If you’re new to chasing credit card rewards, it can feel like there’s a lot to learn at once. One of the fastest ways to earn credit card rewards points is through a sign-up bonus. This is a big slew of points you’ll get from a new card if you spend a certain amount on that card within a specified period of time — often the first three months. The spending requirement could be anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on the card.
See also: How I Redeemed a $12,000 Family Vacation With Credit Card Rewards in 2 Months
Of course, the whole idea for earning points that translate into travel rewards is to spend less. It’s counterproductive to go into debt just to meet a minimum spending requirement. That’s why the tips below relate to things you’re likely already spending on, not additional expenses that will break your budget. You should never let a balance accrue on a credit card just to get rewards. You will never come out ahead. (See also: 5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months or Less With Credit Cards)
1. Start With Everyday Expenses
Chances are you can get a significant fraction of the way to meeting your minimum requirement just by putting your regular expenses on your credit card whenever you can.
If you’re conditioned to paying for things in cash, it’s time to break that habit since you’re missing out on tons of potential points-earning opportunities. This means putting all your grocery purchases on your card. Same for when you pay for gas, dry cleaning, prescriptions, or any of your other regular expenses. (See also: Best Credit Cards to Use for Everyday Expenses)
2. Pay Your Bills With Your Card
The same is true for monthly bills like your Internet, Netflix, cellphone, cable, etc. If you have automated payments set up, update them with your new card. For any other bills, see if there’s an option to pay with a credit card instead of a checking account. Watch out for any fees charged for credit card payments, though. It’s usually not worth it.
See also: 6 Ways My Family Scores Free Travel With Credit Cards
3. Let Little Things Add Up
If you use Uber or Lyft to get around, make sure you update your payment method so that it is linked to your new credit card. The same goes for other apps that you are using to make payments, as small as they may be. If you use Venmo to pay individuals or iTunes for the occasional song download, you’ll want to link them to your new card, too, so you’ll be earning points toward rewards even when you’re not thinking about it.
4. Prepay Current Subscriptions
If you have the extra cash to pay for subscriptions up front, you’ll not only help meet the spending requirement, but may score a discount in the process. Many services offer a discount for prepaying.
See also: 10 Ways to Get Free or Almost Free Airline Tickets
5. Buy Gift Cards
Buying gift cards is a straightforward way to earn points toward reaching your minimum balance. You are spending money now by purchasing the card, which you can then use later. Due to fraud concerns, many brick-and-mortar retailers no longer take credit cards for gift card purchases, but many e-tailers, including Amazon, will.
Again, the most important thing to remember is to only spend what you can pay off every month. Make your payments on time, so you don’t accrue interest or late payment fees that will obliterate any rewards you get for your purchases. (See also: 7 Ways Anyone Can Travel for Free)