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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Dan, who found a clever way to keep his account alive retroactively:
I read the story about another reader who lost 100,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points, and I could immediately relate. A couple years back, I had a similar experience where I lost a large number of Southwest points. I called several times to see about getting them back, but was told the same thing every time: “Sorry, but that’s our policy and the points are gone.” So here is what I did.
I reviewed the partner programs for Southwest Rapid Rewards — hotels, rental cars, etc. — and then reviewed my own travel for the previous year to see if I had used any of those services. I found a partner hotel that I had stayed in six months previously, and called them to say I had forgotten to include Southwest as my partner rewards program when I stayed there. They said they would correct the stay to earn Southwest points; at that point I had no idea if this would bring my points back from the dead, but I figured it was worth a shot.
After about a week, I logged in to check my Rapid Rewards balance, and my points were back! I was so excited and happy, and started planning our family vacation to Mexico right away to use those points. Suffice it to say, I learned my lesson and haven’t let points expire like that again.
You can generally keep rewards from expiring with qualifying activity in your account, and as Dan’s story illustrates, that activity doesn’t have to be current. Most loyalty programs allow you to earn rewards retroactively, so you can lean on activity that wasn’t logged to keep an account from expiring, or even to revive one that already lapsed. Perhaps you neglected to add your member number to a recent flight or hotel stay, or you never got credit for a purchase you made through a shopping portal; if you have documentation and the deadline hasn’t passed, claiming those rewards may be sufficient to reinstate the points or miles you lost. It’s a long shot, but one worth taking when you’re out of options.
The greater lesson here is to monitor your accounts regularly. Keeping tabs on your loyalty accounts will help you identify when points haven’t been properly awarded, which makes it easier to prevent them from expiring in the first place. I write from personal experience, as I let over 168,000 United miles expire in 2017 due to a lack of vigilance. Monitoring your accounts will also make you aware of any unauthorized activity in case you get hacked. Recognizing theft and responding to it quickly can help minimize the damage, especially if you catch it before reservations booked with your rewards are complete.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me 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 award travel success stories to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’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.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
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*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
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