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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Rachael, who missed a critical step in earning points for a purchase. Here’s what she had to say:

I was purchasing flowers for a family friend, and decided to check to figure out which shopping portal would earn me the most bonus miles. After shopping around, I decided that my own targeted Amex Offer was the best deal — if I spent $50 or more at 1-800-Flowers, I’d get a bonus of 1,500 Membership Rewards points. With that in mind, I paid for my order with The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Immediately afterward, however, I realized I hadn’t actually activated my Amex Offer for the vendor! I added it to my account after the fact, but it was too late to cancel the order. I’m going to call Amex to see if they’ll add the points after the order has shipped, but I’m not optimistic. I missed out on earning Membership Rewards, and in the process I missed out on a shopping portal bonus. Don’t make my mistake!

Sometimes the simplest steps in earning rewards are the easiest to forget. Many bonus offers require enrollment, from seasonal hotel promotions (like Hilton’s current double and triple points bonus) to increased credit card earning rates (like the quarterly 5% cash back categories on the Chase Freedom). Signing up is easy, but if you forget that first step, you probably won’t benefit from completing any of the steps that follow. My advice is to be proactive when you see an offer you’re interested in; get in the habit of registering right away and you won’t have to second guess whether you did so later.

Rachael implied that she had to choose between earning miles through a shopping portal and redeeming her Amex Offer, but she should have been able to claim both. Amex Offers are awarded once you meet the spending threshold, so you can generally double dip by stacking them with other discounts or bonuses, including portal rewards. As long as you spend the requisite amount and abide by the terms and conditions, any other perks you get shouldn’t make a difference.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Rachael for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories 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.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card



CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
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