Don’t let credits go to waste: Your 2021 end-of-year credit card checklist
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With the end of 2021 in sight, now’s the perfect time to ensure you’re in good shape when it comes to maximizing your rewards portfolio. You’ll want to make sure you’re taking advantage of all of the expiring credit card perks and offers available to you until Dec. 31.
Here’s a list of the key credit card-related tasks to complete before the calendar rolls to 2022 to be sure you earn all of the benefits to which you are entitled. And for more end-of-year advice, be sure to check out our guide to 12 points and miles tasks to complete by the end of the year.
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Use your annual statement credits
Among the more valuable credit card benefits available today are annual hotel award nights and annual airline incidental/travel credits. The validity of benefits such as free night certificates are typically based on your cardmember year (defined by when you opened the account).
However, some statement credits expire at the end of each calendar year. Here’s a sampling of some of the most popular credits that will expire by the end of the calendar year:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Up-to-$200 airline incidentals fee statement credit and up-to-$200 annual prepaid hotel statement credit. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Up-to-$200 airline incidentals fee statement credit. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Up-to-$250 Hilton resort incidentals statement credit and $250 airline incidentals fee statement credit. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Up to $300 in statement credits for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: Up to $120 in Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships and up to $60 in DoorDash credits, exclusively for 2021. Additionally, some older Sapphire Reserve accounts have the annual $300 travel credit tied to when the last statement of the year closes (more on that below).
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Up-to-$50 Ultimate Rewards hotel statement credit. Plus, up to $60 in Peloton Digital or All-Access memberships, exclusively for 2021.
- Citi Prestige® Card: Up-to-$250 travel credit (applies to purchases at supermarkets and restaurants through 2021).
- Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card: Up-to-$100 airline incidental fee statement credit.
The information for the Hilton Aspire and the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Note that other credit cards with annual statement credits aren’t always necessarily tied to the calendar year.
For instance, the validity of the $300 annual travel credit that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve is usually based on your cardmember year. The credit applies automatically to all purchases that code as travel, including everything from airfare and Airbnb stays to car rentals and cab rides. Just remember that you won’t earn 3 points per dollar on purchases covered by the $300 travel credit until the credit is all spent.
Also, there is an exception to that general rule. If you opened your Sapphire Reserve before May 2017, then your card’s $300 travel credit is still tied to when your December statement closes (which is likely before Dec. 31).
Use your semiannual credits
Amex also has a partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue that provides Platinum cardmembers with up to $100 in credits to spend at the retailer per calendar year — one $50 credit available for purchases between January and June and a second $50 credit available between July and December. Enrollment is required.
The benefit is fairly straightforward and there’s no minimum spending requirement, though you will need first to enroll your card through the Amex website for it to take effect.
Although Saks is known for its high-end goods with prices to match, it offers items for less than $50 and runs frequent sales. Believe it or not, you may be able to use the credit without paying anything out of pocket. If you need inspiration, check out this list of gifts you could buy using the $50 credit.
Personal Platinum cardholders also get a $15 monthly Uber Cash credit with a supersized $35 credit in December, so you definitely want to make sure you use that by Dec. 31, too. If you’re not riding anywhere, remember that the credits work on Uber Eats orders as well. Uber credit is for use in the U.S. The card has a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees). Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Meanwhile, those who carry The Business Platinum Card® from American Express will receive up to a $400 Dell Technologies statement credit annually for U.S. purchases, broken down to up to $200 from January to June and up to $200 from July to December. Two hundred dollars is a sizable amount, so be sure to check out TPG’s top 10 recommendations for the items you can get with this Dell statement credit. Enrollment is required.
Meet annual spending thresholds for bonuses
Various credit cards offer bonuses when you reach certain spending thresholds in a calendar year. For example, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card offers 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles when you spend $25,000 and another 10,000 MQMs when you hit $50,000.
On the hotel side, cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card award free night certificates for meeting certain spending requirements.
Regardless of what the bonus is, if you’re already close to one of these thresholds, it’s definitely worthwhile to try to hit it.
Take advantage of expiring limited-time promotions
There are a slew of promotions ending Dec. 31 that are worth taking advantage of if you can. Many were first introduced to keep cardholders engaged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Amex added monthly dining statement credits to many of its credit cards that will no longer exist when 2021 ends, so don’t miss out on using this month’s offers. Additionally, Chase expanded the ability for Sapphire Reserve cardholders to use the $300 annual travel credit for gas and grocery purchases as long as that is done by Dec. 31.
As always, there are also many Amex Offers and Chase Offers that can help you save money on your end-of-the-year purchases. You’ll need to log in to your online accounts to see which offers you are eligible for (offers tend to vary by cardholder and credit card).
Apply for cards with elevated welcome bonuses
There are several fantastic credit card offers currently available. Many of these offers won’t stick around long, so you’ll want to act sooner rather than later if you’re interested in taking advantage of any of them.
For instance, there’s the new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, which has a welcome offer of 100,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 in the first six months of account opening. Plus, for a limited time, you can earn up to a $200 statement credit toward vacation rental purchases, such as Airbnb or Vrbo, charged to your account within the first year. The card has a $395 annual fee.
The end of the year is quickly approaching, so take the time now to review the above action items to ensure you maximize all of the benefits available to you.
Travel and shopping credits are practically free money that offset your cards’ annual fees and are extremely easy to use. As long as you’ve got all of these tasks under control, you shouldn’t wind up in the spotlight of our next reader mistake story because you missed out on valuable travel credits or other benefits.
Additional reporting by Stella Shon.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.
Featured photo by mogilami/Shutterstock.
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