I got a great question on Twitter yesterday that I figure most people might be interested in.
Vince wants to know when does the official clock start on completing the Minimum Spend Requirement when you get a new Credit Card.
In other words, if you have 6 months to complete the $5,000 minimum spend on the SPG AMEX, does AMEX start the countdown from when you sign up for the Card or is it when you actually call in and activate the Card?
This is a great question for 2 reasons!
1. The approval date is extremely useful information to know.
2. For people that apply for multiple Credit Cards at 1 time, knowing when Credit Card Issuers “start the clock” on Minimum Spend Requirements can impact how you apply for and spend money on your Cards.
Well if I had to guess, in a perfectly sensible World, I would hope that the Minimum Spend countdown doesn’t start until you actually have the Card in your hands and call in to activate it since you obviously can’t use the Card while it is in transit.
Although I have never had any issues, I certainly can imagine Cards getting lost in the mail etc and if your Minimum Spend Requirement has to be completed in 3 months, then having a Card lost in the mail for 2 weeks is 1/8 of your clock wasted.
That being said, we are dealing with Banks and Credit Card Companies who are in the business of making money, so the less Points & Miles they have to give out, the better for their business.
So I went ahead and called both Chase and American Express and asked what their policy was.
Not surprisingly, both Chase & American Express start the Minimum Spend Requirement clock as soon as you are approved.
Typically, you submit an application online and are instantly approved online, so it isn’t a huge deal.
However if you get a pending decision, I highly suggest you call the Bank’s Reconsideration Phone Number and get your application processed ASAP.
Also once you are approved, you can sometimes ask the Bank to expedite your Card for free. Just say something like you going on a trip in 1 week and you would like to use the Card.
Once your Card arrives in the mail, remember to call in and activate it immediately so you can start using it!
Don’t just put it on the counter and say, “Oh I’ll do it later”, because you may forget about it.
Helpful Questions To Ask When You Call To Activate Your Card
To avoid future headaches down the line, I’d highly recommend asking the 2 following questions when you call in to activate your Card:
1. When Was My Approval Date
This way you won’t have to guess when you need to complete your spending by.
If they ask why you are interested, just say you want to have the exact date so you know when the Annual Fee will be due.
2. Can You Please Confirm The Sign On Bonus I Am Registered For
I’ll be honest, this isn’t a step I normally do but going forward it definitely will be. Occasionally the Customer Service Reps will read your the bonus to confirm, but most times they don’t.
Although it takes an extra minute on the phone, it is better to double check what offer you are signed up for rather than find out 3 months later that you were only signed up for the 25,000 Mile offer not the 50,000 Mile offer you thought you had signed up for.
In the event there is something wrong with your offer, you can then quickly get it taken care of instead of trying to call in months later and explain what happened to some Customer Service Representative based in the Philippines who has no idea what you are talking about.
Real Life Implications
As I said before, if you are only signing up for 1 Card, then hitting the Minimum Spend Requirement before the clock runs out shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
However if you are Card Churning, it is important to take into account the start days of Minimum Spend Requirements.
For example, if you want to sign up for both the SPG AMEX and SPG Business AMEX so you can essentially double down on the bonus and get 70,000 SPG Points after completing the Minimum Spend Requirements, depending on your financial situation it might make sense to apply for the SPG AMEX Card now, and then wait right before the 30,000 promotion ends on September 3rd, 2012 to apply for the SPG Business AMEX Card.
Although in total you will still have to spend $10,000 over 6 months, because you delayed the 2nd application by a month, you will have an extra month to hit the Minimum Spend on the 2nd Card.
Some people will argue that it is better to apply all at once to minimize any impact on your Credit Score, but if you can’t meet a Minimum Spend in the allotted time, it doesn’t matter if you apply all at once or not because you won’t complete the Minimum Spending Requirements thus you won’t get the full amount of points.
Other Card Issuers
Although I didn’t cover when the Minimum Spend Requirements for Citi, Bank of America, Capital One, US Bank, etc, if you are interested you can call them and simply ask.
However as a rule of thumb, to be on the safe side, just always assume that it starts on the day you were Approved.
Anyways hope that helps clear up any confusion over when Minimum Spend Requirements start.