Does a Credit Card Annual Fee Count Towards Minimum Spend?

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I just received a great question from a reader asking if the cost of the annual fee of a card counts towards the minimum spend requirements. Typically most points and miles credit cards require you to spend X amount on the card within the first X months to get the bonus points for new applicants. Every card has a different requirement, but it seems like $2,500 within 3 months is an average.

While some credit cards have the annual fee waived for the first card, there are many credit cards that don’t (i.e., Southwest card, Club Carlson card, American Express Platinum card, etc). These annual fees can range from $65 – $450 a year! Of course, if the card has an expensive annual fee it is great if that counts towards the minimum spend requirements, right? Well, unfortunately it does not. There might be a few scenarios out there where this is not the case, but for the most part the annual fee DOES NOT COUNT TOWARDS MEETING YOUR MINIMUM SPEND.

When you are paying your statement balance make sure to NOT include the fee in the amount remaining needed to hit this spend. I know many people have faced this “oops” issue in the past, so do not let it happen to you. This happens more often than not, especially with the American Express Platinum card since the annual fee is $450 and people just include it in their total spend. The credit card companies are typically not so accommodating if you miss the minimum spend requirements due to this oversight, so be cautious.

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  1. Back in 2011, when I was a rookie, I had applied for the Amex platinum and was supposed to spend $1000 in 3 months. well, i thought the annual fee ($450!), which was promptly charged in my second billing cycle, counted towards the minimum spend. When the 3 month mark hit, I didn’t get the miles. When I realized my mistake, I was desperate! I wrote a letter to the executive office apologizing for the mistake and saying I would meet the minimum spend quickly in the next month and they gave me the miles. What a huge relief! I was lucky. So for newbies out there, don’t make this mistake!

  2. @Mariana: I second you. This is the case even today. I confirmed the same with Amex before my 3 month period.

    But in some cases I have seen some banks do that. (I can say Chase and BOA from my experience). You will have to call though. YMMV

  3. Missed out on 25k Virgin Air points with BoA thanks to 16 CENTS short due to not watching this carefully enough. Be sure you spend more than required!!! We tried many times to get the points, but BoA refused. Ridiculous…

  4. I was in the situation yesterday for the SW card. I calculated ~2069.XX$ as spend in 3 months and then realized that the annual fee does not count. The date was gone on Mar 23 to hit the spend. Just made thru by few cents (after manual calculation). Believe me I was pretty nervous while calculating the total spend.

  5. Amex has posted my points early for both the Business Platinum and personal Premier Rewards Gold card in the past, perhaps on the expectation that I’ll meet the spend. Still, I try to be safe than sorry. I had about $750 in credits on my Business Platinum Card and a $450 annual fee, making it harder to work my way through $10K in net spend.

  6. My situation actually has a different wrinkle. I was planning on making my BOA card one of my secondary cards (usually around $250-500 per month) but was waiting on the bonus miles to first post. I called BOA and asked if I had completely satisfied the minimum spend requirement. The CSR said that I had. I then got her name and noted the day and time of my call. After the points failed to post in a few weeks I sent a secure message inquiring about the points. I was then informed that I had just barely missed the required spend by a few dollars. The CSR had given me the wrong info and I failed to double check her math. Lesson now learned …check everything even info given by a CSR. By the way, BOA refused to give me my points. I did not want to reveal the name of the CSR because I did not want to get her in trouble.

  7. Great post. Made this mistake while calculating a southwest minimum spend. Can you imagine missing out on the companion pass because of a few dollar miscalculation?? Lucky for me I still had time left to hit my minimum

  8. Oh yeah, and we were ALSO told that we had met the requirement verbally by many people. Then we got a letter that we had met it, but points never posted. Then we called again, verbally told it was fine, etc..etc… finally we got an “official” letter from someone saying that the matter is officially closed. We did not meet the requirement of spending, period and this was the final resolution to the matter. Again, BoA sucks. Make sure you get over that limit or you are screwed.

  9. Thanks for posting about this! I thought I had just completed minimum spend on my new SW RR card, but if I take out the $69 fee, I am short by $50!

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