Build your own $1,350 bank-funded stimulus check

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credit card cash bonus
Our government recently approved an economic stimulus bill to fight the Coronavirus caused recession.  Among its provisions are cash payments to be sent directly to individuals.  Most adults earning less than $75,000 can expect $1,200 plus $500 per child.

This post is for those who don’t qualify for a stimulus check or simply would like even more money.  The stimulus check I’m proposing here is funded by big banks rather than the federal government…

Regular readers of this blog already know how this works.  The basic idea is simple: sign up for credit cards that offer huge welcome bonuses, meet minimum spend requirements, and then cash in your rewards.  Next year, when annual fees come due, you can cancel or downgrade to avoid new annual fees.  In this post I’ll guide you step by step through this process…

Do you have a business? (Yes!)

Please don’t brush past this section assuming that the answer is “no”.  The best credit card offers are almost always for business cards.  And yes, in order to sign up for a business credit card, you must have a business. That said, it’s common for people to have businesses without realizing it.

If you sell items (or plan to sell items) at a yard sale, or on eBay, for example, then you have a business.  If you make music, art, or poetry and hope to profit from your work, you have a business.  Similar examples include: consulting, writing (e.g. blog authorship, planning your first novel, etc.), handyman services, owning rental property, renting on airbnb, driving for Uber or Lyft, etc.

Select the best offers

Credit card offers change all the time.  You can always find the latest and greatest offers on our Best Credit Card Offers page.  Or, if you’re only interested in cash back, check here: Best cash back credit card offers.  Note that we always publish the best public offers even if that means that we lose out on earning referral revenue.  We firmly believe in publishing what’s best for our readers even if it means less revenue for this business.

Best business cash back offers

As I write this, the overall best credit card offer is for the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card.  The current offer is for 100,000 points (worth at least $1,000), but it requires massive spend: $15,000 in 3 months.  Fortunately, we currently list an alternate offer for 80,000 points (worth at least $800) after $5,000 spend.

Chase Ink Business Preferred Card
100K points
100K after $15K spend in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

Note: Chase has severely limited business card approvals during the recession

Recent better offer: 80K after $5K spend. Many preferred the 80K offer due to the much lower spend requirement

FM Mini Review: Great card for signup bonus and 3X categories. Also consider the fee-free Ink Business Cash for its 5X categories, and the fee-free Ink Business Unlimited to earn 1.5X everywhere.


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Base
Travel
Phone
Biz
Other

Earning rate: 3X travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites (up to $150K spend per year) ⚬ 5X Lyft

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Points worth 25% more when redeemed for travel ⚬ Cell phone protection against theft or damage

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Another fantastic offer is for the U.S. Bank Business Leverage® Visa Signature® Card.  Currently, US Bank is offering $750 after $7,500 spend in 4 months.  That’s a lot of spend, but stick with me as I’ll show you later in this post how to achieve it.

U.S. Bank Business Leverage® Visa Signature® Card

FM Mini Review: Since the points are worth 1c each, this card isn't terribly rewarding for ongoing spend. Note that points can not be combined with the Altitude Reserve.


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Base
1%
Other
2%

Earning rate: 2x on top two categories where you spend the most each month.

Noteworthy perks: Earn 2x in the two categories in which you spend the most each month. Full list of categories can be found here.

Other current business card offers worth considering include two other Chase Ink cards: Ink Business Unlimited and Ink Business Cash.  Each offers 50,000 points (worth at least $500) after $3,000 spend:

Chase Ink Business Unlimited

FM Mini Review: Great signup bonus for a fee-free card. Good option for earning 1.5X everywhere. Good companion card to Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or Sapphire Preferred.


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Base
Other

Earning rate: 1.5X on all purchases ⚬ 5X Lyft

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card
50K points
50K after $3K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee

Note: Chase has severely limited business card approvals during the recession

Recent better offer: None. This is the best we've seen.

FM Mini Review: This one should be in everyone's wallet. Incredible signup bonus for a no-fee card. Great card for 5X categories. Excellent companion card to Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, or Ink Business Preferred.


Card Type: Visa Signature Business

Base
Dine
Gas
Phone
Office
Other

Earning rate: 5X office supplies ⚬ 5X cellular/landline/cable (on up to $25,000 in total purchases in 5x categories annually) ⚬ 2X gas and restaurants ⚬ 5X Lyft

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

And here are a few business card offers which, at the time of this writing, offer $500 cash back for approximately $5,000 of spend:

Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard

Card Type: Mastercard

Base
1%
Travel
3%
Dine
2%
Gas
3%
Phone
3%
Office
3%
Biz
3%

Earning rate: 2% on dining plus 3% on 1 choice from: gas stations (default), office supply stores, travel, TV/telecom & wireless, computer services or business consulting services (for the first $50,000 in combined choice/dining purchases each calendar year, 1% thereafter) and 1% everywhere else.

Noteworthy perks: When you're a Business Advantage Relationship Rewards client, you can get up to 75% rewards bonus on every purchase you make. This means that you can earn up to 5.25% with this card! Your rewards bonus is based on your enrolled tier – Gold 25%; Platinum 50%; or Platinum Honors 75%.

Capital One Spark Cash Business Credit Card
$500 Cash back
Earn a one-time bonus: $500 after $4.5K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $95

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: Up to $2,000 Cash Back: Earn a one time bonus: $500 after $5K spend in 3 months from account opening and earn an additional $1,500 when you spend $50K in the first 6 months of account opening [Expired 1/27/20]

FM Mini Review: Many cards offer unlimited 2% cash back, but this is the only business card I know of that does so. This is a good option for business owners who prefer simple cash back rewards.


Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
2%

Earning rate: 2% everywhere

Noteworthy perks: No foreign transaction fees

Wells Fargo Business Platinum Visa® card
$500 Cash Back
$500 after $5K spend in the first 3 months OR no signup bonus if you choose to earn points instead of cash back

No Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: You must have a Wells Fargo checking or savings account that has been open for at least 12 months in order to apply online


Card Type: Visa

Base
1.5%

Earning rate: 1.5% cash back everywhere if you choose the cash back program (note that you must opt in to the cash back program at account opening to get the signup bonus and 1.5% everywhere. If you choose points, this card earns 1x everywhere and a bonus 1,000 points in any statement period that you spend $1,000 or more.

Best consumer cash back offers

As I write this, the best consumer cash back offer is for the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.  The current offer is for 60,000 points (worth at least $600) after $4,000 spend in 3 months.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
80K Points
80K after $4K spend in the first 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details). This card is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 48 months.

Recent better offer: None. This is the best offer we've seen.

FM Mini Review: Great signup bonus. Solid option to pair with fee-free Ultimate Rewards cards such as the Freedom cards, Ink Business Cash, and Ink Business Unlimited in order to unlock ability to transfer points to airline and hotel partners.


Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
Travel
Dine
Other

Earning rate: 2X Travel and Dining ⚬ 5X Lyft (through March 2022)

Noteworthy perks: Primary auto rental collision damage waiver ⚬ Free DashPass for at least 1 year (activate by 12/31/21)

See also: Chase Ultimate Rewards Complete Guide

Another terrific offer is for the Bank of America Premium Rewards Card.  The current offer is for 50,000 points (worth $500) after $3,000 spend in 90 days.  This also happens to be one of my favorite “everywhere else” cards (see: What’s in Greg’s wallet?)

Bank of America Premium Rewards

FM Mini Review: This card has best-in-class earnings for those with $100K+ invested with BOA. With that level of investment, you would earn 3.5X travel & dining and 2.62X everywhere else.


Card Type: Visa Signature

Base
1.5%
Travel
2%
Dine
2%

Earning rate: ⚬ 2X travel and dining ⚬ 1.5X everywhere else

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ $100 annual airline incidentals fee reimbursement ⚬ $100 Airport Security Statement Credit towards TSA Pre✓ ® or Global Entry Application fee, every four years ⚬ Up to 75% bonus for Preferred Rewards banking customers

Sign up for two cards

Business card applications

For the rest of this post, for demonstration purposes, I will assume that the reader selected the 80K Chase Ink Business Plus offer, and the $750 US Bank Leverage card offer.

Below are details about applying for a Chase Ink card.  Applying for business cards from other banks should be similar.

The first part of the application is about your business. If you already have a well established business, then the answers should be straightforward. If you are just getting started with your business, below are examples of how to fill this out. These answers assume that you do not have any employees and you operate as a sole proprietorship (which is the most basic form of a business). Use your judgment to answer differently if the examples given don’t match your circumstances: Business Information
  • Legal Name of Business: If you don’t already have a business name, I recommend using your own name as the business name.
  • Business Name on Card: Again, this can be your own name if you don’t have a business name to use.
  • Business Mailing Address: This can be your home address if you don’t have a separate business address.
  • Type of business: Sole Proprietor
  • Tax Identification Number: This can be your SSN, but I recommend creating an EIN for your business (you can get an EIN quickly and for free from the IRS here)
  • Number of Employees: 1 (you)
  • Annual Business Revenue: 0 (or project an amount based on expected revenue)
  • Years in Business: (number of years you’ve been operating the business with or without revenue)
  • General industry, Category, Specific type: Pick whichever categories are closest to your business. For example, an aspiring author, artist, or musician might choose: "Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation" and "Independent Artists, Writers, Performers."
Personal Information This part of the application is about you, personally:
  • Your title as Authorizing Officer: "Owner"
  • Total gross annual income: Include all of your income, not just business income. This can include household income.
  • The rest should be self explanatory
Keep records of your answers In some cases Chase will ask to speak with you before approving your application. In those cases, they are likely to ask some of the same questions (annual business revenue, number of years in business, total gross income, etc.). Ideally you'll answer the same as you did on the application. Check Application Status After submitting your application, you can check status by calling the automated status line: (888) 338-2586

If your Chase Ink application is denied, I recommend calling for reconsideration (1-888-270-2127). It’s surprising how often denials can be changed to approvals just by asking.

Consumer card applications

Click through below to find more information and signup links for each card:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
80K Points
80K after $4K spend in the first 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details). This card is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of any Sapphire credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 48 months.

Recent better offer: None. This is the best offer we've seen.

Track card applications

Travel Freely is a free tool that basically holds your hand throughout the process of signing up for cards for their bonuses.

When signing up for new cards, it’s very important to keep track of the basic details: which card did you sign up for and on what date?  This information will come in handy in the future when you consider signing up for new cards.  In many cases, you can sign up for the same cards again, but there are often restrictions.  For example, with the Sapphire Preferred card, you can sign up again but only if you no longer have the card and 48 months have elapsed since you last received a welcome bonus.

To simplify this kind of thing, I highly recommend signing up for the free tool: Travel Freely.  Travel Freely helps with the whole process.  It will remind you when time is running out to meet spend requirements.  It will notify you when a card’s annual fee is about to come due (in case you want to cancel or downgrade to no-fee card).  And its Card Genie feature will let you know which offers you qualify for based on previous card applications.  Note that Frequent Miler has a financial relationship with Travel Freely.

Meet spend requirements

Meeting spend requirements can be a challenge at any time, but these days when many are stuck at home it can be much harder.  Fortunately, there are a number of relatively easy tricks to help get it done.  Please see this post for details: 7 ways to increase credit card spend from home.

For this post, I’ll highlight one timely trick: Pay Federal Taxes.

There are several payment services that work with the IRS to let you pay your taxes by credit card.  At the time of this writing, the cheapest option is Pay1040 which charges only 1.87% in fees.  The other two options are barely more expensive at 1.96% and 1.99%.  For each type of tax payment, you can make 2 payments per processor, so you can make 6 separate payments towards your year-end taxes (more can be done towards quarterly estimated taxes).

Here’s why this option is particularly timely:

  • The IRS doesn’t mind people overpaying taxes and will refund the extra to you after you file annual taxes.
  • If you pay (or overpay) taxes immediately before filing, you may be able to get your refund before your credit card bill is due.
  • End of year taxes are usually due by April 15, but this year the deadline has been extended until July 15.  As a result, there’s plenty of time to sign up for cards before filing your taxes.

Keep in mind that both the payment and the fee count towards your credit card’s minimum spend requirements.  If you want to meet minimum spend all in one shot without going much over, here’s how much to pay in taxes (this is based on paying 1.87% in fees):

  • $3,000 spend requirement: Pay $2,945 in taxes + ~$55 in fees.
  • $4,000 spend requirement: Pay $3,927 in taxes + ~$73 in fees14725*
  • $5,000 spend requirement: Pay $4,909 in taxes + ~$92 in fees
  • $7,500 spend requirement: Pay $7,363 in taxes + ~$138 in fees
  • $15,000 spend requirement: Pay $14,725 in taxes + ~$275 in fees

Full details about paying taxes with your credit card can be found here: Complete guide to paying taxes via credit card, debit card, or gift card.

Cash out rewards (or not)

credit card cash bonus

Once you meet your minimum spend requirements, your promised welcome bonus should be applied to your account soon after the current credit card statement closes.  At that point, you can withdraw those rewards as cash or a statement credit towards your account.

If you think you may travel within the next year, though, you might not want to withdraw your Chase points yet.  With the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred card, points are worth 25% more when used to book travel through Chase.  Or, if someone in your household has the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, points can be moved to that account and are then worth 50% more towards travel.  With either Preferred card (or the Reserve card) you can also transfer points to a number of airline and hotel partners.  In that way it is sometimes possible to get far more value for your points when you find particularly valuable awards.

Add it all up

The following calculations assume that all minimum spend requirements were achieved through paying (or overpaying) taxes at 1.87%.  Additionally, I’ve made assumptions about which cards you signed up for…

Business Card Total: $1,350

Assuming you signed up for the Ink Business Preferred 80K after $5K spend offer and the US Bank Leverage $750 after $7,500 spend offer, then you’ll have incurred the following costs:

  • Annual fees: $95 (the Ink Business Preferred card has a first year annual fee, but the US Bank card does not)
  • Tax payment fees: $92 (Ink card) + $138 (US Bank card) = $230
  • Total fees: $325

You’ll also have received the following rewards:

  • Ink Business Preferred welcome bonus: 80,000 points = $800
  • Ink Business Preferred rewards earned on $5,000 spend = 5,000 points = $50
  • US Bank Leverage card welcome bonus: $750
  • US Bank Leverage card rewards earned on $7,500 spend: $75
  • Total rewards: $1,675

Net gain: $1,675 – $325 = $1,350

Consumer card total: $877

Assuming you signed up for the Sapphire Preferred 60K after $4K spend offer and the Bank of America Premium Rewards $50K after $3K spend offer, then you’ll have incurred the following costs:

  • Annual fees: $95 x 2 = $180
  • Tax payment fees: $73 + $55 = $128
  • Total fees: $308

You’ll also have received the following rewards:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred welcome bonus: 60,000 points = $600
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred rewards earned on $4K spend = 4,000 points = $40
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards welcome bonus: 50,000 points = $500
  • Bank of America Premium Rewards rewards earned on $3K spend = 4,500 points = $45
  • Total rewards: $1,185

Net gain: $1,185 – $308 = $877

Q & A

How does this affect my credit score?

In most cases, signing up for credit cards causes credit scores to temporarily dip a small amount, but that effect usually only lasts for a few months.  In the long term, scores tend to increase.  This happens because a large part of your credit score is your utilization ratio.  The more credit that is available to you, the better your utilization looks on your credit report.

Can I charge non-business expenses?

Anecdotally, almost everyone I know uses business cards for personal expenses. That said, the terms in most business card applications state that you should use the card only for business use. Also, some consumer credit card protections do not apply to business cards. My advice: use the card for personal expenses only if you’re comfortable doing so. Tax payments can be a combination of personal taxes and business taxes and so should be considered legitimate business spend.

Can my significant-other and I both do this?

Yes!  A couple can easily double rewards by signing up for the same cards.  In fact, it’s often possible to do even better by referring each other.  For example, the Ink Business Preferred currently has a 20,000 point ($200) refer-a-friend offer.  So it may be possible, for example, for you to sign up for the card for the welcome bonus and then for you to get 20,000 more points by referring your significant other.

I have a Chase Ink card already, can I get another?

Yes.  Unlike Chase Sapphire consumer cards, Chase Ink Business cards do not have rules barring you from getting the bonus if you’ve had this or another Ink card in the past 48 months.  Further, it’s possible to get the same Chase Ink card and welcome bonus for each business you own (if you have more than one business).  Similarly, it’s possible to get all three Ink Business cards (and the welcome bonuses) for each business you own.

Isn’t this too good to be true?

It does seem that way!  But it really works.  The reason that banks offer huge welcome bonuses like the ones described here is because they believe that it’s worth it to get your business.  They are counting on eventually getting back their money plus much more through fees and interest payments.  The way to avoid that is to be smart and organized.  Be careful to pay your credit card bills on time and in full, every month.  And when the second year annual fee comes due, cancel or product change to a fee-free card.

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