Could I Lose A Booked Award Ticket If I Cancel My Co-Branded Credit Card?

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TPG reader John tweeted me @thepointsguy  to ask:

“Is there any risk of having a booked award trip cancelled if I cancel a co-branded credit card with the airline?”

The answer is absolutely not. Once award tickets are booked, they really have nothing to do with your credit card. With airline co-branded cards, even if you cancel the card, you will keep the miles that are already in your account, they are not going to take them back from you.

Airline Credit Cards
The airline won’t take your miles if you cancel your co-branded credit card.

I would just caution against any activity that might be considered fraudulent such as buying a bunch of stuff to rack up the miles, booking an award and then returning the merchandise, credit cards have been known to contact airlines to cancel award tickets and take back the miles, but that is an extreme situation and I would not suggest or condone doing anything illicit like that under any circumstances. So as long as you are not doing anything weird then I wouldn’t worry about it.

One other thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you have Amex card that earns Membership Rewards points like the Premier Rewards Gold or Platinum cards, or a Chase card that accrues Ultimate Rewards points like the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus, and it is your only card that accrues those kinds of points and you cancel it, then when you close your account, you will lose your points. That’s a bit different than airline or hotel co-branded cards, because once those points or miles are in you frequent flyer or hotel points account, they are fine, but with credit card points programs, you need to use or transfer those points before you cancel a card, otherwise they’ll just be gone.

However, my major piece of advice is not to cancel a card if you don’t have to since you want to keep your available credit lines open in order to keep your credit score healthy. You can always call up and ask if the bank can waive the fee or give you a points bonus that may make it more lucrative to keep the card open.

For more information on co-branded credit cards, read my previous posts here:

When To Cancel a Credit Card

My Chicago Seminars Presentation: Advanced Credit Card Strategies

How to Check Your Credit For Free

Travel Tuesday Top 10 Airline Credit Card Perks

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