I got my spending requirement wrong — reader mistake story
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Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader 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 Club Premier Credit Card with a 125,000-point sign-up bonus (no longer available). 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.
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Credit card sign-up bonuses change frequently, so you can’t rely on the landing page for your card to reference the terms of your offer. Case in point: the IHG Premier card has previously offered a bonus of 80,000 points after spending $2,000, which may explain why Joshua mixed up the requirements. As he suggests, taking a screenshot gives you a record of the specific bonus offer you applied for, but I wouldn’t stop there. If you use a spreadsheet or some other tool to organize your credit cards and rewards, note the offer terms there so can reference them quickly and in one place. Next, confirm the terms when you activate your new card; if you find discrepancies between the offer you’re presented with and the one you signed up for, address them immediately.
Try to meet the spending requirement with time to spare. The sooner you cross that threshold, the sooner you’ll have access to your rewards (in most cases). Even if you can’t spend the full amount right away, aim to beat the deadline by at least a week so all your purchases have time to clear. Finally, I recommend calling to confirm you’ve met the spending requirement before the bonus period expires, so you won’t be surprised by a miscalculation at the last minute. Joshua was fortunate that Chase agreed to extend his bonus offer period, but you shouldn’t bank on receiving similar treatment. Anecdotal evidence suggests card issuers are more likely to refuse extensions than to grant them.
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 Joshua 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 Popartic/Getty Images.
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