I got my spending requirement wrong — reader mistake story

Mar 21, 2022

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information. It was originally published on Feb. 28, 2020.

A seemingly infinite number of things can go wrong during travel. And while travelers can easily avoid some of these unfortunate situations with a bit of preparation, others appear bewilderingly predestined.

No matter which end of the spectrum your ordeal falls on, it’s informative, instructive and often entertaining to swap cautionary tales with fellow travelers.

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This week’s reader mistake story comes from Joshua, who pursued a credit card sign-up bonus using bad information:

“In October of last year, I was excited to sign up for the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card with a 125,000-point sign-up bonus. I’ve signed up for many credit cards before, so I knew the general game plan of meeting a spending requirement in a specific amount of time. I quickly used my card to prepay my cell phone bill for $1,000 and my internet bill for $1,000, and to make a few other purchases. I was happy to have hit the $2,000 threshold in a matter of days, and I patiently waited the specified six to eight weeks after my statement closed for my points to post.

“I continued waiting, but in January I got a bit nervous and decided to email Chase to see what the holdup was. I explained that I had spent $2,953 within three months and met the $2,000 spending requirement. The response I got from Chase the next day showed me that I had made a big mistake: the spending requirement was actually $3,000, and not $2,000 as I had thought initially.  To make matters worse, the last day to meet the spending requirement happened to be the day I emailed them. Chase said it was too late to meet the spending requirement, and I was no longer eligible to receive the 125,000 bonus points. I could not believe I missed something like that.

“I decided to email Chase again to plead with them and see if they could extend a courtesy like a partial bonus. I knew it was a long shot, but the reply was something I totally didn’t expect. Chase offered to extend my spending deadline by two weeks, so all I had to do was spend the remaining $47 in two weeks to be eligible for my bonus. I quickly made a $50 purchase, and a few weeks later the 125,000 bonus points were deposited in my IHG account. The moral of the story for me is to make sure I remember the spending requirements by screenshotting the offer page so I can refer back to it.”

It’s great that Joshua energetically appealed to Chase over this gaffe. And it was also benevolent of Chase to extend the window to meet minimum spending to accommodate Joshua. Credit card issuers like Chase and American Express have been known to occasionally grant mercy in ordeals such as this — but it’s not a sure thing. The bank has no obligation to come to your rescue.

Related: When does the minimum spending clock start on a credit card sign-up bonus?

If you find yourself in this position, take Joshua’s shrewd approach in begging the bank to give you a break (I’ve done this myself once with Amex and achieved similar success to Joshua).

If you’ve previously opened other cards from the same bank, you likely understand their individual habits when it comes to rewards posting to your account. For example:

  • Chase posts your sign-up bonus once the billing cycle in which you’ve achieved minimum spending ends. If you’re two weeks into a new billing cycle and you still haven’t received your Chase bonus, something may be wrong.
  • American Express tends to post welcome bonus points within days after you’ve met the spending requirement. If you don’t see them after a week or two, you can chat Amex via your online account or in the Amex app.

Whatever the case, be sure to contact the issuing bank long before your spending window closes. You may have thought that something counted toward minimum spending when it in fact did not. For example:

  • Credit card annual fees don’t count toward minimum spending.
  • Any refunds that post to your card will be deducted from the spending you’ve achieved
  • Cash advances and balance transfers don’t count as purchases
  • Purchasing some gift cards may not count as purchases

For all these reasons, it’s wise to spend a fair amount of money beyond the minimum spending requirement — just to be safe.

Related: 12 ways to meet the spending requirements and earn the bonus on a new card

You’d also do well to take screenshots of the offers you apply for, as Joshua mentioned. It’s a great reference, so you can remember the exact terms of the offer. Credit card bonuses are changing constantly, so the terms you may find on the card’s application page may be completely different even a week after you’ve applied.

Please email us if you’d like to be featured in our weekly TPG reader mistake story. You’ll receive a $25 gift card if we publish your story!

Featured photo by d3sign/Getty Images.

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