You’ve earned all those credit card rewards points from spending and sign up bonuses, it would be a shame to lose them. The good news is that these points typically don’t expire, but if you’re not careful, you can accidentally forfeit them. Read on to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Cash back credit cards are consistent and fairly straightforward: your cash-back credits won’t expire as long as your account is open. If your card has no annual fee, there’s no reason to cancel it… Ever! There is no downside to keeping a free credit card account active–even if you rarely use it–and it will help your credit score at the same time! If you want to cancel a cash back card that does carry an annual fee, ensure that you redeem any credits in your account before proceeding.
Some credit cards earn frequent flier miles for a particular airline, such as the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card, or loyalty points at hotels, like the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select card. With these credit cards, each month when your statement is generated, points you’ve earned are automatically deposited into your frequent flier or hotel loyalty account. If you were to cancel your card, you would stop earning miles or points, and anything you’ve already earned remains in safe your frequent flier or hotel account–but not necessarily forever. It’s important to note that each airline frequent flier program and hotel loyalty program has it’s own points expiration policy, which will be the subject of a future post.
There are also three main proprietary rewards points programs offered by the large credit card issuers: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards. Like cashback credits, these reward points won’t expire as long as your credit card account remains open, however, each program does have it’s own nuances.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Ultimate Rewards points will never expire as long as your credit card account is open. When an account is closed for any reason, your unused points will be forfeited.
The following are all the cards issued by Chase that earn Ultimate Rewards points:
- Chase Freedom
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Chase Sapphire (not available to new applicants)
- Chase Ink Business Preferred
- Chase Ink Cash
- Chase Ink Plus (not available to new applicants)
- Chase Ink Bold (not available to new applicants)
Each credit card account you have from the above list has it’s own Ultimate Rewards account. Before cancelling any of these cards, ensure that you either redeem the points associated with that account or transfer them to a different one. The policies of transferring from one Ultimate Rewards account to another vary depending on type of card. For the most part, you can transfer points between any accounts where you are the cardholder, or if the cardholder is a member of your household.
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express differs from Chase in that multiple cards earn points that are deposited into a single Membership Rewards Account. As long as you have one card open that is associated with your Membership Rewards account, your points will never expire.
The following cards earn points in the Membership Rewards program:
- Amex EveryDay®
- Amex EveryDay® Preferred
- Platinum Card® from American Express
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
- American Express® Green Card
- Gold Card from American Express
- Business Platinum Card®
- Business Gold Rewards Card
- Business Green Rewards Card
The Amex EveryDay card is the only no-annual-fee card on the list. It’s a great card to have in your wallet, not only for earning additional points in popular spending categories, but also to keep your Membership Rewards account active.
Citi ThankYou Rewards
Citi ThankYou Rewards points earned by credit cards have no expiration date and. The structure of the program is a hybrid of the Chase and American Express programs. All your ThankYou Points reside in only one rewards account, though points earned from different sources are accounted for separately. This means if you have multiple Citi Accounts associated with only your ThankYou Account at the time one of your Citi Accounts is closed, you will lose the Points that you earned with the closed Citi Account.
Here are the cards that earn Citi ThankYou Points:
Citi gives you 60 days after closing your account to spend your points. Like with Chase, you can transfer points to another Citi ThankYou Rewards account, but that account holder only has 90 days to spend them before they expire.
I would sum up the policies of the main rewards programs with the following points, in order of least generous to most generous:
- Citi ThankYou points earned by an account will be forfeited when that account is closed.
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned by an account will be forfeited when that account is closed, but you can transfer to a different Ultimate Rewards account before closing.
- Amex Membership Rewards points will remain active as long as you have at least one active account that earns points in the program.
Taking a little extra time to check your reward balance before you cancel any credit cards should keep you from forfeiting your hard earned points.