I let my $250 statement credit expire — reader mistake story

Apr 3, 2020

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Dan, who misunderstood when his card benefits reset:

In early March, I added one night to the tail end of a vacation to use up the annual $250 resort credit on my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card before the annual fee hit. The resort was booked via Hilton’s resort page, so it qualified for the credit. Between food, drinks and souvenirs, we spent $221 of the allotted $250. My credits for $221 posted a few days later with no problem.

I later initiated a chat with Amex to find out how long I had to use (or lose) the remaining $29. I thought I had until March 18 or 19, 2020 based on when my annual fee hit the previous year, but wanted to make sure. To my surprise, I was informed my card anniversary had already come and gone in February, and the annual resort credit had reset then. The representative I spoke with seemed truly invested in helping, but couldn’t come up with a solution to make up for the fact that I had missed out on my previous year’s resort credit by a few weeks. Now I’ve “wasted” this year’s credit on a stay didn’t really “need,” since we only booked the extra night to use last year’s credit.

I learned the hard way that your Hilton Aspire anniversary date is not the same as the date your annual fee actually hits your account; that happens at the end of the statement that includes your anniversary date. My misunderstanding and waiting until the last minute caused me to miss out on the $250 resort credit for my first year of having the Aspire card. I won’t make those mistakes again, and I hope this helps others avoid doing the same!

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Some travel credit card benefits are offered based on the calendar year, like the $300 annual travel credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, or airline fee credits on the Hilton Aspire and several other Amex cards. These benefits reset each year when the calendar turns, so you have from January 1 to December 31 to use them.

However, some benefits are based on the cardmember year, which is determined by when you open your account. The terms and conditions for the Hilton Aspire card specify that cardholders can receive up to $250 in statement credits for eligible purchases each “reward year,” which begins on your account opening date (for the first year) or the anniversary of your account opening date (for subsequent years). As Dan’s story illustrates, that’s not necessarily the same date your annual fee is billed.

Dan touches on another point that shouldn’t be overlooked: misunderstanding the terms proved costly, but he was only in that predicament because he waited until the last minute to redeem his benefit. Once annual benefits like statement credits or free night certificates expire, they’re generally gone for good, so whether they’re valid for the calendar year or cardmember year, make sure you use them while you can.

Related: 5 ways to use the Amex Hilton Aspire’s $250 resort credit

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing us to post it online), I’m sending Dan a 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 info@thepointsguy.com, 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. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.

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