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Can a Card Issuer Take Back My Sign-Up Bonus?

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TPG reader Edgar tweeted me to ask:

@thepointsguy–“Will a card issuer take back points from a sign-up bonus if I meet the spending requirement and six months later get a credit that brings me back under the threshold?” 

If you earn points or miles from a purchase and then six months down the line you get a refund, your credit card issuer will generally take back what you earned. If you’ve already used those rewards, the issuer could put a credit against your account, or if you’ve closed out the account, they could come after you. For this reason, I don’t recommend buying things you plan to return just to earn points and miles.

They might not take back your sign-up bonus, but you can't be sure. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Your card issuer might not take back your bonus, but you can’t be sure. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

However, sign-up bonuses are trickier. Suppose you spend $3,000 in three months and earn a large bonus, and six months down the line you get a credit. I believe that if you acted in good faith, your card issuer would not take back your bonus, at least not automatically (though they might take away the points you earned from your spending on the purchase in question).

That being said, within the rules of each program, card issuers absolutely have the ability and authority to claw back points, in which case you’d need to convince them that you weren’t trying to be tricky.

TPG readers, have you been in a similar situation?

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

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