Oops: Buying the wrong gift card cost me $100

May 22, 2020

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Jim, who missed out on a 20% off sale by buying the wrong gift card design:

I went on my iPhone yesterday evening to buy a $500 Marriott e-gift card to get the 20% discount. This morning I noticed that my credit card charged me $500, not the $400 with the discount that I was expecting.

I called the Marriott gift card line this morning, and they said I had to choose the correct picture of the e-gift card that said “20% off” and not an e-gift card with any other logo or picture on it, otherwise it didn’t count. Now, all the e-gift cards work EXACTLY the same way, regardless of the logo. But I guess I didn’t see the difference while I was on my phone purchasing it.

I am not out any money, as I will get the full $500 to use, but because I failed to choose the correct logo on the e-gift card, I didn’t get the discount that they advertised. Since the promotion has ended, they won’t do anything for me. 

Lesson learned.

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Luckily Jim didn’t lose any money here, though I suspect he wouldn’t have otherwise bought the gift cards without the 20% ($100) discount, so this certainly stings. I also took advantage of Marriott’s (now expired) 20% off sale on gift cards and noticed the same thing as Jim — only certain gift card designs on the Marriott website showed the 20% discounts, while other “fun” designs remained full price.

When you find a good deal or an elusive award seat, speed is of the essence. Still, taking a minute to double-check that all the numbers (and even dates) are correct before you finalize your purchase is always a good idea. I always stop and confirm that my cart is reflecting any applicable sales or discounts, and for some promos I’ll even take screenshots in case there’s any confusion down the road.

I’ve said before that about 50% of the time I spend on my points and miles hobby is devoted to following up on deals and bonuses that didn’t post correctly, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook from trying to prevent mistakes before your click submit. In this case it would’ve been nice to see Marriott help Jim out given his honest mistake, especially given the lack of clear instructions about this on the gift card purchase page.

Related: What credit cards should you use to purchase gift cards?

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. 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. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

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