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While we only recommend putting spending on mile and point reward credit cards that you plan to pay back in full each month, late payments happen. Sometimes we’re forgetful, others an unexpected event happens.
So what happens to the miles and points earned from a late month’s spending?
The answer…it depends on the credit card company. American Express is the stingiest, with fees to reinstate points on top of the basic late payment fee, Chase and Citi a touch more lenient.
Here’s a rundown…
American Express: Any late payment means you forfeit the points earned in that month. So if you spend $2,500 on the Amex card you are late on that month, you will not earn the 2,500 points, even when you do make the payment. The only way you can earn those points is to pay a ‘reinstatement fee’ of $29. Given points are usually worth 1-2 cents (more if you’re resourceful) it’s really not worth the reinstatement unless you earned about 3,000 or more points in the month. This point forfeiting policy applies to all American Express cards that earn miles and points – not just its ‘Membership Rewards’ program for the Green, Gold, and Platinum cards. The Delta, Starwood, and Hilton credit cards all have this penalty.
Chase: This is more straightforward. For its Ultimate Rewards program (which is where the Sapphire Preferred® Card and Freedom card earn) if you’re late in paying, your new points won’t post and you can’t redeem your existing points. But once you become current the points do post and you can redeem with the next billing cycle. They also reserve the right to forfeit your points, but that appears reserved for extreme situations or abuse. We have heard for 60 day late payments (which are a black mark on your credit report) they will forfeit the points yet to be posted. For non-Ultimate Rewards cards like United, Hyatt, and British Airways there is no forfeiture of your existing points – that’s in the hands of the airline or hotel, but they won’t post new points until your account is current, and likely forfeit the new points altogether after 60 days of delinquency.
Citi: For its ‘Thank You’ rewards cards, all of your Thank You points are locked from redemption until you are current on the account that’s late. They mention paying a reinstatement fee, but the fine print says right now that fee is $0. For its American Airlines, Hilton, and other non-Thank You point cards there is no locking of your existing account, since they don’t control it. But your newly earned points and miles won’t post until you become current.
So lesson being, if your’e forgetful, American Express will penalize you the most quickly. As for Chase and Discover…well if you’re 60 days late you have bigger thing to deal with than losing some points.
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