Losing Points by Closing My Account — 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 all the positive ways award travel has affected their lives. That being said, while I love hearing about your successes, I think there’s also a lot we can learn by sharing our mistakes, and I’m calling on readers to send in your most egregious and woeful travel failures.
From time to time I’ll pick one that catches my eye and post it for everybody to enjoy (and commiserate with). If you’re interested, email your story to email@example.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Include details of exactly how your trip went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made it right. Please offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what precautions the rest of us can take to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, I’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure (or make up for any blunders from the last one).
Recently, I posted a story from Amy, who was barred from a flight due to passport restrictions at her destination. Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Drew, who saw his points expire after canceling one of his credit cards. Here’s what he had to say:
I’ve had the Citi Prestige card since it first came out, but I’ve been reconsidering whether I should keep it because of the negative changes to the benefits that are coming later this year. After reading about the Citi AAdvantage Executive card and the fact that authorized users can access Admirals Club lounges, I opted to close my Prestige account. That may have been the right decision by itself, but it led me to the worst mistake I’ve made since I started earning credit card rewards.
I had roughly 62,000 ThankYou points in my Prestige account, and naturally I wanted to make sure those points would remain intact. I also have the Citi Premier card, so as part of my account closure, I transferred those points from the Prestige card over to my Premier account. What I failed to realize (until it was too late) is that Citi has some unfriendly policies in this situation.
What I learned the hard way is that ThankYou points from an account that has been closed will expire 60 days after account closure, even if they’re transferred to another ThankYou Rewards account! That’s very different from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards, since both of those programs let you keep points active when you transfer them to an active account.
Because I didn’t realize they would expire, I ended up losing those 62,000 points. I reached out to Citi a few days after the points had been removed from my account, and pleaded for them to be reinstated. But after talking with their team and escalating to supervisors and managers, I wasn’t getting anywhere. Unfortunately, failing to read the fine print cost me a large chunk of ThankYou points. I just hope my experience can help other rewards earners avoid making the same mistake!
Whenever you’re thinking about canceling a credit card, make sure you understand how it will impact the rewards you’ve earned. Closing your account may cause your points or miles to be forfeit, which is definitely among the least enjoyable ways to “redeem” them. To keep them active, you might downgrade your account (instead of closing it entirely), transfer to another program (to extend the expiration date) or maybe just spend them all in a blaze of award travel glory. In any case, don’t assume your points will automatically be spared just because you have another credit card in the same rewards program.
Citi does have particularly strict policies when it comes to closing ThankYou Rewards accounts. Points from each account are tracked separately, so the expiration policies persist even when those points are shared or pooled into an active account. In Drew’s case, the best option would probably have been to downgrade from the Citi Prestige Card to the no-fee Citi ThankYou Preferred Card. That way his points would have remained active, and he could still transfer or redeem them at an elevated rate via his Citi Premier account.
For more tips on canceling credit cards and keeping points active, check out these posts:
- 5 Steps to Take Before Canceling a Credit Card
- How Can I Avoid Losing My Points When Closing a Card?
- Should I Cancel a Credit Card if I Don’t Use It Anymore?
I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Drew 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.
I’d like to do the same for you! If you’ve ever arrived at the airport without ID, booked a hotel room in the wrong city, missed out on a credit card sign-up bonus or made another memorable travel or rewards mistake, I want to hear about it. Please indulge me and the whole TPG team by sending us your own stories (see instructions above). I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!
Featured image courtesy of Thomas Barwick via Getty Images.
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