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TPG reader Aaman sent me a message on Facebook to ask about credit card sign-up bonuses:
“I recently got the Sapphire Preferred Card and met the spending requirement for the sign-up bonus. Do I have to wait until the end of the promotional period (three months) to receive that bonus in my account?”
In an ideal world, credit card sign-up bonuses would be deposited into your account immediately after you meet the spending requirements. After all, the sooner you have those points and miles in hand, the sooner you can redeem them. Unfortunately, the mechanics of travel rewards aren’t quite that efficient and there is some delay, but it’s generally not as long as what’s advertised.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card currently offers a bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of cardmembership. In the offer details, Chase specifies that you should allow six to eight weeks after qualifying for bonus points to post to your account. You could interpret that to mean you won’t get your bonus until the end of the promotional period, but in practice you should almost never have to wait that long.
Once you’ve met the spending requirements, you’ll generally receive the bonus within a few business days of when that card statement closes. Chase indicates a longer wait time because, in some cases, qualifying purchases don’t appear on your account until the next statement. For example, if you reach the threshold on March 12 and your statement closes on March 14, that spending might end up on your April statement, which means the bonus won’t be sent to your account until after April 14.
This timeline applies to most travel rewards cards — I’m not aware of any that make you wait until the end of the promotional period to earn your bonus, though I have seen some retention bonuses structured that way. Programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards tend to process bonuses slightly faster since your loyalty account is managed by the card issuer. You can expect to wait a few extra days for sign-up bonuses that go to a third party (like an airline or hotel affiliate).
If you’re on a tight schedule to earn rewards for an upcoming redemption, I recommend completing your qualifying transactions at least one week before your statement closes so you don’t end up waiting an extra month. If your bonus does get pushed back, you can try asking for those points to be sent to your account early once all the qualifying purchases have actually cleared. Depending on how far over the threshold you are, you may find an agent willing to help.
Check out these posts for more information on meeting spending requirements and earning sign-up bonuses:
- When Must I Meet the Spend Threshold for a Sign-Up Bonus?
- How Not Spending Enough on a Travel Rewards Card Could Cost You
- Ten Commandments for Travel Rewards Credit Cards
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards