How I Lost Out on Spending All of Our Travel Credits

by joeheg

We possess multiple credit cards that provide travel credits. These credits are used to offset spending in specific categories. However, each card has its own set of rules for what qualifies for the credits, how they are applied to charges, and when your yearly benefit resets. There are many other types of statement credits available besides these travel credits, which can make it challenging to keep track of them all.

Here’s a list of some of the credits we need to use every year:

  • Capital One Venture X – $300 travel credit that has to be used on the Capital One Travel Portal.
  • Southwest Priority – $75 Southwest credit
  • Sapphire Reserve – $300 travel credit
  • Citi Prestige – $250 travel credit
  • AMEX Platinum – $200 air Ttavel credit
  • Ritz Carlton – $300 air travel credit

I was doing good with spending all  the credits in 2023, but right at the end of the year, two loopholes caused me to leave money unclaimed.

Here’s how I lost out on $80 in credits by not paying attention to the fine print.

Citi Prestige

The Citi Prestige $250 travel credit is one of the easiest to spend so I’m upset with myself that I lost out on $60 of it. As we got towards the end of the year, I remembered I hadn’t spent all of the credit so I started to look for ways to use it up. Fortunately, Citi has a very broad list of travel-related expenses.

Travel Purchases are defined as purchases made within the travel category, including purchases from airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, travel agencies/travel aggregators/tour operators, commuter transportation, ferries, commuter railways, subways, taxis/limousines/car services, passenger railways, cruise lines, bridge and road tolls, parking lots/garages, and bus lines.

I had one hotel stay that we needed to pay for, which would cost $120. I had planned to spend the remaining credit on our subway and train fares during our trip to New York. However, I made a mistake by forgetting that the credit had to be used before the end of my December statement, not the end of the year. Unfortunately, our statement had already closed five days before our trip to New York, so we were unable to use the credit.

Lesson learned. I’ll spend the credit early this year as I think this will finally be the year I get rid of the Citi Prestige.

Ritz Carlton Rewards

The Ritz Carlton Rewards card has a $300 air travel credit which can be used for any of these categories:

  • Airline lounge day pass
  • Yearly lounge membership of your choice
  • Airline seat upgrades
  • Airline baggage fees
  • In-flight internet or entertainment
  • In-flight meals
  • Trusted Traveler programs: TSA Precheck, Nexus and Sentri

I used the first part of the credit to upgrade us to Even More Space seats on JetBlue. After the charge was posted to the account, I sent a secure message to Chase asking for the credit to be applied to the charge, which happened within a few days.

As year-end approached, I used the rest of the credit to pay for a seat assignment and baggage fees on my upcoming flight on Norse and a $50 charge for United Airlines.

When I messaged Chase again to apply the rest of the credit, there was a problem.

You have $21.00 remaining of the $300 Annual Travel Credit

benefit for the 2023 calendar year.

We were unable to apply the remaining travel

credit for the charge from United as it posted on January

1, 2024. We can apply the travel credit for this charge

for the year 2024. Please reply to confirm and we will be

happy to assist you.

Because the charge from United didn’t post until January 1st, we can no longer use the 2023 credit to erase it. We’d have to start using the $250 from 2024.

Another lesson learned is not to wait until the last minute because the airlines might take a few days to finalize the transaction with your credit card.

Final Thought

In the end, we’re only out $80 which isn’t the end of the world. Still, this is money we should have spent, and instead, the banks get to keep it.

I’m already planning to spend my credits this year and will not wait until the last minute to use them in 2024.

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