Don’t do what I did and miss your credit card sign-up bonus…

Even old timers make silly mistakes sometimes! I've just discovered I missed my credit card sign up bonus, because of miscommunication. In July I successfully applied for the UK's version of the SPG American Express card, which had a 20 000 point sign up bonus if you hit £1000 spend in 3 months. For me the deadline was 31st October 2013.

So after reaching £1002 in my account by the end of September, I waited a few days and the sign up bonus had still not shown up in my account. I called American Express asking where my points were and the lady said that I had successfully completed the spend so should be receiving them after the 3 month spending period was up. On my previous American Express sign ups they were triggered automatically, but this was a new story. Fine, I thought, I'm busy enough with work and I'll leave them to their word.

Well come end of October I dialled in again to ask and this time I was told I should wait until the November statement because the points would be added then. Not a chance I thought, so I dialled again in the next day.

This next agent was nice and helpful. He could see I had dialled in a couple of times previously to query this, and I clearly had no resolution, so offered to flag it for further investigation. He promised to call me back after 10 days, but since I wasn't going to be in the UK I left him my Dutch number. over 2 weeks passed without any call.

So this evening I've called again and by fortune the same operator picked up as last time. I said I'd been waiting for a while and never received anything, and he was apologetic, but because I had given an international contact number he wasn't authorised to give an outbound call. (Surely he should have known this prior to offering to accept my Dutch number? It's not like Amex can't afford international calls anyway!) It turns out the first operator I spoke to at the beginning of October should not have told me I had successfully triggered the sign-up, because I had only spent £927. She and I had mistakenly included the card's £75 annual fee into the calculations!

What irks me slightly is that I still had the whole month of October to get that extra £73 of spend, which would have been extremely easy. This case is being further escalated so the managers will listen in on my call in early October to see if they had given any forewarning. If not then they should be honouring their word and giving the 20 000 points. But if there's a lesson to be learnt, it's stand up to anything strange and rectify it immediately. Don't go through all this fuss, it's not worth it for either party. I'll make sure to memorise the fine print for next time!



  1. I almost made the same mistake in August with the Chase Hyatt Visa. I made sure to spend over the $1,000 minimum but forgot about the annual fee. The agent did not catch it when I called about the bonus points. When I called back weeks later, another agent caught it. Fortunately, I had 24 hours before the end of the minimum spend period. I quickly purchased an gift certificate and sent it to myself, and the charge posted within 24 hours.

    Note to self: Put reminders on calendar weeks in advance, noting the annual fee. And don’t cut it too close: charges adding up to the minimum spend must within the specified period, which typically starts the day you are , not the day you receive the card and/or activate it!

  2. Correction: “charges adding up to the minimum spend must POST within the specified period, which typically starts the day you are APPROVED, not the day you receive the card and/or activate it!

    (I tried to emphasize the words in CAPS above by using angle brackets, but they are interpreted as HTML tags and then not displayed because they are not valid HTML. Doh!)

  3. My favorite (not) mistake!
    Never assume a charge will post the day it was charged. I had a USAIR charge post 3 days later, in fact after a spend deadline I was sure I had surpassed with the USAIR charge. The sad part was that the CC did show a query but the automated query was only for $1.

  4. I use an Excel spreadsheet to track charges.
    Also, I tell my wife to avoid returning any items charged to that card to stores around the spending bonus deadline.
    A returned item on the last day can easily spoil the party.


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