Applying for a Credit Card in Person — Reader Mistake Story

Nov 16, 2017

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We often publish stories from readers that illustrate how points and miles can help you get where you want to go. However, it’s important to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes, so I’m calling on you to send us your most epic travel failure stories. Email them to and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls. If we publish your story, we’ll send you a gift to help jump-start your next adventure!

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Anthony, who missed out on a sign-up bonus by applying in person rather than online. Here’s what he had to say:

After spending a lot of time reviewing card offers, I decided the best fit for my needs would be the new Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card. I do a significant amount of business with them, so I qualify for the highest bonus level in the Preferred Rewards program.

As it happens, there is a large Bank of America branch across the street from my office. I am old enough to remember life being perfectly acceptable without everything being computerized. I’m not a Luddite, but I enjoy a reasonable amount of personal interaction, so I walked across the street and applied in person rather than online.

Two days later the card arrived in my office with a package of disclosure forms, but no mention of the sign-up bonus. I went to the bank’s website to check if I had missed anything, but I saw the same offer of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 within the 90 days. I printed it out and walked back across the street to show my friendly banker. He was a bit perplexed, and called his supervisor on the phone.

After some deliberation, they informed me the offer is only good if the customer applies online; since I walked into the bank in person, I did not qualify. Of course I politely voiced my displeasure, and they said my case will be reviewed by upper management to determine what should be done. I’m still hopeful for the best, but I hope this story will help other readers avoid the same predicament.

Overhead view architect working at computer
Online credit card applications aren’t necessarily the most lucrative ones.

The top credit card offers usually appear online, but not always. You can also find sign-up bonuses in your local bank branch or even your own mailbox, and you may be targeted for offers that aren’t publicly available. The key takeaway here is that a single card product could have several different bonuses in play at any given time. In most cases you can only expect to get the one listed on your application, so make sure you’re not passing up a better deal before you submit it.

In addition to shopping around, you should compare current bonuses to those that have been available historically. Credit card offers come and go, and waiting to apply can pay off if you suspect a larger bonus is around the corner. That said, it may be worth accepting a lesser offer if you need to book an award urgently. The value you get out of your redemption will help compensate for missing out on extra points or miles.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Anthony for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline 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 Bank of America.

Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card

This card from Bank of America gets really interesting if you have a BofA checking, savings or investment account. Depending on the value of your combined accounts you can potentially get as much as 3.5x points on travel/dining and 2.625x points on other purchases making it the richest consumer banking bonus out there.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Receive 50,000 online bonus points - a $500 value - after you make at least $3,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.
  • Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means you could earn up to 3.5 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases.
  • No limit to the points you can earn and your points don't expire.
  • Redeem for cash back as a statement credit, deposit into eligible Bank of America® accounts, credit to eligible Merrill® accounts, or gift cards or purchases at the Bank of America Travel Center.
  • Get up to $100 in Airline Incidental Statement Credits annually and TSA PreCheck®/Global Entry Statement Credits of up to $100, every four years.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Low $95 annual fee.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Regular APR
16.24% - 23.24% Variable APR on purchases and balance transfers
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.