Will My Ultimate Rewards Points Expire If I Give Them To My Spouse, Then Cancel The Card?

May 12, 2017

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“Reader Questions” are answered three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — by TPG Senior Writer Julian Mark Kheel.

If you’re thinking about canceling an Ultimate Rewards credit card but don’t want the points to disappear, can you transfer them to someone else? That’s what TPG reader Gary asked us in a Facebook message…

If my wife gifts her Chase Sapphire Reserve points to my Ultimate Rewards account, will they expire if she then closes her card?

TPG Reader Gary

When it comes to flexible bank currencies like Chase Ultimate Rewards, if you cancel the credit card and don’t have any other cards that share the same currency, you’ll lose the points unless you transfer them, either to another person or to one of your own airline or hotel partner accounts. But when it comes to transferring points to someone else’s Ultimate Rewards account, Chase has very strict rules about who you can transfer to, and the bank has been known to be sensitive about following them. According to Chase’s terms and conditions:

“You can move your points, but only to another Chase card with Ultimate Rewards belonging to you or one member of your household.”

In this case, Gary is talking about a transfer between himself and his wife, which is certainly within the rules, so that’s not a problem. But if his wife then cancels her card, what happens to the points? Do they then disappear?

The answer is no. A legal transfer between Ultimate Rewards accounts is just like a transfer from Ultimate Rewards to a travel partner such as United or Hyatt. Once the points have been transferred, they’re safe even if you cancel the original card or cards. Gary and his wife could in fact transfer the points out to a partner instead, but his idea of transferring to another Ultimate Rewards account is the right one — since you can’t reverse a transfer to a travel partner, keeping the points as Ultimate Rewards instead means they’ll remain flexible and therefore more valuable going forward.

Sapphire Reserve Amex Platinum Citi Prestige
The rules for transferring flexible rewards points between accounts differ depending on the bank.

But it’s important to note that not every bank has the same policy. American Express will let you transfer Membership Rewards points to a spouse or additional cardholder and the points won’t expire if the originator closes the card, but Citibank ThankYou points do expire 90 days after you transfer them between accounts, whether or not the original card is closed. And even if you have another ThankYou card of your own, points associated with a particular ThankYou card will still expire 60 days after closing the card. The good news is you can share ThankYou points with anyone else who has a ThankYou account — that person had just better use them relatively quickly or they’ll lose them.

Fortunately, Gary, you’re good to go with your Ultimate Rewards plan, and thanks for the question. If you’re a TPG reader with a question you’d like answered, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or send an email to info@thepointsguy.com.

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