ADVERTISEMENT

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

By

Cashing In
Cashing In columnist Cathleen McCarthy
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

Ask a question.

'Cashing In' archive

Question for the CreditCards.com expert

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

Answer for the CreditCards.com expert

Dear 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.

Fortunately, it's 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

Meet CreditCards.com's reader Q&A experts

Vexed by a personal finance problem? CreditCards.com's Q&A experts answer questions from readers every weekday. Ask a question, or click on any expert to see their previous answers.

Published: January 31, 2012


Join the discussion
We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company's business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.




Follow Us


Updated: 09-05-2015


Weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, advice, articles and tips delivered to your inbox. It's FREE.