If you close a credit card, you often lose your points immediately
Don't expect a grace period for you to use your points before they disappear
Cathleen McCarthy is a journalist whose articles on travel, commerce and consumer topics have appeared in dozens of publications. She writes "Cashing In," a weekly column about credit card rewards programs, for CreditCards.com
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Dear Cashing In,
Read your reply to a
query about the Chase Sapphire card, which I have. If you cancel the card, do
you lose the unredeemed points immediately or is there a grace period after the
cancellation within which the points are still good? I heard 30 days. I have
the same question regarding my FlexPerks account. Thank you. -- Michel
If you cancel any
Chase rewards card, you will lose your points. A spokesman for Chase tells me
there is no grace period for your Chase Sapphire reward points once you cancel
the card. "If a customer closes his or her account, the points are forfeited," the
Chase spokesman says. "We encourage customers to redeem their points prior to
closing the account."
So use those points now
or risk losing them altogether. In fact, you need to protect your points even
if you're replacing your card with another Chase rewards card. If you have
another Chase credit card linked to Chase Ultimate Rewards, such as Chase Ink
Bold, you can transfer the points to that account from the account you're
closing, but make sure to do it prior to closing the account.
Same rules apply for
points earned on your FlexPerks card. According to the disclosures page for the
FlexPerks rewards program on U.S. Bank's website: "Once you or we close your
account for any reason, all accumulated FlexPoints may be forfeited."
As long as you have
an active account with FlexPerks, your points are good for five years from the
end of the calendar quarter in which they were earned. If you decide to bow out
or switch to a different rewards program, start spending those points.
easy to use these particular rewards, especially if you translate them into
cash: $5,000 points = $50 statement credit that you can spend on anything you
want. If you have travel rewards, earned via the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel
Rewards Visa Signature Card, you're not limited to spending them on travel, but
that's where you'll get the most bang for your buck. A FlexPerks point is worth
one cent when redeemed for cash, but up to twice that when redeemed for an
airline ticket. A reward ticket also comes with a bonus of up to $25 spent on
baggage fees, in-flight snacks, etc.
With FlexPerks Travel
Rewards, you can translate points into cash or a gift certificate using the
formula above, which you can then use on hotels (specifically Hyatt, Marriott
or Ritz-Carlton), car rentals (Hertz, Avis or Budget), or cruises on Carnival or
Royal Caribbean. Or, you can spend them on airfare (20,000 FlexPoints = up to a
$400 ticket) booked through Travelocity.
It's important to
remember that points attached to a bank's rewards program -- i.e., Chase's
Ultimate Rewards or U.S. Bank's FlexPerks -- are always more vulnerable than
frequent flier miles or hotel reward points. That's because miles and hotel
rewards are managed by the loyalty programs of the airline or hotel chain, not by
the credit card issuer. Once you've banked those rewards, they're no longer controlled
by a bank but by its partner airline or hotel chain, so canceling a credit card won't affect them.
See related: 8 ways to maximize credit card rewards points, What to consider before getting a hotel rewards card
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Published: January 31, 2012
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