If you have a credit card that earns rewards, knowing when they’ll show up in your account can sometimes be a guessing game. Here’s an issuer-by-issuer guide to what you can expect.
You just got approved for a credit card with a great bonus offer. The shiny piece of plastic arrives in the mail and you meet the bonus spend requirements as quickly as possible. Then you wait for your points or miles or cash back to show up in your account. And then you wait some more.
Waiting for a welcome bonus or big batch of miles to show up isn’t always a stress-free experience, particularly if you’re counting on them for a big purchase or upcoming travel. Each bank operates on a different schedule, and unfortunately, most of them don’t make rewards available for redemption the same day they’re earned à la the Apple Credit Card*.
We reached out to the biggest credit card companies to find out how long it takes for points, miles or cash back to post to your account. (And if we didn’t hear back, we did some internet sleuthing to help fill in the blanks.) Here’s an issuer-by-issuer list of what we learned:
Welcome bonuses: Officially speaking, new American Express cardholders can expect to wait anywhere from eight to 12 weeks to get their hands on a welcome bonus, once they meet the spend requirements. If you trust online word of mouth, though, your pile of Membership Rewards points should arrive much more quickly, within just a few days of hitting that minimum spend.
Card spend: Thankfully, the timeline for American Express rewards earned via everyday swiping is less ambiguous. According to Amex customer service, Membership Rewards points show up on your billing statement as “pending” and become available for redemption no later than 72 hours after your minimum payment is received, provided you pay your bill on time.
Bank of America
Welcome bonuses: Per spokesperson Don Vecchiarello, welcome bonuses on new Bank of America credit card accounts are issued “at the close of the billing cycle in which the minimum spend level is met.”
Card spend: Though consumer cardholders will see pending rewards online right away, they’ll have to wait for their statement to close before they can use them. For small-business accounts, Vecchiarello said rewards are issued after daily transaction posting and aren’t dependent on the cardholder’s billing cycle.
Welcome bonuses: Capital One spokesperson Katie Urban told us that sign-up bonuses are applied to a new cardholder’s rewards balance within two billing cycles of reaching the spend requirements. Anecdotally, however, points seem to post just a few days after your statement closes.
Card spend: Rewards are usually visible online within 10 days of when they’re earned, Urban noted, but they could take up to two statement cycles to post to your account and become available for redemption. (The same goes for business credit cards, too.)
Welcome bonuses: Thomas Doelp, former vice president of communications at JPMorgan Chase, said customers should allow “six to eight weeks for the points” from a welcome bonus to post to their account once they qualify, although rumor has it that it happens much faster than that.
Some cardholders have reported delays in receiving their points if the minimum spend isn’t met until closer to the end of their billing cycle, though, so keep that in mind if you’ve got them earmarked for a time-sensitive redemption.
Card spend: Unless otherwise noted in the offer disclosure, Doelp said that points earned on a transaction are available to redeem at the end of the billing cycle in which the purchase was made. (That timeline applies to the issuer’s most popular cards, including the Chase Sapphire and Chase Freedom suites.) In the meantime, you can track your earnings via your Ultimate Rewards activity dashboard. They’ll show up as pending until your statement closing date.
Welcome bonuses: Officially speaking, Citi’s timeline for posting welcome bonuses to your ThankYou points account is eight to 10 weeks after you meet the minimum purchase requirements. Once again, though, anecdotal evidence indicates that your points could show up as soon as a couple of days after your billing cycle ends.
Card spend: ThankYou points earned via everyday card spend should post to your account pretty soon after your statement closes. Bonus points accrued through special offers, however, could take an additional billing cycle or two to show up.
Unfortunately, you may have to wait a bit longer to receive all of the points you earn with the Citi® Double Cash Card, which has a somewhat unconventional rewards program: You get 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% when you pay off that purchase. So, cardholders who don’t pay their bill in full every month will experience delays in getting that second 1%.
Welcome bonuses: Though it doesn’t offer a traditional welcome bonus, Discover provides an even match of all the cash back or miles you earn at the end of your first year – which can be even more lucrative for new Discover it® Cash Back and Discover it® Miles cardholders.
According to spokesperson Brittney Mitchell, the Cashback Match applies from the day your account is approved through your first 12 consecutive billing periods (or 365 days, whichever is longer); they’ll show up in your rewards account within two billing periods after that. Sure, that’s a long time to wait, but with no limit to how much the issuer will match, it could be well worth it.
Card spend: Mitchell said newly earned cash back or miles will be added to your rewards account at the end of each statement billing period. (We heard this can vary based on how you redeem them, with direct deposits taking a bit longer than statement credits. Take that information with a grain of salt, though.)
Welcome bonuses: U.S. Bank credit card customers should allow six to eight weeks or one to two billing cycles for welcome bonuses to be credited to their rewards balance once they meet the minimum spend, depending on the card. Unofficially speaking, those points could show up shortly after your statement closing date.
Card spend: Pending points accumulate in your U.S. Bank rewards account as they’re earned, but won’t become available for redemption until your statement generates. And in some cases (as with FlexPoints, for instance) it could take up to 60 days after a purchase to appear online. That said, redemption requirements vary by credit card, so you may not be able to use those rewards until you accrue the minimum.
Welcome bonuses: Based on what we found online, Wells Fargo awards welcome bonuses work a little differently from other credit card issuers. Instead of getting your rewards following the billing cycle in which you meet the minimum spend, you’ll have to wait until the end of the qualifying period (plus one or two additional billing cycles after that).
For instance, let’s say you’re approved for the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card*, which offers a sign-up bonus of 20,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of opening your account. You won’t receive those points until the three months are up, even if you make $1,000 in qualifying purchases in your first 30 days.
Card spend: Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards show up as pending in your account until your statement period ends. After that, points are added to your available balance and can be redeemed right away (typically the following day).
What if my points aren’t showing up?
It’s easy to get frustrated if your credit card rewards aren’t in your account when you think they should be.
If you want to find out when your points will arrive, calling your card issuer is the easiest thing to do. You can also send an email through your account or use the live chat feature. Before you do, double-check your statements to make sure you’ve spent enough on eligible purchases – certain items, such as gift cards, may not count toward the minimum spend.
You might even be able to speed things up a bit. Here’s how:
- Ask to expedite the process. In some cases, asking your issuer if you can access your points earlier than usual might do the trick, especially if it’s a time-sensitive situation, like when you need to book a flight or hotel stay at the last minute. There’s no guarantee this will work, but there’s no harm in asking.
- Hit the minimum spend as quickly as possible. This one’s pretty self-explanatory – the sooner you reach the spending requirements on a welcome bonus, the sooner those points will hit your account. Planning your qualifying purchases ahead of time makes this easier.
- Switch your statement closing date. Most banks issue rewards at the end of a billing cycle. Moving up your statement closing date as a new cardholder could help you get your hands on that welcome bonus faster if you meet all other requirements.
- Pay your bill as soon as it arrives. Some issuers, including American Express, don’t make your rewards available for redemption until they receive your minimum payment.
While most people would probably enjoy having instant access to their credit card rewards, the vast majority of banks and issuers just don’t operate that way. That said, our research found that in many cases, cash back, miles and points post to your account faster than what’s outlined in your card’s terms and conditions.
If you know you’ll need a welcome bonus or certain number of points for a planned redemption, it helps to get ahead of the game: Apply early, meet the spending requirements as quickly as you can and make your payments on time.
*All information about Apple Credit Card and Wells Fargo Propel American Express card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.