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No Credit Card, No Boarding Pass — TPG Reader Mistake Story

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One of the things I love most about being The Points Guy is getting to hear stories from readers about how award travel has affected their lives — the exotic vacations they’ve planned, the trips they’ve made to be with family and friends, the premium seats and suites they’ve experienced and so much more, all made possible by points and miles. I love to travel and explore, and it’s an honor to be able to help so many of you get where you want to go.

I like to share these success stories to help inspire you the way you inspire me! Every so often I pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy. If you’re interested in sharing your own story, email it to; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. If we publish it, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure!

Last week I posted a story from TPG reader Chris, who will soon be traveling to Japan for the first time with his girlfriend thanks to the travel rewards they’ve earned. Today I want to change things up a bit and share an unsuccess story from TPG reader Mark, who nearly missed his flight due to an airline’s booking policies. Here’s what he had to say:

If you’re flying Royal Jordanian, be sure to bring the credit card you used to pay for your flights!

I wanted to share my negative experience flying Royal Jordanian, so that you and other readers can be aware of their policies that nearly ruined my trip!

About six months ago, I purchased two tickets from Cairo to Tel Aviv (via Amman) using my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. My plan was to redeem the sign-up bonus to cover the cash cost of the tickets (which was about $450). I had no problem with booking, but when I tried to check in last week at the desk, the agent asked to see the physical card that had been used to make the purchase.

I hadn’t used my card since buying the tickets, so naturally I didn’t have it with me. Royal Jordanian refused to issue my boarding passes without it. I explained that I had bought my tickets a long time ago with a card I don’t carry around anymore; I even logged onto the Barcalycard website and showed them that the card was active in my account, but they wouldn’t budge.

My only option to fly was to cancel the original tickets and buy new ones at the last minute. The cost at the time was over $700; even worse, they wouldn’t let me pay with a credit card for “fraud reasons” and to “prevent against cheaters,” so I had to visit an airport ATM and withdraw local currency to make the purchase in cash.

The good news is that I made my flight and had no further issues getting to Tel Aviv, but now I have to fight with the airline to get my original ticket refunded (which I’ve been told is not a guarantee). In fairness, my confirmation email did indicate that I should have the credit card present, but since I’ve seen similar notices from other booking sites go unheeded, I didn’t suspect it would be so strictly enforced.

Let my experience be a warning to others: always bring the credit card you used to pay for your flight! Royal Jordanian has said I can get a refund for the original ticket, so hopefully this ends up only costing me $250 instead of $700. Either way, I hope this helps other TPG readers avoid making a similar mistake in the future.

Take Mark’s advice and don’t ignore the small print! Royal Jordanian isn’t the only airline with such a policy. Delta, Singapore and others stipulate that you may be asked to present the credit card used to purchase your ticket, and you’ll be denied boarding if you don’t comply. While it seems harsh, the airlines have legitimate reasons for imposing these rules, as they could be on the hook for fraudulent purchases that result in a chargeback.

Some airlines adhere to their policies more strictly than others — Korean Air notoriously insists on seeing your card used to cover taxes and fees on award tickets. However, while Delta and Emirates use softer language, their policies can bite you just as hard. Packing that extra credit card won’t weigh you down much, and it can save you from an expensive hassle.

If your ticket was purchased by a third party, make sure you know the airline’s policy in advance of your flight. You should be able to provide some other documentation (since the credit card isn’t yours to begin with), but you don’t want to wait until you’re at the airport to sort that out. If your ticket was purchased through a third party (like an online travel agency), then you’re less likely to need your card, since the airline generally wouldn’t be at risk in the event of a chargeback.

If you’re not sure about your airline’s policy, play it safe and bring the card used to purchase your tickets.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid a similar predicament! To thank Mark for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on his travels (purchased from Office Depot with my Chase Ink Plus, of course).

I’d like to do the same for you! If the strategies you’ve learned here have helped you fly in first class, score an amazing suite, reach a far-flung destination or even just save a few dollars, please indulge me and the whole TPG team by emailing us with your own success stories (see instructions above). If you’ve made mistakes that other readers can learn from, please share those as well! You’ll have our gratitude, along with some extra spending money for your next trip.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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