I Overlooked My Credit Card Benefits — Reader Mistake Story

Jan 4, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Andrew, who bought miles he might not have needed after all:

I wanted to book award travel with American Airlines for round-trip flights from Philadelphia to Spain for me and my wife on our honeymoon, but I was short about 2,500 miles. To cover the difference, I decided to purchase 3,000 miles for about $89 (with taxes). I bought those miles then booked the award tickets.

What I didn’t know was that by using my Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, I received a 10% rebate on AAdvantage awards (up to 10,000 miles annually). So after purchasing one ticket, I would’ve had enough miles to purchase the other ticket without having to buy additional miles. I didn’t end up too much in the hole, but I hope others will keep this in mind if they are contemplating buying miles!

The 10% Miles Back benefit is great for anyone who books AAdvantage awards regularly, since getting credited with the full 10,000 miles each year more than makes up for your card’s annual fee. The benefit functions as a rebate and not a discount, so like similar benefits (from IHG and Amex, for example), you have to redeem the full amount before you get any rewards back. That provides an opportunity to stretch your miles a bit further if you’re just short of the redemption threshold for multiple tickets. However, the strategy Andrew proposes has a few drawbacks.

First, the terms and conditions state that miles typically post to your account 6-8 weeks after the initial redemption. Miles tend to show up much more quickly (sometimes immediately), but it’s worth keeping in mind that the rebate could take a while, since that longer timeline is impractical if you’re booking two tickets together. Second, even if the rebate does post right away, you’ll end up with two separate itineraries. You can merge the itineraries later — Senior Points & Miles Writer JT Genter recommends putting in a request to the American Airlines social media team — but it’s one more step to remember.

The greater moral to this story is to make sure you’re familiar with all your credit card benefits. Some benefits aren’t marketed well (or at all), but the lesser-known benefits can still offer plenty of value. A credit card benefit guide doesn’t make for stimulating reading material, but it’s worth looking over so you have at least a sense of what’s available.

I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Andrew a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to info@thepointsguy.com, and put “Reader Mistake Story” in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.

Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!

Featured photo by Ana Guisado Photography/Getty Images.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.