I almost lost thousands of bonus points – TPG staffer mistake story

Dec 21, 2020

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Today, I want to share a story from TPG social media producer Caroline who (almost) made a rookie mistake that might have cost her as many as 3,000 Amex Membership Rewards points — and has a lesson that could save you thousands of points.

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She writes:

“The editors at TPG, as you can imagine, get targeted for (and flag) the best promotions. I’ve been burned so many times by getting really excited about a promotion only to realize later (as a newbie in the points-and-miles game), it didn’t apply to me. To say that the week of Thanksgiving was busy is an understatement. So much was happening that I missed a very important detail in an article on bonus points for Amazon. That element: turn on your 8x points when buying on Amazon with your American Express card.

In a few meetings, when editors mentioned this promotion, I just assumed it was another targeted one that I had missed out on. Then one night, I got an email from Amex reminding me to enable the 8x points on my Marriott Bonvoy card. Right before the pandemic I had burned through all of my Bonvoy points, about 100k while staying in Los Angeles. I figured, “why not check?”

I logged into Amex and enabled the promotion. I decided to check out my promotions on my American Express® Gold Card , and realized that card was eligible too!

I had just bought almost all my Christmas gifts on Amazon without enabling the 8x promotion that I was absolutely eligible for! At first I didn’t realize there was a cap on this promotion and thought that I had just thrown thousands of Amex points down the drain. I thought that I wouldn’t be able to look Brian or my colleagues in the eyes after that. Luckily for me, I was still able to activate it. There’s a $375 cap on this promotion and I had one more big ticket purchase to make this holiday season, so I ended up still being able to max out the promotion. Phew!

Lesson learned: check every promotion, and don’t assume that you’re not eligible!”

I really love Caroline’s story, and I’m thrilled that it had a happy ending. Caroline will earn a total of 3,000 American Express Membership Rewards points worth about $60 by TPG valuations. Not a bad return on her Christmas shopping — and hopefully a story that can help other readers from making the same potential mistake.

Related: American Express Gold card review

Note that, despite Caroline’s self-described “newbie” status, she made a very advanced decision by remembering to check all of her Amex cards. Had she activated the 8x offer on her Marriott card instead of the Amex Gold, that would’ve still earned her 3,000 bonus points — but with with Marriott Bonvoy, not Membership Rewards. We peg Bonvoy points at just 0.8 cents per point, so she would’ve cut her return by more than half.

Bottom line: Be sure to always check to see if you have any targeted promotions before you do any shopping. (Bonus tip: See if you can shop through a cash-back portal like Rakuten to stack the promotions!)

American Express bonus offers and spending bonuses have saved many of us at TPG thousands of dollars over the years. Amex Offers are plentiful right now and offer either points or cash after spending a certain amount in a spending category or at a specific retailer.  Even better, there are several Amex Offers that will give you statement credits for everyday spend like cell phone bills, streaming services, meal prep or even home improvement projects.

Related: Guide to using Amex Offers

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.

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 illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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