I was devastated when I didn’t get my bonus miles after spending the right amount of money within the right number of days. Find out what happened — and how to prevent it from happening to you.
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I was flying to Philadelphia to visit my family.
Toward the end of the flight, the pilot asked for everyone’s attention and I saw the flight attendant holding up an application form for the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®.
I promptly went back to sleep — I was just glad the pilot didn’t announce we were going down, and I needed a new credit card like I needed a hole in my head.
But my subconscious picked up on the phrase “60,000-mile bonus miles for signing up,” and I jerked awake — fast.
I’ve had some pretty good bonus offers — from cash to points to miles — but never, ever had I heard of 60,000 miles as a perk. (At the time of writing, the card offers 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after spending $4,000 in the first four months.)
I couldn’t wait to get the application filled out.
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No sign-up bonus, even after hitting the minimum spend
Two weeks later I got my new card in the mail.
Of course, there was a spend requirement, but that wasn’t a problem.
I had been thinking of getting new bedroom furniture anyway, so this seemed like the perfect time to indulge.
I spent the required $3,000 in the first week, not the required first three months.
I couldn’t wait to see those 60,000 miles on my American Airlines mileage summary — oh, the places I could go!
But first, I had to get my husband on board so we could both get those miles and travel together.
He sent in his app and got approved, then put the required spending amount on his card in the first month.
We figured we were all set, so we sat back and waited for our mileage summaries to accrue.
Not obsessively, mind you. Just every five minutes or so.
Cut to a few weeks later – no bonus miles in our summaries.
I called the credit card issuer and asked when they would appear on my statement and some guy who sounded like he didn’t care if Mastercard went out of business the next day told me I had to wait until after my first statement.
So, I waited. And waited.
But I am a persistent soul. After two months, the customer service team at Mastercard practically knew my name.
Three months later I still didn’t have the bonus miles in my American Airlines account.
I began calling American Airlines, who kept telling me to call Mastercard.
So back to Mastercard I went.
Where I went wrong
I finally got a supervisor on the phone who knew what was what, and the news wasn’t good.
Apparently, the fine print specified that if you had taken out an American Airlines Mastercard within the past two years the offer was exempt.
I had completely forgotten that I did indeed get an AA Mastercard. Well, I had, but it seemed more like 100 years ago.
The supervisor informed me, that, in fact, I had taken out a card one year, 11 months and 3 weeks ago.
In case you missed that, I was one week shy of being able to get a new card and claim my miles.
I was pretty sure I was going to have an embolism as the supervisor was wrapping up, so I got off the phone as quickly as I could.
Once my blood pressure came down and I was able to think clearly, I decided to plead my case to another supervisor.
I went through the entire story, stressing that I missed the opportunity because of only one week, and he politely but firmly told me that that was policy and that he couldn’t do anything to help me out.
Next, I wrote to corporate Mastercard and explained my situation, and they politely but firmly told me no, I could not have those 60,000 miles.
I appealed to American Airlines corporate headquarters, which also politely but firmly told me I was not getting my miles.
Perhaps the thing that made this even worse was that my husband got his miles — and he was over the moon about it.
I had to listen to him brag ad nauseam about what a great deal he got — a couple days of that and I was thinking of ways to permanently disable his vocal cords.
Before you jump at a sign-up bonus, read the fine print
This incident happened a full year ago and now I’m a little more philosophical.
Because in the end, it was my fault.
As hard as I tried to make it American Airlines’ or Mastercard’s responsibility, I just couldn’t spin it.
So here I am, two years later, with an American Airlines Mastercard that I spent $3,000 on and got zero bonus anything.
I would cancel it so I don’t have to look at it, but I don’t want to ding my credit score.
Perhaps it’s best that I keep it around.
In fact, maybe I should have it surgically implanted in my body somewhere.
That way, it will remind me: Always, constantly, repeatedly, eternally, without exception or fail read the fine print before I sign my name on any credit card agreement.
Because when money — or, in this case, bonus miles — is the matter at hand, it’s simply a must.