Occasionally I am asked for advice on which credit cards to get for ultra-low spenders. Can they really get a free trip in the new era of minimum spending requirements to unlock credit card bonuses?

Here is a representative example of how someone who spends less than $1,000 per month on cards can earn a free trip to Europe with leftover points for free hotels or his next free trip! The answer is the little-talked-about Delta SkyMiles cards. They don’t offer as big of a headline bonus as some other cards, but their low spending requirements put them within everyone’s reach.

Steele asks:

I spend about $500 to $700 per month on cards. What cards can I get for an upcoming trip to Europe?

Spending under $1,000 per month on credit cards, while generally a virtue, is becoming a big liability when trying to earn free travel because more and more cards are forcing us to meet minimum spending requirements to unlock the sign up bonuses. We have to find some cards with ultra-low or zero minimum spending requirements for Steele. Or we have to look at manufacturing spending–putting more dollars on credit cards without spending more out of pocket.

The next thing is getting to Europe. We need miles that can do that effectively.

For Steele, I would recommend getting the Delta personal and business cards from American Express. The offers are almost identical.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express comes with 30,000 bonus Delta miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. This is one of the older tiny minimum spending requirements that are becoming less common.

Like many airline cards, the cardholder gets a free checked bag, but Delta’s version of the benefit is the most generous. You get a free checked bag for you and up to eight companions on paid Delta flights booked with the card. This benefit could easily stretch into hundreds of dollars saved per year for families–or very little saved for one baggers like me.

The card comes with Zone 1 Boarding, meaning your carry on will find bin space instead of being involuntarily gate checked.

The card earns one SkyMile per dollar on all spending plus 2 per dollar on Delta purchases. And if you have to buy something onboard a Delta flight, you get a 20% discount.

There is no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.

Application Link: Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express with 30,000 bonus SkyMiles

The Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card from American Express Open comes with an identical offer plus one thing.

In addition to the 30,000 bonus Delta miles after $1,000 in purchases in the first three months and all the other benefits, the business card is automatically enrolled in the American Express OPEN Program. Using the business card at certain hotels, rental car agencies, office supply stores, business logistics stores, and other businesses earns an automatic discount of up to 10%.

For more information about OPEN, see The OPEN Savings Benefit Page.

Application Link: Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card from American Express Open

If Steele got both cards, he’d only have to spend $2,000 total in three months to unlock 60,000 bonus SkyMiles–well within his spending ability and enough for a roundtrip ticket to Europe.

While I generally am not a huge fan of SkyMiles, they work really well for economy class to Europe as Delta’s partners Alitalia, KLM, and Air France all release a good amount of economy award space and fly to a lot of destinations within the US and all over Europe.

Recap

There’s no reason why ultra-low spenders who put less than $1,000 per month on credit cards can’t quickly generate 100,000 or more miles and points for a trip to Europe with Ultimate Rewards left over for your hotels or next trip.

Application Link: Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express 

Application Link: Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Card from American Express Open

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 spend in 3 months

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 80,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months and 2x points earned on dining and travel spend, this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

Learn More

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