When Dan Keppel applied for a new credit card earlier this year, he eagerly awaited the advertised rewards. They included a $200 sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first three months, along with 1.5% cash back on purchases.
He spent the required amount and then waited for his rewards. And waited. “When you don’t hear about something and you don’t see it, you get the impression that they’re hoping people forget about it,” Keppel says.
Finally, around four months after getting the card, Keppel, who also blogs about money, received a statement with a rewards credit for $200 listed among the other line items.
“It’s buried in the gobbledygook,” he says, adding that he would have missed it if he hadn’t been looking for it. To Keppel, that seems like a bad business move. “When I worked in marketing and sales [in insurance], the whole idea was to make sure people are aware of the promotion.”
How to track rewards
With so many credit card issuers enticing new cardholders with sign-up bonuses, cash-back rewards and various types of rewards points, it can be hard for consumers to keep track of when and where to look for their rewards. Card issuers vary in how quickly they turn over rewards to cardholders, how points can be earned and the format the rewards take. Some appear as cash-back credits on monthly statements; others surface as points you can spend on web portals or turn into gift cards.
We canvassed major credit card issuers to ask how quickly cardholders can expect to see their rewards. Here’s what they said:
- American Express: Points typically are available to cardholders within 60 days after the end of the billing period when the purchases were made, assuming payments are received on time, Amex spokeswoman Charlotte Fuller says.
- Bank of America®: Rewards points are available for use after one billing cycle, says Bank of America spokesman Don Vecchiarello. They show up online immediately, marked as “pending,” until the account goes through the next billing cycle, and then they’re moved to “earned” status and can be redeemed.
- Barclaycard: Rewards credits appear on cardholders’ statements one billing cycle from the purchase date of the item that earned the rewards, says Nicole Dye-Anderson, spokeswoman for Barclaycard.
- Capital One: Earned rewards usually are visible online within 10 days but can take up to two statement cycles to post to a customer’s account, says Capital One spokeswoman Meredith Reilly.
- Chase: The new Chase Ultimate Rewards® points that cardholders earn are available with every billing cycle, says Chase spokeswoman Ashley Dodd. In other words, you’ll typically see your new rewards posted at the close of each monthly billing cycle, and you can use them at the beginning of the next billing cycle.
- Citibank: ThankYou Points earned through purchases are posted at the end of each billing cycle and then transferred to the cardmember’s account. Bonus ThankYou Points, which are earned through special offers or sign-up bonuses, can take one to two additional billing cycles to post to the account, says Citibank spokesperson Leslie Ticku.
- Discover: At the end of each billing cycle, the rewards earned by the cardholder are calculated and then added to the account as cash back or miles, depending on the card, within two billing cycles, says Discover spokesman Jeremy Borling. Then, the time it takes to actually receive the reward varies by chosen redemption option: Statement credits are more or less immediate at that point, while electronic deposits appear in cardholders’ bank accounts within 72 hours. Cardholders can also use cash back on Amazon as a payment method, once it appears on their statement.
- U.S. Bank: Cardholders typically see earned points in the next billing cycle, although FlexPoints can take up to 60 days after a purchase to appear online, says U.S. Bank spokesperson Dana Stone.
- Wells Fargo: As cardholders earn rewards throughout the billing cycle, they show as “pending” on the account. Then, when the cycle ends, the pending balances are added to the “available balance” and can be redeemed, explains Wells Fargo spokesman Jason Menke. The balances are also reported in the credit card statement and monthly rewards email that customers can opt to receive. For sign-up bonuses, Menke adds, the dates vary. Typically, cardholders receive rewards when the time period for the bonus ends. The rewards show up on credit card statements within one to two billing cycles. (The rewards generally are visible online through the account summary page earlier.)
How to follow up
If you’re still wondering where your rewards are, calling your card issuer and asking is probably the best way to get a clear answer. You might discover that the rewards are already there, perhaps buried somewhere in your monthly statement, and ready for you to put to use.
A customer service rep may also be able to tell you the pending rewards on your account and when you can expect to see them posted to your statement.
Despite Keppel’s initial frustration over not being able to find his rewards, he says now that he has them, he is a satisfied customer. “If anybody gives you $200,” he says, “how can you not be happy?”
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