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Accidentally letting your credit card cash back rewards expire can feel like wasting your hard-earned money, especially if you were saving your points to redeem for something special. That’s why it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement to avoid losing free cash.
The good news is that most credit card issuers’ cash-back programs allow you to use your points indefinitely, as long as your account is in good standing. But there are always exceptions. If you’re wondering if your particular credit card’s cash back rewards will expire, read on. We’ll go over each issuer’s policy in detail and provide some expert tips for maximizing your credit card rewards earnings and redemptions.
- 1 When credit card issuer cash back rewards expire
- 2 Do I need to use my cash back rewards?
- 3 How do I redeem cash back rewards?
When credit card issuer cash back rewards expire
“Most cash back rewards from major credit card issuers don’t expire, but there are a few that do, so you really have to pay attention to the rewards program to understand what the rule is,” Beverly says. Harzog, bestselling author and credit card expert for US News and World Report.
Some issuers may freeze your access to earn and redeem rewards while your account is past due. With others, you can irrevocably lose your points if you make a late payment or violate the terms of your agreement. “It’s important for cardholders to stay current so they can continue to take advantage of their credit card rewards program, as well as avoid other implications of having a delinquent account,” says Paramita Pal, director of US Bankcard at TD Bank.
If you plan to close a credit card, Harzog recommends redeeming your rewards before closing your account, as you typically won’t have access to them afterward.
Here’s what you need to know about the expiration of cash back rewards by issuer:
Chase Ultimate Rewards points never expire as long as your account remains open. But you will immediately lose all your rewards with no chance of getting them back if:
- You close your account and do not redeem your points within 30 days
- Your account is more than 60 days past due
- You violate the terms of your Chase contract
- You file for bankruptcy
- Chase believes that you are unwilling or unable to pay or have engaged in fraudulent activity related to the program (such as buying or selling points) or otherwise misused the program.
If you die, Chase automatically redeems your rewards as a statement credit.
Capital One rewards never expire as long as your account is open, and there’s no limit to what you can earn. The only way to lose your Capital One rewards is to close your account. However, you will not be able to redeem your rewards during a time when your account is “suspended, restricted, delinquent, or in default.”
If you close your last remaining Wells Fargo credit card account, Wells Fargo will close your rewards account and you will immediately lose any points you have earned on your entire account. If you have multiple Wells Fargo credit cards and you close one of them, your rewards will stay in your rewards account. If you have multiple cards and Wells Fargo closes one of them, you will lose the points on the closed card, but other rewards in your account will not be affected.
You also can’t earn or redeem rewards while your account is delinquent, which happens if you don’t make a minimum payment on time. But you will have access to them once your account is back in good standing.
If your card is closed due to your death, your estate must notify Wells Fargo within one year to redeem any rewards in the account.
If you cancel your American Express credit card, you will immediately lose your points unless you have another linked product in your rewards account. If American Express cancels your card due to inactivity, you’ll still have 90 days to redeem your rewards. If you don’t pay your bill on time, you will lose any points earned during that billing period; to get them back, you must pay any applicable late fees and bring your account back to good standing before claiming your rewards from American Express.
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With Discover, your account must be in good standing to earn rewards, but your points never expire. If you close your account or don’t use your card for 18 months, Discover will send you a check or credit your account with your rewards.
Bank of America
As long as your account is in good standing, which means your account is open and you have charge privileges, your Bank of America rewards do not expire. If you voluntarily close your account or if Bank of America closes your account due to a violation, you will lose your points immediately.
Your cash back rewards expire 36 months after the billing cycle in which they were earned. You will also immediately forfeit all of your cash back if you voluntarily close your account or if your account is closed due to program misuse, delinquency, bankruptcy, or death. If you violate the terms of your agreement or pay late, you will not be able to redeem your points until your account is brought back in good standing.
With Barclays credit cards, minimum and maximum redemption requirements apply, but you will not lose your points unless your account is closed, you are involved in fraudulent or illegal activity related to the program, or your account is not in good standing according to the terms. of your agreement.
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If you voluntarily close your account, you will have 90 days to redeem your points. If your account becomes delinquent, your only option to redeem your rewards is to call and request a statement credit. You also will not be able to earn points while you are in default or if you are suspected of fraud or abuse of the program. Otherwise, your rewards will not expire.
Transfer of points to other programs
Please note that if you transfer your points to a partner airline or other program, you will also be subject to the expiration rules of that program. So if you plan to transfer your points to an airline or hotel loyalty program, make sure you understand the airline or hotel’s rules for point expiration.
Do I need to use my cash back rewards?
“In general, I would advise credit card holders to use their points as soon as possible,” says Pal. “It’s money today instead of money tomorrow, so the value is better.”
Harzog agrees. “Sometimes a credit card issuer will change the rewards program and it’s within their rights to do so,” he says. “Since things are always subject to change, I don’t recommend holding on to your cash back.”
However, there are some cases where you may want to keep your rewards. You may want to redeem them for travel, but you may not be ready to book travel. You may be saving for a larger redemption. Or, you may be aware of a promotion coming soon that allows you to redeem your points for increased value. If you find yourself in any of those situations, it’s okay to keep your points; just make sure you understand your issuer’s expiration rules.
How do I redeem cash back rewards?
Earning and redeeming credit card rewards is simple in theory, but it takes a little thought to get the most value from your cards. “It’s very important to use your credit cards strategically,” says Harzog. That means maximizing your winnings and redemptions.
Often your points will be worth relatively more or less depending on what you redeem them for. Do the math to determine which redemption option will give you the most value for your points.
To maximize your point earnings on everyday spending, be sure to choose the right rewards card for your lifestyle. “The best way to start is to track your spending and learn about your own spending pattern,” says Pal. “Then you can opt for a credit card that rewards you in your highest spending category.”
“If your rewards don’t seem worthwhile to you,” adds Pal, “it’s an opportunity for cardholders to reevaluate their credit card and consider an option that’s more cost-effective.”
Once you’re ready to redeem your rewards, follow these steps:
- Decide how to use your points. Some issuers will offer multiple options for redeeming your rewards points, including cash back, statement credit, gift cards, travel, and more, so consider all of your redemption options and determine how to get the most value. For example, your points may be worth more if you use them to book travel.
- Sign in to your online account and find a link to redeem your rewards, or go directly to your credit card issuer’s rewards portal.
- Follow the prompts and complete the necessary steps to redeem your points for travel, gift cards, a statement credit, or any option you choose. You can choose how many points you want to redeem.