My 90,000 point Ultimate Rewards mistake

You know that sinking knot in the pit of your stomach feeling when you realize you just made a big mistake?  Yeah, that was me yesterday morning…

I keep a spreadsheet of credit cards I’ve opened and closed, and I was doing a bit of housekeeping on the spreadsheet yesterday.  I had recently closed a couple of my wife’s cards, but hadn’t entered the cancellation dates into the spreadsheet.  Luckily, with her Chase Ink card, I knew exactly how to find the date.  I had requested her account be closed through the Chase Secure Message Center online.  I knew that I would find the date of cancellation in Chase’s Secure Message reply. 

I logged onto my wife’s business account to check the Secure Message Center.  Long ago, I had setup my own online account to show both my business and personal cards (the key is to call and ask to have your personal accounts shown within your business log-in), but I had never done so for my wife.  Instead, she has two Chase online IDs: one for her personal accounts and one for her business accounts.

Upon logging on, I was initially surprised to see approximately 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points in her account.  After all, she only had one Chase Ink business card, and that was now closed.  And, that’s when that sinking feeling hit… 

I had forgotten to move her points to another account before closing the card.

When you close an account that has an Ultimate Rewards balance, you lose the points.  Apparently, though, the points continue to show within your account for some amount of time.  I tried moving the points to my wife’s Freedom card account, but received an error.  I then tried my Freedom account and received an error again.  Same with my Ink Plus card.

ChaseUnexpectedError

I didn’t try transferring her points to a loyalty program because I didn’t have any specific use for the points in-mind at this time.  And, I was still hopeful that I could get the points back.

I went back to the secure message center to let them know what happened. I requested that the points be moved to my wife’s Freedom account or to her husband’s (my) Freedom account.  Two and a half anxious hours later, they replied:

I see that your Ink Plus credit card ending in XXXX was
closed on April 10, 2015. The option to transfer the
reward points is not available at this time.

However, in order to better assist you with reopening your
business account, I have forwarded your request to the
appropriate department for review. You will receive a
response to your email within seven days.

If you require immediate assistance, please contact
1-877-882-1890 and one of my colleagues will be able to
assist you.

I appreciate your patience and understanding in this
matter.

The gist of the message is that the points are unavailable as long as the card is closed, but that it might be possible to reopen the account.  At this point, I don’t know for sure whether or not we’ll get the points back.  My wife wasn’t available to call Chase (plus she really doesn’t want to), and we haven’t yet heard back from the “appropriate department” via the secure message center.

How to avoid this in the future

The simple solution for avoiding this problem is to not be an idiot like I was.  Make sure to use or move your rewards before cancelling a card.  To help avoid future idiocy like this, I added a page to the blog, under the Credit Cards menu: A checklist for cancelling credit cards.  There, you’ll find gems like these (with details):

  1. Stop using the card well before cancelling
  2. Check for other pending rewards
  3. Keep or cash out rewards
  4. Change automated payments
  5. Update your credit card tracking spreadsheet
  6. File or dispose of old card

What did I miss?  You can find the checklist here.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

  1. […] I wrote previously about my mistake where I forgot to move my wife’s Ultimate Rewards points before I closed her Chase Ink Card account.  My goal was to try to resolve the issue through Secure Messaging, but I wasn’t getting anywhere through that channel.  I was finally resigned to the fact that I would have to convince my wife to get on the phone with Chase when another option presented itself.  I met with a Chase bank representative for another matter altogether and told him what happened.  He shot off an email to someone, somewhere and within a day or two our points were back and deposited into her Freedom account.  They didn’t even have to reopen my wife’s account to do so (as far as I know).  Whew. […]

Comments

  1. Oh man, I was getting that feeling just reading the post! And that is almost like they are mocking you by leaving the points visible. 🙂
    I know issuers will let you reopen the account without a pull but I cannot remember the timeframe – 60 days? Maybe that is why they leave the points since they still belong to you until the account is permanently closed.

    • Charlie -That’s funny about leaving the points there to mock you… reminds me of when I lost diamond status with Hyatt and they sent me a postcard that said something like, “Welcome to Platinum status”. It even arrived before the end of February but after the point at which it would be mathematically impossible for me to reach diamond in time to not lose it. Definitely felt like they were mocking me. They may as well have said, “No more diamond status for you… I hope you enjoy walking down the road for breakfast”
      @FM – I was right there with you on the sinking feeling. Hope you get your points back. It’s always a pain when it’s on your spouses account. 🙁

  2. I closed my Club Carlson account and then realized that I can take advantage of getting the annual fee refund because of their devaluation. I called them after 7 hours and told them that I chad changed my mind and I want to reopen the account. They reopened it immediately.

    • Did they refund the annual fee? I also called and they refused to budge on the annual fee I paid. I said I wasn’t getting the benefits of the annual fee the rest of the year. They only gave me 7500 pts. But I think it was because I was in my second year of the card and my annual fee was paid in August….

      • I paid my annual fee on March 30! Four days before the devaluation. I called about 6 days after the deval and US Bank refused to refund (unless I closed the account – in which case I would not get the 40,000 point renewal bonus or the 30,000 point one stay transitional bonus). I spoke to 3 different levels of CS – and I had around $50,0000 of spend on the card in the last 12 months. They did give me 7,500 points after much bitching. So I plan to keep the card for another year – although my spend on it will be zip until June 1, and then capped at $10,000 per year going forward, unless something changes.
        On a positive note, and to confirm something FM wrote last week, I was told by a Club Carlson executive that some positive changes to the credit card are coming soon. But no hints were given. So stay tuned. One would think that if they planned to make positive changes they would have announced them at the same time as the deval, so I suspect these positive changes are a result of the anger that has resulted from the deval and Club Carlson’s very poor handling of it.

  3. Sorry to hear about your situation. I will guarantee you that they will be most pleased to reopen your business account and therefore your points will come back to life.

  4. Greg, I made exact same mistake just a few months ago. I had 80k UR points, and I realized the mistake about 28 days after closing the account. The points expire 30 days after closing the account. I called immediately and asked to reinstate the account. They went through the process and reinstated the account. They said it would take a couple of billing cycle to show the points in my account. After the points showed up, I transferred the points to another account and cancelled the card again.

  5. Is there an advantage to closing by secure message? I have always called to close and the Chase rep always reminds about points in the account. First they are transferred, and then the account is closed. One time the rep suggested I wait a week to close so that earned points would post first. Good luck!

    • The advantage of secure message to me is that its my wife’s account and she doesn’t like to deal with this stuff. So, secure message gives me a way of communicating with Chase directly.

      • +1
        Haha. If our wives only knew how much correspondence “they” send to banks, they would be shocked.
        Have you ever signed the wrong name in an SM? I have.

        • I was applying for Citi AA card for my wife and I typed her first name and my last name on the application by mistake. Well, Citi issued the card with the wrong last name!!! I had to call back and correct the last name in the account.

      • @FM, my favorite part of your story was thinking about how my wife hates dealing with any of this MS stuff. I do think you will get your points back, and I hope I am right, but the fact that this story involves your wife makes it so much more blog worthy. My wife hates dealing with the phone calls in which I tell her she needs to cancel a CC she did not know she even had. It is even more amusing when they try and offer her something to get her to keep her account open and she gives me the glare of “really, I told you I did not want to negotiate with these people”. I always encourage her to negotiate with them and she always immediately says, “no, I am not interested in anything and I want the account closed today”. Thanks for posting this, and I hope this works out for you both.

        • Glad to hear that I’m not alone 🙂
          Still no final word from Chase. I’ll next try the Twitter trick and if that doesn’t work my wife will have to call

  6. Same thing happened to me a few months ago – I wrote about it. What made me the most angry is that the agent I spoke to on the phone when I was closing my wife’s Sapphire TOLD ME that the points would be transferred.

    (they weren’t)

    The good news (at least for me) – they were able to re-open the account so I could transfer the points out. I’ve got high hopes for you – good luck!

  7. I closed my wife’s account with 240k UR points using secure message before heading for a 15 days vacation. Upon returning, and feel days later; when I was reconciling the miles and points, I was shocked to find out the mistake. I immediately sent a secure message and asking (begging would be more a appropriate term) them to reinstate the points first and then transfer then to her chase sapphire (separate login) . Then I waited and waited for couple of days and finally point arrived in her sapphire account. So yes, there is a hope! Cheers.

  8. Made the exact same mistake a year ago, instructing my girlfriend to close her Ink before the annual fee hit, but forgetting to have her transfer out 70k UR points to Freedom. After a series of SMs, we were able to get the points reinstated after reopening the account. I think this required a new hard credit check and delivery of a new card. This seems to be something that Chase does as a policy, as I remember searching online before we called in and finding other instances of people doing the same. Good luck but I think you’ll be ok.

  9. Oh my god, im so sorry for u.. i can undrstand what ul be going thru bcoz 90k is a lot to loose. I dont know what to say but I would call back to a personal relationship banker and see what he can do.

  10. Ouch!
    The only bad mistake I’ve made so far is I booked a trip for 2 with AA and split the outgoing and incoming (100,000 miles each way) so I had more flexibility on the return – and then stupidly paid for both with the same Citi AA card!! So I got only one 10,000 mile rebate instead of two.

    Not nearly as bad as 90,000 UR points I have to say. I’d be in a funk for a month if that happened to me!

  11. I did the same thing with one of my husband’s cards last year. My husband also did not want to call Chase! I did most of the legwork (and put him on the phone briefly to authorize the action) and had no trouble reopening the account and reinstating the points.

  12. Ha, you are not alone, I made the same mistake with 100K+ UR points, found that out in time to call Chase, a call to move the points to another account, did not even need to reopen the closed account, good luck.

  13. Did something similar in cost 4 years ago. Planning a cruise and was looking at Saturday and Sunday cruises. Looked at airfare at the same time. Booked the cruise and bought airline tickets.

    About two weeks before the cruise, I print out all the documents. Cruise gets in Sunday and airline tickets were for a return Saturday afternoon. Right at $1000. After cancellation fees, I think I had $14 in credit between the 6 tickets I had purchased.

    i could have been mad for a while, but it wouldn’t have helped anything. Figured it as a cost of doing business in the travel hacker way. Won’t do it again!

  14. Hey – maybe we can start a club or something? The omg what did I do to mess this up after all my hard “work” club.

    My PERSONAL experience when I did the exact same thing… secure message was taking forever to determine anything and I was so sick I felt like projectile vomiting! So, I tweeted to Chase. They responded immediately and very reassuringly. After 12 hours or so I had the points transferred out of the “closed” account and into the active account. No reinstating the old account or anything – just a simple transfer. So, my advice…. TWEET.

    Blessings all & happy FREE travel –
    Amy

  15. Years back, when I was new to this game, I did something even dumber. I opened a Southwest card. The deal was pay the annual fee and use one time w/i 3 months; no minimum. At renewal, I cancelled and found I had no points; I had never used the card, not once! Now I have a spread sheet, and it includes columns for bonus and a check mark when received.

  16. Every trip I take I look back and see something I could have done more efficiently……we are human and prone to error………bet you end up having to get your wife on the line………

  17. Thanks for sharing your mistake. It’s really tough to keep up with everything! I would tend to believe that any of us who’ve played the game for any length of time has made some mistakes. It’s the fear and record keeping that keeps most of my friends out of the game. I do think most of us are a bit of risk takers and that can pay off big!!

  18. I think you’ll have a great chance of getting them back per the posters. On the other hand, I just had to forfeit a non points refundable trip. Ca$h and points lost, but then a targeted offer came my way and alleviated the pain a bit and will put the account back in pre-trip equilibrium. I’m more devastated about the time lost. An epic trip planned with babysitters in place, but a once in a lifetime conflict = no go. I can’t get the time back for several months so time>points.

  19. I recently switched my Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom card. Will my points still be available or do I need to transfer them to my Ink card account?

  20. I hope you’ll recover the 90K UR points, I believe the Chase Secure Message Staff will definitely be able to view the account history and they’re more friendly and helpful than the regular call rep.

  21. Rich People Problems:):) I feel for you…you should see my confusion trying to use all my Amex at Lowes or Hilton or whatever. I end up using some of them twice and others not all all for the offers. My frequent flyer/guest/bank point/credit card stuff is harder to keep track of than my stock portfolio.

    Anyway, when you have gotten your points back (which I know you will end up doing:)), and you feel like you have dodged a bullet on that one….will you invent a method(s) for you and all the rest of us to keep track of all this stuff? The tweetdeck helps, Offerbot was great while it lasted, but we need more. Help! And thanks for all that you do:)

  22. I assume that all card churners have a permanent Freedom card in their accounts. My suggestion is to routinely move points earned from Ink and CSP to the Freedom so that you never risk losing major points when cancelling the annual fee cards. I also routinely transfer all points earned on my wife’s cards to mine. Then when it’s time to transfer to a travel program, I move the points back to whatever Ink or CSP I have at that time.

  23. I had that same sinking feeling yesterday…

    After months of looking for AA award space for a return flight from my honeymoon in Europe, I finally found 2 J class seats that were’t on BA metal. I immediately put them on a 5 day hold to wait for a better connecting flight to open up. The confirm email noted that the deadline for the hold was 4/14 @ 11:59 PM (BST). For some reason I completely ignored the BST and when I logged in yesterday to complete my purchase, I saw that the hold was gone and that someone already booked or place the same flights on hold. So now the search goes on… Woe as me…

  24. Chase will give the points back to you (to an currently opened account).
    I just made the same mistake a couple of months ago: I accidentally closed my ink account before transferring out points, sent a secure message after I realized that, and chase credited the points to my Freedom card one or two weeks later.
    Hope this helps.

  25. Call them, they will temporarily open the account for you, move the points over and close the account – all in the very same phone call.

  26. I had 80K points on my chase Ultimate Rewards. I closed the account and forgot to transfer points. After 30 days I called them but they said they can’t do anything and reinstate those points. I can not reopen the account. I can reply get new card but who will do it? I need a way to reinstate 80k points. Please help…

    • Ouch, that’s not good. I’m afraid I don’t know of any way to help. If you do any banking with Chase, it might help to go in-branch and ask your banker to help, but I think that even that is a long shot.

      • Had exact same problem. Called them and no help. TWEETED them and had points reinstated in 2 days. Good luck to you

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