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Hey! You’re reading an outdated Free First Class Next Month series. To read the latest published series click here

This is the tenth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Best Current Credit Card Offers for Beginners.

Yesterday you were hopefully approved for two new credit cards, which I suggested beginners start with. And in the future, you may decide to apply for even more at once. Is there a best strategy to work on their minimum spending requirements at once? Yes!

How Should You Go About Meeting Multiple Minimum Spending Requirements If You Have Opened More Than One Rewards Card?

For examples, I’ll use some hypothetical cards, but the advice will be general enough to use with any combination of cards. The cards are:

US Airways Premier World MasterCard (first purchase)

Delta American Express ($5,000 in six months)

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® ($3,000 in three months)

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card ($2,500 in three months)

Hypothetical MasterCard ($5,000 in three months)

Here is the best way to meet multiple minimum spends at once:

1. Start with the cards that earn the sign up bonus on first purchase. Get those out of the way. That would mean to start with the US Airways MasterCard.

2. Order the rest of the cards by how long you have to meet the minimum spend requirement. This is key. The above cards have a minimum spend requirement of $15,500. If I did the Delta card last, I would have six months to spend that amount. If I did it first, I would have three months to spend $15,500. Easy choice.

3. Among the cards with the same amount of time to meet the minimum spending requirement, start with the smallest spending requirement first: Imagine I got all the cards thinking I would spend $15,500 in the next four months, but my spending habits changed drastically, so I only spent $3,000.

It would have been a mistake to start with the Hypothetical MasterCard after the US Airways card. I would have ended up only clearing the US Airways card.

If instead I had followed the US Airways card with the Club Carlson card, I at least would have cleared two bonuses.

4. Tie goes to the AMEX. If two cards have the same minimum spend, start with the AMEX between the two. Why? AMEX isn’t accepted as many places as other cards. If you start with the AMEX, where it isn’t accepted, you can use a Visa or MasterCard that you are also clearing, so every dollar is going toward clearing spend minimums. If you started with the Visa then cleared it, then started with the AMEX and got into the same situation, you wouldn’t have a card left to clear minimum spend on.

5. Put the last card you’ll clear on all your recurring bills. My last card above is the Delta SkyMiles AMEX, so I put it as the payment for all my recurring bills, cell phone, internet, cable etc. If you want to make sure you remember all your recurring bills, look at the statement of the card set up to pay them all now.

The reason to put your last card on this task is that you won’t have to change cards on your bills every time you change the main card you’re spending on. And when you get to the last clearance, you’ll already have a head start.

6. Don’t spend past the bonus clearance yet. Monitor your spending closely online, so that you don’t go over the spending requirement. You don’t want to spend $2,800 on a $2,500 minimum card yet. You wasted $300 that could have cleared a different bonus. This also means: make sure to make a tiny purchase only on your cards that give you the bonus after the first purchase.

When you have all these bonuses cleared, you can then start to spend regularly on the cards that are the best for everyday spending.

7. Hit bonuses along the way if you can. Many cards have bonuses for certain types of spend. If you want to squeeze out every possible mile, carry all your cards at once, so you can take advantage of bonus spend along the way. Even when I’m clearing the Club Carlson card, I’ll use the Citi AA card to purchase an AA ticket, so I can get 2x miles on the purchase.

Just to be clear, I will use a card that is further down the bonus clearance line to get a category bonus on certain types of spend. I will not use a card whose bonus I’ve already cleared just to pick up a 5x bonus on purchases at an office supply store for example. Clearing sign up bonuses is far more important than picking up these little category bonuses. If you can do both, though, do it.

Those are the rules. Order your cards by the rules listed, clear your cards one at a time, and enjoy your Free First Class Next Month.

In my example, the order of clearing would be:

  1. US Airways Premier World MasterCard (first purchase)
  2. Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card (tied for shortest time, lower spending requirement than other cards)
  3. Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®(tied for shortest time, second lowest spending requirement)
  4. Hypothetical MasterCard with $5k spending (tied for shortest time, bigger spending requirement)
  5. Delta American Express (longest amount of time to meet bonus)

Of course, while I cleared these cards, the Delta American Express would pay all my recurring bills. And while I cleared other cards, I’d still use the Citi AA MasterCard to buy AA tickets to collect category bonuses.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

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