7 ways to earn a credit card sign-up bonus without leaving the house

Apr 2, 2020

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Staying home may have given you time to ponder your credit card strategy for the rest of 2020, as there are plenty of great offers around. For example, the Preferred Rewards Gold card from American Express U.K., which, for a limited-time only, is doubling its welcome bonus to 20,000 valuable Membership Rewards points after spending £3,000 in the first 90 days of card membership.

There’s no annual fee for the first year on this card, and TPG U.K. currently values those 20,000 Membership Rewards points at £280. You can read a full review of the card, including the representative rate here.

In normal times, you might be able to reach that minimum spend easily — a week’s holiday abroad with the whole family could see to that. But if you aren’t leaving the house right now, there are still plenty of ways you can earn a welcome bonus.

Related: The 5 best UK credit card sign-up bonuses

In This Post

Paying tax bills with Billhop

Tax payments cannot usually be paid by personal credit card at all, let alone by American Express. However, Billhop is a service that allows you to pay bills by any credit card, including American Express.

If you have a big tax bill, it’s possible to pay the following through Billhop:

  • Self Assessment tax bill
  • Employers’ PAYE and National Insurance
  • VAT
  • Corporation Tax
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Income Tax

Billhop charges a 2.95% fee for the privilege, which, if you are using a 1 point per £1 card, this fee ordinarily may be more than the value of the points you are earning. However, if this fee is the only thing standing in between you and reaching that generous welcome bonus, it may make sense to swallow the fee in order to reach the minimum spend if you don’t otherwise have any large expenses. Of course, whether it’s worth it for you will depend entirely upon your spending habits.

Billhop has advised TPG U.K. that you may also be able to pay your rent through its service, depending on the landlord. You can contact the company to enquire about your options to pay rent this way.

Sensible trip planning and booking

It’s certainly not advisable to travel right now. But eventually, it should be. When that will be, no one knows. Next month? Probably not. Next year? Probably.

If you’re comfortable looking at Christmas flights right now, there are incredible deals cropping up all the time, and most travel providers have generous travel protections in place to allow you to book with confidence in the event that your travel is cancelled. Do you leave your European ski trip booking until the flights and accommodation are too expensive? Right now, you have plenty of time up your sleeve before next winter.

We will continue to cover any sensible deals, and it’s worth signing up to our newsletter to ensure you get the best of these deals straight into your inbox every morning.

There are, however, a number of very important things to consider before making any bookings at this time.

First, think carefully about the region that you’re wanting to travel to and about the complexity of the trip you build. A very complex trip will require far more unravelling if global issues continue. Now is the time to keep it simple! Second, it’s best to book as far in advance as possible. Since the world is unlikely to return to normal in the next couple of weeks or months, I would only be thinking about travel in autumn and beyond. Third, only book tickets that you are able to cancel without paying fees.

Related: Is my airline waiving change fees?

Finally, think about the stability of the company you are booking with. You might be in trouble if the airline, hotel or third-party service doesn’t make it through the next few months. If there is any concern when it comes to package holidays, protect yourself by ensuring the company you book with is ATOL protected.

The Prague Christmas Market. (Photo by Frank Chmura/Getty Images)
The Prague Christmas Market. (Photo by Frank Chmura/Getty Images)

Pre-paying insurance, utilities or other regular expenses

Another way to boost your spending to hit a minimum spending threshold is to investigate prepaying certain expenses. Many utility, phone and insurance companies will bill you monthly, and you can often choose the size of the payment you make. If your finances allow, you could add an extra £100 to your utility bill payment for the first three months of card membership, or you could prepay three or even six months of insurance to ensure you’re reaching the amount needed to earn the sign-up bonus. Just be sure that you’re accounting for these expenses and can afford to pay your monthly balance off in full (the first commandment for travel rewards credit cards).

Another option would be to pay an annual or biannual bill early (again, as long as you can afford to pay the entire statement balance in full). If you’re struggling to hit a spending requirement, it could make sense to look ahead and see what bills are coming due soon that could help get you across that threshold.

If it is an expense you absolutely know you’re always going to have (like a mobile phone or internet connection), consider prepaying.

Christmas presents

Yes, last Christmas was only a few months ago. But if you have plenty of free time up your sleeve this weekend and a welcome bonus to reach, consider planning that far ahead and getting cracking on your Christmas shopping.

Given your shopping right now will be done online, don’t forget to always go through a loyalty program shopping portal to collect bonus points, allowing you to double-dip by paying with a points-earning credit card.

Related: Earn up to triple Avios on Christmas shopping with the British Airways eStore

Travel gear

If your personal travel gear could use an upgrade, now could be a good time to shop online for all sorts of travel items, such as new luggage, packing cubes, eye masks, neck pillows, travel clothing, adaptors, external batteries, selfie sticks and more. Here’s what’s on TPG’s list to purchase:

Make sure when online shopping to check British Airways and Virgin’s online shopping portals, which will allow you to earn additional bonus points at specific retailers. Make sure to check out the full TPG U.K. guide to shopping portals here.

Luggage in the hotel room
Photo by Gettys Images

Wine

About the only thing I have to look forward to at the end of the working week at the moment is a nice glass of wine. If you want to ensure a constant supply of your favourite red or white, consider ordering in bulk online. Normally, you can earn bonus Avios with Laithwaites or bonus Flying Club miles with Virgin Wines, though as at the time of publication due to the overwhelming demand, they are not currently accepting new customers.

But remember, any online wine service you can order from, paying by credit card will get you closer to reaching that welcome bonus and you’ll be well-stocked for yet another quiet weekend at home.

Donate

Feeling charitable in these difficult times? Saving money by skipping that big night out on the town while you’re staying home? There are plenty of charities that would love your support, and these purchases will also get you closer to that welcome bonus.

Some charities you may wish to consider during this period include:

  • Age UK, which provides support and companionship to the elderly who may feel particularly vulnerable and isolated right now;
  • Sufra, which provides emergency food parcels for those in desperate need; or
  • Action Homeless, a food bank that has seen a huge drop in donations as people are told to stay at home.

Deliveroo is also allowing you to donate to the NHS to give free meals to healthcare workers.

Other charities have come up with unique ways for you to donate small amounts that you are saving each day to worthwhile causes, such as Headway East London and Rainy Day Trust.

Related: How to donate your points and miles to charity this Christmas

Bottom line

This is a difficult and unusual time for everyone. If you are uncertain about the stability of your job, a new credit card and its welcome bonus may not be your top priority. As we always say at TPG, if you cannot pay off the balance completely each month then you shouldn’t be taking out a credit card to begin with, as the interest you will be charged will likely be greater than the value of any rewards earned.

However, if you are finding yourself actually saving money by not leaving the house and still have your eye on a generous welcome or sign-up bonus offered by a credit card, there are creative ways to reach it without going outside.

Featured image by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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