual fee is already paid).

In both cases, Citi says that the terms clearly state the annual fee doesn’t count.

Now, the offer says “SEE WHERE 60,000 BONUS POINTS CAN TAKE YOU AFTER you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.*

And that Asterisk refers to the Pricing and Information section.

There it does say:

Bolding mine.

You are meant to know that “account fees” refers to / includes the Annual Fee.

If you are a bank apologist, sure, it’s stated here.

If you are a total newbie, well, that doesn’t hit you over the head that you’ll need to think to exclude that $95 fee.


Their Lesson Learned is Your Advance Warning

While it’s unfortunate that they made these mistakes – and I feel awful I didn’t think to warn them, their mistake is a lesson for you to keep in mind.

This obviously does not apply only to Citi.

If you open an Amex Platinum card, for example, the $550 fee will not count against the $5,000 you need to spend for 60,000 bonus American Express Membership Rewards points.

To be clear, this applies not to just the annual fee, but interest charges, late fees, and anything else that isn’t an actual purchase of goods or services with your card.



Let me know here, on Twitter, or in the private MilesTalk Facebook group.

You can find credit cards that best match your spending habits and bonus categories at Your Best Credit Cards

New to all of this? My “introduction to miles and points” book, MilesTalk: Live Your Wildest Travel Dreams Using Miles and Points is available on Amazon and at major booksellers.