The scene from Menace II Society, “You know you done ducked up right?”, went through my head as I almost fell victim to terrible arithmetic. As is routine, I keep an ongoing Excel spreadsheet that details my annual fees, due dates, and the date when I have to reach the min spend on a new credit card offer. Distracted by debauchery from my move in NY, I forgot to make sure that I had reached the min on an Amex offer. I had not, I was 1k short.
My heart began racing when I saw that the spending must be completed by December 14. Quickly I began thinking what I could buy to cover the 1k immediately. Before rushing off to make a hasty Amazon purchase, I checked the screenshot of my application. Sure enough, it said September 14th.
Anxious, I contacted Amex chat support to get some clarification on exactly when the clock starts ticking on the offer. I learned a few interesting tidbits:
- Within 3 months means 92 days.
- The clock starts on the day the card is approved, not when it is shipped.
- Amex gives a 10 day buffer to complete the min spend.
I based my Excel date on the first two so knowledge of the third proved to be the lifesaver as I now had till December 24th to reach the min. The representative stated that the 10 day buffer was to make sure the card holder had adequate time to receive and begin making purchases.
Another useful fact of which I was aware is that the transaction must post to the account before the final date. In this case, had I bought something from Amazon, it is possible that the pending charge wouldn’t have posted until the day it was shipped. If I purchased something from a store it is still possible that the charge wouldn’t be reflected till the next business day.
I am not sure if the 10 day grace period is provided by other credit card companies. I know from my experience that Citi doesn’t give any extra time beyond three months.
So even if you have a fool-proof system (as I thought I did), please double-check your calculations and, better yet, complete your min spends in advance. Just like Christmas shopping, don’t save it to the last-minute. Otherwise you’ll be spending your holidays in a pull out couch at a friend’s apartment in Brooklyn instead of the St. Regis New York.