Year-End Checklist: Annual Credit Card Spending Bonuses

We’re less than 30 days away from the end of the year, which means it’s time to rev up spending on our credit cards – at least the ones that offer annual spending bonuses. With all the year-end sales and holidays coming up, many of you will be putting lots of legitimate spend on your credit cards – so why not get something extra out of it, besides the usual 1-6 points per $1 spent? Whether you’re in the market for extra airline miles, hotel points, free nights, companion passes or elite status, you can get it by channeling your spending onto the right rewards credit card.

Time is limited, so if you’re just getting started and can’t pull off $40,000 worth of manufactured spending in a single month (and you really shouldn’t do that on a single credit card), there are a variety of bonuses you can earn by meeting lower spending requirements. Below are your options, categorized by the amount of spend required:

Earn bonus miles, elite status, and companion passes on your credit card spending through the end of the year!

Earn bonus miles, elite status, and companion passes on your credit card spending through the end of the year!

$2,500 – $7,500 Worth of Spending 

I wouldn’t recommend focusing your spending in this category unless you’re already close to achieving elite status with Fairmont. As for Virgin Atlantic and Marriott, if having status with these programs is more important to you than earning free nights or other perks elsewhere, then this might be a good place to focus your spending. However, keep in mind that there’s a cheaper way to earn top-tier Marriott Platinum status, which involves putting $75,000 worth of spend on the Ritz Carlton credit card.

$10,000 – $19,000 Worth of Spending

Within this category, the only spending requirement that has to be met by calendar year (as opposed to credit card anniversary) are the bonuses from the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard and Tier-Qualifying Points from the Southwest Premier Business Card. I can’t remember when the 90,000 Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard offer ended, but if it was still valid in June and you got in on it, there may still be time to earn the 50,000 point bonus by completing $12,000 worth of spending. If you’ve missed the cut-off date, then you can still learn 7,500 bonus anniversary miles by completing $15,000 worth of spending by the end of this calendar year. 

If your Club Carlson card anniversary is coming up and you’re on the fence about whether to keep it and meet the $10,000 spending requirement for the annual free night, then check out my list of the 10 Best Club Carlson Hotels to Redeem Your Free Night Certificate. It’s not exactly an impressive line-up, but the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel Chicago and Radisson Martinique Broadway are good redemption options. 

$20,000 – $29,000 Worth of Spending

Aside from the Virgin Atlantic World Elite MasterCard card offer, all of the above listed bonuses can be earned every calendar year. It’s not advisable to spend $20,000 – $25,000 on a card in a single month, but if you’ve already put some of that spend on these cards since January, you may have very little left to do. 

$30,000 Worth of Spending

The British Airways Visa Signature Card and Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express both offer bonuses that can be earned each calendar year. Whether you’re after the British Airways Travel Together Ticket or MQM’s for Delta elite status, you can do it before the end of the year. 

$40,000 Worth of Spending

If it’s top-tier hotel elite status or AAdvantage EQM’s you’re aiming for, both of these can be achieved by channeling $40,000 worth of spending on the appropriate credit card. I would focus on earning Hilton Diamond status, since I had such a great experience as a Diamond member at the Conrad Bali this summer. That’s not to say I haven’t received great treatment as a mid-tier Gold, but Diamond status is a step up and worth earning – to me at least. When my Diamond status expires, this will be my preferred method of earning it back. While you can certainly go the Hyatt route and earn extra stay/night credits towards Hyatt Diamond, I don’t think that’s the best value for your money spent. I would recommend holding out for a Diamond status match or challenge instead or mattress running, if you’re not too short on stay requirements. 

$50,000 Worth of Spending

Of the above bonuses, only the $60,000 spending requirement from the Amex Delta Reserve Credit Card has to be met in a calendar year in order to earn 15,000 MQM’s. If you’ve already met the majority of the required spend and are close to earning elite status with Delta, then it’s worth generating some extra spend on the card. Otherwise, I’d focus $50,000+ worth os spend towards earning the Southwest Companion pass or Ritz Carlton/Marriott Platinum status.

For tips on how to meet $2,500 -$50,000 worth of spending requirements in a year (or less), be sure to check out the Newbie Guide to Manufactured Spending.

Which of these annual credit card spending bonuses will you be focusing on through the end of the year?

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Ariana Arghandewal


  1. Does the American Express Gold still give you 15K points at $30K spend? I thought that benefit went away.

  2. Just a few things to fix / add to your (nicely comprehensive) list:
    Amex Delta Skymiles Platinum: $25k = 10k MQM; $50k = add’l 10k MQM
    The Hilton HHonors Surpass card is an Amex product (with $40k = Diamond status as you noted)

    Also, I believe the Club Carlson $10k spend requirement for a free US night is per cardmember year, not calendar year. Important to clarify!

    • Totally missed the Platinum Skymiles card – thanks for catching that! Yes, the Club Carlson bonus is per membership year. It was implied in the summary, but I’ve clarified it in the bullet point.

  3. Ariana, re: Chase Hyatt Visa. It’s not stays and nights that you will earn after spending, it’s virtual credit that will go toward your Diamond status. So, just for the status… Thought it’s important not to omit word “credit”! 🙂

  4. I need to top off my Hyatt points so I’ll be spending some on the Hyatt Visa. Need more Hilton points to so MS via grocery stores. Still need to meet the remaining of the annual $6k on groceries on my blue cash, so that’s the third, and will be buying merchant gift cards at grocery stores too including actual groceries.

  5. The Barclay Aviator Red $100 AA coupon requires spending 30k per card membership year, not calendar year.


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