I recently got another American Express Platinum Business Card because of its amazing 75,000 sign up bonus after $5,000 spend.  One of the methods that I employed to meet the minimum spend requirements was by putting down a $1,000 deposit on a new Telsa Model 3.

I must admit that I made a bit of a rush judgment when I put down the deposit and didn’t realize the long wait time between deposit and actual delivery of the vehicle (18 months or so) but that didn’t matter a lot to me at the time.  Given the recent changes in my life … the $1,000 deposit could be used for better things.

Getting a Refund

Getting a refund from Telsa is fairly straight forward.  You log into your Telsa account and Manager Your Reservation.  From there, you can click on a link that says “Cancel My Reservation”.  After a quick question about why you want to cancel your reservation, you’re all set.

But is it that simple?

When you look a little closer, you notice that it can take 10-15 business days to process a refund but what is the actual timeline that people are experiencing?

Real World Experience

When I dug into it a little deeper, I found that it has historically taken a LOT longer to process refunds.

According to a very recent article in Wired Magazine, Tesla has been very slow to process refunds on Model 3 deposits.

A post on a Tesla forum seems to suggest the same.

How Can You Use This Information?

Personally, I’m stuck waiting for a refund but it got me thinking about how you can leverage this information and I came up with one idea that would help you extend you minimum spend period by a month or two.

Typically, you have 90 days from the day you are approved for the card to make the minimum spend and qualify for the sign-up bonus.  As an example, the American Express cards have the following minimum spend requirements (all within 90 days of approval):

Now let’s imagine you are just shy of your minimum spend requirements at Day 88 or Day 89 and could possibly miss your minimum spend requirements (that would be a disaster).

You have a couple of choices.

You could purchase something you don’t need in order to meet your minimum spend requirements (not great) or you could figure out a way to defer your required spend.

That’s where a Tesla deposit come into play.

I fully admit here that you have to have the free cash flow to make the card payment for the deposit but if you do, you could buy yourself an extra couple of months to make your minimum spend.

How To Do It

Remember.  Only do this if you really need to make your minimum spend requirements and are running out of time to do so.

  1. Make a deposit for a Model 3 on the Tesla Canada site.  Make sure it’s the Canadian site or you may pay in USD.  The Canadian site charges in CAD.  In this particular example, this will push you over your minimum spend requirements.
  2. In about a week, request a refund from Tesla online
  3. According to all information out there, it will take 1-2 months for Tesla to process the deposit.  During that time, make your actual minimum spend so that when the deposit is refunded, AMEX won’t claw back the sign-up bonus.
  4. Receive your refund from Tesla a month or two later

Essentially, what you are doing is deferring your requirement to make the minimum spend by the amount of time it takes Tesla to make a refund.

How Does the Refund Come Back?

I made my Model 3 deposit via PayPal where it was linked to my aforementioned American Express Platinum Business.

I’ve looked online and I’m not getting clear information on how the refund is provided.  Some people are saying it comes back as a refund on the credit card and others are saying they are getting a cheque from Tesla.

The obvious best case scenario is if you paid on credit card and received a refund via cheque.  This would be a frictionless form of Manufactured Spending, though I’m not convinced that this is what will happen.

As soon as I get my refund, I will provide an update on how long it took as well as the method of refund.  While it is a bit of a slow burn method, this could be very useful information for the right person in the right circumstance.

Jayce is the founder of PointsNerd, and avid traveller and a teacher by nature. He prides himself on flattening the learning curve through step-by-step guides because everyone needs to start somewhere.


    • Hey Ricky,

      Thanks for your suggestion. I wholeheartedly agree that this is a very good strategy to defer your spend requirements and actually a better strategy than making a Tesla deposit. The one distinct difference with my strategy is that I actually wanted a Model 3, which is what prompted the original deposit. The other potential advantage of the Tesla strategy is that you may be able to get the refund in a form of a cheque (with the original deposit paid by credit card). If this is the case, it would preclude you from having to actually make the spend.



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