I must admit that I have fallen victim a few times to thinking that my credit card points or rewards would post right away to my account. It’s never a good feeling when you need those points immediately for a redemption and they haven’t hit your account yet.
In order to avoid undue stress or potentially miss travel opportunities, familiarize yourself with the earning, posting and transfer structures of the program you will be working with. Generally, you can find helpful information on the program’s website or by doing an internet search and reading FAQ’s that have been posted.
Monthly Points Accumulations
With some credit cards the points you earn are available as you earn them while others only post the earned points at the end of your billing cycle. I have cards that do it both of those ways. When I opened my American Express Gold card, I was worried when no points had posted on my first statement, so I opened up an internet chat with them. The agent said that they hold their points until beyond the normal return period for most purchases. I think that is a rather vague statement. It took almost 2 months for points to begin to accrue on my account. It seems to have leveled out a bit since then though.
Get a feel for your cards monthly points posting trends so that you don’t have any surprises later on.
If you need to transfer points between two cards or programs, you can usually find a points transfer time table on the website of the points issuer. The transfer time can vary depending on where the points are being transferred to. The transfer Terms and Conditions will usually be listed on the site as well. They should outline the minimum/maximum points you can transfer, the points transfer ratio, where you can transfer to and how long it will take. If you can’t pin down a time table on the programs website, you still may be able to find help by reading blog posts that you find through an internet search.
We rarely stay at Best Western these days and I had some old points left on my account. I wanted to transfer them to Southwest to have enough points for a flight redemption last year. The price for the flight I was interested in was fluctuating considerably at the time and I wanted to grab it as soon as possible. It took 5 days for the points to be deposited in my account. Although the flight was still available when the transfer was complete, the price had inched up enough that I still ended up just short of enough points for the booking. I did manage to figure it all out, but it was a bit frustrating at the time.
Understand the transfer time line, terms and conditions BEFORE beginning the process!
Points from Bonus Offers
Sometimes a program will offer an opportunity for you to earn bonus points through a promotional period. This may even require you to register with the promotion in order to be eligible for the bonus points. There is often a gap at the end of the promotional period before you actually receive those points.
Before you get started, read through all the fine print of the offer to make sure that you fully understand the rules and when to expect points will ultimately be posted to your account.
Credit Card Anniversary Rewards and Spend Bonuses
A lot of Travel and Rewards credit cards offer an Anniversary Reward to cardholders. These rewards are given as a thank you to cardholders for continuing to use their program and to encourage them to remain with their card. Bonuses can be in the form of Points, Free Hotel Nights or other items that may be considered valuable. Additionally, some programs also give out spending incentive bonuses. They set a spending goal for your account and if you reach that goal, you will earn some type of reward. You might think that those rewards would post right away, but that is not always the case.
Recently I reached my first Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card anniversary. They issue points each year as an Anniversary Bonus. I presumed that once I reached that date, my points would automatically just post. No points. Then I thought they would post when my statement cut the next week. No points. As I started to feel anxious about it, I began to do some research on how long of a delay I should expect and discovered that finding that exact answer is rather difficult. Since I was waiting for those points to post to my account in order to be able to book an upcoming flight, I called the Customer Service number on my card to ask them for a time frame. The agent I spoke with indicated that they probably wouldn’t apply until the next month’s statement. Yikes, that long! But thinking back to last year, when I met my initial spend goal to earn my Sign Up Bonus of a Companion Pass and 30,000 points, it took about that long for Southwest to activate them. So I have learned that their trend is to take at least one full statement cycle before posting any bonuses to my account.
Make a mental note for each of your credit cards of how close to your anniversary date or goal being reached that your points are posting. Knowing this will save you some frustration if you are ever waiting to use those points/awards for an immediate redemption.
Avoid disappointment by doing the research on transfer times and posting schedules for points and awards. This easy step can certainly give you a clearer picture when creating your travel strategies. It might keep you from ruining a trip by counting on a Free Hotel Certificate or Points that wont post or be transferred until after you actually need them.
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!