Missing a Credit Card Spending Bonus — Reader Mistake Story

Jul 20, 2017

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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 info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Include details of exactly how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them 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).

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Dottie. Here’s what she had to say:

You can
Dottie had an offer to earn bonus AAdvantage miles, but fell just short of the spending requirement.

Toward the end of last year I got a bonus offer from Barclaycard: if I spent $2,500 on my AAdvantage Aviator card every calendar month for six months, I would earn 30,000 miles in addition to what I earn normally. I decided to go for it, so I kept careful track of my spending each month to make sure I hit the right amount.

At the end of the six-month period, I watched for the miles to post to my account, but after four weeks the bonus still hadn’t shown up. I decided to call customer service, and was told that I hadn’t qualified. I went back through my statements to add up all of my spend for each month, and I discovered that I was short by $21 in the very last month. I was incredulous!

Apparently what happened is that some of my purchases didn’t show up on my account before the end of that month. Instead, they posted at the beginning of the following month, which meant that I had given Barclaycard $15,000 in spending for no bonus — just the 1 mile per dollar I normally earned.

Anytime you’re trying to meet a spending requirement, you should remember two important guidelines. First, purchases often don’t post to your account on the day they’re charged; usually they’ll show up within a day or two, but the wait can be even longer. Purchases you make just before a spending deadline might not post until after it has passed, in which case they won’t help you meet the requirements. To avoid this problem, give yourself a buffer of at least a few days to complete your spending before time runs out.

Second, your bonus period doesn’t always align with the calendar. Some rewards and bonus offers (like the one Dottie received) measure how much you spend in a given month, while others track your spending according to the billing statement. Make sure you know which rules apply, especially if you’re going to put significant effort into meeting the requirements.

Finally, pay attention to the opportunity cost of earning a bonus. Every dollar you spend on one card is a dollar you’re not spending on another, potentially more lucrative card. Dottie’s bonus would have effectively earned her 3 miles per dollar spent. That’s a pretty good return, but she may have been able to do better by maximizing bonus categories or signing up for one of the top bonus offers. Spending bonuses are a great way to boost your loyalty accounts, but you should compare each offer to your other earning opportunities.

Multi-ethnic friends having lunch in restaurant
Try not to forego more lucrative rewards in pursuit of a spending bonus. Photo courtesy of Morsa Images via Getty Images.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Dottie for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 Visa gift card to enjoy on future 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 Karen Hatch via Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.