Since the beginning of the year, credit card welcome bonuses have been very high. But beware: there are often conditions to be met to earn them. What happens if you find out that you didn’t get the welcome bonus you expected?
The first step
Reread the fine print of the offer
To make sure that you have followed all the conditions to the letter, reread the terms and conditions of the offer you have taken out. If the web page for the offer is no longer available, use the WayBack Machine website to track it down.
And watch out for different offers depending on your province of residence.
For example, with this different offer from HSBC for the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®:
- Quebec residents: up to 130,000 points with no spending requirement (first-year annual fee not waived)
- Non Quebec residents: up to 100,000 points with spending requirements (first-year free)
Some Quebec readers were surprised to see the first year being charged. But they were pleasantly surprised that they didn’t have to spend $6,000 in 6 months and got more points!
After reading, take the time to calculate the expenses and dates.
Doing the math
Expenses that are not eligible purchases
Often, welcome bonuses on credit cards have a minimum spending requirement, during a given period. Take the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card, for example.
Among other things, in its welcome offer, you can get:
70,000 points after $1,500 in Card purchases within the first 3 months
This means that $1,500 in net eligible purchases must be charged to the Card.
However, the following transactions are not eligible purchases for a bonus:
- Annual fee
- Cash Advances
- Balance transfers
- Interest charges
- Cash equivalent transaction (money order, wire transfer, gambling/lottery related transaction, etc)
- Reimbursements for services or goods
- Remittances and credits to the account
One of the common mistakes seen in the Milesopedia Community is to calculate the credit card annual fee in the eligible purchases. This fee is reflected in your statement, through your expenses.
Therefore, it is easy to include it in the calculations and derail your bonus obtention.
Bonus paid in future statements
When the credit card is linked to an external program (AIR MILES, Aeroplan, etc.), the bonus is paid only when the statement is produced.
Then the points will be deposited directly into the loyalty program account a few days AFTER the monthly statement is issued.
Here’s an article from milesopedia about the time it takes to award bonuses.
When a transaction occurs on the account, the expense is “pending” on the credit card. This means that it has not yet been authorized or posted to the account.
This pending amount will be added to your balanceonly when it is registered. Therefore, it is possible that a transaction made near the closing date of the monthly statement will not count.
For example, you have $1,400 in purchases charged to the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card. To reach the $1500 minimum spend required in 3 months, you make a $150 transaction at 3 months less a day.
|Approval||$150 transaction||Maximum date to reach bonus||Transaction recorded in the account|
|January 1st||March 31||April 1st||April 3rd|
Unfortunately, this $150 purchase is posted at 3 months and 2 days. The terms and conditions of the offer are therefore not fulfilled in time and as a result you don’t earn the welcome bonus.
Error in date calculation
Let’s go back to our example with the Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card.
Among other things, in its welcome offer, you can get:
- 70,000 points after $1,500 in Card purchases within thefirst 3 months
The 3 months is calculated from the date of approval of the credit card. Actually, it can also be referred to as the date of enrolment, anniversary date or opening date of the credit card.
If you’re not sure, call your credit card issuer to ask.
Error in the membership number linked to the credit card
When applying for a credit card, you enter your loyalty program membership number. However, the financial institution may still have created a new membership number.
Thus, the points go into this other new account.
Don’t panic! Call the financial institution (or loyalty program issuer). They will merge the accounts and then you will get your points back.
Other things to check
Account must be in good standing and paid on time
One of the conditions often mentioned in welcome offers is that the account must be in good standing.
Here is the definition of an account in good standing:
- The cardholder must comply fully with the terms and conditions of the credit card
- The minimum payment must be made by the due date
- The account is active and the credit card is not cancelled, closed or revoked
- The account is not overdue for more than one monthly statement
Have already received the bonus from this card
All financial institutions have their own rules about the welcome bonus.
For example, American Express only pays the bonus once per card for life. So, be sure to read the fine print on each offer. Here’s an example for his American Express Cobalt® Card:
This offer is only available to new American Express Cobalt Cardmembers. If you are a current or former American ExpressCard, we may approve your application, but you will not be eligible for the bonus Membership Rewards points offer available during the first 12 months of enrolment.American Express Canada
On the other hand, some financial institutions require a delay before another application to the same card. As for example, TD specifies for the TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite* Card:
If you have opened an Account in the last 12 months, you will not be eligible for this offer.TD Canada Trust
Despite all the precautions and reading the conditions of an offer, it can happen that mistakes are made on both sides.
If you believe you are missing a bonus, do not hesitate to contact the card issuer. However, be careful not to draw attention to your file if you are not entitled to receive it!